North Solitary Islands
1-10 October 2011
|Coordinator: Scott Hunt and Jennifer Hine|
The original trip notice has been archived.
Saturday 1/10/11 saw beautiful weather - perfect for a double dive on the Adelaide. It's a big ship and an excellent dive.
Sunday saw a big southerly change come in - gale force winds, huge swells and lots of rain. The mettle of all the tents were tested - and some were found wanting both structurally and waterproofingly. Diving at Norah Head in this weather was impossible, and would remain so for several days. So stumps were upped and moved to Nelson Bay for a few days while the weather calmed down. The diving in the bay is unaffected by wind and swells, but is tide dependent. Luckily the tide times were very kind (mid-afternoon high tide), and some excellent dives were had at Fly Point, the Pipeline and Seahorse Gardens.
Wednesday was the long drive to Minnie Water/Wooli, and we were greeted with fine, sunny weather, little wind and a rapidly diminishing swell. By the time the boats were launched on Thursday, it was pretty much calm except for the Wooli bar.
Pimpernel Rock was dived on Friday morning in superb conditions, after some time spent deciding on which of the many boat ramps at Minnie Water we would use. It was millpond on top, virtually no current, excellent viz (20m+) on top, decreasing slightly below 30m to around 15m viz. For those who have not dived this site, it is notorious for having extremely poor viz (1m!) at deeper depths, so these conditions were quite remarkable. There were 4 or 5 large Grey Nurse Sharks cruising around the big tunnel, a school of 30 big Kingfish munching on a school of Stripeys, and down the bottom was a school of juvenile Jewfish. Everyone had a spectacular dive.
On Saturday, sea conditions were unchanged, so another trip out to Pimpernel Rock was made. First punters Scott and Jane jumped in directly over the pinnacle with the intent of dropping down the 9m onto it, just as we had done the day before. But, in 24 hours, the viz had changed from 20m+ to less than 1m, it was green soup, despite no change in wind, seas or current. They descended but could not find the pinnacle (or anything else), and aborted the dive at 30m. Plan B was an exploratory dive at nearby Sandon Shoal - exploratory it was, but despite the terrible viz (it was 3m here!) it is a nice reef full of life.
The afternoon dives all went out to North Solitary Island/Anemone Bay, where the viz was far better. Here there were the odd anemone, plenty of Grey Nurse Sharks, nudibranchs, turtles, and whales singing on every dive.
All-in-all, despite some poor weather at the start, a fabulous trip with some spectacular diving.
-- A. Diver.
Kim D and Kim S have kindly provided some photos.
Scott H has put a bunch of photos and a trip report up on his web site.