The final dive on our self-guided SA dive trip was on the Port Noarlunga reef, only half an hour from Adelaide. This was a somewhat last minute decision to dive, but we’re certainly glad we did!
The water was amongst the warmest we experienced on our trip, and we saw a host of fish amongst the nooks of the reef, some willing to hang around and show off. The leatherjackets, with their colourful patterns, were magnificent to see and the sharpnose weed whiting was a first. Watch out for the cray too!
The reef is a natural breakwater accessed by walking down the 400m long jetty, with a flight of stairs making entry to the water super easy. Very popular for both snorkelling and diving, there were plenty of people in the water with us. A series of signs make navigation underwater somewhat simple, although we did turn the dive when we couldn’t find the next sign as we went through the ‘gap’ to the open ocean side of the reef. Touristy area, so parking can be troublesome, but toilets nearby. Decent trek from carpark, so consider a trolley.
Location: Port Noarlunga, SAWater Temperature: 21°CAverage Depth: 4.0mMaximum Depth: 9.1m
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
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 🦈
On Friday we headed out to Fly Point, a shore dive in Nelson Bay, led by the fabulous Jason from Let’s Go Adventures. We were blown away by the amazing creatures under the water, and a stunning shore dive amongst the corals that was almost 16 metres deep!
The highlights for me were the sharks (blind shark and wobbegong) and the fact that we had DOLPHINS diving amongst us (too quick for the video I’m afraid).
Location: Nelson Bay, NSW, AustraliaWater Temperature: 19°CAverage Depth: 8.7mMaximum Depth: 15.5m