More diving, snorkeling, and suntanning

Getting to be quite spoiled! Added a few more highlights to my time in Australia by diving the SS Yongala wreck. There’s basically two operators who run regular trips out there – one located in Townsville which takes 3 hours by boat to reach the wreck, and the other located in Alva Beach (a short drive from Ayr, which is one hour from Townsville) which takes only 30 minutes to reach the wreck. Stayed two nights in Alva Beach, which had zero mobile reception and internet, and not even a grocery store! But I felt a better camraderie with other divers staying in the lodge, who weren’t solely in Australia to get drunk every night.

One guy was pretty brave doing the Yongala dive as his first dive after finishing his Open Water! He said, “As long as you don’t panic, you’re fine.” Which is true – but I would definitely have panicked if I hadn’t logged the recommended 20 dives. It was quite a difficult dive, with extremely bad current even during good weather. The normal procedure for buddy separation is to search for one minute, then if you still can’t find your buddy, meet at the surface; for this dive, our procedure was to search for thirty seconds, then meet back at the mooring line (and NOT at the surface – otherwise the current could sweep you clear from being sighted from the boat!). We swam against current on the “sheltered” side of the wreck, then around to the other side, where we just let the current sweep us back to the line for our return. Quite nice, but only because I knew exactly where the line was. If there was no clear navigation points (i.e. a 109 m long wreck!) I would find being swept away by the current the opposite of relaxing.

A girl had just started with the dive company as a divemaster-in-training despite being almost a total newbie with on. I thought, how lucky is she?! She gets to dive one of the world’s top dive sites every day for 3 months! On the boat ride out, she got really sea sick… Ended up vomiting over both sides of the boat after each dive. And she gets to do this every day for 3 months?.. Ooops!

Spent a few nights on Magnetic Island, which was a nice respite from Townsville. Rented snorkel gear to snorkel at Arthur Bay, which is supposed to be the best snorkel spot on the island… Accidentally took the “Forts Walk” path instead of the path to Arthur Bay, so” instead, so 2 hours later finally ended up at my intended destination. Wasn’t all lost though – the Forts walk, which goes through the military fortifications installed during WWII, has some great views of the island. Snorkeling was alright! Visibility was horrible because it was high tide for most of the day. But I did see, amongst the usual fish (damselfish, butterfly fish, wrasse) a sea snake and a school of baby manta rays!

Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island

Fortification on Magnetic Island

Arthur Bay, Magnetic Island

Tomorrow I go on OceanQuest for 5 days! Speaking of which, Kana emailed me photos finally! I just get a huge grin whenever I see this photo of me petting a Maori humphead wrasse

Maori humphead wrasse are generally quite friendly, and followed us like a pet dog during part of our dive! Petting them is fine as long as they’re receptive to it, and you stroke them on the side of their body and don’t touch their delicate fins

Me checking out a wall under 22m (70 ft) of water

Splashed out and rented an underwater digital camera for this trip, so hopefully I’ll have a few more nice shots to share next time!


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