Victoria - World Class Temperate Water Diving Destination

The Victorian Artificial Reef Society (VARS) is the non-profit, Victorian dive community group formed in 2006 to secure, prepare, sink and dive the ex HMAS Canberra as an artificial reef dive site for Victoria. We worked with the Federal and State Governments and their agencies to make this happen.

You can also learn more about the ex HMAS Canberra and scuba diving in Victoria by visiting the ex HMAS Canberra web site at

World Class Temperate Water Diving Destination

There is more to VARS than just the ex HMAS Canberra. We're interested in all aspects of Victorian scuba diving.

Surprisingly, scuba diving in Australia began right here in Victoria. Historic shipwrecks, stunning wall dives, fast drift dives, thriving kelp gardens, crayfish, abalone, scallops, dolphins and seals. In Melbourne, you can see seahorses, seadragons and cuttlefish on local pier dives — we have it all!

Victoria has an amazing fleet of World War I 'J' class submarines which attract divers from around the world. There are wrecks dating back to the 1700's plus the ships graveyard just off Port Phillip Bay. We have a more colourful and abundant reef eco-system than that of the Great Barrier Reef. Victoria truly has it all!

Posted on Sunday, 27 May 2018

Lets Sink A Melbourne Tram

Let's Sink A Melbourne Tram!

Exciting New Project for VARS

We want to be allocated an iconic W or Z class tram and get it sunk as a destination for snorkellers, freedivers and scuba divers at a suitable location in Port Phillip. Yes, this time inside the bay!

You shouldn't have to travel to Queensland to see an iconic Melbourne Tram underwater. It's about time we had one here in our great bay.

The Victorian Government are about to gift and sell off 134 retired trams and we'd like to get one. See for some details. Online applications open on Monday, 28 May 2018 and we'll be ready. Then we'll need to campaign in every way we can to get this proposal front and centre with state politicians, various government departments and local councils. We already have one state MP prepared to help in any way he can, but the more support we can muster the better.

If you're able to help in any way with any of this, please let us know via an email to

Please sign our petition. Please show the state authorities there is wide community support for our proposal.

Please like and follow our VARS.diving Facebook page his page to keep up-to-date with what's happening.

It's an election year and the hope is we can get the government to cover all of the transport, preparation and sinking costs. We need a site that has easy access for snorkellers, freedivers and scuba divers. For safety the site would need a surface buoy to mark it, as is done on other government artificial reefs. No doubt the site would be declared a marine reserve and hopefully we'd later be able to enhance it with statues, sculptures and other artificial reef habitat.

Initial thoughts are that the area known as Elsa's Reef, about 40 metres off Rye Pier, in 7 metres of water, would be a most suitable site. (A bit further out there is 9 metres depth.) It's a very attractive location given it's not subject to extreme tides and currents, plus already has good amenities available nearby. It's accessible from the shore, pier, boat and even a paddleboard. Plus the area already has a proven track record as a safe dive site. But we're open to other suggestions.

Together we can make this happen!

Posted on Monday, 23 November 2009

ex HMAS Canberra Site Survey Dive

21 November 2009 — We are happy to report that on Saturday, 21 November 2009, a Dive Victoria technical dive team was contracted to do a site survey dive on the HMAS Canberra for the government contractor, the Birdon Group, to assess the readiness and safety of the site for recreational divers ahead of the sites public opening.

The site is in fantastic condition perfectly settled listing to her starboard side. She has already established some growth over her and many different schools of juvenile fish were seen through out the dive. The dive through her proved to be far beyond what we possibly imagined. There are still dozens of features in place making each and every room exciting to explore. We were extremely pleased with the way the ship has been prepared and the subsequent cleanup of the items that came loose or were damaged when she filled with water.

The dive showed that the site has been justified in remaining closed until the unstable and damaged items could be removed or made safe. We noted a couple of additional items that will need minor attention and should easily be completed by the commercial dive team during their next dives.

We surveyed depths of key points around the ship and are pleased to say that there is plenty of this wreck safely able to be explored by Open Water certification divers and then the Advanced divers will enjoy exploring down to her maximum depth on the sand of 29m. Penetrating the wreck showed that even seasoned wreck explorers will enjoy exploring this wreck as the maze of rooms each with different items to view means many dives will be needed to truly explore her end to end. Whilst the ship has been made very safe with multiple entry and exit points through out, there is still a true feeling of exploring a real wreck with many over head areas making this a true wreck to respect.

The mooring system appears to have been ideally placed being quite close to the ship and will allow for a good setup to facilitate efficient and safe access too and from the wreck.

Whilst the sea conditions were very good, we have no reason to believe the surge effects even in larger seas will be any worse than is currently experienced on many of the Victoria other open sea sites. It was evident that many areas inside the ship will be protected form surge giving great opportunity to plan a dive to suit the conditions of the day.

