The Saxon reef is one of the outer reefs of the Greater Barrier Reefs. You will often see her linked to two nearby sister reefs, Norman and Hastings, which she sits between. Saxon Reef is like a little sister, always around but no one pays that much attention to. Then someone discovers what a gem she is. Saxon is a gem. Smaller than her sisters being only about 1.7 kilometers long and about 750 meters at its widest point. There are seven prime dive sites around the reef, six on the leeward side and one on the windward side. The moorings are well spaced and offer a range of different conditions. With the small number of moorings, not as many dive operators visit the reef. Leaving a pristine reef without crowds for those who do dive it.
While there are differences between each dive site overall the reef is known for its large coral heads and the amount of hard coral coverage. Stag coral gardens, which are very impressive, are a dominate feature on the reef as are the table coral. Hard coral coverage exceeds 30% on many of the dive sites. While soft corals are generally more colorful on the reef, the hard coral help provide protection to many species of juvenile fish. Some fish, such as the parrot fish, use the hard coral as a source of food. The hard corals are also the building blocks of the reef. A reef with a healthy hard coral community that is expanding, is providing the means for the reef to continue to grow.
Diving At Saxon Reef
It is very difficult to describe a dive on a reef such as Saxon Reef. The emotional impact is so great that words often fail us. She has many of the same features and marine life that the Norman reef does and Norman reef is considered one of the best in the Great Barrier Reef park. We will give a brief glimpse at a few of the dive sites.
The Twin Peaks dive site sits just off the main reef. It consist of two Brommies sitting next to each other. They are close enough together to create a swim through. A good site for both divers and snorkelers as the top of the Bommie provide a range of different corals and fish.
The Reef Magic/ Magic Wall dive site sits at the northern most mooring. It depends on who you talk with or whose diving brochure you read if this is two separate sites or two names for one site. Going south of the mooring and you will find many stoney corals (Porites sp. Massive) mixed with a variety of soft corals. The reef offers a number of coral platforms with an array of sea life. Going north from the mooring and then around an outcrop and heading northeast brings you to a different environment. It is extremely important that you get a full briefing if you are planning to go in that direction. Depending on the currents this can be a very challenging dive. Also remember that tides and therefore the currents associated with them turn quickly. So a calm dive along the reef edge can quickly turn into a drift dive going the wrong direction.
The coral garden located about the middle of the back of the reef is a shallow site and is a perfect place for new snorkelers. You can just float in place and see all the wonders of the reef. Divers can drop over the reef edge and find some passages among the coral. Look closely and you may see some sleeping reef sharks.
As mentioned not all the dive operators visit this reef. Only four operators have private moorings here. The Cairns based liveaboard dive boat, MV Reef Encounter, will conduct night dives at times on this reef. The only way to dive this reef at night is by a Liveaboard. Combining this reef with her two sisters is an excellent range of dive sites.