We were told that Rapid Bay Jetty was an epic dive, and it did not disappoint. When we arrived at the jetty, it was blowing a gale and we were hesitant to jump into unknown waters given the wind. A chat with some friendly divers in the carpark quickly changed that and off we went.
The main aim of our dive was to spot a leafy seadragon – cousin to the weedy seadragons we see here in Victoria. Such otherworldly creatures, we were lucky enough to spot one (probably the same one!) on each dive we did here. Of course there were loads of other creatures to see also – octopus, cuttlefish, massive schools of fish and so much more, with different critters greeting us on our night dive. A massive dive site, we did two day dives and a night dive and still didn’t make it to the end!
Rapid Bay Jetty is actually two jetties – an old large dilapidated jetty with sections falling into the water and a newer fishing jetty running parallel about 20m to the east. To access the old jetty (and dive site), walk down the fishing jetty (it’s long, consider a trolley), down the stairs and to the dive platform. Upon entering the water and descending, you’ll see a series of starpickets that lead the way to the old jetty. Head out (watch for fishing line) and then along to the T. Keep an eye on your air as it’s a large dive site, better to return with some air as opposed to a long surface swim!
We were advised to bring spare tanks with us given the long drive back to Adelaide and were grateful to not have to worry about air through the entire trip (public holidays and Sundays are a little different in SA!). On our return for the night dive we did discover that Peter at Second Valley Air Fills was available for air, super handy. Not many facilities in the area, so pack snacks for your surface interval and note that the closest toilets are at the campgrounds. Check the conditions with a local beforehand – our new found friends in the carpark were able to advise on current, recommended turn around points etc, which made for an easier dive.
Location: Rapid Bay, SAWater Temperature: 20°CAverage Depth: 6mMaximum Depth: 9.8m
First stop on our recent South Aus dive trip was Ewens Ponds in Mount Gambier (watch this space for Rapid Bay, Second Valley, Port Noarlunga, Edithburgh and Port Hughes – whew~!)
Ewens Ponds are a series of three spring fed freshwater waterholes connected by shallow slow moving channels. The visibility in this underwater world is breathtaking – as you emerge from each channel the ground drops away revealing the extent of the next pond, and it feels like you’re flying through space. The channels themselves are a tonne of fun – sort of like an amusement park for divers, with the stream pushing you through, just tuck in your elbows and enjoy the ride!
We were so taken by the ponds that we rearranged our travel plans to stop by for a night dive on our return trip and it was well worth it, with eels sitting amongst the reeds and freshwater crays scuttling away everywhere we turned.
The site requires a booking via an online permit system. Water is about 15C year-round, so a wetsuit (or drysuit!) is a must. Navigation is simple, although a little harder at night – a daytime exploration dive highly recommended. Take your time and don’t rush – the booking is for 1 or 2 hours, so make the most of it!
You will likely need to take a bit of weight off for freshwater, and be careful not to hit the bottom as you first descend – the water is so still that silt and sediment will take ages to settle. The best bit about diving here (other than the insane viz!)? You don’t need to wash your gear afterwards!
Location: Mount Gambier, SAWater Temperature: 15°CAverage Depth: 4.8mMaximum Depth: 9.1m
Quick video of our dive at Blairgowrie last week. With the long nights and the warm waters, it’s the perfect time to jump in for an afterwork dive at the moment.
The highlight of the dive was spotting a stargazer – I’ve been waiting to see one for ages, and this was my first! With a mouth like a kids crudely drawn monster smile, eyes poking up like small shells strategically placed and just a faint outline camouflaged by the sand, you’ll see in the video why they are easy to miss. Wikipedia says “Because stargazers are ambush predators which camouflage themselves and some can deliver both venom and electric shocks, they have been called “the meanest things in creation””.
Other notable mentions include an eagle ray (too quick to capture on video), 15 or so massive side gilled slugs and the spider crabs made an appearance (not the migration yet, but impressive nonetheless!).
Whilst our final dives in Nelson Bay didn’t feature the magnificent sharks of the previous days, they were exhilarating in their own right. On Monday we headed out to Halifax Park, to what used to be known as one of the best shore dives in Australia. Unfortunately storm sand movement has covered much of the colourful sponge gardens, but the sand is slowly retreating and the colour is re-emerging. On the day that we visited the skies were overcast with occasional thunder, the wind was piercing and the “light showers” felt like hail – what a way to feel alive!
Under the water it was a different story – once the craziness of the weather was out of sight we were able to concentrate on our dives, and the stunning coral and sponge gardens, inquisitive fish and even a wobbegong shark. The second dive was even better – my first drift dive. Starting off at a nice slow pace, we were able to control our movements to still be able to video fish (check out the adorable pair of cuttles that got a fright and changed colour in front of us!). Once the current picked up however, we were whooshing along, zipping up and over sand banks before being deposited at our exit point. What a rush and an exciting way to finish out Nelson Bay dives! Thanks Jason & Mick at Let’s Go Adventures 🙂
Location: Nelson Bay, NSW, AustraliaWater Temperature: 18°CAverage Depth: 12mMaximum Depth: 20m
GREY NURSE SHARKS! One of our most anticipated dives for our trip was the boat trip out to Broughton Island, where Marky and I were lucky enough to spend 4 dives over two days observing these magnificent creatures in their natural environment.
And they certainly did not disappoint. From the first eerie sight of them, swimming towards us through the slightly murky waters, through to our final dive, where they were almost pausing in front of us, begging us to take their photos, we were awestruck.
Whilst we were here we also took the PADI Project Aware Shark Conservation with Mick and Jason from Let’s Go Adventures. Through the course we learnt about the different levels of conservation status, why sharks are so critical to our environment and what steps we can take to better improve their status. If you get the chance to observe these super important creatures in their natural habitat, with environmentally conscientious operators, please do. See www.projectaware.org if you want more info.
As always, watch in HD if possible 🙂 Vid is a bit long because I had trouble cutting out any of shark footage #sorrynotsorry 🦈