When the chance to join Big Cat Reality aboard their Brisbane-to-Bundaberg itinerary come along, I jumped at it. The route, starting in Moreton Bay, took us north past the Sunshine Coast—my home turf. Although I’ve lived here 7 years, I’ve had very few opportunities to dive the area.
Barwon Banks, around 40km offshore from my place was the first new spot on my list, and it was great: a very fishy cleaning station, some bull and eagle rays, and interesting topography, too.
Next stop heading north was Wolf Rock, a well known grey nurse shark habitat that I had dived once before, but on a particularly cold and miserable day. Not this time. A strong thermocline at 8-10m held the cold green water below a lovely warm blue top layer. Wolf Rock lived up to its reputation with loads of sharks. Throw in some sea snakes, a turtle, and a truckload of fish… and Wolf Rock has leapt to one of my Top 10 Aussie dives.
A nice meal at the Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser Island and an overnight steam later, the final day greeted us. While the Cochrane Artificial Reef dive was a bust due to absolute rubbish viz, the follow-up at the wreck of the Barjon was a revelation. She was a timber fishing trawler that burned to the waterline before sinking. As is typical of wrecks in the middle of nowhere, the place was a resting place for turtles and was buzzing with baitfish and their predators. Huge groupers, trevally, Spanish mackeral, bonito and snappers all caused mayhem among the schools of baitfish. And the unusual location (miles from the nearest reef or shore) meant a slightly different set of species to those I am used to. Blue striped snappers were replaced by brown-striped snappers, for example, and Longfin batfish replaced by Orbicular batfish. I could happily spend a week on this tiny site.
All in all, it was a cracking three days, thanks in equal measure to the excellent Big Cat crew, their captain James, the weather gods smiling on us, and a boatload of great shipmates. I hope the weather co-operates again for the return trip in a month or so!