Dolphins, diving and day-dreaming

Trip Start Dec 18, 2006
Trip End May 04, 2007

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Flag of Australia  ,
Monday, April 23, 2007

The morning at Lake Jindabyne was just gorgeous and sunny so we decided to pull out the camping chairs and enjoy the warmth. We stayed for a while reading our books before hitting the road to Merimbula (back to the east coast). The drive was quite interesting as we had to descend from 1200m back to sea level which is done in mostly one dramatic feat: the narrow and winding roads at Mt Brown. The landscape resembles the "Voralpenland" in German and with the sun shining, the drive was very enjoyable.

We reached Merimbula around noon time, got our bearings at the local information center and explored the little town. It is a small and very friendly place with a few coffeeshops, a McDonald's and a dive shop. To my dismay, the trip for next day was completely full but there would be a chance to do a shore dive on Monday.

Since the area with its many beaches is rather spread out, we took our camper for a spin to the "Wharf". It is a great place to watch fish and kids jumping into the water (co-incidentally also the site for the shore dive) ... unless, there are stingrays gliding underneath. These fellas have had bad press lately with a couple of attacks (one of which killing Steve Irwing) so the kids and their mothers were quite scared of them. We just enjoyed the sight of these graceful creatures gliding in the crystal-clear water underneath us.

After a brief visit to a nearby beach (with kids doing spear-fishing), we drove out of town to our (free-of-charge) campground at Yellow Pinch Dam. We were lucky to get a parking space as a lot of other campers were already there - with their huge "homes on wheels". The night was warm and pleasant so we headed back to Merimbula in high spirits despite a slight drizzle of rain.

We had a long and relaxing Sunday brunch at the "Waterfront Cafe" before heading to "Short Point Beach". By that time, it was raining heavily so we enjoyed the wonderful beach from the dry comfort of our car, reading and day-dreaming. Once the rain eased off, we ventured to the beach and managed to spot a school of (hunting) dolphins. One of them came very close to shore riding the waves to hunt for fish. It was an incredible sight!! Seeing them hunting, we decided to go hunting for fish as well - and adding some chips to it. As it was a heavy lunch, dinner was not necessary anymore so we just drove back to the same campground. This time it was empty except for one other camper!

The next morning, the weather was even worse as it rained very heavily - and I was supposed to go diving. Following the ancient rule of diving ("you only get wet once"), my dive guide Reuben and me got geared up and did the shore dive at the Wharf. It was an incredible dive starting with the entrance: climbing in full gears over rocks before jumping into a surging sea. Once submerged, a whole new universe opened up. The topography was brilliant with interesting rock formations, channels and sandy patches. The marine life was a lot more abundant that I imagined (including a sub-tropical fish which somehow got lost into these temperate waters). We even fed sea urchins to a resident grouper which was an experience in itself. The sheer power of the fish when it opens the sea urchins is just awesome (it feels and sounds like a hammer coming down on concrete). As it was a rather shallow dive, we enjoyed the underwater world for 69 minutes and when we got out due to the cold, there was still enough air for another 20 minutes!

Getting out was adventurous again as you had to climb out in full gear using a rope and since the rain hadn't stopped it was rather chilly (actually, it felt warmer under water). Still amazed and excited by the dive, we had coffee at the "Waterfront" again before slowly driving southwest towards Lakes Entrance.
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