Carrickalinga – Anzac Day Long Weekend April 2022
The ANZAC day long weekend this year we ventured to Carrickalinga. As we did not go away on the Adelaide Cup or Easter long weekends we were all looking forward to going away. We had a lovely 2 storey house with ocean views and close to the beach. The house had double facilities with kitchen and bathroom facilities on both levels which made for easy living.
We arrived at various times on Friday afternoon and settled in on the balcony admiring the ocean view while having a discussion about the potential diving for the weekend. Out of courtesy we didn’t start having a drink until Hels and Mike arrived, who stopped off for dinner along the way. (No one will believe this)
We awoke Saturday morning and decided the wreck of the Hobart was the preferred site, but if this was too rough, we would divert to Rapid Head or Rapid Bay. The weather and tides were good so it was looking promising when we headed out to the Hobart on Saturday morning. The wreck is in 30m of water and is approximately 8.9km from the Wirrina cove boat ramp.
The Hobart, a brief description.
Class Charles F Adams Class
Type Guided Missile Destroyer
Nickname Green Ghost
Launched 9 January 1964
Commissioned 18 December 1965
Decommissioned 12 May 2000
Displacement 4500 tons (full load)
Length 440.8 feet (overall)
Further information on the Hobart can be found here .
There was an easterly wind which made it off shore, so there was only a small surface chop to contend with for the 2 boats. We had Sonya, Tim and myself on the Vandergoot’s boat and Sharon, Vic, Hels, Mike, Kevin and Tony on Tony’s boat. We tied off the Hobart’s stern marker buoy and were happy to see that there was no tidal current at all, something that can be an issue at this site. Sonya and Vic stayed on board as boat people and the rest of us kitted up and dropped in. It was immediately apparent that we were not in the tropics as the visibility was not great, but we were here, so continued. Tim and I descended to the main deck and had a look around there admiring the colourful coral and sponge growth after 20 years since its sinking. After exploring a few rooms we ventured over the stern to the bottom at about 30m.
We slowly worked our way along the ship entering the access points and having a look around while also ascending to the next deck level as time is short at this depth. The whole time your imagination is trying to make out what the coral encrusted items were before 20 years in the ocean environment.
Nearly every surface area of this wreck is covered with some kind of colourful sponges and algae’s and the ship hosts a myriad of fish species including Boar fish, Talmers, Leather Jackets, Sweep, Snapper, Snook, Old Wifes schools of Trevally and Blue Devils being very common.
We worked our way to midship and were at the main deck level when we passed Hels, Sharon and Mike who had started closer to midship. This was our turn around point as we had planned to ascend the same buoy we had descended on. We swam over the rear turret with its single cannon pointing us to the stern where we found the buoy line which we slowly started our ascent on.
We decided to head to Rapid Bay to have lunch in the calmer waters and dive the jetty. Due to a technical issue after lunch the dive did not eventuate and we made our way back to the Wirrina boat ramp.
Diner Saturday night was at the Yankalilla hotel where we caught up with Greg & Helen Sampson which is always nice. This was followed by games of 8 ball while being entertained by a two piece band which were quite good.
Sunday morning the weather conditions were slightly better with the wind a little more northerly but not an issue. Sonya, Tim and myself decided to do the Hobart again this time starting at the bow. Tony, Sharon, Hels, Mike and Kevin settled for a shore dive at Second Valley. This wasn’t to happen until after lunch so Hels was able to try our her new inflatable kayak, which from what I heard, went very well. The shore dive was an exploratory dive looking for Lasseters Reef – unfortunately it wasn’t found, but the divers came across a lovely Weedy Sea Dragon and plenty of Jelly Bean Anemones.
The conditions on the Hobart were a bit better than the Saturday and this time we made our descent down the bow to the bottom surrounded by a large school of Trevally. We progressed into a few rooms that were full of pipework and machinery of some kind and were guarded by the ever present Blue Devils. Once inside the wreck we descended a couple of levels exploring the various compartments. The bunk beds toilets can be easily distinguished but most other things are left to the imagination.
Up another level and through the school of Trevally and it was on to the bridge where for 35 years the captain would have commanded this vessel on its missions. Now we had Captain Tim in command! After steering the ship on its correct course it was back passed the crows nest and radar towers then down through an opening and into the engine room. We explored then engine room with the ever present Blue Devil, then back outside and on to the main deck, passed the radar tower, back over the forward turret and cannon to the bow line and back to the surface where Sonya was there to great us.