We conducted the survey dive using twin tanks and on Nitrox 32 gas and found that this site is perfectly suited to that sort of application giving us a long dive time and enabling us to work through the wreck upward deck by deck and still avoid decompression.

This ship is spectacular and all the team agreed that is without a doubt the best scuttled wreck site any of us have dived. We look forward to the final clean up dives being completed over the next week and then the official clearance and opening of the site hopefully very soon after.

A short video of the dive will be uploaded on various web sites once our report has been released from the contractor.

Jason Salter
Managing Director, The Dive Victoria Group Pty Ltd
Treasurer, Victorian Artificial Reef Society Inc (VARS)

Posted on Sunday, 27 September 2009

VARS Notice of AGM 2009

VARS Notice of Meeting
Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of the Victorian Artificial Reef Society Incorporated (VARS) will be held:

8:00 p.m. on Monday, 26 October 2009

The Bells Hotel
corner of Moray and Coventry Streets, South Melbourne, Victoria (Melway 1D L12)


  1. To receive apologies
  2. To confirm the minutes of the 2008 AGM
  3. To receive the Annual Report (President)
  4. To receive the Financial Report (Treasurer)
  5. To elect the committee for the 2009/2010 year
    positions: President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer and four general committee members
  6. To elect the auditor for the 2009/2010 year
  7. General Business
  8. Any other business
  9. Close

VARS members are invited to join the current committee for a meal at Bells Hotel prior to the AGM, commencing at approximately 7 p.m. (at member's own expense).

VARS 2009 AGM Notice of Meeting (Adobe PDF | 23.55 KB)

Nominations for Committee

Nominations for Committee are needed for all committee positions — there are 8 positions [President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and 4 general committee] to be filled.

Nomination forms are available from the Secretary:
Alan Storen, 15 Regal Court, Vermont South VIC 3133 or and must be returned 48 hours prior to the meeting.
Or, you can download a copy of the Proxy Form:
VARS 2009 AGM Committee Nomination Form (Adobe PDF | 23.16 KB)

All committee positions are declared vacant at the AGM and new members sought. Some current members have indicated they do not wish to renominate next year.

If there is more than one nomination for a position then a ballot will take place.

Please return all forms to the Secretary so that a returning officer can be appointed if needed.

Proxy Forms

If you are not able to make the meeting you can appoint a proxy.

Proxy forms are available from the Secretary:
Alan Storen, 15 Regal Court, Vermont South VIC 3133 or and must be returned 48 hours prior to the meeting.
Or, you can download a copy of the Proxy Form:
VARS 2009 AGM Proxy Form (Adobe PDF | 23.06 KB)

VARS General Meeting

VARS will also hold a General Meeting on the same night. Any member proposing to raise a motion at that meeting must notify the Secretary by 11 October 2009 so that all members can be given sufficient notice and appoint proxies if necessary.

Older news
> 26-Jul-09: ex HMAS Canberra Historical Sinking Ball
> 17-Jul-09: Target Date Set for ex HMAS Canberra Sinking
> 01-May-09: ex HMAS Canberra Site Concerns Appear Resolved
> 05-Apr-09: New ex HMAS Canberra Site Concerns
> 21-Feb-09: ex HMAS Canberra Ship Preparation Nearly Complete
> 22-Nov-08: VARS Moves Forward With ex HMAS Canberra Project
> 28-Sep-08: ex HMAS Canberra Project Progress Report
> 05-Jul-08: ex HMAS Canberra Arrives - VARS Patron Announced
> 11-Jun-08: ex HMAS Canberra Arrives
> 07-Jun-08: ex HMAS Canberra to arrive on Tuesday, 10th June 2008
> 03-Jun-08: ex HMAS Canberra is on tow to Victoria
> 29-Mar-08: Sinking Site Agreed On for the ex HMAS Canberra
> 16-Jan-08: ex HMAS Canberra Project Progress
> 19-Oct-07: VARS Moves Forward With ex HMAS Canberra Project
> 12-Oct-07: ex HMAS Canberra Reef
> 12-Sep-07: VARS AGM 2007
> 28-Aug-07: VARS Notice of AGM 2007
> 23-Jul-07: Federal Government Offers to Fund and Sink the ex-HMAS Canberra
> 20-Jul-07: VARS Meets With Tourism Minister
> 26-May-07: Update from VARS President, John Lawler
> 21-May-07: Dive hopes sink
> 08-May-07: MPs Respond to VARS Concerns
> 23-Apr-07: VARS puts delay concerns to the Minister of Defence
> 20-Apr-07: Delay strikes divers
> 10-Apr-07: Red tape ties up ship for peninsula dive site
> 10-Apr-07: VARS Launches ex HMAS Canberra Web Site
> 10-Apr-07: VARS Meets With Minister of Defence

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