Six fearless members of the club took technical diving to new limits - exploring the shipwrecks of Titanic and German battleship Bismarck as warm up dives before setting down on the bottom of Challenger Deep, the deepest-known point on Earth. All this was conducted from the safety of the Australian Maritime Museum, without getting wet, no kit faffing nor cancellations due to weather and either side a picnic accompanied by a cheeky glass of wine! We also managed to squeeze in a tour of a submarine and take in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year photos with some club members even pledging to dust off their cameras in the near future. I look forward to seeing underwater photos taken by SSAC as winners next year :)
The days were getting colder so it was time to pull out the Santa hats and pretend it's Christmas. Houses were booked, shopping was done and it was time to head to Dumplings Den in Mudgee for a weekend of festivities.
Friday nights fun slowly grew as people arrived. Andy showed off his sharing skills by supplying the cheese and wine while Soo sorted out the pizza.
Saturday was a free day with people doing what they wanted. The two popular choices were the wine tour and the Field Day (the highlight of the Mudgee social calendar - a fine collections of baby farm animals to be petted, sheepdog trials to be watched, a magnificent collection of farm machinery old & new as well as more wine tasting and great slow cooked lamb sandwiches!). Judging by the excitement when everyone arrived home they were both a big hit.
The main event kicked off with G&Ts around the fire followed by champagne and wine. The food started and didn't stop. Prawns, cold cuts, tinny bum chickens, ham...
In the second of the two Meakin dives (see the Bare Island trip report for the first one) the famed former member did make it to the dive site this time. The Sydneysiders arrived between 7:45 and 8:10am and even then you had to go a fair way up the road to get a park...I guess it was the warm sunny weather and flat calm seas that got everyone out of bed so early on a Sunday morning. We'll have to go for 7:30am start next time. Having established base camp near one of the BBQ, we waited for the stragglers.
With a quorum of dives we set off. Marie and Ben hitching a ride to the far end of the reef with Andy and Al who had brought the scooters down. There was good viz on the ocean side, max. depth around 12m, with most people managing the planned 1 hr runtime. Once the formalities of the morning were out of the way it was time for brunch. There was a fine amount of bacon, HP, tommy K, tabasco, eggs, but al...
A dive at Bare Island was the first of two ‘the Meakin is back’ dives planned for Gary Meakin’s return visit to Australia. After organising equipment and logistics the time was set for an 8am meet at La Perouse on Saturday.
At 7:30am Monique and Sam received a message from Gary informing them that he had split his head in a surfing accident that morning and was going to hospital for stitches! This followed the news that a swimmer had been very badly bitten by a shark at Congwong beach the previous evening. The first we learned of this was when 9 News approached Sam for an impromptu interview. This later appeared on the evening news when the ‘local swimmer’ declared how ‘totally shocked’ he was. 9 News failed to include the bit where, when asked if the shark attack had deterred him from entering the water, Sam replied ‘no, but my wife won’t be very happy with me if she sees this on the news’.
During the final stages of kitting-up a policeman approached the groups of divers and...
Bags were packed and we were off to Brisbane for the Australia Day Straddie trip with our friends from Brisbane BSAC.
Andy, Ben, Duncan and Fe were part of the early wave heading over Thursday. After a whirl wind trip to Dan Murphys and Woolies for the must haves, beer, wine, gin and tonic, it was off to the ferry.
Friday we were up bright and early as we were on the first wave and so glad we did. The mantas were out playing and the sharks were everywhere.
Friday afternoon we were joined by Mon and Soo and some very nice gin thanks to Andy. We also had a trip to the gelato shop which I believe is a bit of a Straddie tradition. As it was Australia Day a BBQ was on the menu.
We got a bit of a sleep in Saturday morning as we were on the second wave. Still plenty of sharks, a manta and a couple of octopi chasing each other around. Another lazy afternoon with safety gins.
Sunday morning had Ben, Duncan and Mon up and diving while the others headed to Brown Lake to get so...
Fe, Andy , Duncan and Ben had a relaxing dive down at Bare Island. The vis wasn't the greatest, or was that just the silt kicked up by Andy's scooter?
The post dive burger at Bare Grill & Cafe hit the spot and everyone waddled home having had a fun afternoon.
This year the Christmas party was on Shark Island. Soo and Fe formed the advanced party and they set up base camp in the gazebo. Most of us came over on the 10:50 ferry and before long we were tucking in to a fine array of food. The Island is in Rose Bay, so the afternoon was spent idly watching the passing yachts go by, a round or two of boules, a dip in the sea or exploring the island’s foreshore and grottos, which were hand built in the early 1900s. A cleansing ale at the Fourtune of War rounded off a perfect afternoon.
There is nothing like a relaxing shore dive, especially in idilic spring weather, until you turn up at the chosen beach (Shelly) to find that it is hosting as major cancer charity walk and it's pandemonium. While the eager beavers (Glenn, Sam) who had arrived at 7am and managed to get a parking spot dived the plan, the rest of us bailed out to the calm of Little Manly Beach round the corner.
Al, Ben, Owen and Fe had a relaxing hour long dip, while Duncan, Sandy and Zoe provided the shore cover. A fun time was had by all.
As we drove down to Bare Island the piddling rain gave way to patchy sunshine and the wind dropped. Al, Fe and Andy were up for the dive, well, we were up anyway.
We parked at the top of a short path down to Congwong beach & faffed around getting all the usual kit together for a nice easy shore dive, The usual BSAC, three scooters, a rebreather, a side mount rig, drysuits and the kitchen sink.
We recovered Andy form the loos nearby, (He’d found a friend to chat to) and entered the cool, clear, calm water of Congwong, motored off to Bare Island bridge past the kelp and went for a spin round the island, only getting lost four or five times.
Saw a big fat groper, a bunch of recreational divers with a confused look, and beat a hasty retreat after nearly an hour. Andy’s drysuit was full of water, and he needed a pee.
After the usual post dive extra faff we went to Driftwood cafe round the corner for a “fatwood” burger and coffee.
Overall highly recommended, Congwong i...