The Bombo is the wreck of a coastal steamship that hauled coal and other
minerals between Kiama and Sydney. It was built in Scotland and left for its maiden voyage
to Sydney on 11 February 1930, arriving on 23 April.
In 1941, The Bombo was requisitioned for naval service, and converted for
operations as an auxiliary mine sweeper, operating between Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart.
Later in the war it was converted to a stores carrier serving Northern Australia out of
Darwin, participating in the occupation of Koepang. After the war The Bombo returned to
civilian service, resuming operations between Sydney and Kiama. Under the command of
Captain Arthur Bell, she left Kiama on her final voyage on 22 February 1949, with 13 crew.
North of Stanwell Park, The Bombo was struck by a large wave, causing a list to port. With
seas deteriorating, Capt Bell decided to turn back for Port Kembla, in order to take
shelter in the harbor. With the list increasing, Capt Bell gave the order to man the life
boats when off Wollongong, tragically close to the safety of Port Kembla. This was
unsuccessful, so the crew donned life jackets and abandoned ship. Only 10 of the 14 made
it off, with six surviving until morning. At this time, the survivors decided to head for
shore, spacing themselves so they wouldn't attempt to clamber on each other when tired.
Only two of the crew made it to safety. Today, The Bombo lies upside down in about 31m of
water. She is 47m in length, lying approximately north-south, with the hull completely
broken in half. The bow and stern sections are accessible,. There is a good variety of fish life on the wreck, with a lot of unusual and
interesting growth, especially on the propeller. A great dive, and it can be followed up
with a second dive on one of the nearby Five Islands, such as Toothbrush, Martin or Pig
Island. Toothbrush in particular is a great second
dive, with a maximum depth of 17m, great sea life and some interesting geography.
The wreck is becoming harder to dive due to increased shipping trafic. It lies is the shipping channel and permission has to be obtained before diving.
Also known as "Bass Island", Pig Island is one of the Five
Islands in the Illawarra (Wollongong) region, south of Sydney. It is accessible only by
boat departing from nearby Wollongong Harbor. Diving is possible all around Pig Island,
but the southern side seems to offer the best all round diving. Depths here work down to
about 18-25m, with a great sponge garden and a lot of rocky gullies and walls. This area
is part of a reef running towards nearby Toothbrush Island. There is a good variety of
fish life including snapper, tailor, bonito, bream, groper. In addition, you can often
spot spotted rays and some large wobbegongs. The colors in the sponge garden are superb.
This is a great first dive for a day, with nearby Toothbrush Island, with its shallower
depths, interesting terrain and abundant fish life offering a fantastic second dive.
Toothbrush Island is one of the Five Islands off Wollongong, about an
hour south of Sydney. Access is by boat, with a launching ramp at Wollongong.
Alternatively, United Divers offers regular charters out to the Five Islands. On its day,
Toothbrush Island would have some of the best visibility and fish life I've experienced.
As it is quite a shallow dive, it is a perfect second dive to deeper, nearby sites, such
as the wreck of the Bombo, and Pig and Martin Island. Toothbrush Island features lots of
swim throughs and channels which offer a lot of interesting terrain, as well as three
reasonably large caves. The deepest of these lies in 12-15m, and usually housing Port
Jackson sharks. Other fish life includes HUGE schools of yellowtail, an enormous resident
Blue Groper (Basil), Moray eels, kingfish, snapper, bream and trevally. Plenty of bottom
time and great visibility make for an excellent dive.
Martin Island is another of the Five Islands off Wollongong, in NSW's
Illawarra Region. Martin Island is a power packed dive with a variety of sponge gardens,
channels, crevices and walls to keep you occupied for the entire dive. The eastern side of
the island is the best diving, with the North East having some exceptional terrain. This
dive site has one of the best ranges of fish life in the area, with a small crevice
housing a family of Bleekers Blue Devil fish. You will find all the other normal varieties
including groper, wrasse, yellowtail, trevally, bullseye, and so on. The wall on the
eastern side drops of to 28 m and is quite spectacular , large bat rays are common (stumpy
usually shows up, no tail on this ray) It also boasts of having a variety of nudibranchs equaling any I've seen. The sponge gardens on the south eastern corner are some of best
you will see anywhere. Well recommend this as a great dive. Have a double, and follow Martin Island
with a splash at Toothbrush
Island. United Divers Wollongong dive this site most weeks from their boat
"Friendship". I recommend this as Leon always seems to be able to put us on the
exact spot where the channels are, and where the diving is best. A great dive. Also
recommended are , Pig Island,
and the wreck the "Bombo"
This site is only about 500 m from "Pig Island" but not dived
as often because there is no protection from any winds and occasionally can be subjected
to the affect of currents. It peaks at 18 m and drops to around 30 m, large schools of
nannygai and bait fish are always seen, and the sponge life is good but patchy compared to
Pig Island close by. Local divers have found Pigmy pipe fish, sea spiders, rare nudibranchs and there is a small cave surounded by hundreds of schooling fish.
A reef NE of Martin Island. It has a wall on the eastern side dropping to
28 m with crevices and channels along it. One of the few spots where you can find sea
whips in this area. Gorgonia, sponges, nudibranchs, fish of all types, large sting rays .
A favourite of the local divers.
A reef between Toothbrush and Pig Island we have not explored it thoroughly yet but it seem promising