A Little Trip to Paradise

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Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Thursday, August 19, 2010

Day Nine             Were very excited waking up this morning as today we head out to the Mackerel Islands. We pack up camp and check out. We do have to waste a little bit of time as usual but it's not as bad as the last two days. We end up grabbing the paper and sitting by the beach catching up on the world affairs. Finally 12 o’clock comes around so we make our way to the meeting place. Here we meet Janine, the rep from Karratha Visitors centre. We leave our cars in a lock up area and are taken down to the boat. We have to wait here for a while as today is supplies day so we need to bring over all the food for the island as well. Once all the supplies arrived and the two other girls, Sandra and Tanya who were actual paying customers, we begin the trip over to the island. The island we are going to is called Thevanard Island as has been a very popular spot for fishermen for years, but now they are trying to turn away from fishing and focus on the eco tourism possibilities with snorkel and dive charters. That’s why we are here, to help set up the dive shop. Coming across to the island, you could see the three huge oil drums that belong to Chevron. The island is divided into three parts, a C class reserve which takes up most of the island then the very tip is divided into two, half resort and the other half is Chevrons. This is a little bit of an eye sore however once you’re on the island you don’t really take notice of them. Apart from at night when all you can hear in this slow monotone droning noise which sounds like a freight train is about to go past. As we pull alongside the jetty we are met by the crew of the Island. Jesse and Jamie - the assistant managers, Nick - the Dive instructor and Gail – house keeping. Jess takes us on a tour of the island facilities and then shows us to our cabin. We unload our stuff and get settled in. A bit later Nick comes and meets us at our cabins to talk about what will be happening over the next couple of days, he also brings us a huge platter of all different types of food that we can have for lunch. During our itinerary of the couple of days Nick asks if we would like to go for a sunset walk on the other side of the Island, we all agree and start to get ready for the walk, we head to the shop for a few supplies and then drive to the beach via the airstrip. The walk along the beach was beautiful and the shells we found were amazing and massive! Then it was to the restaurant for a fantastic three course meal and to meet up with some of the other crew.

Day Ten                We were treated this morning to a full cooked breakfast from our wonderful chef – Fiona. After breaky we met up with the other girls and went down to the dive room for our briefings and to get the girls gear set up. Here we helped nick out showing him a few tricks of the trade. At around 11 o’clock we went down to the boat for our first day of diving – we couldn’t wait!  The first dive site was Off the Wall this site was basically a ridge running in a north to south direction with the overhangs being anywhere up to about 2.5m high. On this site there was a huge array of marine life including sea snakes, reef sharks, lion fish, and every tropical fish you could think of. As Michael and I descended to the bottom, Michael swam off in the opposite direction to take a photo of a stingray, he gets a bit like this when we are diving so I have to be a little bit of a babysitter and keep an eye out for him. At about 40 mins into our dive Michael and I notice that we are running low on air so we head back towards the anchor and ascend back towards the boat. Now comes our surface interval and a change of sites, we have a bit of lunch which was bacon rolls and orange and poppy seed cake (the best I have ever had). The Second Site of the day was called Brewis Reef this was a shallow dive with the maximum depth being around 8 meters, there were a lot of smaller reef fish and a lot more nudibranchs (sea slugs) here in the shallower water. This dive went for around 50 mins and was a brilliant site for photography because of the light that is available. This was the last dive of the day so we now cruised back towards the jetty to feed the resident Queensland groper, this was the biggest groper I have ever seen, he was about as big as a VW Beetle. It took a little bit for the big groper to come out and take his fish but as soon as he was finish all of the sharks appeared out of nowhere and started a  small frenzy to try and get as many fish frames as they could. As quick as they came they were gone again, along with all of the scraps.

                                After having a nice warm shower we met the guys in the bar as Friday night was Cocktail Night, and this evening drink was "Mackerel Mule" and consisted of Bitters, Double shot of Vodka, dry Ginger ale, a squeeze of lemon and a slice of orange. Surprisingly it wasn’t too bad. After another fantastic dinner we headed back to the bar where Nick was now experimenting with drinks and Tanya and I got to be the lucky taste testers, sadly these weren’t as good.  

Day Eleven          Were once again spoilt by Fiona at breakfast this morning only we ate so much we felt a tad sick once we had finished. Today was a later start as with diving up here it must be done on certain tides. Michael and I headed out for a spot of fishing however were out of luck as Chevron was using the jetty which meant no 'commoners’. We tried of the beach for a while without any luck so we soon gave up and went for a walk instead. Nick was around at 12 to pick us up for the days diving, the weather was getting a tad messy though so the boat ride out wasn't as nice as yesterdays trip, the first dive site was called “Skipper Crevasse” and we had high hopes for this dive after hearing Nick and Jamie rave about the mutant fish life that lived on this reef. As we jumped off the back of the boat into the water, we notice quite a strong surface current, so Michael and I descended right away to get out of this current. Once on the bottom we met up with Nick and his group and continued our dive around the site, this was a really nice dive with lots of soft corals and immense marine life. The site consisted of a ridge that ran down either side of the of the dive site. This dive went for about 40 minutes before Michael and I ran out of air. During our surface interval the weather changed on us and decided to get a bit colder and windier so three of the other divers chose not to get in the water for this dive, so it was only Michael, Nick and I, this site was named Black Flag and it was considered the best dive of the Mackerel Islands, the ground was rough and broken and there was too much fish life to count, this site was also littered with snapped fishing line and anchors as it is one of the most popular fishing spots. Looking past all of the bad stuff there were turtles and sharks, mackerel and rays, this truly was an unbelievable dive.

                                Feeling very cold and tired we headed home and to a nice warm shower. I was very tempted to have an afternoon snooze however that night we had a meeting with Drew and Traci so no nana nap for us. Michael had also been putting together a slide show of all the fantastic photos he had been taking to show everyone after dinner.  Dinner was again great and we had moved into the bar to watch the DVD slide show that Michael had made. His photography is getting better every dive and some of the photos he took were amazing. The crew were amazed and gave him some great feedback – I was really proud of him =] they were so impressed that they have asked Michael to use some of the photos as advertising on their website and the DVD has been sent up the Karratha visitors centre to help advertise the company!

Day twelve     We were up early this morning as the boat was meant to leave at 8.00 however this was delayed until 11. We had packed up and said our goodbyes and thankyous – we were so lucky to get this opportunity and had met some fantastic people. Finally after a cold and wet tender run out to the boat we were on our way back to Onslow. It seemed like the weather had just held up for us. As we got off the boat we went to the storage yard to get the car – only the swags off both ours and the girls car was GONE! Great we thought, so much for a ‘safe location’ then started the chuckles of Frank who was driving us – he and the boys had moved them inside to make sure they were safe and thought it would be a good laugh not to tell us where they were. We jumped in the car and raced towards Karratha as it held the gem “take out!” oh how Michael craved a cheese burger. We arrived in Karratha only to get lost in the many roads and roundabouts. It took Michael a while to get use diving in a busy area again but we managed to avoid any accidents. Once we had sourced our maccas, subway and KFC (which was for dinner) we drove to Port Samson. A nice little town just north of Karratha, we got there only to be disappointed at the news that there were no camp sites left. Not even one for our tiny swag. This sucked as we had been looking forward to coming here since last year. We thought “hey we will see how much a cabin is and spoil ourselves?” Boy was that silly the most basic cabin was still $210 a night. We made the decision best to drive on and we will find a free 24hr road side stop – we have become quite a fan of these stops along the way, this also gave us a short drive time the next day as we were closer to Port Headland.
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