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Tauchen in Australien

Mit dem Great Barrier Reef hat Australien das größte Riff der Welt zu bieten. Ob Riff- oder Walhaie, ob Mantas oder Muränen, ob Korallen oder Krokodilfisch: Hier bleibt fast kein tropischer Unterwassertraum unerfüllt. Die Infrastruktur ist perfekt auf Taucher eingestellt: Basen an Land mit Tagesfahrten, mehrtägige Tauchsafaris, alles ist möglich, der durchschnittliche Standard sehr hoch. Neben dem Great Barrier Reef hat Australien aber auch noch mehr zu bieten: Von Weißen Haien bis hin zum fast unentdeckten Tasmanien.

Übrigens: Es gibt auch noch ein paar gedruckte Werke zur Vorbereitung eines Australien-Trips!

   

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Lovely!

mike-y
Snorkeling in the bay at Old Settlement Beach something suddenly bumped into my thigh. For one second frozen in shock and terrible ideas I looked down only to find a big Loggerhead slowly feeding on seagrass. She seemed rather tame and not at all bothered by my floating above her or putting my camera close to her face. Several more of these encounters followed the next days including some bigger spots of catfish. Lovely! For more than 15 years – since my first visit to Australias Christmas and Cocos Keeling Island – Lord Howe has been on my list of “must see” destinations. Retirement at last made this dream come true. Not only this but Ururu, Kings Canyon, 12 Apostel, Lady Elliot, Hamilton Island, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane. The nature and countryside is awesome and beautiful, the cities especially Melbourne charming. Great Ocean Road a stunning and breathtaking sight you just can´t get enough of. Lord Howe on final approach is amazing and I immediately thought, wouh this is Australia Bora Bora, with mountain tops covered in clouds, a beautiful blueish green bay, coral reef and green valleys around. At home already I´ve done some research on diving and chose and pre booked dives with Pro Dive plus option to once go to Balls Pyramid 24 km southeast of L. H. For the latter they charge extra 300 A $ two tank, horrendous that. Like everywhere else in the world extras cost you big money, like shark feeding, dolphin encounter etc. One of these days dive centers will rip you off for some extra costs, when you pass 30 m or hit deco both of which might cause stress for the dive guide. Just wait and see. There is a baggage allowance of 15 kg , I had more but it was never an issue or extra costs. I chose Milky Way in a pretty setting inside some garden and rain forest like area, one amazing beach only 1 minute away. Had a large cottage with bedroom – living room with kitchen for in house self catering. Rented a bike to cover the 11 km of streets they have on the island. You will find fantastic hiking trails all over the island into the hills and steep cliffs with thousands of birds nesting there, to some lonely beaches, one hike to the top of the mountain for some wonderful view all across the island. Sugar Loaf our first dive site showed nice healthy hard and soft coral not like a fully covered area but in spots. Found some smaller version of humphead in blue named Doubleheader Wrasse, mediocre fish life, 24 degrees water with good 40 m vis. Swim thru with sting rays hiding there. There could have been more fish, but well this again shows nearly everywhere in the world. Above on surface break some steep cliffs and awesome island scenery right in front of us, wouh. The 24 degrees succeeded in getting me chilled in my five mil on the second dive with fresh wind blowing all the time, so the next few days and dives I brought my chicken vest with hood, which improved things very much. Boat with 12 divers and two tank for each was a bit tight when everybody tried to gear up. The dive guides give very thorough boat procedure and dive briefings and check on you under water all the time for air consumption. They follow your profile, write it down. The dive center, 2 smaller sheds, sit on the beach, gear + compressor room, 3 rather small tanks to wash your gear in due to fresh water restrictions on the island. Lord Howe I would count among the top 10 most beautiful islands in the world. Others for me being Palau, Misool, Aitutaki, El Nido, Kauai, Santorini … The island is enticing in it´s beauty all around with lush green palm trees and tropical rain forest with odd plants, a huge lagoon for snorkeling, some fantastic beaches where you might be the only guest. When you find the wind too strong and cold on one side you easily turn to the other side of the island. Fish will crowd around you in shallow water used to get some crumps of your breakfast. The island has lovely blue water which invites you to all kinds of water sport and recreation. Dive 2 brought us to Malaban Landslide. Two smaller Galapagos sharks were cruising away from us, good fish life here, jacks, trevallies, angel, butterfly fish some surgeons. Not much growth on the boulders. Dive guide is always in front with a yellow rash jersey to make sure you won´t get lost. Groups of 6 divers with buddy teams can cruise around a bit. The rule is back on board with 50 bar. We found some big brownish creature, a sea hare? Lobsters were looking out of their holes, some small black and brown reef fish spreading his dorsal fin with spikes and always trying to drive you away from his space on the reef, a Spanish dancer in daylight, amazing. Turtles passed by on every dive. On Lord Howe a maximum of 400 guests a day are allowed, a good idea I find. You will never find any place being crowded. Aussie meals in some good restaurants are mouthwatering creations sometimes not quite enough for hungry divers without side orders. One night I had fresh oyster yummy, salmon on buttered asparagus, hmmm. Racks of lamp, ribs and fish and chips you will find nearly everywhere. Balls Pyramid, a must do, on my last diving day, is a good one hour away from the main island. Would it be highlight and climax? Breathtaking and impressive the view on the surface, a sheer cliff more of a needle pinnacle sticking out of the ocean high into the sky above, sea birds all around it. Would underwater offer the same? A dolphin joined us on our way to the Pyramid, omen? When I dropped in at Observation my first idea was – a divers paradise. Fish in abundance everywhere around us, I spotted Leopard Trigger, Amberjack, sweetlips, surgeons, eels, some endemic fish only here to find called Ballena Angel Fish, lobster running free on the reef, inside a canyon thousands of tiny glass fish, a sting ray asleep in the sand, boulders and ravines reaching down into the deep blue inviting the adventurous diver to follow. The 50 min dive passed way too fast to digest and enjoy all sightings. Conditions on the surface were a bit tricky then, choppy seas, a swell reaching down, changing currents, nothing for beginners. Dive 2 Wheat Sheets had less fish but a good wall with black coral 2 sharks a sting ray coming up to us during safety stop. Then it was good bye to Balls Pyramid, an adventure really worth visiting, without it I would have missed an important part of L. H. dives.
