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Tasmania Trip - February 2008
As most would know, Kelly and I went to Tasmania for all of February for a diving and camping trip. We left Sydney on 2 February and after visiting Cradle Mountain and part of the West Coast, we ended up at Sisters Beach on Saturday 9 February. This is located on the north-west coast, between Wynyard and Stanley. Here we met up with James Parkinson, President of the Tasmanian Scuba Divers Club, and five of his members.

Using their Club boat, we did four dives over the weekend. Two were done at Sisters Beach on the Saturday. The first was off some small rocks about 500 metres from the shore and the second near some smaller rocks closer to the shore. Both were very nice dives, with lots of colourful sponges, jewel anemones and more. The fishlife was also quite good and on one dive we saw a couple of crayfish.

On the Sunday we did two dives off Rocky Cape. Again, these were both very good. Water temperature was about 19?C and visibility between 20 and 25 metres.

From here we travelled to Strahan, then to Queenstown, Lake St Clair, Lakes Pedder and Gordon and then on via Hobart to Cockle Creek, the southern most spot you can drive to in Australia. I had though that we might have been able to dive here but it was too shallow and mostly sand. We then went to Bruny Island for a few days and again, we found no spot worth trying a dive.

It was now Thursday 21 February and we headed back through Hobart to the suburb of Bellerive. On the beach in front of Hobart?s cricket ground, I did a dive (Kelly was suffering hay fever). This was recommended by James as the best spot to see handfish. As soon as I entered the water, I saw an eagle ray and within a few minutes, the first of three handfish. There were also lots of bastard trumpeters, starfish and small rays. Visibility was not that good, five metres at the most, but the water was nice at 18?C.

From here we went to Eaglehawk Neck. On the Friday we did two dives. The first was one of the best dive sites I have ever done, Cathedral Caves. This is a series of arches and caves that is simply amazing. The second dive was not as good, but we saw at least a dozen large crayfish in one cave. Visibility was over 25 metres on the first dive and about 15 on the second. Water temperature was about 17?C.

The next day we were supposed to dive the wreck of the SS Nord but a huge south-westerly change overnight put paid to that. Luckily we did not go out on the reef dive, as we later heard that one of the divers, an Irish tourist, ended up in a critical condition in Royal Hobart Hospital.

The next day we headed to the Freycinet Peninsula and on Monday 25 February we did a boat dive at Bicheno at The Steps. This was very dirty in parts but a nice dive. The operator, Bruce, was very apologetic about the conditions. That afternoon, instead of another boat dive, we did a shore dive at Waubs Bay. This was excellent, with two very large sea horses, sea dragons, squid and more. A great dive. Water was about 17.5?C.

After returning to Freycinet for some bushwalking, on Wednesday 27 February we did another boat dive at Bicheno. This was also not too bad, although the visibility still had not returned to normal from the previous weekend?s bad seas.

On the way back to Devonport to catch the ferry, I did another dive on Thursday at Eddystone Point. It was only average, although people have told me the boat diving near here is excellent.

All in all, we did 5,163 kilometres, 11 dives, and had a fantastic time. So much so that Kelly is planning a dive trip to Eaglehawk and Bicheno for the Club for next March.
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