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Abyss Scuba Diving
OaK Park Cronulla
Oak Park was one of the first shore dives that I ever dived, and I must say is one of my favourites. While diving this site you are sure to see a few beautiful friendly big blue gropers, the schools of old wives hanging out together, lots of different nudibranchs and plenty of colour with lots of the sea tulips and other softy sponges. As it is not too close to the river mouth you generally get good visibility. The average vis would be 7m but I have dived there with 15m vis and also 2m. It is not a tidal site and can be dived at any time the entry can be easier on a lower tide but any tide is fine.
Let's quickly touch on how to get to the dive site before we jump in. Oak Park is located in Cronulla at the end of Jibbon street. I am happy to say the street parking is untimed and unmetered although if it is a hot day the beach can be busy, and it can be hard to get a car park. If Jibbon street is full you can park in Glaisher Prd and easily walk through the cut-through lane. Once at the site there is a toilet block, outdoor shower a bubbler for a drink if needed. The dive site is off the back of an ocean pool so it is a site that you could bring the family along to and they could enjoy the beach or take a stroll into Cronulla along the esplanade. If you have kids with you, they will enjoy seeing a snapshot of what you get to see on your dive while in the pool snorkelling.
Now for the fun bit the dive. We ae so lucky in Sydney to have such gear shore dives right off the beach. No need to spend hours on a boat getting out to the reef. It is always so nice to be able to do 2 shore dives done in the morning and still have the afternoon to catch up with non-diving friends or do the weekly chores. Oak Park has a max depth of 10m so you will have plenty of time to explore the site and say hi to the Abyss logo fish the big blue groper. Experienced divers will get close to an hour on this dive site. If the tide is low, it is easy to enter off the back of the pool. Just stay away from the north of the pool where the surf break is. Once in the water head out southeast to drop over the wall and then you can follow this wall out. The reef system is massive, and you can dive into this site many times and still see new areas. If you follow this wall out until it starts to head north, it will eventually disappear, and you can head east and cut across the sand about 10m until you hit the second reef. Keep following the wall north and you will find the cave. If you are going well with air and feeling confident with your navigation you can head just past the cave and then turn up onto this reef. If you keep swimming for about 50m you will then drop into fish soup. This is a bit of bowel in the reef where a heap of fish hang out. Fish soup is worth checking out but can become a bit disorienting and is a long swim so just make sure you are confident with your navigation and air.
For all dives having a torch is always great, as it allows you to look under ledges and find the critters hiding. Oak Park has lots of these to explore. This is where you may find the giant cuttlefish or even a blue devilfish. Oak Park has a lot of ledges and overhangs to explore and once you get to know the site there is even a little cave that you can swim in and check out an area that is full of bullseyes and sometimes a wobbegong shark as well.
Although Oak Park is best known for its friendly blue gropers there is lots to see at this site. One of my other favourite creatures at Oak Park is the massive bull rays. It is as big as a small car and can give you a bit of a shock when you look up and it is right in front of you. It is super graceful, big and beautiful. Early morning or mid-week is the best time to see turtles at oak park. So, keep an eye out on the sand just off the reef for the green sea turtle that has called this great dive site home. If you are into the small stuff and have good eyes you can see pygmies pipe horses at this site. I have even seen grey nurse sharks at this site as well.
Remember on the exit to stay away from the surf zone as this area is known to the locals as sandshoes. There are lots of little sea urchins and you need shoes to enter the water. So, make sure you exit right at the back of the pool or on the southern side of the pool. After the dive, it is worth stopping off at the pie shop on the corner of Gannons road and the Kingsway to grab a yummy pie or cake.
By Rachael Fallon