Coming out of the clouds all of sudden we saw an awesome greenish white diamond in a setting of lovely blues of all kinds – Lady Elliot. The pilot did us the favor to start a scenic tour once all around before the final approach, all our cameras clicking away in frantic speed. Paradise was waiting for us. The landing strip looked a bit short, so for the pilot it means, touch down and hit the brakes and propellers in reverse right away otherwise you would shoot over it and hit the lagoon. This would maybe an idea for avid divers to start right away. Disembarking a guided 20 min tour of the island started to give you a rough idea of what´s going on. I got a lovely bungalow with garden view plenty of birds and a glimpse of the ocean between conifers. On my night desk I found a sign “ear plugs in the first drawer”, I wonder what the hell would I need ear plugs for here. It seems there is folk from the city, who can easily sleep with traffic noise not so however with birds calling, a bit strange that. Undercurrent had a divers report already in the 10/2017 issue so I don´t need to tell you more on the island features. Diving was the reason I came here. Had e-mailed from home and pre booked a 10 dive package with my own gear. Again no surcharge on the plane, lucky me it seems. At the dive center I found a blackboard with clear warnings for snorkelers, not to go out to lighthouse with southerly winds or vice versa northern winds at Coral Garden. Sometimes they even recommend not to go at all, when the beach for snorkelers was closed due to swell current and strong winds. I went for a first impression with mask and fins and I found a healthy reef no traces of a dying or suffering Great Barrier Reef here. Staghorn in abundance with freshly grown flourishing branches reached up to the surface, beautiful. Were all the horrendous stories rumors or ghost stories to bring in tourist for a last glimpse on the reef? To be on the safe side they installed some buoys and lines on the reef to give snorkelers some reference where they are on the reef and hold tight if they don´t manage the tidal current, a good thing. I swam both ways back and forth from Lighthouse and had to fight only a bit of a current. Dive 1 + 2 at Lighthouse Bommie + Marori Wrasse Bommie: It was a wouh experience, great vis of around 40 m 27 degrees in the water, that´s how I like diving. Aquarium all around us on entering the water, 6 turtles, 5 sharks (reef and blacktip) 3 eagle rays, 2 sting rays, wobegon, snapper, grouper, sweetlips, surgeons, trevallies, pipe trumpet leaf fish, octopus, amazing and a lovely which couldn´t be better. Vis varied in spots, from 14 to 20 m maybe due to tide. A slight current was running, easy to swim against. All eyes were tuned for manta rays, so far no luck with that. Fish life is abundant and seems used to divers, so you managed to get some good and easy shots even with Hero where you have to get real close to succeed in a nice photo. You assemble and don you suit at the dive center next to the landings strip and close to reception. It sometimes took some time with 12 divers around for everybody to get ready. You put your gear on a trailer, divers sit in another one behind, a tractor is pulling the whole thing to Lighthouse . There you get ready and put on all your gear. With reef shoes or booties we walked down to the beach and boat. This is some big aluminum construction with a ramp, which can be lowered for easy beach entry of all divers. In a swell you had to be careful when the ramp was moving, so a big step was a good idea. 3 groups were formed, all are guided, 1 hour of 50 bar is the rule, you buddy up. They follow your profile. Once the dive is finished you have to write down your bottom time, maximum depth and remaining air and sign this. Is this a new way to keep liability away from the dive center? Severance wreck was planned, this time we went out with the glass bottom boat, only 8 divers on the morning trip. 2 min away from the beach we spotted a manta right beneath us. Like on emergency alert all scrambled to get in the water as fast as possible. Not so the dive guide, who first made sure we understood the procedure around a manta dive and not chase it away. We all listened restless and eager to jump. Down in the sand – nothing – Pedro gave directions and immediately round the next boulder there he was hovering a bit. We kneeled down got our cameras ready and several times he flew around and above us close by, great photo opportunity wouh. This was not the only highlight on that dive. A French girl heard dolphins, gave signs to Pedro, he looked around, pointed excited and one animal came down to us from the surface. My buddy gave signal ray in the sand, Pedro at the same time signaled shark, a bit confusing, damn where to look first. I managed to catch both a leopard shark was resting in the sand, the ray half buried only eyes and gills looking out. In the distance near the surface a bunch of bat fish was cruising, I love these and they offer great shots. Jellyfish and transparent salbes floating in the blue above us, a Napoleon with some jacks were looking for food. We reached Severance with a thorny ray there and millions of glass fish around the wreck. One lucky dive, we all laughed and high fived to Pedro and Stephen the boat man for the good job they had done. In 5 days we had 6 manta sightings. At coral garden we found a spot which looked like a caterpillar went over the reef, only rubble, I made a circular sign to the dive guide, he nodded, must have been side effects of the typhoon they had the year ago. Lunch was good, followed the advice out of undercurrent and did not go for the now 25 buck buffet but had sides only like wedges, sweet potato fries, they got me the best gluten free toast I had ever, big slices with some green seeds in , maybe pumpkin, yummy. The desalinated tap water without any minerals in tastes disgusting. When you need shadow or suffer from the sun you should try to get into the dive boat first, It´s only partly covered. At Anchor Bommie we had a school of barracuda, a “whaler” shark = grey reef shark, a dozen eagle rays flew past, too far away to catch a good picture, turtles, turtles, turtles on every dive, a blackspotted whipray in the sand. There wasn´t much choice of dive sites, often we did the same again and again or floated in one nearby. Once we had a nice drift dive across a coral garden which slowly picked up speed. When we surfaced we frantically grabbed the buoy line and hung there like flags in the wind. The current was much stronger here and we all got safely but tired and a bit out of breath back onto the boat. Pedro and Phil were really enthusiastic guides, always laughing and happy sharing sights with the guests. Last diving day for me, The wind had picked up, at Lighthouse and Coral Garden a big surf was running to shore, closed for snorkelers and divers had to turn to the other side of the island which is facing the open ocean. It was lucky me again for that chance to dive both sides of the island. We were only two divers that morning. Totally different landscape here under water, vis a bit low due to the wind on top, a wall reaching down to 25 or 30 m with lots of overhangs, ledges, caverns, a divers heaven. We dropped in at Blow Hole and swam towards Tubes and Hero. We kicked down into Blow Hole a wide opening at around 12 m, a bunch of snappers and thousands of glass fish hovering at the exit at 24 onto a wall with lovely fans and huge table coral. Beneath us a big sting ray, a manta flew past in slow motion, a whaler cruised around with humongous belly, maybe a pregnant female, a good sized potato cod hang on the wall . I looked around for more and right under me a monster of sting ray approached, I shrieked into my reg, Pedro looked around and nearly got a shock with the ray only half a meter away and closing. Parrot fish, leopard trigger angel fish on the reef, a lovely finale to my diving here. Let´s see what I managed to catch with my camera of all that. At safety stop we reached the ledge of Hero, a short look down was tempting but with only 60 bar left we decided on some other time. It was a wide canyon cut into the wall with crevices overhangs but at this time with a bit of foggy vis. Well maybe next time around. Sunsets at Lighthouse and the sky at night are worth watching and dreaming while doing so.
