Julian Rocks, New South Wales, Australia

New Years Eve 2016 / 2nd January 2017

It may be hot on the surface but something is up with the water at the moment! Its summer and the water here is a chilly nineteen degrees! Which is unusual for this time of year. Wearing a drysuit is a pain because you’re roasting like a chicken on the surface and wearing a wetsuit it a pain because you’re freezing down the bottom.

The wind had picked up and it was pretty lumpy on the surface. We ascended to find the visibility was about eight metres.

I lost the others in the visibility early into the dive and after having a look for them I knew Mark would lead them on and I continued a solo dive.

I didn’t see much else on the first dive because I went wide of the Cod hole but did surface with a Jellyfish at my safety stop out in the blue from the Cod hole. There was no current so it was nice floating around, but I was annoyed I couldn’t reach my SMB under the water as the clip attaching it to my wing was stuck and I was conscious of surfacing with boats over my head in the blue.

Because of this I did a very long safety stop with a Jellyfish that had small fish inside it. I heard the boat pull up beside me and realised they must have seen my bubbles so I surfaced right beside the boat, how’s that for service thanks Blue Bay!

On the second dive it was much more enjoyable as there was more to see although I still became separated from the others as I stopped to film a Green Turtle scratching itself against the hard corals and when I looked up the others had gone.

I wasn’t familiar with getting to the Trench from this mooring, it had been a couple of years since I had been in the trench where everyone was heading. I swam around and orientated myself between mooring two and three and could see a valley. I figured it looked like a trench so went in to check it out and found the others in there.

The trench was packed with fish such as baby snapper, tropical fish and Wobbegongs lying around on the sand. We saw a few more Green Turtles and a Leopard Shark.

Diving on the 2nd January we had much better conditions. Sophie who had just learnt to dive had come along and I was eager to show her one of my favourite dive sites, hoping that it would live up to its reputation.

I led the group on the first dive to the Cod hole. On our way we saw a large Bull ray, Great Barracuda and a intriguing Numb Ray who buried itself in the sand in front of me. We went through the Cod hole which was packed with Sweet Lips and Jewfish.

Around the corner we decided to show Sophie the Cray cave and it had been some time since I had been through it and I had forgotten how small it was in there. As I went through it I thought I may have been a bit ambitious asking Sophie to come through, but she dived through it like a natural. As I waited for her outside I spotted a Grey Nurse shark disappear behind the rocks. I beckoned Sophie over as I knew she hadn’t seen a Shark yet and signaled her to stay quiet and slow.

We crept up on the Shark and her and Mark got a great view as it turned back towards them, the Shark just inches from Sophie’s face. She was ecstatic with the encounter and it reminded me of my first dive with Sharks at Julian Rocks and how elated I was afterwards.

There’s something really nice about diving with a beginner diver, I think its that excitement you get when everything is your first. As you continue diving you take it all for granted and your expectations only grow with every dive. All of a sudden a Green Turtle you used to squeal about is now part of the furniture. But its nice to be reminded about how lucky we are to see the amazing marine life that we do underwater and we really do have an abundance here.

*disclaimer: I am solo certified and therefore when discussed with regular buddies before dives I often separate and continue the dive solo. This is something that my regular dive buddies are aware of and I don’t recommend doing this as general practice to others.