Australia Day 2005

Weedy Seadragon, Phyllopteryx taeniolatusIt seemed appropriate that we go diving at Kurnell on Australia Day. Now, we knew conditions weren't ideal as the swell and wind was from the north-east blowing straight onto the southern side of Botany Bay, but we decided to risk the 1 hour and 15minutes drive from Richmond and check out conditions. There was the chance we would have to drive around the bay to Bare Island if Kurnell was blown out.

High tide was to be at 9:48am so we thought that if we got there to be ready to go in for our first dive by 8am we could squeeze in a drift before the tide changed and then another on the slack tide. Exit looked easy enough at the Monument and entry not too bad at the Steps (we didn't bother to check the Leap as we knew it would be out in these conditions. As we were gearing up a couple pulled up and had a look at the water and told us that they had dived here a few days before and that the viz was so bad that they used their compass to find the sand line. This was not a good sign but we decided to go in anyway.

We timed our entry between sets, which was not too difficult as the swell wasn't big, and we descended into the murky depths. We didn't need our compasses to find the sand line but we were both pleased that we were very familiar with the dive site and started to make our way to the Monument.

Eastern Frogfish, Batrachomoeus dubius - close-upWe both love diving here and think it one of the best shore dives in Sydney, it's full of colour and macro critters galore if you take the time to look. Weedies everywhere and some so friendly that they seemed to ignore us. One even came right up to my camera when taking his photo. There was the usual supply of nudibranchs, blue groper, rays and cuttlefish. We always see something that is new to us here.

Spending just over an hour making our way down to our usual exit point, keeping constant surge at the back of our minds. I decided not to worry about it until we had to exit. We started to head south and ascend to a rock shelf where our computers told us to stop for 3 minutes. During that stop I got out a slate and suggested we go further around the point to get out of the swell as we had to hold firm onto rocks to stop ourselves from being pushed around like pieces of weed. My buddy signaled that we would ascend at our usual spot and have a look.

Eastern Frogfish, Batrachomoeus dubius - close-upWell, I have to say I wasn't real happy when we popped our heads up to discover we were surrounded by people on boogie boards. Not a good sign at all. We snorkeled further around the point where it seemed calmer and managed to make a fairly easy exit. The trouble was the rocks were potholed and made walking thru the froth a bit hard to negotiate. There all glamour ceased. Almost simultaneously we went down: thank god for knee pads. The trouble was, I couldn't get back up and the wash was pushing me around. My dive buddy had to unceremoniously hoist me out of the hole I found myself in. Exit glamour rating: 1 out of 10, I've had scarier (Mahon Pool) and less glamorous (in the same place with no swell)  but it added to the great exit stories in the car park that day from body surfing in, rolling with the flow and a few splat exits.

We love diving here, but it should remind you how things can change dramatically while you're blowing bubbles and enjoying yourselves. I didn't mind, no harm done and I got to see my first Eastern Frogfish (see two photos in this article) although my knee is still a bit swollen and feels 20 years older than the rest of me.

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