YD Scuba Diving Forums banner
1 - 4 of 4 Posts

51 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Imported post

My girlfriend, Diane, and I recently returned from a three week trip to Australia. Although it was supposed to be a holiday, we had applied for a Permanent Residency Visa in August and treat the time out there as a kind of look-see as to where we would like to live. Hence the first week was spent visiting a friend of ours in Kalgoorlie WA, right in the heart of the Australian Goldfields, and around 400Kms and 5 hours from the nearest ocean. Not many diving opportunities arose there but I believe one or two of the water-filled pits and dams in the locale are employed for a splosh occasionally. Just like home!
But as the gold mining industry is currently suffering a dearth of skilled engineers to service the machinery, Kalgoorlie looks like the place for me to gain employment quickly and remuneratively and it could be the place for us to live for a few years.

Leaving Kalgoorlie we flew overnight to the east coast visiting Diane?s best friend from school, who emigrated around six years ago to a small resort town called Caloundra, on the Sunshine Coast, 98kms north of Brisbane.

Here the opportunity to get wet on a regular basis is virtually on your doorstep. We booked a couple of nights at the Tangalooma Wild Dolphin resort on Moreton Island. Diane has a long standing love of dolphins and a pod of wild ones come to the beach every evening for the chance of some free fish, fed by the resort guests under careful  supervision by the resident Dolphin Research Team. She was in seventh heaven!
I, for my part, booked a dive at the nearby Tangalooma Wrecks, an artificial reef of fifteen boats purposely sunk to form a safe haven for small watercraft.
This was to prove to be an ideal first dive, the maximum depth possible is only 10.5m and owing to the constant current, even at slack water, makes for a very colourful drift dive. With a water temperature of 23 degrees it was a pleasure to dive in my 3mm ?shorty? wetsuit and was soon down to 6m. The quantity of fish life was amazing and I couldn?t even start to name them all but ?all the colours of the rainbow? sprang to mind. There were a few Wobbegong Sharks around, up to 6-7ft in length, and obviously used to divers as one cruised up behind me and over my shoulder, literally inches from my face. We cruised through a shoal of Silver Trevally, approximately 300 of them, surrounding us on all sides. There were Angel fish aplenty, crayfish, puffer fish and some little ones, the name I never discovered, of the brightest blue I?ve ever seen, almost neon in appearance. We did a couple of swim-through?s of a couple of the wrecks, not too tight or dark, in one of which we had a close encounter with a Sergeant Major Fish, a highly territorial little beastie willing to take us all on! A total bottom time of 43mins of Technicolour fun in around 10m viz.

A few days later we booked to stay on Lady Elliot Island at the southern tip of the Great barrier Reef, in the Capricorn Group of islands.
Following a short flight out of Hervey Bay, we landed in a tropical paradise, a coral cay, where if you want to experience the Reef at close quarters you literally step off the beach into the water.
I had booked my first dive within 30mins of landing! This was what those wet weekends at Vivian and Capernwray were in aid of. The REAL thing!
As it was still officially winter in Australia, the resort was suffering some of the worst currents they?d had this year, so the afternoon dive boat had been cancelled and a shore dive planned at ?Coral Gardens?. Entry was a walk across the Lagoon, in full kit  and mid-calf water, to the drop-off. A very interesting experience in bare feet, and attempts at putting fins on in 3ft waves without lacerating various parts of your body on coral proved hilarious. Diane had come snorkelling at the same area and her wounds from her entry and exit looked like she?d been attacked by sharks!
This dive site is reckoned to be one of the most spectacular on the island and we were soon surrounded by corals of all shapes, sizes and colours. It must be a simply awsome night dive when it all comes ?alive?. It was Green Turtle mating season and there were a few courting couples in evidence. Fish life was abundant, parrot fish in particular, and I finally got to see Clown Fish in the wild, teasing them until they took refuge in the poisonous soft coral they like to inhabit. The patches or ?bommies? of coral amid the pure white sand really made this place look like a garden. Maximum depth 13.4m, 33 mins bottom time, 15m viz and 23 degrees.

On our second day, I arrived at the dive shop at the appointed hour only to find I was the only diver there. My buddy for the dive, Aaron, was the shop manager and had been stuck in the shop for 3 months and had actually volunteered to come with me for his own pleasure. He decided to do his favourite drift dive, Moari Wrasse Bommie to Lighthouse Bommie which takes in 4 or 5 of the island?s dive sites. As we dropped down the anchorline, I could see the three resident Maori Wrasse which give the site its name and big, ugly buggers they are too! More Green Turtles a-wooing in the sand and I got to meet Frank, the islands only resident Loggerhead Turtle. I?d seen this species before, on Heron Island the last time we were on the Reef, but none as large as this fella! He must have been in the region of 7-8ft long and 4ft wide! We continued to drift down through ?Second Reef?, a beautiful wall of corals with a myriad of multi-coloured fish, another large shoal of Trevally and a few Unicorn Fish.
At one point we drifted over a bed of pristine Stag Horn Coral maybe 15m long by 4m wide. After a total drift of approximately 250m, I felt I had just swam through someone?s aquarium! Maximum depth 18.9m,bottom time 31mins, 20m+ viz 23degs  water temp.