We then headed to Rapid Bay for lunch and a second dive. By now the sky had become overcast making it even harder to find the illusive Leafy Sea Dragon. We were still entertained by the numerous Magpie Perch, Wrass, Bullseyes, Old Wives, Talmas, Moonlighters, and the Goat fish which were busily racing around the sandy bottom filtering out small morsels of food. We slowly swam along over fallen jetty pylons passing the large Strongies that lay motionless under the corroding beams, until you swim directly over them. None of the fish seem too disturbed by your presence as they see divers all the time. Around the centre of the Tee of the jetty is the most prolific amount of fish life where they all seem to gather. Large schools of Bullseyes seem to hang stationary in the water and only slowly part when you drift through them. Even though we searched intently, the Leafy Sea Dragon illuded us for this dive but it was still pleasant.
Sunday night a joint BBQ was held with lovely salads and dessert, there was no chance of anyone going hungry. We spend longer out on the balcony than the previous nights as it was warmer all while watching the sunset until it was too cold to bear. We had a few quite drinks inside discussing and solving the worlds problems until the late night got the better of all of us.
Monday morning was the usual pack up and start to head home. Some of us stopped off for lunch at Forktree Brewery with its lovely views over looking the hills to the ocean. We had eaten here before so knew that the meals were great and definitely for the hungry.
Special thank you to the boaties, Sonya & Tim and Tony. Also thank you to those who helped me organise the weekend and to all who attended, I think everyone had a nice weekend.
Note: As it was ANZAC Day Monday morning, the group observed a minutes silence to honour those who had fallen so we have the freedom to have these weekends away with ours friends and pursue our chosen hobby.
Yours in Diving
Port Noarlunga Jetty – February 6th 2022
A fabulous way to start the day. Entered the water at 7.30am to avoid the strong currents we knew were coming. Seas were flat calm, with a nice sunny day. A leisurely dive entering at the first set of steps, swimming along under the jetty we sighted two juvenile Port Jackson Sharks and families of ornate cow fish (I think they’ve been breeding!). At the end of the jetty, which was absolutely teeming with fish life, we headed north along the reef. Came across a BIG Flathead, an Ornate Batwing Slug, lots of Strong Fish, Talmas, Leather Jackets, Silver Drummer, Magpie Perch, Moonlighters and a few Hermit Crabs. Veered from the reef and visited the old set of stairs, which is looking really good with a lot of healthy growth and fish numbers increasing. A great dive followed by coffee and croissants – awesome!
Marion Bay – Australia Day Long(er) Weekend January 2022
Australia Day 2022 landed on a Wednesday so some of us decided to take the Thursday and Friday off (those that are still working) to head down to Marion Bay.
This weekend was shared by Sonya & Tim, Sharon & Vic, Gaynor and her sister Verity, and myself. We had just finished our Australia day BBQ (what else would you have) when the heavens opened up and down came the rain. I could hear the rumblings of thunder while cooking the BBQ but didn’t think it would amount to much. Although not predicted, mother nature put on a spectacular electrical display that went on for about 3 hours. While great to watch, it did make me wonder if we would be diving the next day!
We arose Thursday morning to blue skies and calm seas with not a trace of what we had witnessed the night before. As it was so calm we decided to head out to Haystack Island with Gaynor deciding not to join us this time. When we arrived, it was still very calm so went to the west end of the island which you can rarely get to. The visibility was great and we could see the reef coming up from the bottom to be just under the boat and suddenly dropping away in rows of chasms to about 15m. As we had a boat person (Sonya), we didn’t anchor and Tim and myself went in first to about 3m of water which dropped off a wall to a cave system at about 13m, all very beautiful and covered with colourful sponges and Gorgonian coral. All the time we were followed by many large blue Grouper, Sweep, Leather Jackets and many other reef fish. It could only be described as like swimming in a crowded aquarium.
We worked our way closer to the island where it became a bit swelly and not as interesting so we headed west again and found more caves and swim throughs all covered in their colourful glory with the fish life following close by. Sharon and Vic dived the same spot all be it a few metres south of where Tim and myself had been. After the dive we were all raving about how good it was and that we were lucky to be able to dive this location.
After a surface interval and lunch break we all decided that this location deserved a second dive. The boat was moved just slightly south of our first dive and when over the top of a wall, Tim and I descended down admiring the same colourful views and fish life that we had experienced on the first dive. This was still a great spot as we were surrounded by walls and crevices that went from the surface to 15m and all covered with brightly coloured sponges and coral. Again, there was an abundance of fish life to keep us interested from the small Wrasse to the giant Blue Groper that would always follow you round.
