South West Rocks 2009

29/3/09 to 3/4/09

Day 1 – 29/3/09
Flew to Gold coast Sunday morning with Chalky, and then met up with Rhino after renting our car at the airport. We did a bit of a tour on the way down to South West Rocks which was about 400km south.
We arrived at South West Rocks Dive Centre about 6pm NSW time after passing through 3 time zones to be told that we probably won’t get any diving in at all this week.
The accommodation was bunk beds in 3 rooms and snorers spread between all 3 with complainants galore.


Day 2 – 30/3/09
After breakfast we were introduced to the owners of the Dive Shop and told that we still won’t be doing any diving so Camel and Peter who had driven all the way from Adelaide, packed up and said they were going to go to Queenscliff in Victoria to at least do some diving, Bazza also had the same idea to leave, he had planned to drive a SAAB back to Adelaide on the Friday but arranged to pick it up in Newcastle a few days early, so Fingers dropped him off at the train station in Kempsey an hour later, it was then that the Dive Shop owners came to us and said that there was a chance to go diving if we didn’t mind a bit of a rough sea.

The plan was for the 12 divers left to have 2 dives at Fish Rock Cave, so we packed our dive gear onto the 2 boats and the plan was for the boat skippers to take the 2 boats out past the river mouth through the surf by themselves, then pick us up on a beach about 3kms away, we had to swim through the surf to get to the boats and that was a pretty hairy situation in itself. We then took a boat ride for over an hour through about 5 metre swells and driving rain (it wasn’t cold though)  to this island that didn’t look very significant, just an island in the middle of the ocean that had surf breaking all around it except for the lee of the island where we were.

We anchored at a mooring that had been placed there for this purpose and were in the water in no time, following the guide like sheep, (not a normal Seawolves dive where we do a star burst) surprisingly there was no current so it was easy to swim. We dropped down to about 10 mtrs at 1st swam along then dropped to about 24mtrs where at the edge of a large cave entrance were about 5 grey nurse sharks of varying sizes to about 3mtrs, they looked fierce but were very timid if you got to close and then they moved away. Into the cave we went through a narrow gutter and more grey nurse sharks coming into the gutter and keeping their distance as we swam past. The gutter got narrower and it was single file all the way, then up through a narrow chimney and into the other end of the cave which was at about 10 mtrs where we encountered the only evidence of a current which was quite strong and we had to pull ourselves along the rocks to a drop-off out of the current. It was a great dive and well worth the effort to get there.

The second dive was to go back to the edge of the cave again and have a better look at the Grey Nurse sharks, Mustard had an underwater camera that he had recently purchased and didn’t know how to turn it off on the boat so when we watched it later there was a lot of footage in a red bin that the camera was in for the half hour surface interval, for a first timer though he did a great job but some of the sharks weren’t too impressed and took appropriate evasive action, I’m sure I heard an expletive from mustard underwater. As well as the sharks there were wobbegongs and Moray Eels as well as lots of fish life.

These 2 dives were great and even if I didn’t get another dive here I was already satisfied because I had seen what I had come all this way for, unlike others that took off early.

The boat dropped most divers off at the beach again but Buzz and myself wanted to stay on the boat to do the river entrance run because we hadn’t had enough excitement yet, (we were made to put on life jackets because of the conditions), as we approached the river mouth the skipper waited for a wave and rode it in over the sand bar as if he had done it a hundred times before.

Day 3 – 31/3/09
That night was one of the wildest nights I had encountered with rain and gale force winds, so bad that this time it really was to be no more diving.

We packed up and tried to all leave together but we know that never happens, the 4 guys in the Tarago were eager to get to back to Coolangatta to get an earlier flight back and go Cray diving down at Cape Jaffa. The other 3 cars stayed together and we had breakfast at a bakery, potato pies and custard tarts seemed to be the norm for everyone, Theo said if he loses weight he will write a book on the potato pie and custard tart weight loss program.

We saw a sign to ‘A Pub With No Beer’ remember the song by Slim Dusty, well we just had to go there and have a few beers from its brewery which was at the back of the pub.

All the time we were travelling it was bucketing down and it really didn’t let up for a minute, we headed off in the general direction of Coffs Harbor but taking the inland route losing the other 2 cars along the way, (they thought we had gone the wrong way and turned back). Chalky, Rhino and I went touring through some of NSW magnificent Hinterland and stopped for lunch at a country town only because we couldn’t see a metre in front of the car because of the rain, we did notice all the creeks were running quite fast and furious and there were waterfalls where there normally aren’t any. At the Pub the barman told us that if we wanted to get out of the town we had better hurry because within the next half hour the bridge down the road will probably be closed and we will be stuck in the town overnight, so off we went and sure enough as we crossed the bridge the water was just starting to flow over the top, later on we found out that the town had been cut off by flood waters and children from a local school had to camp in the school until the water subsided.

We eventually got into Coffs Harbor to the sight of flooded car parks and local businesses to the height of the top of the wheel arches and business owners with submersible pumps pumping water out from their buildings.

Rhino made a quick phone call to the guys in the pub and said book accommodation quickly we’re coming in for the night.

That night we ate at an Indian restaurant where some got their meal and others didn’t so there was an argument with the owner, (another place that we’re not welcome, they’re adding up).

Day 4 – 1/4/09
Got up casually next morning thinking that we would take it easy and was told that the storm was travelling northwards like us where Coffs Harbor and the Pacific Highway could be cut when the storm breaks again, so off we go again with no breakfast and hopefully find a bakery for our potato pie and custard tart breakfast.

We did a bit of a tour with only 2 cars left because wolf, Gray-ham and Whisky booked an earlier flight back, (no sense of adventure I say). Chalky, Rhino and I in 1 car and Fingers and Theo in the other toured slowly down the coast and through the country taking every turnoff there was so that no stone was left unturned. Even though it rained and rained and rained it was a different holiday that I had expected. If we passed a pub we had a beer and also lunch.

We had to split up for the night because Theo and I wanted to stay in Byron Bay and Chalky, Rhino and Fingers wanted to stay in Lismore about 30kms away.

Day 5 – 2/4/09
Theo and I partied in Byron Bay that night and we got woken up at 9.30am next morning with a phone call from Chalky, I was not well….. We were informed that they were going to go to Nimbin which could be the Hippy capital of Australia, so Theo and I checked out as soon as we could and headed for Nimbin where we had to take the long way around because the road was blocked because of a car accident and oil on the road.

We got to Nimbin at lunch time and found the boys in the Pub, where else? We had to do a tour of the town and I was looking for a present for my grand-daughter but the words on a T shirt like ‘Make love not War’, ‘Hashish for the World’ or ‘Bringabong’ were really not suitable for my 1 year old grand-daughter.

One place we went into, a person came running in saying the cops are coming hide everything, what ‘everything’ was I really don’t know but it sounded like criminal activity.

That night we stayed in Coolangatta in an apartment overlooking the sea that cost us $43.00 each.

Day 6 – 3/4/09
We finished drying our dive gear and repacked next morning where Chalky and I had a 10.55am flight, Rhino had an afternoon flight and Fingers and Theo had another 2 days of touring before flying back on Sunday.

All told, this holiday did not turn out as expected or as Camel had planned, I have to take my hat off to Camel for organising the trip in the first place with the hassles he had, getting people to go in the first place and getting money out of people. With 4 days of diving planned we were lucky to get the one diving day before the weather set in, but my Motto has always been to ……………….                           ‘ALWAYS MAKE A GOOD SITUATION OUT OF A BAD ONE’ because you can’t change the weather or the circumstances.

Well we certainly had an adventure that week; I know I had a great time.

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