Easter – March 2016
Again we headed to Marion Bay for what for some of us must be about 25 years in a row. Tim, Sonya, Mia, Nic and myself. We were in a little shack that was a bit rough but still had more room and facilities than the cabins we use to stay in the caravan park for all those years.
We went for a drive first thing Friday and went into the national park to try and get a view of our usual spots. There was a steady breeze blowing but we thought we would give it a go. We went around past Cape Spencer to a bay we went to last year with some success. I dived with Sonya and Tim with Nic. We descended down the anchor line and realised straight away that this was going to be a low visibility dive. When we got to the bottom it was very swelly and we were getting bashed and bumped around a bit. We only saw 2 crays but didn’t manage to get either of them. We were followed most of the dive by a large blue grouper, who may have been waiting for a feed. Tim & Nic saw a cray on their first dive as well but no luck there either. Nic saw what we think was a juvenile shark (long & skinny small head, camouflage colours of black, white & grey).
For the second dive we came back closer towards Marion Bay and found a spot along a wall that looked promising. It was only 5m deep and not as swelly as the first dive, there was lots of spots where crays should have been! But only managed to see and catch 1 cray. Tim & Nic saw one as well but no luck in catching it. At this location a pod of dolphins joined us and stayed for a while. There were several adults and some babies staying very close to the mothers. By the time Tim & Nic went in the wind and swell was increasing but they enjoyed their dive anyway. We headed back to Marion Bay to a few beers and a lovely home made spaghetti Bolognese. (Thank you Sonya)
Saturday we went out to Haystack Island and Tim & Nic dived the Southern side of the island, at approx. 15 m they found many large caves and walls and there was many very pretty swim-throughs with lots of fish going from one cave to another.
There was lots of Blue Devils, big Blue Grouper that followed them for most of the dive as well. The caves were full of colourful Gorgonia, soft corals and coloured sponges. In one of the caves they saw a large Wobbegong shark. With the wind & rain looking ominous we were keeping a close eye on the approaching front while looking for the divers to surface. By the time they came up the wind had picked up and was raining slightly.
Sonya & I decided to do the second dive at the Gp and we found a sheltered spot. As we descended we realised the viz was very poor about 2m at best. As we worked our way along the wall the viz improved and we found a huge cave that we entered. I have dived in a cave which I thought was directly under the Gap but this one was before the Gap.
To me this was the diving highlight of the weekend, swimming into this huge cave that was about as large as the house we were staying in. Inside there was lots of hard and soft colourful coral and it was very clear inside. We went in about 25-30m with only our torches illuminating the way, we only went as far that we could see our way back. I kept turning around to make sure I could see the light at the entrance. We saw a few crays on the dive but they still eluded capture. As we left this cave we went straight into another one, this one was not as big as the first was still very pretty and had small chasms of the main area to discover.
As we progressed into the cave there were lots of Nannygai, Leather Jackets and many of Max’s favourite Blue Devils hiding in the dark. Beautiful!!
Strange as it may seems but there was no swell in the caves and the viz was very good! Sonya did manage to catch 3 crays but had to let them go as they were too small. Tim & Nic dived the same area and came back very impressed with the spectacle we had just seen.
Sonya & I did our second dive in the protected bay of Cape Spencer lighthouse. This was shallow with a max of 8m, while it was a bit swelly it was ok and had better viz that the previous dive. We didn’t see a cray as the area had bit too much weed. Back at the boat ramp, while retrieving the boat, a large 1m diameter stingray swam up onto shore and almost beached itself. It hung around for quite a while near our feet as we worked around the boat causing a bit of end of day excitement. At times its barb was clearly visible as it pointed up out of the water, wouldn’t want to step on that! It was attracted by fishermen cleaning fish at the boat ramp, something that I thought was frowned upon.
Sunday we went back around to the Gap and this time we had Mia with us. The idea was to show her the cave that we had been in the day before. The ocean was a lot rougher that it was the day before and I didn’t think that Tim, Mia & Nic would last long on this dive,,, unfortunately I was right and with virtually zero viz and getting bashed against the rocks a regular occurrence the dive was soon aborted. No other areas would have been any good so we headed back to Marion Bay for a relaxing afternoon. I went and visited some friends at Foul Bay and the others relaxed. Sunday night it was time to bring out the “Easter eggs injected with Kahlua”, these proved still to be very popular and something you could not stop at one,,,, so we didn’t!
Monday morning it was the usual slow pack up to head back to Adelaide dreading the inevitable traffic bank up at Pt Wakefield. I diverted my trip and dropped in at Edithburgh and had a coffee with Ronnie & Pete who also had Max staying there, then Sue Stuart visited so it was a nice break to the drive home. What I did notice was that by the time I left Edithburgh, about 2, I had no trouble getting through Pt Wakefield. Pays to go a bit later.
A special thank you to Sonya & Tim & family for organising the weekend and inviting me along. It is still a special place to dive even after all these years and there are still many areas to explore, and I’m sure the caves we visited this year will be on our hot spot in the future. Hopefully you’ll join us there next year!