Spoilsport - Diving Cairns to Townsville
We all gathered in the saloon of Spoilsport for what was going to be the start of a week of great scuba diving from Cairns to Townsville.
The trip we had planned had dive sites that had not been dived for ten years. We were departing Cairns, heading out to the Coral Sea then down to the old Scuba Zoo moving on to Wheeler Reef and ending up at one of the best dives in the world the Yongala, then ending up in Townsville.
We steamed throughout the night to reach our first of many dive sites, Holmes Reef. It was a bit choppy on the surface, but underneath visibility of nearly 40 meters greeted us.
Dive site like Amazing, Monkies and the Abyss were great. There were many swim throughs and the walls were covered in small Gorgonian fans. We were checked out by a few small sharks as they cruised the walls.
Another overnight steam and we arrived at one of the old dive sites Rock Arch. This is a big swim through and with the sun coming through at the right angles can be spectacular. Another couple of dives in the near vicinity, saw big Coral Trout, Clown Trigger Fish and some of course most people’s favourite, the clown fish.
Our next day’s diving took us to the famous Cod Wall, where at 40mt sits one of the biggest Gorgonian fans you will ever see. The fan is almost 3mts high and over 4mts wide.
Quite spectacular to see a fan of this size still growing and not been destroyed by some careless diver. Some of us had been here before and seen this fan over ten years ago. The fish life here was awesome, Moorish Idols, Banner Fish, big Bat Fish and quite a number of Dogtooth Tuna kept a watchful eye on us.
After lunch we headed to the old Scuba Zoo, where the shark feeds used to be unforgettable. They would drop a garbage bin full of fish heads attached to a chain. The guide would agitate this ten to fifteen minutes to get the sharks interested then release the lid and a feeding frenzy would take place.
However with no boats visiting this site for eight years nobody was really sure what was going to happen. Would the sharks remember and come from miles around and give us the show of our life or would it be a flop.
Unfortunately it was the latter. About ten sharks turned up in total and they were very shy. Then again who wouldn’t be with twenty divers sitting in a circle with enough flashes going off to make the American paparazzi run for cover! There was a bit of action, but those who have seen Scuba Zoo in its prime were left a little disappointed.
That afternoon we climbed into the tenders and went ashore to Flinders’ Cay. Flinders is a small sand island full of nesting turtles, birds and the orangest of orange hermit Crabs. Some of us were lucky enough to see a turtle on the beach, and some of us also witnessed the mating of turtles in the shallows.
The staff cracked open some bottles of champagne and we drank while watching a spectacular sunset. Back on Spoilsport the 1st mate had cooked up a storm on the BBQ, with prawns, steak, kangaroo, fish and a few snags.
Our next destination was wheeler Reef, this reef was actually a number of bomies in a big circle. We got dropped off by the tenders around the opposite side and did a slow drift back to the boat. We encountered Potato Cod, Dogtooth Tuna, Trevally, turtles, your usual reef fish, quite a number of sharks and heaps of Sea Cucumbers in the middle of their mating ritual. The night dive here was also a treat with turtles and sharks.
One that didn’t take kindly to having my movie camera and light shoved in his face and let me know by having a go at me. Don’t worry I’ve still got all my limbs but I did need to wash out my suit.
The next morning we moved early and woke up at one of the most famous wreck dives in the world, the Yongala.
The Yongala whist a wreck, dive doesn’t allow any penetration. But as a fish life dive it is absolutely awesome. Everything here seems to be on steroids. This is the only piece of reef around for fifty miles and it attracts thousands of fish. You will regularly see Turtles, Giant Trevally, big Potato Cod, Sea Snakes, Angel Fish, big Moray Eels just to mention a few. Eagle rays and Bull Rays constantly circle the wreck and some of the guys were buzzed by a huge Shovel Nose Shark.
My highlight was the night dive I did with Dwayne. Shining the light on a poor unsuspecting fish a Giant Trevally took off at lightning speed and devoured the fish in a single mouthful! We were then surrounded by four Giant Bull rays, they played in our bubbles and literally sat on our heads and continually bumped into us, it seemed they were playing with us.
That night was BBQ party night and we had a visit from Elvis’s brother who entertained us on the guitar while we attempted to sing along. Ed even joined in and gave his all on the ukulele. The photo competition was run and won with a picture of a shark in chomping down on a fish, it was a great photo. We had the premiere of the trip video in which we all stared and all knocked back a few beers.
The next morning we arrived in region of Townsville and readied ourselves for the reality of going home, as we said our good-byes there were a few tears shed as some had grown close to some of the staff (not that way). And with that we were taken away to our various destinations to sit back and reminisce on what a fabulous week we had all just had.
I would like to thank the entire crew from Mike Ball, they looked after our every need, always had a smile and no task was ever to hard for them. Its people like these that make you keep coming back to such a great boat.
I would also like to thank all our guys and girls from Frog Dive who attended, it was you guys that made it so memorable and I hope I can travel again with you all in the future.
The Froggies were: Duayne French, Ben Orrell, Carmen Bolton, Ivan Stanic, Ed Smith, Jane Cannon, Andrew Foot, Mark Dawson, Brian Bibbing and myself.