Vorab: Wir hatten uns bewusst entschieden, Christmas nicht zur vielgepriesenen Zeit der Krabbenwanderung in den Wintermonaten zu bereisen, sondern im Sommer (2 Wochen im August/ September 2018). Und wir wurden nicht enttäuscht: Für das Tauchen ist es ganz einfach die beste Zeit, da die See ruhiger und die Sicht unter Wasser ausgezeichnet ist. Außerdem können dann auch alle Tauchplätze angefahren werden, was im Winter wegen des Windes und der hohen Wellen eher die Ausnahme ist. Die Gruppenreisen konzentrieren sich auf die wetterunbeständigeren Monate. Außer uns paar Tauchern gab es noch eine Handvoll australische Senioren, die Vögel beobachten wollten und ein paar Weltumsegler, die hier Pause gemacht haben. Es gibt auch nur wenig Autos, die man einfach unabgeschlossen stehen lässt. Auf der Insel kommt nichts weg. Völlig relaxt. Außerdem sind im Sommer alle Strassen befahrbar, was während der Krabbenwanderung meistens nicht der Fall sein soll. Aus Naturschutzgründen ist dann wohl die halbe Insel gesperrt, was den Erkundungsradius außerhalb des Tauchens sehr einschränkt. Tauchen: Wir haben ein wirklich entspanntes Tauchen mit sehr wenigen Tauchgästen erlebt, zum Teil ist das Boot nur für uns 2 rausgefahren. Massentauchtourismus ist ein absolutes Fremdwort. Die Extradivers Tauchbasis wird sehr professionell und persönlich von dem Paar Hiro und Sandy mit Unterstützung von David geführt, die die Basis mit hohem Einsatz vor 2 Jahren wieder eröffnet haben. Angeboten werden täglich (bis auf Samstags) 2-Bootstauchgänge (idR morgens) , Tagesausfahrten mit 3 Tauchgängen, darüber hinaus sind Landtauchgänge und Nachttauchgänge am Strand von Fish Cove möglich. Die Basis organisiert auch Touren, den Mietwagen oder mal einen gemeinsamen Grillabend oder man trifft sich nur auf 1 Bier in der einzigen Bar der Insel. Ein super Team!!! Und sehr seviceorientiert! Christmas ist eine Insel vulkanischen Ursprungs mit entsprechend rauer Küste und vielen Steilwänden, betauchbaren Überhängen und zahlreichen Höhlen mit Stalagmiten und Stalagtiten (mit Luft zum Auftauchen) . Es werden auch interessante Unterwasserberge mit entsprechend Strömung angefahren. Wenn man Glück hat, kann man einigen Tauchplätzen in der Tauchpause mit großen Makrelen und kleinen Haien (Riffhaie und Seidenhaie) schnorcheln. Das Highlight unserer Tauchgänge waren ein Schwertfisch (mein erster lebender) . Ansonsten gibt es alles, was das Taucherherz begeht, auch Hammer, Tiger- und Walhaie, - aber es ist kein Zoo, man muss zur richtigen Zeit an der richten Stelle sein. Zur Insel: Christmas ist sehr überschaubar, hier kennt jeder jeden, alle kennen Dich ("ach ja, Ihr seid die Deutschen bei extradivers") und und fragen erstaunt, warum man nun ausgerechnet von Deutschland nach Christmas gereist ist. Dave von den Extradivers hat jede Menge Tipps und Informationen zu den Highlights, landschaftlich schönen Trails und sonstigen Secrets über Wasser. Wir hatten uns von vornherein für die 14 Tage einen Mietwagen geordert und sind nach dem Tauchen fast jeden Nachmittag auf Erkundungstour gegangen. Und auch im Sommer gibt es Krabben satt, insbesondere nach einem Regenguß kommen alle roten und blauen Krebstiere aus ihren Höhlen gekrabbelt, so dass man beim (Links) - Fahren Slalom fahren muss und der Waldboden rot bedeckt ist (1 Krabbe je Quadratmeter) Die großen kräftigen Palmendiebe treten dann auch in Gruppen auf. Außer den Krabben gibt es noch jede Menge Vögel zu beobachten. Giftige Spinnen, Schlangen, Skorpione etc. gibt es nicht. Nur spitze Steine, Badelatschen reichen nicht aus. Baden: Es gibt einige sehr schöne Strände, die sich zum ausführlichen Baden wegen des Lavagesteins und der zum Teil unerwartet hohen Wellen nicht ganz so eignen. Der Strand bei Fish Cove ist zwar nicht so pittoresk, aber zum Schwimmen und Schnorcheln ok. Unterkunft: Es gibt nur den einen Ort Fish Cove, der sich über mehrere Ebenen die Küste hinunter erstreckt. Wir haben im Sunset Resort gewohnt, gleich neben der Tauchbasis. Eine sehr gute Wahl, nicht nur wegen des Meerblicks vom großen Balkon, sondern insbesondere wegen der Selbstversorger und Grillmöglichkeiten. Fischen Fisch gibt beim Angler um die Ecke. Ein Supermarkt ist in Laufentfernung. Das Wasser aus der Leitung kann man trinken. Fazit: Ein super entspannter Urlaub mit zahlreichen Highlights über und unter Wasser auf einem vom Massentourismus bisher verschonten Insel ! Sehr empfehlenswerte Tauchbasis!! Gerne wieder!
