SCUBA in Sydney- Fairlight: best intro ever?

Fairly recently me and my buddy made the leap from snorkeling enthusiasts to PADI recreational SCUBA divers after a very informative (and reasonably priced) course from Sydney Dive Academy. While we’ve accomplished about five or so lone dives (that is, with just ourselves and no supervision), we’ve been practicing almost exclusively in Shelley Beach, a short walk from Manly Beach. I recommend Shelley to anyone who wants to practice in very safe, very biologically rich waters, and it maxes out at 10m, meaning that even if you were to run out of air, a quick, decomp-less ascent is all you need to do.

However, while Shelley is beautiful and interesting, it must be noted that about 90% of the biology and beauty of the place can be easily accessed through the medium of snorkel. The remaining 10% consists of large Wobbegong and port Jackson sharks (both harmless), and the occasional stingray (harmless if you leave it alone). Now the investment for renting SCUBA gear is almost always above $60 for a day, and to buy all the stuff you’re looking at $1000+ for entry level. Clearly, Shelley is not the place to go if you want to get your SCUBA money worth.

Enter Fairlight, a short distance from Shelley and a fair bit less traveled, thanks to its initially uncompromising terrain and inhospitality for snorkelers. Granted, the difficulty of snorkeling an area does not make a good enough reason to SCUBA, but Fairlight offers far more at a sustained 10-15m depth that Shelley does in its entirety.

Entry is somewhat difficult. The parking situation is among residential areas with a conservative time limit and grumpy locals (try your best to park in  a way that allows others to park next to you, as opposed to blocking a drive way). Lugging the equipment to the beach is short but a little tiring. The beach itself is a good area for suiting up, especially with a buddy in tow. Now walk into the water. Its open water, so it can get choppy, but at about the 5m mark you can find good sized areas of calm water that you can follow all the way down.

Anyway, there’s a shallow (sometimes submerged) large rock shelf that you need to traverse, favoring the right hand side of the beach as you go down. After a short while, you’ll get to another rock wall, and another. Keep following them down until the 10m mark (whereupon it becomes more of a slight decline as you head further into the ocean). You’ll notice some interesting things here. Firstly, there’s a proliferation of soft corals, anenomes and interesting seaweed in the rock walls that Shelley does not possess. Like forgotten idols to old gods, enormous rock mounds festooned with enterprising crustaceans and fish life will appear out of the gloom as well.  Bare left, noting the rock wall to your left hand side and follow it around. Shortly you should come into contact with this:

Fairlight Wreck 1

And immediately next to it, a larger wreck:

Fairlight Wreck 2

Yep, those right there are your first real, not messing around, bonafide wrecks. They are apparently a couple of speedboats from the 1950s that sank on separate occasions. The larger one has a bunch of cool stuff, including the engine block (as seen in the picture) as well as a cooker of some description, and a toilet somewhat close to it. The smaller one has less to see, but the structure remains more intact. If you’re interesting more in the fish life, they swarm around both wrecks, in fact while my buddy was taking a picture of me posing, I nearly crashed into a beautiful angelfish trying to escape by expertly going straight at me. There are also plenty of octopus, bait fish, beautiful wrasses, grouper, the works. In my opinion, this marks Fairlight as the first “worthwhile” SCUBA experience one can have in Sydney.

After you’re done here, simply pop up to the surface and you should find yourself close to the swimming pool. It’s probably easier  swimming underwater, but a quick nip back should have you high and dry on the beach again.

As a note, I would like to apologise for the quality of the pictures thanks to my shitty camerawork, but now that my wonderful fiance has gotten me a Go Pro, I hope to get better videos and pictures soon 😀


~ by freeze43 on December 26, 2012.

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