Looking Glass, Nelson Bay
We were supprised to find a glorious day waiting for us, and an almost empty boat. Calm seas and blue sky, a perfect day for diving.
The conditions at Broughton Island - Looking Glass, the tunnel straight through the island that Grey Nurse love to lurk in - were perfect, so we did both dives there.
We saw thousands of fish, big blue groper, but most importantly, 7 or 8 big Grey Nurse, one of them easily the biggest I've ever seen - about 2.5 metres long.
There was a fair amount of surge, so the first dive was a little hair raising. After a decent surface interval, the swell died a bit, and the sun had angled into the crack in the island, so the second dive was well lit and a lot more plesant.
North Haven, Cod Grounds
My old friend the Eastern Blue Devilfish made a few appearances, such a lovely fish.
North Haven, Titan and Cod Grounds
Still, getting Narc'd is almost as good as a few beers, so I didn't complain.
THe Cod Grounds are entirely different prospect - last time I was here there were an astonishing number of Grey Nurse about. This time only a couple, perhaps the weather didn't agree with them...
After the dives, we had the whole afternoon - we took a drive to Crowdy Head national park.
North Haven, Bonnie Hills.
Anyway, the weatherman totally and utterly failed us for the first day in North Haven, blowing a gale in the morning meant we were restricted to inshore reefs. Still, a very colourful reef at that.
A couple of Port Jacksons, a couple of painted crays, and quite a bit of colourful weed and spongues - was certainly not unpleasant.
Cape Solander, Kurnell NP
We came across a very accomodating baby giant cuttlefish. He didn't mind posing for a few photographs at all, just the occasional bright colour change to indicate he knew we were there.
There are a few whales passing Botany Bay already - they seem early this year.
Kurnell, The Steps, Botany Bay National Park
Because the tide was going out, the water visability wasn't tremendous (all that dioxin in the harbour probably) but there were pockets of clear water, and I had the macro lens on anyway, so getting close to things was required.
It was weedy sea-dragon day. We must have spotted about 10 altogether, and none were very shy, dispite the 50 divers or so that had already visited them. After thoroughly blinding a couple with flashes (poor things - I try to keep it to 3 max, or it stresses them out) we headed on to the swim-throughs towards monument and enjoyed nudibranchs and spongue life.
The second dive people were going to repeat the first dive (boring !?!?!) so Racheal and I tried our luck with going with the current for the second dive, towards the steps, with the knowledge that it might be a harder swim back on the return leg. As luck would have it, by the time we started the second dive, the current had dropped off and it really needed have mattered which way we went. That was great though, because we had the whole section from The Steps to the Leap to ourselves, and saw catfish, rays, more weedy's, pigmy leather-jackets, brightly colour weed cale's and lots of schools of bigger fish that tend to vanish after a few divers have been through already.
The Wreck of the Oakland, Nelson Bay
The guys were going their deep module, and wreck module, and I don't especially enjoy wrecks much anyway, so I enjoyed being narked instead. There is always something else you can do if you get bored in the water ;)
Thanks to Jules, Mel, Tabi, Steve (Ox), James, Aimin and Aimina for a great weekend. Drop me a line if get a minute guys, so I have your email addresses.
Halifax, Broughton Island and Cabbage Tree Island, Nelson Bay
First dive was at Halifax point, an aquatic reserve just around the point from the boat ramp and jetty o the east of the Nelson Bay township. A nice leasurely stroll into the water on a sandy bottom and a very easy dive, especially since we had timed our entry to coincide with the high slack tide.
Nudibranch's abounded, and colourful spongues and weedbeds were the backdrop for the dive. I counted 7 varieties of Nudi's in a little over half and hour. Truly fantastic.
2nd dive, Looking Glass at Broughton Island, is simply breathtaking. A balloon shapped tunnel right through the island, the Lookingglass is a gloomy lurking ground for grey nurse sharks and huge schools of bullseyes and stripey.
There was a bit of surge, which surved to hurl you flying along the dark corridors of the tunnel, and then leave you weightless in the back-surge. Once such surge brought me up over a large boulder and face to face with the first grey nurse shark of the day. I'm not entirely sure who was more supprised, but I give the prize for best reaction to the shark: a quick turn, a snap of the tail and he was gone. All I did was drop my camera :)
The final dive was at Cabbage Tree Island, on the swell leeward side, amongst two smaller wrecks. Instructed to watch for a rare 'Donut' Nudibranch, James and I had it spotted and dazzled with strobe light in under 5 minutes flat. THe rest of dive didn't fail to disapoint, an Eagle ray took a bit of a chase to get within camera range, and a dozing wobbegong had made the old wreck his home.
After all this, the group still had enough energy to front up for a winery tour and some wine tasting. That finished us off though I think, the rest of the evening ends sort of, well, blurrily.
Kurnell, The Steps
The water felt SOOO good after the hot climb down the stairs. It felt even better after passing the thermocline at 5m.
Not great vis, but classic Kurnell, lots of fish, lots of nuidbranchs, weedy seadragons, etc.
I need to do some gear maintenance, my tanks are out of test, and my new computer, inexplicably, has a flat battery.
Diving in Palau Tioman, Malaysia
One and a half hours later, we're standing on the jetty at the top end of Tioman island with a slightly more stylish hairdo.
From check-in to diving was like 2 hours, has to be some sort of record I think. First stop was 'Fan Canyon' which lived up to its name, lots of swim-throughs and boulders covered in giant colourful fans and coral. Brightly coloured wrasse everywhere, with clown and anenome fish see-ing them off whenever they came to close to big clumps of waving anenome's.
A quick spot of lunch in a shelterd bay, I took the chance to do a little snorkeling - the reef suprisingly healthy dispite the fishing boats that are everywhere around the island.
Next spot was Unlucky Island, but nothing bad came of it, in fact it turned out to be very lucky if you're into Nudibranchs at all, there were LOTS of them.
A quick trip back to the resort for a nap and to regroup before our night dive.
The night dive trip wasn't far, in fact we could possibly have snorkled over to the island just off the end of the Jetty. Best part of the night dive would have to have been a hermit crab we scared the living crap out off. Here he was strolling along the ocean floor, minding his own business and the next thing, bam, spot lights everywhere. He froze like a doe in the headlights. He tenatively took a few more steps forward, blinded by a blaze of lights. That is, until I took a photo of him. The flash went off and he propped again, decided to pack it in, turned tail and bolted.
I have to mention something about Malaysia though - the thin veneer of order that perveys the place is just so very thin. While you're there you constantly feel like you're not being told something, that there is more information but that its been carefully, well, forgotten about or at least dangerously misplaced... No-one was especially happy to see us, which is not a problem really, we were happy to be there. The odd person was not very happy in general, and some people were borderline hostile - like they'd just lost their kitten. No big problem really, I think it was a fairly even race between cats and humans for number dominance on the island... I guess Malaysia has some work to do...