Wir waren im August 2018 auf der Scubapro III. Von maximal möglichen 32 Gästen waren es (wohl die große Ausnahme) nur 16 Gäste an diesen 3 Tagen. Wir möchten uns nicht vorstellen, wie das bei einer Vollbelegung gewesen wäre. Das Boot war auch so schon gut gefüllt, sowohl im Essbereich als auch auf dem Tauchdeck und den ganzen Aufenthaltsbereichen. Angefahren wurden das Milln Reef und das Flynn Reef. Von den 11 TG wurden 7 allein am Flynn Reef gemacht! Und da sogar noch einige am selben Tauchplatz des Riffs. Es wird groß beworben, dass man 4 verschiedene Außenriffe anfährt – sollte man dann vielleicht auch machen, vor allem, wenn das Wetter absolut ruhig ist und die besten Voraussetzungen dafür bestehen – wie es bei unserer Tour der Fall war. Vielleicht war ja die schlechte Belegung der Safari Grund zum Treibstoff sparen, und man ist deshalb bei dem Riff hängen geblieben? Oder die Tatsache, dass 2 OWD Schüler und 5 AOWD Schüler an Bord waren? An Kursen ist halt gut verdient. Der Ablauf an Bord hat gut funktioniert. Die Verpflegung war ganz gut. Dass einem allerdings beim Essen schon fast der Teller aus der Hand genommen wird, weil es ja weiter gehen muss und die Zeit drängt (für was, wenn man eh am selben Riff bleibt?), ist nicht sehr erfreulich und schon gar nicht verständlich. Der Rückweg zum Hafen hat dem Ganzen noch eins drauf gesetzt. Wir Gäste mussten alle die ganze Zeit über im Essraum bleiben, damit man ja nicht im Weg steht oder sich gar an Plätzen aufhält, die schon geputzt wurden. Man kam sich vor wie in einer Herde von Schafen, die irgendwo eingepfercht werden. Endlich im Hafen angekommen durfte man dann auch nicht von Bord gehen, bis erst Mal die ganze Ladung für die neue Tour an Bord gebracht wurde. Die Tour auf der Scubapro III (und wohl auch den Schwesterschiffen) ist vergleichsweise günstig, verspricht aber wesentlich mehr als sie dann letztendlich erfüllt. Das Schiff hatten wir über Liveaboard.com gebucht, was alles gut geklappt hat. Nur haben die dann unsere Bewertung über das Schiff nicht veröffentlicht. Liegt vielleicht daran, dass die ausschließlich guten Bewertungen über die ScubaPro III auf ihrer Homepage nicht durch unsere nicht allzu gute „verwässert“ werden sollten? Darum jetzt auch hier die Abgabe unserer Bewertung über das T-Net.
Wer an der Ostküste Australiens unterwegs ist sollte sich diesen besonderen Spot nicht entgehen lassen. Wir haben den Trip bereits von Deutschland aus bei "Yongala-Dive" gebucht und dementsprechend verlief vor Ort alles problemlos....Morgens Treffen an der Basis zum fertigmachen und zum Briefing. Das Briefing ist ordentlich und anhand übersichtlicher Grafiken sehr gut nachvollziehbar. Darüber hinaus gibt es eine Menge Infomaterial (Bücher etc.) direkt vor Ort zu kaufen. Noch an der Basis wird die Ausrüstung auf Komplettheit gecheckt bevor es dann mit dem Pickup zum Strand geht. Hier wird das Boot ins Wasser gelassen bevor es auf die knapp 30 minütige Fahrt zum Tauchplatz geht. Am Tauchplatz befanden sich schon mehrere, kleine Boote. Alles in Allem war der Platz aber alles andere als überlaufen. Dann ging es los..... Abstieg am Bojenseil, schnell schälen sich die Siluetten der Yongala aus dem tiefen blau des Ozeans. Umgehend wird man von Seeschlangen begrüßt, die im einfallenden Morgenlicht zu tanzen scheinen. Tatsächlich waren es so viele, dass schon beim Abstieg der Weg ständig von aufsteigenden Schlangen gekreuzt wurde. Am Wrack selber macht es den Anschein als würde man die Vielfalt des Great-Barrier-Reefs konzentriert an einem Platz vorfinden. Beim Tauchen von Highlight zu Highlight vergisst man schnell die eigentlichen Wrackstrukturen und verliert sich in den Schwärmen verschiedenster Meeresbewohner. Schornsteine und Geländer erinnern dann jedoch regelmäßig wieder an den menschlichen Ursprung des Tauchplatzes. In Spalten und nahe des Bodens lohnt sich die mitgebrachte Lampe. Bei genauerem Blick finden sich Riffhaie, die im Schutz der Dunkelheit ein Nickerchen machen. Doch auch den Blick in die Ferne sollte man nicht vergessen. Neben diversen Wrackfragmenten zeigten sich uns unter Anderem ein Gitarrenhai sowie ein Adlerrochen. Neben der riesigen Fischvielfalt beeindruckten besonders die unwirklich erscheinenden, riesigen Barsche... So groß, dass Sie den Menschen scheinbar nicht zu fürchten brauchen ziehen Sie Ihre Runden um das Wrack. Eine der wohl schönsten Kulissen, die man sich vorstellen kann. Lange Rede, kurzer Sinn. Anbei ein kleines Video.
