Easter Weekend here in Australia is a real blessing. You get Good Friday off on holiday straight through Easter Monday. I used to think chocolate eggs were my favorite thing about these holy days but times have officially changed.
Daniel and I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to sneak away from Sydney for a long weekend and try somewhere new. The only mandatory was that it be within driving distance of the city. After initially contemplating the Blue Mountains (a future experience, I can assure you!) we landed on Forster, which is about a 3.5 hour drive north. This became the chosen holiday spot as we found a really nice SCUBA diving package with Dive Centre Bondi and decided we’d give them a try. We were not disappointed! So here’s what went down…
Friday: We got up to Forster in about 4 hours – not a big surprise given the volume of holiday traffic we experienced in North Sydney. You would have thought all 23 million people on this continent were on the same 10 KM stretch of road at the same time. We were rewarded with Forster, though – a cute little bay town, with killer sunsets.
Although our accommodations were far below expectation (literally bunk beds in the dive shop owner’s house – yikes), we immediately clicked over dinner with the wonderful 6 other divers we would be spending the week with. All were based in Sydney and loyal to Dive Centre Bondi, so it was awesome to spread our wings a bit as we had kind of aligned with Abyss Dive by this point. Sometimes a dive ‘pod’ magic just happens and we were extremely fortunate to experience that this weekend. It was early to bed the first day as we would be diving in the AM.
Saturday: We woke up and drove the 30 minutes south from Forster down to Seal Rocks, which would be our primary jumping off point during the weekend. It was one of those surreal, quaint little beach towns that has remained unspoiled by development and is really something special.
We splashed in for our first dive at 9:30am on Saturday 27 March 2016 at Seal Rock dive site. This is worth nothing as it marked a monumental moment for me as a SCUBA diver – my 200th dive! I really wanted it to be special and was extremely pleased when a single fur seal showed up and started playing with (annoying?) a grey nurse shark (“sandtiger” back in the states). I had never dived with a seal before and felt kind of like he was my 200th dive welcoming committee. But then again, I am a nerd.
Our second dive that day went in at 1:34pm at Little Rock and we were treated to lots of Port Jackson sharks (or “PJs” here) and tons of wobbegongs (“wobbys”). They were literally piled up on top of each other like lazy sea slugs – with big teeth. All told – and despite an insanely long surface interval – it was a super enjoyable day.
On our drive back to Forster, Daniel and I made the executive decision to book a motel to stay in for the rest of the weekend. I’ll let you derive how dire the original accommodations truly were if booking a motel was the better option.
Sunday: After getting a real night of sleep in a surprisingly comfortable motel bed, we were back in the water by 10:30am for dive #3 – a revisit to Seal Rock. Sadly, this go-round was substantially less interesting. Just one big grey nurse shark hanging out with us. But then we had our second dive and….WOW.
We splashed in at 1:30pm for dive #4 at Skeleton Rock expecting another simple dive with maybe a few cool things to see. Wrong-o. This dive site is incredible – an amazing and very interesting rock formation where you are surrounded by 50+ grey nurse sharks swimming through the gloom. There were also as many wobbys as you could count. The visibility was not spectacular but it really added something unique to the experience…a sort of eerie, constantly-looking-over-your-shoulder for the next shark to swim past. LOVED IT SO MUCH, YOU GUYS. As I’m typing this, I’m grinning thinking back to the dive (and thankful to be here).
We reconvened out on the dock of the dive center that evening for a true Aussie sausage sizzle. And pretty much all talked about the amazingness that is Skeleton Rock the whole time. 🙂
Monday: By now, our expectations were pretty damn high. It was going to be hard to beat Skeleton Rock. Unlike in the movies or a great book, I’ll just cut to the chase: the Monday dives did not surpass Skeleton but they were definitely exciting.
We did dive #5 at Pinnacles and saw a single shark (and were mostly annoyed by a salty ol’ dog diver who kept touching all the sea life..I distracted myself by digging for shark teeth in the shell-covered sea floor).
Dive #6 was at Spot A (which had a near terrifying number of gigantic wobbegongs that were surprisingly alert and moving around). Following the dives, we rapidly cleaned off our gear and jumped in the car for the 4.5 hour drive back home. For the return trip, I can pretty much guarantee all 23 million inhabitants were with us on the A1. Otherwise, I have no idea who all those people were…
So there you have it! It was an extremely fun weekend getaway where we made new friends (with humans, a seal and tons of sandtigers). Was the water visibility great? No. Was it cold as heck on the dives? Yes. Did we see some unforgettable things? Absolutely. Will we revisit Skeleton Rock at some point? You better believe it. Want to join us? XOXO – JW