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Published: December 3rd 2008
13hrs on an overnight bus and we arrived in Rainbow beach. A nice quiet town.....but one where we felt ever-so-slightly left out - I'll explain later!
The town sits on a sweeping coastline with beaches that stretch for miles - "so?", I here you say, "isn't that the whole East Coast of Australia???!!!"......Yes it is! but the difference here is the colour of the cliffs, made up of hundreds of different coloured sands....which would explain it's name then!
We checked into our guesthouse and soon realised we were to be the odd ones out, and at 2pm all of the other guests were summond to a meeting......"Hhmmmm", we thought, "Why not us?"! It turns out that the beautiful little towns main purpose these days is as a base to visit "Fraser Island" - The largest sand island in the world and only place where rainforest grows on sand. Sounds lovely, and we were very tempted to visit but then of course we found out about a fantastic diving opportunity!!!
Dan - Listening in to the meeting it seems the tour organisers, who give the briefs, tell you what to eat, when to eat, how to eat, how to
go to the toilet (litteraly, you have to dig a trench and follow rules etc!!), when to go to the toilet, they give you a set route, you get the idea, it all seemed a bit regimented............So glad we never decided to do that one!!!!
So we made an exit and set off to meet Kevin, owner of Wolf Rock dive center, and ex-Ozzie special forces, he came across the dive site of Wolf rock (2km off the coast) 4 volcanic pinnacles that is a protected area and home to the endangered 'Nurse Shark', Manta, Eagle, Bull Rays, Giant Gropers and many other huge marine species, they even have the odd 'Great White' swim through now and then!!!!, the added bonus being not many people know about it so it receives very few visitors.
Nic - We arrived at the dive centre to find that it wasn't slick and sparkly as all the other places we've been before, this was old-school, a garage on an industrial estate with 2 old tin speedboats and a few bits of "well used" dive equipment lying around.......We knew this was going to be a new experience and one that we were going
to like...No tourists here!
We were picked up the following morning in the old family 4x4 and taken to the garage where the boat was hurridly hitched up. We had to drive through the national park, along sandy potholed tracks to get to the launch point on the beach......this included a treck along the beach where we spent about half an hour trying to get up one track.....the boat was too heavy and we kept getting stuck!
Dan - Ok so fast forward to the boat launch and a descent to 32m under the sea. Our first dive was a shock to the system as the water was cold, the currents VERY strong and the visability was very poor!! we could only see about 2m in front of us! but eventually we came across the sharks. Through the haze we saw an outline at least 4m long and about 2m in front of us........Eeeekkkk they are BIG!!!! there were a few there that we could see. When we moved the dive up higher to begin our ascent we bumped into about 2 eagle rays and a bull ray!!! also very big!!! was a shame we had to come
to the surface BUT we still had one more dive here so were keeping our fingers crossed that the vis would improve!!
Nic - Thrilled after our first encounter with 'real' sharks and nicely satisfied after lunch, we headed back out in the tin boat and prepared for the next......trying to ignore how cold it was and how blue my lips had become - why does the sun never shine on these days??!! The second dive was just as nerve wracking, the current and vis were still bad, but this time we knew what to expect and descended much more quickly desperate to find more! We again returned to the same point at 32m and peered through the haze. All of a sudden it cleared, and we were faced with 15-20 Grey Nurse Sharks, none smaller than 3m....it was a few seconds later that we realised that they weren't just in front of us and were actually circling us, intrigued with their new guests!
Dan - Forgot to mention it's mating season for the sharks and lets just say the males are not entirely happy with other 'fish' getting too close to their woman!!!!! So we got the
odd charge and odd bump and let me tell you when you have a 4-5m male shark coming towards you it makes your heart beat a little faster!!!!!!!!!! (especially as Nurse sharks swim with their mouths open and their teeth showing).
So as our air began to get low we moved the dive a little higher and watched them from above but this time we were surrounded by Eagle rays (1-2m), Bull rays (2-3m) and a massive school of Giant Gropers these guys are BIG (2-3m and fat aswell!)!!!!! The bull rays have 'Barbs' on the end of their tails at least 0.5m long so if you piss them off it could be fatal!!! Remember Steve Irwin??????? he was killed by a ray!!
Nic - We were gutted when our air finally ran low and we had to end the dive, and we're both in agreement that it's the best one yet!.....we seem to be making things difficult for ourselves here, how will we ever be satisfied again???!!!
So, with this amazing experience under our belts we felt a little better about being the odd ones out and ever-so slightly smug that these people bragging about their
amazing "Fraser Island adventure" would probably never experience something so amazing! (how horrid of us!!)
Dan - In my opinion I think it was worth coming to Oz just for that dive!!!!! anyway nicely contented we spent the rest of our time lazing around, beach walking & sand dune climbing, hanging out in trees and drinking 'Goon' "what is Goon?" you ask? well goon is cheap boxed wine (under 15 bucks) most ozzie goons get drunk on it!!!!
Off to Brisbane next for a rumble in the city, so more soon.
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What more can I say? Pictures and blogs are excellent, really look forward to reading them but also looking forward to you coming home. Keep enjoying yourselves you two 'Gooners'!!
I told you to swim with bloody dolphins, not bloomin' sharks!
Listen up people, since when did the word dolphin sound like shark! Sharks eat folks, don't you know? Holy cow, look at the size of them molars! You know why there arn't many tourists around, ruddy sharks ate them. Watch out for the Salties as well. Love from the Old Man.
Ez guys, hope ur well. Just out of curiousity re: the pic with you two filling out the application form Which one is Dan?? haha!!
Glad you are having a fantastic time in the land of Oz!!! Not sure I like the idea of you both swimming with sharks and rays!! A wonderful experience, but just be careful won't you. Have you tried a bit of shark meat yet??? Love mum xx