At home I googled for a dive center on Hamilton and could only find “Explore”, some kind of tour operator for day trips to the White Sundays and Great Barrier Reef including meals, snorkeling, lunch break on a beautiful beach plus 2 dives for the heavy price of 320 A$. Well, I planned diving so I had to book this. I stayed at Palm Bungalows, lovely spacious cottages with kitchen facilities and all kind of amenities. You can use all the pools of other hotels here, a great idea. I heard the whole island belongs to one guy, spectacular. Same goes with meals, where you can eat wherever you chose to and charge it to your room, so no need to carry much cash around with you. Public transport is free of charge, it cruises all around in 15 min intervals. This should be introduced elsewhere and would reduce pollution and exhaust for sure. Dive 1 was Luncheon Bay inside the islands as the wind was too strong to head outside to the Great Barrier Reef. It would have been a 2 hour choppy ride, not good for a load of 60 holiday hungry tourist. It was a cloudy and rainy day. Water temperature ran around 27 degrees vis was 5 m only !!! what else is there to say ??? Small boulders, some coral, nudis, lobster but not one single shot with camera, not in that vis. 50 bar or 50 min is the rule, whichever comes first. The cruise ship is a big catamaran, rather stable even in choppy seas, the dive Zodiac they lowered with a hydraulic ramp into the water. This happens without divers, the hydraulic wouldn´t have managed to carry that weight or lift it up again. An idea maybe for the future, you gear up sit in the dinghy and are lowered into the water. Most times after the dive we were close to the mother boat and kicked home. Once or twice we had to climb into the Zodiac, no fun on a short and steep ladder. There are better ones on the market. Twice we just grabbed a line on the dinghy and were pulled back to the catamaran. Butterfly Bay for dive 2 showed a bit better vis maybe 8 – 12 m, some pretty coral and sponges (medium sized barrel), soft coral, nudis, barramundi and some reef fish. I guess all divers longed to go to Bait Reef outside. Snorkelers have to wear a rash guard suit because of some jellyfish Irukandi in the water here. I should maybe have done a bit more research on the diving conditions here, the vis seems to be that poor all year round inside the islands. But again, I wanted to visit the stunning beaches like White Heaven so I had to bear it. The first days of diving continued like this. It was a bit of a shock and some sort of anticlimax after Elliot and Lord Howe. All divers I met strongly recommended Yongala Wreck which so far I haven´t dived on. Next day same procedure again, Luncheon and Butterfly Bay, which turned into a soup dive with beginners. My buddy had 25 logged dives, I had to show him the dump valve in the back of his BC, it was some kind of escalator dive, up – down, urgs. Keep up hope and cross fingers for the next few days. Weather forecast looked and promised better and calmer sea. I canceled one day as they planned the same thing again. They do a double head count when all dives and snorkelers are back on board, kudos to that. On all dives here they register and follow your profile, you sign for it. You even have to bring a snorkel, Queensland Law insists on that, due to the big number of divers they have there. Saturday and Sunday outer reef at last, a 2 hour ride to reach Bait Reef 16 miles outside of the islands. Bait Reef is bigger than Hamilton Island, a huge coral plateau or sunken island where all kinds of blue invited you to jump in soonest. Vis 15 – 20 m, 28 degrees, a wall reaching down to 25 some crevices and boulders, 2 sharks, 3 blue spotted rays, some reef fish but not that many to get excited about, hard coral not on the whole reef. Hamilton was hit by a typhoon but you couldn´t find damage of that on the reef here. Lunch break and dive 2 followed right after, which was not too good an idea, a US guy and I were nearly sick in the water. Gear up time for dive 2 was called out, we all sat ready and were planned for the first dinghy going out. 1 went with snorkelers, the next followed, we were still sitting there in full gear for more than 10 min no fun that. First mate came down and cleared the path for us thank you! 35 min into the dive the guide gave ascend sign. I looked to my buddy, he shrugged his shoulder, we both had 150 bar, but we slowly climbed up the reef and did our safety on a boulder, dive time 50 min. This was a bit too much on the safe side here. They give some excellent boat procedure and briefing. Diving concerned they overdid it for me. There was a dive briefing when divers met on board, a pre dive briefing 15 m before we reached the place, a buddy check procedure under the eyes and command of the guide, like air on, buckle on the right, valves check, inflate BC. Under water this continued with signs like, come up/down to my level, get closer to the wall or buddy, gauges were asked after all 10 to 15 min. Next day showed clouds and some rain but medium calm seas, so we went out again. We did the same two spots Stepping Stones + Dragon Wall of the day before, which was like same procedure on the inner reef. One wonders if there aren´t any more spots worth diving on or are these guys just a bit lazy. Again we jumped into the Zodiac, motored out to the reef, backroll and let´s see what´s around. A turtle is flying past in foggy waters, a good sized sea trout hovers above the reef. Dive 2 much better vis, 15 – 18 m, modest fish life on the reef, Napoleon, juvenile bat fish, angel fish, 2 sharks, lovely and bizarre formed boulders with windows, swim thru, canyons reaching inside the wall. A sandy bottom at around 25 m is sloping down. There was nothing in the deep blue. Getting back on board out of the Zodiac was a bit tricky in a swell and we made sure to grab a helping hand and step up one at a time. Snorkelers were feeding fish from the boat, 5 huge bat fish and 2 giant trevallies cruised around on the surface, I would have loved to find these on the reef. I feel I chose the wrong sequence of islands for that trip. I should maybe have started with Hamilton, second secluded lovely Lord Howe and as highlight and climax awesome Lady Elliot. Hamilton was a bit too touristic for me, huge hotels, crowds around the pool in town on the ferry. Well you can´t have it all

Lovely!