I had been looking for crayfish under a ledge and just raised my head out when I saw my dive buddy Tim performing continuous backflips. I thought he can’t be narced at this depth?? Then I saw past Tim to see 3 friendly Dolphins mimicking his moves. An amazing sight, and to make even better when I looked behind me Sharon was filming the whole thing. The Dolphins left, and the Dolphin whisperer and I continued our dive admiring the lovely views with 15-20m visibility. I was lucky enough to catch a cray but they were very sparse and shy when you did see them. Thursday night was Pizza night and we all had lovely meals with nice salads to accompany them.
Friday morning was calm again so we headed around to Cape Spencer thinking we might dive below the lighthouse. Vic took the day off diving and stayed on land. As we went round and it was calm enough to venture further around to the Pinnacle; this is another location that can only be dived on very calm day so we were lucky again. Tim and I dived along the cliff wall and this location was much more rocky with large boulders to swim around, and while nice with lots of colourful coral and sponges, it was not as pretty as the Haystack Island dives. Tim and I came across a huge black bull seal which checked me out while I was looking under ledges for crayfish and hung around Tim for a while. Sharon and Gaynor dived together at the same location and were still finding things to photograph and video.
After a lunch break we went to the Gap for the second dive, the idea was to find the large cave that is near the Gap and show those who had not seen it before. Sonya and Tim went in first and headed into the Gap then east along the wall, but did not find the large cave. Upon their return Sharon, Gaynor and I dived the same location heading east along the wall finding many small caves all covered with beautiful sponges and Gorgonian coral. There was plenty of photo opportunities for the girls with an abundance of fish life and plenty of coral and sponges to fill their SD cards. All I had was the story of the big one that got away! Sometimes the crays are just too strong in their small hole. Well, it seems that someone must have filled in the large cave because no one found it!! When we surfaced, the wind had picked up a bit so it was a slower trip back.
The hungry divers had worked up an appetite for another BBQ with cheesecake for dessert and Tim came up with the great idea of injecting the lamingtons with Kahlua!!! But sadly I didn’t have a syringe, so maybe next time Tim.
Saturday our luck had run out and the wind had picked up, so we went for a long walk along the cliff top past Rhino’s all the way to Stenhouse Bay Jetty. We did see different views of the coastline that we normally only see by boat, and also saw the usual Kangaroos and Emus.
That night we all had the pleasure of watching Ash Barty win the Australian Open so that gave us something else to celebrate and drink to. Sunday morning I packed the car for the trip home and it was very windy at Marion Bay but by the time I got to Ardrossan it was flat calm with not a breath of wind(??). Gaynor and Verity also headed home; but Sonya, Tim, Sharon and Vic went to Pt Turton to do a jetty dive.
Sharon and Sonya dived while Tim and Vic watched on. Though this is a shallow dive (maximum depth 3.5m) it was nice and relaxing with several hermit crabs, crabs, a few nudibranch including a Verconia Verconis that Sharon was excited to see, a couple of eagle rays and many fish (especially Cowfish) to be seen. The eagle rays are used to be fed there so they circled in the very shallow warm water near where children were swimming waiting for someone to throw them scraps from cleaning fish. Sonya was very contented after completing 3 dives over the weekend after an hiatus of 16 months.
A special thank you to Sonya and Tim for organising the weekend and taking us out in their boat and thank you for all who came along to help make a great Australian long weekend. I’m sure we all agreed we did some spectacular diving.
Author: David Boyle
And an added note from Tim……. “A big thanks to Dave for sharing his crayfish catch with his buddies on the last night”
The Bluff, Victor Harbor – January 1st 2022
What a great way to start off the new year. Cath, Fran, Janis & Sue joined Skipper Tim for a boat dive at the Bluff. Sue tells us about the dive……
Conditions were exceptionally calm on New Year’s day and four (non-hung over) club members were keen for a boat dive with Tim, our able skipper. For some it was their first dive on the Bluff, for others it was a chance to revisit the site after many years. Entry via a boat is a dream compared to the old days when some of us walked past the fishermen with our gear and scrambled over the rocks to enter the water – what were we thinking !?
The conditions made for a very pleasant dive with an excellent range of marine life and kelp beds present. Highlight of the dive was seeing two leafy sea dragons – one small and a larger one approx. 25-30cms carrying eggs.
I’m sure there were baby crayfish hiding in the rock holes but we didn’t see any. Post dive morning tea was provided by Fran and Janis and included some Dutch /European Xmas treats – Oliebollen and Stollen. What a way to start a new year of diving adventures. Big thanks to Tim….gotta love a boat entry and a calm day.
Author: Sue Booth