As we wrote in one of our earlier posts, diving the Great Barrier Reef was one of the items that were on my Things-To-Do-In-Australia list. And, over the past three days, I have been able to do just that.
The one luxury accommodation we had booked on our Good-Bye-Australia trip was a 5-night stay on Heron Island. Sitting towards the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, it houses a luxury resort and a research station, as well as being home to a lot of coral, mantas, rays, sharks, turtles and a huge variety of other marine and avian life.
It was here that I was able to enjoy five dives – the first dives I have done in almost 10 years.
When I went to the dive centre to fill in my paperwork I couldn’t believe that it had been that long since my last time under water. But then I realized that that had been on the Maldives when Willemijn was pregnant with our daughter. So the timeline made sense.
Because of the long break I was due a refresher course in the pool. Luckily, diving has always been sort of natural to me, so it didn’t take me too long to figure out how to connect the rebreather and put on the dive vest. An hour in the pool (at 7:30am!) was enough to get me back into the swing of things, as well as working up an appetite for breakfast.
Unfortunately, all the dives for the day were already fully booked, so I had to wait another 24 hours to be able to actually go in the water. But the wait was well worth it.
Over the next three days I was able to do five dives in different locations around the house reef. I saw turtles, mantas, rays, tons of smaller fish and a large variety of coral. Luckily, coral bleaching is not an issue in these waters (yet?) so the colours are quite stunning.
Most of the dives here are dictated by the strong currents around the reef – with a tide difference of up to three meters, there is a lot of water moving in and out of the area at all times of the day. This makes for very leisurely dives: just set your depth, face the reef and let the water do the moving for you.
I had forgotten how much fun diving is. After the first two times in the water I found my rhythm again and the last two dives were outstanding. Floating in the water, hearing nothing but your own breathing and the occasional crunching of the snappers on the reef is very relaxing. I must make sure that it is not another ten years before I do this again!