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What is a club dive?

Dipstick Bill's perspective:
You know how contorted the South Coast landscape is right next to the sea? Well that awesome mangled landscape continues right on down into the deeps where the big blue gropers, the grey nurse sharks and the seals hang out. The chances are that if it is a weekend there may be some ANUSC divers rummaging around down there too.

The ANUSC is a club designed to give Sports Union members who are qualified divers the chance to dive cheaply in the company of experienced divers and to develop their skills while enjoying the delights of being away down at the coast with a bunch of like-minded people.

We dive up and down the South coast from the Victorian border to well north of Sydney. How about a verbal tour of some of our favourite dive sites? Ok ... Let's start at Eden where we often go for Easter. Well down at Eden there are two awesome shipwrecks. Night dives on these are like 2010 Space Oddity. It's best if you don't use your torch at nights on the wrecks because that way you can check out the phosphorescence. In fact you can make your way round the ship in the pitch black because the whole thing glows an eerie green as the little phosphorescent plankton bounce off it. When you look at your mask you see little stars of phosphorescence hitting the corners. Other divers appear like phosphorescent ghosts wafting around in an inky 3-dimensional black void. Turning your torch back on may teleport you to Montague Island. This is a superb location by any standard and in good conditions easily rivals what I have seen on the Great Barrier reef. Incidentally we go to the Great Barrier for two weeks in the depth of Canberra's winter. Anyway, we bomb out to Montague Island, which lies quite a few clicks off the mainland, in our rigid hulled inflatable boats (they can carry twelve divers) through the sometimes generous swell. We go to Montague in spring to see hundreds of seals playing underwater. We go there in summer to experience walls of fish with 30 evil looking 3m grey nurse sharks (which happen to be harmless) weaving through the schools. What's more, we go to Montague to do somersaults and jump off 30 metre underwater cliffs. Then there's Jervis ... what can I say? It's just so good above water and underwater there. For example, the Bogey Hole which I visited for the first time this year was awesome. The Bogey hole is a huge gaping sea cave that tunnels right into the massive cliffs at Jervis. It is very exciting to find yourself at the end of the sea cave, to stick your head up above the surface and to hear the deep boom as the sea pounds the walls. Anyway, I could sit here recounting tall tales for a long time but that's best done in the pub (we visit South Coast pubs).

You might be thinking from my stories that we are a bit gung ho and that we are bunch of testosterone and oestrogen driven imbeciles who you would prefer to see underwater - perhaps six foot under. Well that really wouldn't be fair because the ANUSC caters for everyone's level of experience and everyone's idea of a good time. I reckon that people who have just learnt to dive get much better treatment on an ANUSC dive than they would get on commercial trips. Why? Well firstly we take people where they want to go and if you are fresh off a course that means protected but beautiful sites. Secondly, you will buddied up with experienced divers and this just doesn't often happen on commercial trips where inexperienced people are buddied up with other inexperienced people. Speaking about experience, I think that some of our long-time club members have literally been diving since way before PADI, SSI, XYZ, ABC, QWE and VWBTAL were even thought of. Thirdly, diving with the club is cheap. We are not a commercial venture and keep costs down because nobody is being paid to do things for you. Fourthly and definitely not lastly, the club is relaxed because that's what most people in the club do best. That means that we are only as organised as we have to be. If we don't have a big show on a trip then we go diving sometime after breakfast (I like that) but if we get a Woodstock scenario then we get almost as organised as a commercial scene but that doesn't mean that some fat bloke with bad breath and bad jokes hands you an orange at the end of your dive to justify the fact that you just paid him $50 for a ride his big boat. The ANUSC is composed of almost exactly 100 extremely enthusiastic people of all ages (18-55+) and ALL sexes and they come from many nations. If it were not for the people the club would be nothing more than a collection SCUBA units. In fact, when I first joined the club I just saw it as a way to get cheap SCUBA unit rental but now I've made heaps of new friends with a good subset that take their partying very seriously. I have gone from a completely inexperienced diver to someone who, rightly or wrongly, almost feels confident taking 10 people out on a couple of small boats for a dive at a wild site where you may not want things to go wrong. As a club member you are expected to pitch in and I discovered that means you learn how to fix boats, drive boats, massage boats and generally get infuriated with boats (that's why I cack myself whenever I meet someone who actually owns one). You also learn how to maintain and fix SCUBA equipment but that is normally much more reliable than boats. In general, if you want something done then you will be expected to do it with help from someone who is reasonably experienced but probably has no more idea about what they are doing than you do.

We almost always camp on trips and we try to camp in National Parks wherever possible. At night we cook our meals, sit around the camp fire and talk about the stars, past dives, DNA strands and chunks of food as we listen to high quality classical guitar music (and folk rock) played by an eccentric young member. Camping also happens to be cheap which is good for us poor ANU students building up HECS debts the size of Ayers rock. We generally bomb down to the coast with as many people as we can cram into as few vehicles as possible. People without cars can always get lifts... they just have to chip in for petrol. The club has twelve SCUBA units which is good since our boats can take at twelve divers at once. Our boats are excellent and should be about as reliable as boats can be. They are fitted with every safety device we could think of including satellite beacons. The club also has a bunch of tanks and a compressor and everything is housed in a secure big green shed that is covered in graffiti (or poetry depending on your taste). All the gear is available cheap on club dives trips and you can hire it on non-club weekends too. Do not despair if you've read this far and you want to participate but you are a bit hacked off because you don't know how to dive. The Sports Union offers dive courses and if you do the dive course through them you automatically become a member of the ANUSC afterwards just so long as you are a Sport & Rec Association member - go to the front desk at the Sports Union for details. If you like the sound of what I have just said, you have a diving certificate from any recognised agency (excluding VWBTAL) and you are a SRA member (ANU student automatically are) then get in touch with someone on the committee.

If you like the sound of what I have just said, you don't have a diving certificate and you are a SRA member then go to the front desk at the Sports Union and book yourself on a dive course now. Then you can become a member of ANUSC!

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