The afternoon dive, and my last as it was the day before flying out, was to be a wreck dive followed by a mooch over to ?Three Pyramids Bommie?. The wreck of ?The Severance? lies in 20m of water and is totally visible from the surface. It is a concrete hulled ocean going yacht, sunk in 1980 and still has its full rigging, even remnants of the sails! A few large fish live around the boat, but as penetration of the wreck is not allowed, I couldn?t look for Moray?s. Although the wreck was in amazing condition it was hardly ?decorated? at all, a few barnacles etc, but very little in the coral or anemone line. We moved on to ?Three Pyramids?, a known cleaning station for pelagics like Manta Ray?s and Sharks although none made an appearance. There was a huge moray hiding in a cave at the base of one of the bommies. I managed to take his photograph but didn?t fancy trying for a close up, his head was massive! There was a very large shoal of bait fish at another of the bommies, flashing silver as they darted around you and a Sea Pike lurked at a respectable distance. We encountered a Groper at the third bommie and if you?ve never seen one of these fish, think along the lines of the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. I rapidly ran out of air as I?d been madly finning round taking photo?s, but the pleasure of doing a 3 minute safety stop at 5m above a coral reef is one every diver should experience. We did sight some Manta?s cruising on the surface on our way back to the resort. Max depth 20.6m, 30mins bottom time, 25m viz and 24degrees.

In our last week in Australia, I booked a couple of dives with Sunreef Diving in Mooloolaba. I was hoping they?d take us out to the Inner or Outer Gneerings reefs as these sites are known for the big fish. But the Aussie winter won again and because the waves and current were so strong, we were to go to the lee-side of Old Woman Island off the coast at Maroochydore.
The first dive was the shallowest I?ve ever done with a maximum depth of 8.8m but mainly in the 0 to 5m range but with poor viz at around 5-10m. The whole area was very highly decorated, with hard and soft corals, even more colourful than Lady Elliot Is. Our guide for the day, Paul, pointed out some of the best places to look and showed us a few really brightly coloured Nudibranchs and the smallest Moray-like eel I?ve ever seen, maybe 4 inches in length and a bright yellow with black stripes. There were a few Puffer Fish, Clown Fish guarding their patches and one or two Wobbegongs hiding under ledges. The gullies surrounding the island were interesting to swim through, but, given the amount of surge, having a good ferret around was impossible. There was a blowhole to swim through which felt like being popped out of a bottle on exit, again due to surge. On this dive I got extremely cold, even though the water temperature was 21deg, probably owing to the 51min bottom time!

The second dive of the day was further around the island and comprised of a wall dive ranging from 5-14m in depth. The viz at this site was poor to say the least, large amounts of debris washed of the reefs by the current just hanging in the water at slack tide. Having said that, there was still plenty to see and soon got into pointing my torch into cracks and hidey-holes. Plenty more of the tiny, highly coloured Nudibranchs, a few Puffer Fish and a small school of Cuttlefish. There were a couple or three very large Crayfish hiding in holes, their antennae over a foot long. The real highlights of the dive for me, though, were the two Lionfish we encountered and the two Octopus we found impossibly squeezed into gaps between the rocks. We had a wonderfully scenic safety stop, cruising above the top of the wall, with corals and anemones by the score. We surfaced near the boat to be surrounded by 5 or 6 inquisitive Green Turtles. Max depth 13.4m, 39 mins bottom time, 5m viz and 21deg water.

My first dives away from these shores have left me with some truly unforgettable memories and have made me realise why I say ?Yes? when asked if I fancy going down to Vivian on a cold, wet Sunday in December. It?s for the practice! If the Australian Immigration people would only get their collective fingers out, I could make perfect what I?ve practiced on a more regular basis.


281 Posts
Imported post

Ah I'm jealous man, sounds most excellent. i hope that you get that immigration ticket!

If you end up at Kalgoorlie there's some excellent diving in WA...I must say I think a 5mm steamer is the job for diving in the not always very warm Australian waters though.

I know exactly the little blue neon fish you were talking about. Name, anyone?
1 - 4 of 4 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.