North Solitary Islands - A Weekend With Wooli Dive Centre

The North Solitary Islands

Map of North Solitary Islands dive sites

Nestled 7 nautical miles from Wooli, New South Wales, The North Solitary Islands beckon with their untouched beauty and rich marine life. Influenced by a convergence of warm northern currents and cooler southern waters, these islands boast unparalleled biodiversity, making them a haven for divers seeking adventure. 

We recently had the pleasure of spending 4 days diving the islands. Stan and Claire Young, owners of Wooli Dive Centre were our hosts, and provided us with accommodation along with the dive services.

Wooli Dive Centre

Wooli Dive Centre stands as a comprehensive hub for scuba diving and PADI training, catering to enthusiasts of all levels. Non-divers have the option to partake in snorkelling adventures, while beginners can enrol in training sessions, and licensed scuba divers can embark on scuba diving tours to the breathtaking northern sector of the Solitary Island Marine Park. The operations centre around the fabulous "Kraken," a spacious 12-meter aluminium catamaran meticulously crafted for optimal diving experiences and of course her skipper, Mick.

With a full rack of tanks and a boat load of eager dive buddies we boarded the Kraken at 7:30am and Mick took us out to sea. The journey to the islands averaged around 30 minutes from the dock.

The Accommodation

Wooli Dive Centre for North Solitary Islands   

As you can see from the picture above, Wooli Dive Centre is part of a much larger building, and it is this that makes up the accommodation options. With a spacious living and cooking facility upstairs, along with multiple bedrooms and ample front and rear balconies it feels very spacious, even with 15 people congregating at mealtimes. Downstairs there is also an annex apartment with its own living room and kitchen, several bedrooms, and shared bathrooms. To the rear of the building there is a cleaning station for dive gear with ample racks to air out your gear for the next day’s dives.

Of an evening, we took advantage of the beautiful location and majestical sunsets over the ocean. Just a few minutes’ walk from the dive shop is an awesome beach where some of our more energetic dive buddies dug a firepit with trenched seating to enjoy the sunset beers and sea breeze.

Wooli beach group firepit 2024

The Diving

This was our second visit to the North Solitary Islands, and it was so good last year that we did it all again this year. En route we had received reports that conditions had reached 20-30 meters of visibility and temperatures ranging from 25-27℃ (77-82℉). Something which seemed unfathomable given the driving rain we encountered on the journey up from Sydney. To our surprise, the reports were bang on the button. No 5mm needed this weekend, just my Sharkskin and tech shorts and away we go!

Dropping down the line at Anemone Bay was a beautiful reminder of the previous year and how fabulous the location was for underwater activity. Bustling reefs with an abundance of reef fish numerous Leopard Sharks gliding by. Yes, plural! There were so many, at least 7 on the first dive alone. Add to this the Eagle Rays that passed by it was a truly magical introduction to this years visit.

The Islands have quite a number of dive sites and should the currents be running; you can easily take a drift through several in one dive. We however, aimed to focus on one or two dive sites per dive and it worked well. I also took advantage of the fabulous visibility and took many photographs without the aid of my strobes. Something that I have not done for years, but I hope you agree, the turned out pretty good. All in all I could easily spend a good few months exploring these dive sites and switching between wide-angle and macro ports without fear of ever being disappointed.

North Solitary Islands collage

Leopard Shark Conservation

Upon returning to Sydney and whilst scouring my images I found a number of them had captured reasonable imagery of the Leopard Sharks which I knew could be entered into the Wildbook database to assist with research. The Wildbook for Sharks photo-identification library serves as a visual repository documenting various encounters with sharks and cataloging individual specimens.

Maintained by marine biologists, this database is instrumental in collecting and analyzing shark sighting data to deepen our understanding of these fascinating creatures. Utilizing photographs capturing the skin patterning behind the gills and any distinguishing scars, the Wildbook employs cutting-edge software for swift identification through pattern recognition and photo management tools. You can actively contribute to shark research by submitting your own photos and sighting data.

Your input plays a crucial role in mark-recapture studies aimed at supporting the global conservation efforts for these vulnerable species and if you are lucky, your contribution might just be a new encounter. Just like this one!

Conclusion: Unveiling the Secrets of The North Solitary Islands

Our journey to The North Solitary Islands was a testament to the raw beauty and untamed wilderness that awaits just beyond the shores of Wooli. From the vibrant marine life to the warm hospitality of Wooli Dive Centre, every moment spent exploring these hidden gems left an indelible mark on our souls. Whether you're a seasoned diver or an aspiring adventurer, The North Solitary Islands beckon, promising an unforgettable escape into the heart of nature's underwater world.

Best of all, it brings you and your dive buddies together, something which we are truly thankful for. My sincere gratitude to our dive buddies that put the trip together (you know who you are you pair of legends! ❤️).

Links: Wooli Dive Centre

Matt Waters
Matt Waters