Winter water has arrived for NSW

Saturday 5th April 2013

Today was a stark comparison to the last several weeks of amazing conditions at Julian Rocks, Byron Bay.

For the first dive we dropped in at the Nursery and headed to the Cod hole. VIS was 6m at best and dropped away to 3m in parts. It was one of those days where the VIS isn’t just bad but it seems like it’s snowing floaties in the water. Definitely not good for Photography, even Macro was a stretch for some.

We were eager to see some fish life with the VIS down and the floaties up, but were disappointed to find not much around that side of the rocks. There was a mild current but the biggest surprise of all was the water temperature. With reports of it being 25 degrees just the day before, water temperature got down to a chilly 19!

There was a giant Grouper outside the Cod Hole, we dived through it and then went through the Cray cave on the other side. A few Leopard sharks in the murky shadows but apparently they were all basking in the sun on the surface in the Nursery. For the entire dive I felt cold in my 6-7mm wetsuit and all I could think about was my snuggly drysuit sitting in the wardrobe at home and counting down the minutes for the dive to end. I was happy when it was time to come up and thought I might sit out the next dive.

However after a delicious hot chocolate, a bit of sun on me and about four pies! Thanks to Christina’s delicious morning tea, I felt much warmer to the idea of getting in the chilly water again. So I dropped in at the Nursery first to sort out my white balance on my camera whilst I waited for Mark, Nick R, Nick K and Shannon. Well that was a pretty stupid idea because it took me about one minute to sort that out and then I waited another six minutes in the bloody cold water for the others to get down! Doh!

We swam around to the Needles where I found the Manta circling in the shallows. Much smarter than us as it seems, as it was nice and warm up there. I signalled the others and we hung out with it for about ten minutes. It had eleven Kobia following it and was very friendly. It didn’t seem to mind sharing the warm spot.

Nick then lead us around into Hugo’s trench where all the fish life seemed to be sheltering from the chilly thermaclines. There were schools of Sweet lips in there; usually found in the Cod hole around the other side, schools of Tropical fish and a Huge Bull ray. We then ran into a school of Barracuda, or I should say they ran into us, and swarmed around us which was cool!

Heading back to the boat we came across the Manta again but so had another twenty odd divers so we decided to bail. 

I only got one shot of footage I was mildly pleased with which I have posted here. It was still nice to get wet and be with my besties and it was a beautiful sunny day. Besides you have to have days like this in the water so you truly appreciate it when you do have spectacular conditions. Off to the pub afterwards for the Sea Shepherd fundraiser!


Saturday 29th March 2014

Today we rocked up at the Cleveland ferry terminal only to discover we were about to the catch the wrong ferry and it was an earlier one we were supposed to be on. Thanks Stradbroke ferries for not having the 5.55am time on your website that is super helpful. Luckily Manta Lodge Scuba centre said they would wait for us, thank goodness! So we got picked up and started gearing up in the van on the way to the shop.

As we were conscious of everyone waiting for us we did our paperwork and chucked all our gear on the boat, deciding to rig up our hire tanks for Sidemount on the boat out there.

On the way out I was sitting at the front of the rib and got smashed by a fairly large wave and canned my hand as it pushed me forcefully on to the floor and I was holding on to a metal rail. But nonetheless such things happen on boats and I was just happy to be getting out diving!

A beautiful day weather wise, fairly mild on the surface, the VIS didn’t look great however. Our first dive at Manta Ray Bommie had VIS of 4-8m in places but man oh man what a dive! We saw several beautiful Manta Rays, including two black Mantas, and some huge ones, one with a shark bite out of it’s side, they were curious and came close to us, circling us for the majority of the dive.

There were Leopard sharks and Guitar sharks (Shovel Nose Rays), several bull rays, giant Sting rays: one of which gave me such a fright as I came over a ridge only to find it directly beneath me! Nick even saw a 1.5m Hammerhead shark! which unfortunately I didn’t see nor anyone else as it was passing by. 


We did a 57 minute dive maximum depth 15m. On the second dive I was happy to be staying at the site, given there was so much going on here, poor VIS hardly worried me.

The second dive was similar to the first, again seeing several Manta Rays and all friendly and curious. We went for a bit more of a swim on this dive to explore the area and in one of the sand gutters I dropped down and managed to sneak up close to: two beautiful Guitar sharks, two leopard sharks, two Bull rays, and a huge Sting ray all chilling on the sand in a perfect uniformed line up. Can’t complain! The Guitar sharks allowed me to get very close to them before doing a jiggle and moving on to a more private spot.

Some of the other divers spotted Leafy Scorpion fish but I was looking up and into the murky shadows for most of the dive to spot the Mantas and potentially see that Hammerhead that Nick saw.

What a sensational day of diving! Feeling so lucky that we managed to still get out given we stuffed up the ferry time, thanks so much Manta Lodge Scuba! and all the divers that waited for us, much appreciated! 

Having a cold beer now and nearly time for a post dive siesta! What a perfect way to spend a Saturday.

The best VIS 30m at Julian Rocks Byron Bay

Saturday 15th March 2013

I had had 2.5 hours sleep and Nick K, Nick R and I headed down to Brunswick to try to get our the bar as early as possible. The swell was high although sea conditions under water were reported to be some of the best ever in a decade with no current and 30m VIS!

I was praying to the ocean gods we would get out, and trying not to look at the crazy waves coming through the bar and smashing against the rocks. Luckily Mark the skipper got us out on a lull ride, yes! Happy days.

We enjoyed the best VIS I have ever seen at Julian Rocks, furthermore, we were the only dive boat out there so had it all to ourselves. 

On the first dive we headed to the Needles to try to find the Manta Rays that had been spotted there all week. We saw two Mantas that weren’t in the mood to come and play but one had a few huge Kobia following it. We saw dozens of Leopard sharks, Bull rays and half a dozen friendly Eagle Rays that I managed to get quite close to. We saw Green turtles and the large Loggerhead resident, Flute fish, schools of tropical fish and also a school of baby Snapper. The Leopard sharks were friendly and inquisitive coming directly towards us.

We completed the second dive at the Needles again, as that was were everything was going off, and the divers on the first dive didn’t have much to report on the Cod hole. We enjoyed the Eagle Rays and Leopard sharks again, we couldn’t get close to the rock and high where I anticipated maybe the Mantas might be, due to the surge. We checked out the Line of Smiles. Overall pleasant dive, perfect for photography with beautiful sun rays shining through the shallow waters, and no current.