Diving at Busselton, Margaret River, SW Australia

 

QM2 approached Busselton at about 0730.  Busselton is a small town situated on the south west corner of Australia, near to the Margaret River.  It’s known for its seasonal humpback whale sightings and for its famous pier.  The pier was built in the 1800s and is one of the world’s longest at 1.8 km.  It was originally wood and largely still is.  There is a sealife observatory near the far end which allows you to view underwater.  A small train runs the length of the jetty if you don’t want to walk!

 

We had booked to dive with Dive Shed.  They’d been brilliant throughout, great communications, very friendly and couldn’t do enough to help.  So different from that terrible Wolf guy on Reunion.  We managed to get on the very first tender to leave QM2. One of the receptionists escorted us down to the loading door and we were first on.  The ship was 3km offshore so the tender ride took about 35 minutes. 

 

Weather was largely overcast with patches of blue sky and hot sun when it came out.  Not much wind at first but that was forecast to change.  Anyway, the Dive Shed sent a car to pick us up and take us to the marina where their boat was.  What a nice place, brand new marina built with luxury villas all around it.  Bussulton is definitely on the up from the look of the high quality development going on.  The dive boat was quite a nice one, with a flying bridge, plenty of floorspace and a diving platform on the back with two reasonable ladders.  I prefer Christmas tree style ladders with open side so you can climb up with your fins on, and these weren’t but that’s a small thing.

 

There were two dive instructors, a skipper and a “helper” and there were 6 of us diving.  We were definitely the oldest, and I was the only woman!  Anyway they were a super friendly group and very professional.  Can’t fault the dive operation at all.  From the hire kit, the boat, the staff, the lunch etc.  All excellent. 

 

We were doing 2 dives on the RANS Swan, a destroyer escort ship which was deliberately sunk in the 1990s.  Its about 120m long and it sits between about 31m and 9m, fully upright and with all the hatches blown off so really easy to swim into and through at various points.  There is a lot of growth on her now and a good collection of fish.  The trip out was quite long: about 45 minutes and we went right by QM2 so managed to get some good shots of her. 

 

The first dive, we went down and swam to the stern, which is the deepest part, exploring in various hatches along the w

ay.  Visibility was pretty good.  You saw the whole wreck as soon as you started to descend.  Spent a good 40 minutes exploring very enjoyably.  There was a bit of a surface current running, nothing much though. 

 

Had a nice hot lunch in the surface interval.  I kept my wetsuit on as the wind got up.  I haven’t mentioned the wetsuit…. Doh…… it was a 5.5mm full suit which I very much dislike as it is very constricting and you need to add lead in order to counteract the buoyancy so everything feels less streamlined.  The water temperature at depth though was 20C which Australians feel is very, very cold.  I would have been very happy in a 3mm shorty. 

 

By the time we went in for the second dive, the wind was pretty strong.  At least a 6.  A swell on the surface.  This time we went to the bow which was absolutely awesome, like a sharp underwater cliff, covered in soft coral.  We swam around and went in some more hatches.  There was a great big wobblegong shark lying on the floor of one of the rooms.  He wasn’t phased by us at all.  Just lay there.  Must have been at least 3m long and rather fat.  Eventually we came up to the crows nest level and there were big shoals of bullseye fish there.  Very pretty sight indeed. 

 

Our dive guides were both wearing these electronic shark deterrent devices that deployed a long rope which gives off some sort of current that they don’t like.  This was in case we were attacked on the ascent/descent/decompression stop when we were in mid water.  Well, we were a long way offshore.  I had a 3 minute stop to do after this dive and I must admit I stayed close to this contraption just in case lol!!!! 

 

It was really horrible by the time we surfaced and a hard slog to get to the ladders and then up them.  I was knackered by the time we got back on.  It is at such times that “getting too old for this” and “must get to the gym more often/ever” come to mind.  Still, I suppose we were old enough to be the grandparents of most of them and we couldn’t have been too bad as we got invited to go diving in Sydney with one chap.  Still…. Must get more aerobically fit…….

 

They ran us back into town and we had a brief wander around and some tea and wifi in a coffee shop.  Managed a nice long chat to Lucy who was catching an early morning flight up to Glasgow from London City.  Got a tender back and back on by 4pm. 

 

The most famous dive in Busselton is the pier itself which you can dive day and night.  I must confess I would have loved to have done that as its supposed to be brilliant.  Our dive guide said he preferred it to the Swan.  Must be good then.  No time to do that on this visit though. 

 

Too tired to face the formal dining room tonight, so we ate in the buffet.  Prawns and cod cheeks, then grilled lamb chops.  Delicious.  After dinner we went to the early performance of the show: The Beatles Experience, a tribute act.  We’ve seen them before on a P&O cruise and they’re pretty good. 

 

And so to bed!

 

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