Flinders Reef Trip – Big Cat Reality April 2014

On Friday the 4th of April, a group of excited Scuba World Divers headed down to Scarborough to dive the amazing Flinders Reef aboard Big Cat Reality. Brenton, Kat, Rachel, John and Don were all very excited to dive this amazing array of sites, which range from deep rocky pinnacles and wrecks, to shallow coral reefs, all of which are home to an amazing array of life. After stopping for Pizza for dinner, we boarded the amazing vessel, did a quick orientation tour before setting up our gear while eating our pizza. We then did the safety brief and we went through the dives that were coming for the weekend. We all went to bed amazingly excited and couldn’t wait for the next day!

Very early the next morning, we got up to watch an amazing sunrise and get ready for our first dive of the trip. This dive was at Charlie’s Chapel. I had heard a lot about this dive and I was very much looking forward to diving it. Charlie’s has a large swim through that can easily fit four or five divers in. We all had a great time swimming around the cavern and the surrounding area. Gotham City is one of those sites that everyone is always raving about, so we couldn’t wait to get in the water. Unfortunately for us there were some very strong currents and we were unable to complete this dive.

flinders1

Middle Mountain is full of amazing swim throughs, so we enjoyed exploring some of them. The other thing that Middle Mountain has plenty of is very big anemones with hundreds of clownfish. This site really is a photographers wonderland… these clownfish are constantly posing and will sit for you for minutes at a time. Everyone had a great time exploring the rocky terrain, spotting nudibranchs and watching the very large schools of fish that swarmed around our heads.

We steamed back into the inside of Flinders to buoy number 2. This is the home to the amazing Turtle Cleaning Station. This is by far my favourite site on Flinders and we were lucky enough to be able to dive it twice in the afternoon. Not only did we have lots and lots of turtle sightings, as well as lots of reef fish and even a Leopard Shark! The wondrous thing about this site is that it is in a maximum of 10m of water. The light just cascades through the clear blue water, making for some magnificent sights as you swim over the coral bed.

The last dive of Saturday was our night dive. Due to the amazing conditions and some help from a few others on board, Kat and Rachel were able to accompany us on this dive and got their first night dive experience. As we had already done the site a few times we were very familiar with it which made it much easier to navigate at night. Visibility was amazing, however there was a sight current running meaning we didn’t dive as far as we might have without it. When we surfaced we dropped our gear off for the night before heading in for a beautiful barbeque dinner and heading straight to bed.

flinders2

The conditions were so good on Saturday night we stayed out at the reef rather than steaming back in behind Moreton Island. When we awoke, we headed off to the wreck of the Cementco, an ex-army barge that served in World War II before being sold off to a private company and sunk off Flinders. This is a very different wreck than what we are used to with the Brisbane, but it is an amazing dive, especially when coupled with the conditions we had. The wreck is home to large array of fish life, the highlight being a very large lionfish was seen guarding one of the very large holes in the side of the barge.

After another rest and some more amazing food we headed off to Kim’s Castle, another rocky outcrop of the reef. The landscape is full of amazing rocky turrets that look like a castle, hence the name. There are also a lot of swim throughs… one of which I slightly overestimated the size of and got stuck! Thankfully my group worked out what was going on and didn’t follow me in while I wiggled my way out. Right at the end of the dive, most of the group sighted our first eel of the weekend, as well as a few large nudibranchs before surfacing once again.

For our last dive we headed around the reef to Mary’s Lair. This site is spectacular, with a large cave that has had part of the roof cave in. As we swam through the cave, we saw a large anemone with lots of orange and black clownfish living in it further inside the cave there was a very large wobbegong guarding the exit. We then dived around the top of the cave and explored the reef around it, keeping our eyes peeled for anything exciting. We doubled back and came back through the cave the opposite way to which we went the first time and saw another shark, this time a Bamboo, hiding right at the back of the cave. We were then heading back to begin our ascent when one of the other divers told us there was a leopard shark hanging around. We then swam just over the ridge and had it swim around us for a good five minutes before we did our safety stop.

flinders3

Overall, I think everyone had a great time on board Big Cat Reality… I know I did. I want to say a big thankyou to everyone in the group for their support, and for being such great divers. I also want to thank the staff on board who looked after us, cooked for us, and kept us safe. Flinders is an amazingly diverse place to dive, with something for everyone. This trip will run again in September, so if you like what you’ve read or have any questions, give me a shout.

Brenton’s awesome video of this trip is also available online. If you would like to check it out, it can be viewed here

-Ash