mike-y
Snorkeling in the bay at Old Settlement Beach something suddenly bumped into my thigh. For one second frozen in shock and terrible ideas I looked down only to find a big Loggerhead slowly feeding on seagrass. She seemed rather tame and not at all bothered by my floating above her or putting my camera close to her face. Several more of these encounters followed the next days including some bigger spots of catfish. Lovely! For more than 15 years – since my first visit to Australias Christmas and Cocos Keeling Island – Lord Howe has been on my list of “must see” destinations. Retirement at last made this dream come true. Not only this but Ururu, Kings Canyon, 12 Apostel, Lady Elliot, Hamilton Island, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane. The nature and countryside is awesome and beautiful, the cities especially Melbourne charming. Great Ocean Road a stunning and breathtaking sight you just can´t get enough of. Lord Howe on final approach is amazing and I immediately thought, wouh this is Australia Bora Bora, with mountain tops covered in clouds, a beautiful blueish green bay, coral reef and green valleys around. At home already I´ve done some research on diving and chose and pre booked dives with Pro Dive plus option to once go to Balls Pyramid 24 km southeast of L. H. For the latter they charge extra 300 A $ two tank, horrendous that. Like everywhere else in the world extras cost you big money, like shark feeding, dolphin encounter etc. One of these days dive centers will rip you off for some extra costs, when you pass 30 m or hit deco both of which might cause stress for the dive guide. Just wait and see. There is a baggage allowance of 15 kg , I had more but it was never an issue or extra costs. I chose Milky Way in a pretty setting inside some garden and rain forest like area, one amazing beach only 1 minute away. Had a large cottage with bedroom – living room with kitchen for in house self catering. Rented a bike to cover the 11 km of streets they have on the island. You will find fantastic hiking trails all over the island into the hills and steep cliffs with thousands of birds nesting there, to some lonely beaches, one hike to the top of the mountain for some wonderful view all across the island. Sugar Loaf our first dive site showed nice healthy hard and soft coral not like a fully covered area but in spots. Found some smaller version of humphead in blue named Doubleheader Wrasse, mediocre fish life, 24 degrees water with good 40 m vis. Swim thru with sting rays hiding there. There could have been more fish, but well this again shows nearly everywhere in the world. Above on surface break some steep cliffs and awesome island scenery right in front of us, wouh. The 24 degrees succeeded in getting me chilled in my five mil on the second dive with fresh wind blowing all the time, so the next few days and dives I brought my chicken vest with hood, which improved things very much. Boat with 12 divers and two tank for each was a bit tight when everybody tried to gear up. The dive guides give very thorough boat procedure and dive briefings and check on you under water all the time for air consumption. They follow your profile, write it down. The dive center, 2 smaller sheds, sit on the beach, gear + compressor room, 3 rather small tanks to wash your gear in due to fresh water restrictions on the island. Lord Howe I would count among the top 10 most beautiful islands in the world. Others for me being Palau, Misool, Aitutaki, El Nido, Kauai, Santorini … The island is enticing in it´s beauty all around with lush green palm trees and tropical rain forest with odd plants, a huge lagoon for snorkeling, some fantastic beaches where you might be the only guest. When you find the wind too strong and cold on one side you easily turn to the other side of the island. Fish will crowd around you in shallow water used to get some crumps of your breakfast. The island has lovely blue water which invites you to all kinds of water sport and recreation. Dive 2 brought us to Malaban Landslide. Two smaller Galapagos sharks were cruising away from us, good fish life here, jacks, trevallies, angel, butterfly fish some surgeons. Not much growth on the boulders. Dive guide is always in front with a yellow rash jersey to make sure you won´t get lost. Groups of 6 divers with buddy teams can cruise around a bit. The rule is back on board with 50 bar. We found some big brownish creature, a sea hare? Lobsters were looking out of their holes, some small black and brown reef fish spreading his dorsal fin with spikes and always trying to drive you away from his space on the reef, a Spanish dancer in daylight, amazing. Turtles passed by on every dive. On Lord Howe a maximum of 400 guests a day are allowed, a good idea I find. You will never find any place being crowded. Aussie meals in some good restaurants are mouthwatering creations sometimes not quite enough for hungry divers without side orders. One night I had fresh oyster yummy, salmon on buttered asparagus, hmmm. Racks of lamp, ribs and fish and chips you will find nearly everywhere. Balls Pyramid, a must do, on my last diving day, is a good one hour away from the main island. Would it be highlight and climax? Breathtaking and impressive the view on the surface, a sheer cliff more of a needle pinnacle sticking out of the ocean high into the sky above, sea birds all around it. Would underwater offer the same? A dolphin joined us on our way to the Pyramid, omen? When I dropped in at Observation my first idea was – a divers paradise. Fish in abundance everywhere around us, I spotted Leopard Trigger, Amberjack, sweetlips, surgeons, eels, some endemic fish only here to find called Ballena Angel Fish, lobster running free on the reef, inside a canyon thousands of tiny glass fish, a sting ray asleep in the sand, boulders and ravines reaching down into the deep blue inviting the adventurous diver to follow. The 50 min dive passed way too fast to digest and enjoy all sightings. Conditions on the surface were a bit tricky then, choppy seas, a swell reaching down, changing currents, nothing for beginners. Dive 2 Wheat Sheets had less fish but a good wall with black coral 2 sharks a sting ray coming up to us during safety stop. Then it was good bye to Balls Pyramid, an adventure really worth visiting, without it I would have missed an important part of L. H. dives.
