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Abyss Scuba Diving
Nelson Bay Dive Trip
If you love sharks, wrecks, want to dive outside of Sydney, but don’t want to drive too far, Nelson Bay is the weekend dive destination for you! Nelson Bay is 2.5hrs North of Sydney, making it a very doable weekend trip. We do start early on Saturday morning, so driving up on the Friday is the way to go. Accommodation is included Friday night for whatever time works best for you to arrive on the Friday.
We are out on the boat first thing Saturday and Sunday mornings, and we’ll pick the best dive sites for the day based on conditions. There are a few dive sites that are particularly well-known and heaps of fun to dive which are always worth trying to get out to for a dive while we’re up there. Through the Looking Glass, North Rock, and the wreck of the Oakland are some of the particular highlight spots. The wreck does lie in 27m and isn’t a dive they do often, so a bit of a unique dive for our trips, but it does mean that this is a trip for Advanced divers and above only. If you’re not already Advanced certified, you can do your Advanced course on this trip at a discounted rate.
Through the Looking Glass is a dive site through a big slit in a rock island. It is only 10m deep, and about 50m long. You can see an amazing ray of sunlight through the slit in the rocks as you swim through the cut out from one side of the rock to the other. As long as conditions allow, we often start on one side where you get shallow sloping, cascading rock walls and then cut into the slit and swim through, keeping to one side as Grey Nurse sharks often swim by you through the slit as well. It’s a wonderful thing to just sit on the bottom, watching the sharks swimming above you, with a sliver of sunlight breaking through the water. Once you reach the other side, there is a bit of a wall that you can drop down along further and check out some nice sponge life. Make sure you turn around with plenty of air to make it back through the looking glass!
North Rock is known for a few gutters that are often flooded with huge schools of mado, yellowtail, bullseyes, and heaps more. The schools can be so large that you don’t see the Grey Nurse sharks until they are breaking through the fish only a few metres away from you! It is so cool to have the sharks come up so close while you’re all surrounded by the huge schools of fish. We spend a bit of time on this dive, just hanging close to the side of the gutter wall and enjoying the sharks. The longer you are there & the more quiet & relaxed you become, in turn the more curious & comfortable with you the sharks get! Sharks are quite timid and can take some time to get used to you, but if you’re willing to wait, you can get some amazing interactions with them! The top of the wall of the gutters is about 5m, so you can continue to watch the sharks during your safety stop as well =)
The wreck of the S.S. Oakland lies in 27m of water and has quite a bit of fish life on the wreck to enjoy as well as the wreck itself. She was a cargo ship that sunk in 1903 on her way from Newcastle up North with 300 tonnes of coal, 9 tonnes of flour, and 10 tonnes of headstones. The 18 crew on board abandoned the ship just in time before she sank at around 3am, but the lifeboat only fit 7 in the boat and unfortunately the others trying to hold on to the side didn’t make it once hypothermia set in before they could make it to shore. The shipwreck now offers a great spot to find beautiful sponges, fiddler sharks, shovel nosed rays from time to time. You’ll also see your large schools of yellowtail, sometimes kingfish, bonito or Australian salmon, as well as blind sharks, wobbegongs, and more!
In addition to the 2 days of double boat dives, Nelson Bay offers some fantastic shore dives. The shore dives are all tidal and are best dived on high slack tide. To take advantage of this, we need to schedule the weekend trips that match up best with the high tides to allow us a shore dive Saturday after the boat dives. Because of the different timings for the shore dives, some trips have an afternoon shore dive, and some offer a night shore dive! We often get out to Fly Point where the navigation is easy, the depth can vary from around 8-15m on average, and the fish life seen can be both big and small. If you’re into the macro stuff, we’ve seen plenty of cool nudibranchs, including Donut Nembrothas, different kinds of pipefish, spiders, decorator crabs, seahorses, and even ghost pipefish! I’ve also seen blind sharks, wobbegongs, turtles, fiddler rays, pufferfish, big octopuses, and heaps more. Sponge life is quite prolific there and allows little hiding spots for angler fish to camouflage and evade even some of the best spotters. Keep your eyes peeled!
After the dives on Saturday, enjoy a nice stroll along the water from the hotel to the marina for an evening drink and dinner with your new dive buddies. After the dives on Sunday, there are outdoor hot water showers right next to the dive shop where you can warm up, rinse off, & wash your gear if you’d like before heading back to Sydney.
By : Andria Payne
What Diver Say About The Nelson Bay Weekend Trip