I arrived a little earlier than the rest of the team, and spent a few days watching the weather, and checking the sea conditions at Fish Rocks Cave. We had very very clear water coming through – although with this of course meant some pretty impressive currents that tended to switch back and forth.
Upon arrival our team settled into their new home for the next 3 nights. We had rented the entirety of the front apartment at South West Rocks Dive, enjoying the cosy sofa, lounge room, kitchen facilities, double bathroom and rooms with a smaller number of people in them! A few of us were not to be deterred, despite missing out on the more deluxe accommodation, bunking down in the dorm-style rooms for our sleep, but enjoying the friendly family feel up in the front rooms.
Divers arrived throughout Friday, some early, others very late (or early Saturday morning if you prefer!). Those who arrived earlier set up their gear ready to roll this afternoon, checks and rechecks done & enjoying the thought that they only had to climb into their wetsuit in the morning to be ready to go!
There were a few bleary eyes the next morning as we sorted ourselves onto the correct boat (we overflowed onto 2 boats) and headed out of the river to Fish Rock.
The ride out over the bar and to the Island was crisp & enjoyable, with some bumps here and there, but nothing too rough!.Chilly on the surface, much warmer underneath, we ploughed into the 22degree water, meeting with Grey Nurse Sharks and turtles immediately, with Wobbegong Sharks perched on all the high points – so much so that I almost kneeled on one while filming the group swim my way! I’m sue he rolled the evil eye at me for getting so close!! Hermit crabs on every surface, and at our mooring, so many critters to investigate before ascending to our safety stop. Porcelain crabs in 2 anemones close by paying hide & seek amongst the tentacles had the photographers amongst us occupied for quite some time!! Surface interval had us snuggled up in jackets drinking hot soup and coffee, munching on biscuits, lollies and cracking bad jokes!
Back over the side for dive 2 – some divers off through the cave, bumping into the massive turtle that regularly is seen feeding on the sponges in the dark. Wary of the bottom with numerous wobbegong sharks ‘getting amorous’ – indeed, one poor female had a pectoral fin on both sides in the jaws of a love-struck male!!
The currents continued to swirl with the clear water, meaning at times we were assisted along,.. And at others forged into it a bit! Very happy to have steel 12.2L cylinders filled with 32% Nitrox provided as standard to make up for the extra effort at times, along with most of the dives conducted below 20m.
A few of our team were drooping a bit that afternoon, so we headed off for dinner at the pub, with many divers perking up for a bit and then the droop caught up with them. Mama-duck(me) called home-time and we all headed home to bed, ready for our next day at sea.
Bright and early we charged off – the visibility had dropped a little, but still sighting sharks, turtle, cuttlefish, rays, our friendly blue groper ‘Mr Blue’ constantly mooching around looking for a free feed. Pete, being such a softie became he regular target to our delight, and was happy to offer a sea-urchin feed. On our first dive both groups were following along one of the trenches, when I spotted a school of bat rays gliding above them. DING DING DING!!! Look up everyone!! Rather exciting and fantastic to watch. The water was still so clear everybody spotted them!
Some divers chose another scoot through the cave, others chose not to – it was a great group with many photographers and pleasure divers working together to achieve a goal, wether it was an excellent photo or just a happy cruise, and occasional snuggle with Mr Blue. That afternoon, a couple of divers hung in the kitchen preparing dinner, with Pete acting as unofficial tour-guide for me, heading off to the old Gaol, After dinner preparations, the kitchen crew ALMOST managed to meet up with the rest heading to the lighthouse to catch the last light of the day. Of course, it had been magical sunsets all week until that day!!! At least some of our awesome photographers picked up some excellent photos that night. Back to the kitchen, and Peter brought out the big guns, cooking up a fantastic sauce to go along with our dinner of …. all sorts of things!!!
This was followed up by dessert, helpings of ice-cream, chocolate and a game of ‘Cards Against Humanity’ which had us in gales of laughter – won, in the end, but none other than game first-timer – Trent!
On our last day (being a QLD long weekend we had Monday to enjoy as well) some divers headed home early, and others stayed on to enjoy 2 more dives. I must admit, the conversation got very cheeky with Kevin back driving and just the boys and I (honorific boy sometimes) aboard. A most enjoyable couple of dives, going ‘backwards’ (shallow to deep) through the cave, and hooking in at current corner. I must bring a reef hook next time. I forget exactly how much fun that is – would be even better if I could use both hands on the camera!!
Many, many thanks to all of our divers who came along on such an enjoyable weekend, to our underwater guides, Steve, Mike, Joe, & Albert, Skippers Pete, Kevin & Mick, and of course all the crew behind the scenes at South West Rocks Dive, who put in the hard work to make our trip such an enjoyable event.
We will be headed back again in 2019 for the same QLD May Long weekend (already booked) – so if you are interested in coming along, get in quick – it looks like 2 spots are already taken by Trent!!