Coming out of the clouds all of sudden we saw an awesome greenish white diamond in a setting of lovely blues of all kinds – Lady Elliot. The pilot did us the favor to start a scenic tour once all around before the final approach, all our cameras clicking away in frantic speed. Paradise was waiting for us. The landing strip looked a bit short, so for the pilot it means, touch down and hit the brakes and propellers in reverse right away otherwise you would shoot over it and hit the lagoon. This would maybe an idea for avid divers to start right away. Disembarking a guided 20 min tour of the island started to give you a rough idea of what´s going on. I got a lovely bungalow with garden view plenty of birds and a glimpse of the ocean between conifers. On my night desk I found a sign “ear plugs in the first drawer”, I wonder what the hell would I need ear plugs for here. It seems there is folk from the city, who can easily sleep with traffic noise not so however with birds calling, a bit strange that. Undercurrent had a divers report already in the 10/2017 issue so I don´t need to tell you more on the island features. Diving was the reason I came here. Had e-mailed from home and pre booked a 10 dive package with my own gear. Again no surcharge on the plane, lucky me it seems. At the dive center I found a blackboard with clear warnings for snorkelers, not to go out to lighthouse with southerly winds or vice versa northern winds at Coral Garden. Sometimes they even recommend not to go at all, when the beach for snorkelers was closed due to swell current and strong winds. I went for a first impression with mask and fins and I found a healthy reef no traces of a dying or suffering Great Barrier Reef here. Staghorn in abundance with freshly grown flourishing branches reached up to the surface, beautiful. Were all the horrendous stories rumors or ghost stories to bring in tourist for a last glimpse on the reef? To be on the safe side they installed some buoys and lines on the reef to give snorkelers some reference where they are on the reef and hold tight if they don´t manage the tidal current, a good thing. I swam both ways back and forth from Lighthouse and had to fight only a bit of a current. Dive 1 + 2 at Lighthouse Bommie + Marori Wrasse Bommie: It was a wouh experience, great vis of around 40 m 27 degrees in the water, that´s how I like diving. Aquarium all around us on entering the water, 6 turtles, 5 sharks (reef and blacktip) 3 eagle rays, 2 sting rays, wobegon, snapper, grouper, sweetlips, surgeons, trevallies, pipe trumpet leaf fish, octopus, amazing and a lovely which couldn´t be better. Vis varied in spots, from 14 to 20 m maybe due to tide. A slight current was running, easy to swim against. All eyes were tuned for manta rays, so far no luck with that. Fish life is abundant and seems used to divers, so you managed to get some good and easy shots even with Hero where you have to get real close to succeed in a nice photo. You assemble and don you suit at the dive center next to the landings strip and close to reception. It sometimes took some time with 12 divers around for everybody to get ready. You put your gear on a trailer, divers sit in another one behind, a tractor is pulling the whole thing to Lighthouse . There you get ready and put on all your gear. With reef shoes or booties we walked down to the beach and boat. This is some big aluminum construction with a ramp, which can be lowered for easy beach entry of all divers. In a swell you had to be careful when the ramp was moving, so a big step was a good idea. 3 groups were formed, all are guided, 1 hour of 50 bar is the rule, you buddy up. They follow your profile. Once the dive is finished you have to write down your bottom time, maximum depth and remaining air and sign this. Is this a new way to keep liability away from the dive center? Severance wreck was planned, this time we went out with the glass bottom boat, only 8 divers on the morning trip. 2 min away from the beach we spotted a manta right beneath us. Like on emergency alert all scrambled to get in the water as fast as possible. Not so the dive guide, who first made sure we understood the procedure around a manta dive and not chase it away. We all listened restless and eager to jump. Down in the sand – nothing – Pedro gave directions and immediately round the next boulder there he was hovering a bit. We kneeled down got our cameras ready and several times he flew around and above us close by, great photo opportunity wouh. This was not the only highlight on that dive. A French girl heard dolphins, gave signs to Pedro, he looked around, pointed excited and one animal came down to us from the surface. My buddy gave signal ray in the sand, Pedro at the same time signaled shark, a bit confusing, damn where to look first. I managed to catch both a leopard shark was resting in the sand, the ray half buried only eyes and gills looking out. In the distance near the surface a bunch of bat fish was cruising, I love these and they offer great shots. Jellyfish and transparent salbes floating in the blue above us, a Napoleon with some jacks were looking for food. We reached Severance with a thorny ray there and millions of glass fish around the wreck. One lucky dive, we all laughed and high fived to Pedro and Stephen the boat man for the good job they had done. In 5 days we had 6 manta sightings. At coral garden we found a spot which looked like a caterpillar went over the reef, only rubble, I made a circular sign to the dive guide, he nodded, must have been side effects of the typhoon they had the year ago. Lunch was good, followed the advice out of undercurrent and did not go for the now 25 buck buffet but had sides only like wedges, sweet potato fries, they got me the best gluten free toast I had ever, big slices with some green seeds in , maybe pumpkin, yummy. The desalinated tap water without any minerals in tastes disgusting. When you need shadow or suffer from the sun you should try to get into the dive boat first, It´s only partly covered. At Anchor Bommie we had a school of barracuda, a “whaler” shark = grey reef shark, a dozen eagle rays flew past, too far away to catch a good picture, turtles, turtles, turtles on every dive, a blackspotted whipray in the sand. There wasn´t much choice of dive sites, often we did the same again and again or floated in one nearby. Once we had a nice drift dive across a coral garden which slowly picked up speed. When we surfaced we frantically grabbed the buoy line and hung there like flags in the wind. The current was much stronger here and we all got safely but tired and a bit out of breath back onto the boat. Pedro and Phil were really enthusiastic guides, always laughing and happy sharing sights with the guests. Last diving day for me, The wind had picked up, at Lighthouse and Coral Garden a big surf was running to shore, closed for snorkelers and divers had to turn to the other side of the island which is facing the open ocean. It was lucky me again for that chance to dive both sides of the island. We were only two divers that morning. Totally different landscape here under water, vis a bit low due to the wind on top, a wall reaching down to 25 or 30 m with lots of overhangs, ledges, caverns, a divers heaven. We dropped in at Blow Hole and swam towards Tubes and Hero. We kicked down into Blow Hole a wide opening at around 12 m, a bunch of snappers and thousands of glass fish hovering at the exit at 24 onto a wall with lovely fans and huge table coral. Beneath us a big sting ray, a manta flew past in slow motion, a whaler cruised around with humongous belly, maybe a pregnant female, a good sized potato cod hang on the wall . I looked around for more and right under me a monster of sting ray approached, I shrieked into my reg, Pedro looked around and nearly got a shock with the ray only half a meter away and closing. Parrot fish, leopard trigger angel fish on the reef, a lovely finale to my diving here. Let´s see what I managed to catch with my camera of all that. At safety stop we reached the ledge of Hero, a short look down was tempting but with only 60 bar left we decided on some other time. It was a wide canyon cut into the wall with crevices overhangs but at this time with a bit of foggy vis. Well maybe next time around. Sunsets at Lighthouse and the sky at night are worth watching and dreaming while doing so.
