Field Notes from Eastern Australia – March/April 2007

You could call our journey from Sydney to Cairns “The Drive To Dive”.

This trip gave us a chance to photograph many situations and places as we encountered them, although we rarely had the opportunity to wait for the best light or time of day, especially on our “road days”. We could only shoot how it was at the time we were passing through.

Subject matter was varied – above and below the water – Sydney with its iconic harbour and Opera House, Coffs Harbour with its windswept surfing beaches, the Florida-like conurbation of Surfers Paradise, the late Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo, the aussie rum drinkers spiritual home of Bundaberg, the brilliant Lady Elliot Island, the remote Town of 1770 with its magnificently quirky name, Mackay, Alva Beach, Townsville and finally Cairns.

From a diving perspective, I used the Nikon D200/Subal housing combination with a 10.5mm fisheye lens almost exclusively for all of the diving. Amanda used the D200/Subal housing with a 60mm macro lens.

Lady Elliot Island surpassed our expectations in terms of the whole experience – nesting turtles, hatching turtles, teeming birdlife and excellent diving.

In three days of diving we logged manta rays, eagle ray, shovelnose ray, bull ray, white tip reef sharks, whaler sharks, leopard sharks, barracuda, batfish, schooling jacks and a lot of turtles. The coral was in great condition, too.

The Wreck of the SS Yongala is a great dive and we were lucky with good conditions – reasonable visibility, not too much current. The wreck absolutely teems with life and anyone diving there could expect almost anything. We encountered an eagle ray, bull sharks, sea snakes, groupers, jacks, barracuda, turtles, “billions” of baitfish and stunning soft coral.

We enjoyed the Spirit of Freedom liveaboard from Cairns. It would have been nice to have done the entire week but we had to content ourselves with the first half, visiting the Ribbon Reefs south of Lizard Island.

Photographically, I think we took a step forward and there were some great opportunities. Cod Hole, with its resident Potato Cod population provided a great spectacle. Other sites weren’t short of good subjects either – at Challenger Bay, for example, we were able to photograph a large cuttlefish which seemed unconcerned by us and our cameras. At one stage it was literally on the end of my dome port! – JC

<Read about this trip here>

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