Vorab: Wir hatten uns bewusst entschieden, Christmas nicht zur vielgepriesenen Zeit der Krabbenwanderung in den Wintermonaten zu bereisen, sondern im Sommer (2 Wochen im August/ September 2018). Und wir wurden nicht enttäuscht: Für das Tauchen ist es ganz einfach die beste Zeit, da die See ruhiger und die Sicht unter Wasser ausgezeichnet ist. Außerdem können dann auch alle Tauchplätze angefahren werden, was im Winter wegen des Windes und der hohen Wellen eher die Ausnahme ist. Die Gruppenreisen konzentrieren sich auf die wetterunbeständigeren Monate. Außer uns paar Tauchern gab es noch eine Handvoll australische Senioren, die Vögel beobachten wollten und ein paar Weltumsegler, die hier Pause gemacht haben. Es gibt auch nur wenig Autos, die man einfach unabgeschlossen stehen lässt. Auf der Insel kommt nichts weg. Völlig relaxt. Außerdem sind im Sommer alle Strassen befahrbar, was während der Krabbenwanderung meistens nicht der Fall sein soll. Aus Naturschutzgründen ist dann wohl die halbe Insel gesperrt, was den Erkundungsradius außerhalb des Tauchens sehr einschränkt. Tauchen: Wir haben ein wirklich entspanntes Tauchen mit sehr wenigen Tauchgästen erlebt, zum Teil ist das Boot nur für uns 2 rausgefahren. Massentauchtourismus ist ein absolutes Fremdwort. Die Extradivers Tauchbasis wird sehr professionell und persönlich von dem Paar Hiro und Sandy mit Unterstützung von David geführt, die die Basis mit hohem Einsatz vor 2 Jahren wieder eröffnet haben. Angeboten werden täglich (bis auf Samstags) 2-Bootstauchgänge (idR morgens) , Tagesausfahrten mit 3 Tauchgängen, darüber hinaus sind Landtauchgänge und Nachttauchgänge am Strand von Fish Cove möglich. Die Basis organisiert auch Touren, den Mietwagen oder mal einen gemeinsamen Grillabend oder man trifft sich nur auf 1 Bier in der einzigen Bar der Insel. Ein super Team!!! Und sehr seviceorientiert! Christmas ist eine Insel vulkanischen Ursprungs mit entsprechend rauer Küste und vielen Steilwänden, betauchbaren Überhängen und zahlreichen Höhlen mit Stalagmiten und Stalagtiten (mit Luft zum Auftauchen) . Es werden auch interessante Unterwasserberge mit entsprechend Strömung angefahren. Wenn man Glück hat, kann man einigen Tauchplätzen in der Tauchpause mit großen Makrelen und kleinen Haien (Riffhaie und Seidenhaie) schnorcheln. Das Highlight unserer Tauchgänge waren ein Schwertfisch (mein erster lebender) . Ansonsten gibt es alles, was das Taucherherz begeht, auch Hammer, Tiger- und Walhaie, - aber es ist kein Zoo, man muss zur richtigen Zeit an der richten Stelle sein. Zur Insel: Christmas ist sehr überschaubar, hier kennt jeder jeden, alle kennen Dich ("ach ja, Ihr seid die Deutschen bei extradivers") und und fragen erstaunt, warum man nun ausgerechnet von Deutschland nach Christmas gereist ist. Dave von den Extradivers hat jede Menge Tipps und Informationen zu den Highlights, landschaftlich schönen Trails und sonstigen Secrets über Wasser. Wir hatten uns von vornherein für die 14 Tage einen Mietwagen geordert und sind nach dem Tauchen fast jeden Nachmittag auf Erkundungstour gegangen. Und auch im Sommer gibt es Krabben satt, insbesondere nach einem Regenguß kommen alle roten und blauen Krebstiere aus ihren Höhlen gekrabbelt, so dass man beim (Links) - Fahren Slalom fahren muss und der Waldboden rot bedeckt ist (1 Krabbe je Quadratmeter) Die großen kräftigen Palmendiebe treten dann auch in Gruppen auf. Außer den Krabben gibt es noch jede Menge Vögel zu beobachten. Giftige Spinnen, Schlangen, Skorpione etc. gibt es nicht. Nur spitze Steine, Badelatschen reichen nicht aus. Baden: Es gibt einige sehr schöne Strände, die sich zum ausführlichen Baden wegen des Lavagesteins und der zum Teil unerwartet hohen Wellen nicht ganz so eignen. Der Strand bei Fish Cove ist zwar nicht so pittoresk, aber zum Schwimmen und Schnorcheln ok. Unterkunft: Es gibt nur den einen Ort Fish Cove, der sich über mehrere Ebenen die Küste hinunter erstreckt. Wir haben im Sunset Resort gewohnt, gleich neben der Tauchbasis. Eine sehr gute Wahl, nicht nur wegen des Meerblicks vom großen Balkon, sondern insbesondere wegen der Selbstversorger und Grillmöglichkeiten. Fischen Fisch gibt beim Angler um die Ecke. Ein Supermarkt ist in Laufentfernung. Das Wasser aus der Leitung kann man trinken. Fazit: Ein super entspannter Urlaub mit zahlreichen Highlights über und unter Wasser auf einem vom Massentourismus bisher verschonten Insel ! Sehr empfehlenswerte Tauchbasis!! Gerne wieder!
Wir waren im August 2018 auf der Scubapro III. Von maximal möglichen 32 Gästen waren es (wohl die große Ausnahme) nur 16 Gäste an diesen 3 Tagen. Wir möchten uns nicht vorstellen, wie das bei einer Vollbelegung gewesen wäre. Das Boot war auch so schon gut gefüllt, sowohl im Essbereich als auch auf dem Tauchdeck und den ganzen Aufenthaltsbereichen. Angefahren wurden das Milln Reef und das Flynn Reef. Von den 11 TG wurden 7 allein am Flynn Reef gemacht! Und da sogar noch einige am selben Tauchplatz des Riffs. Es wird groß beworben, dass man 4 verschiedene Außenriffe anfährt – sollte man dann vielleicht auch machen, vor allem, wenn das Wetter absolut ruhig ist und die besten Voraussetzungen dafür bestehen – wie es bei unserer Tour der Fall war. Vielleicht war ja die schlechte Belegung der Safari Grund zum Treibstoff sparen, und man ist deshalb bei dem Riff hängen geblieben? Oder die Tatsache, dass 2 OWD Schüler und 5 AOWD Schüler an Bord waren? An Kursen ist halt gut verdient. Der Ablauf an Bord hat gut funktioniert. Die Verpflegung war ganz gut. Dass einem allerdings beim Essen schon fast der Teller aus der Hand genommen wird, weil es ja weiter gehen muss und die Zeit drängt (für was, wenn man eh am selben Riff bleibt?), ist nicht sehr erfreulich und schon gar nicht verständlich. Der Rückweg zum Hafen hat dem Ganzen noch eins drauf gesetzt. Wir Gäste mussten alle die ganze Zeit über im Essraum bleiben, damit man ja nicht im Weg steht oder sich gar an Plätzen aufhält, die schon geputzt wurden. Man kam sich vor wie in einer Herde von Schafen, die irgendwo eingepfercht werden. Endlich im Hafen angekommen durfte man dann auch nicht von Bord gehen, bis erst Mal die ganze Ladung für die neue Tour an Bord gebracht wurde. Die Tour auf der Scubapro III (und wohl auch den Schwesterschiffen) ist vergleichsweise günstig, verspricht aber wesentlich mehr als sie dann letztendlich erfüllt. Das Schiff hatten wir über Liveaboard.com gebucht, was alles gut geklappt hat. Nur haben die dann unsere Bewertung über das Schiff nicht veröffentlicht. Liegt vielleicht daran, dass die ausschließlich guten Bewertungen über die ScubaPro III auf ihrer Homepage nicht durch unsere nicht allzu gute „verwässert“ werden sollten? Darum jetzt auch hier die Abgabe unserer Bewertung über das T-Net.

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