Nov

4

Conditions:

Visibilty: 8m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 50minutes

Max Depth: 4m

Details: While sitting at work and seeing the swell ultra-low and howling northerlies, i was getting very tempted to hit the Barwon Bluff. As the day went on, a southerly change threatened, and as work ended the northerlies continued past their forecast deadline. I decided to make a dash for the bluff, and quickly kitted up. I could feel the change in the air, and as i headed down the stairs i had a couple of snorkellers say to me how i’d just missed it and the conditions were great before the change. I decided to give it a go anyway..i knew it was a little bit crazy but hey…i’m always up for an adventure. The southerlies hit hard, probably up around 20-25knots, and their influence on the ocean was instant. After a surgey entrance, i tucked into a gully and spent most of the dive shooting sweep as they came to check me out. By the time i was ready to exit the sea was angry. I was ready to be spat out and packed up the camera as compactly as i could. With some not so graceful scuba surfing, i made it in through the breakers and got lucky with my footing on the inshore reef. I made it out unscathed, but there is a lesson for all the kids out there…dont dive the bluff on southerlies!

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm 2 X YS-D1 Strobes

Photos:

Sep

8

Conditions:

Visibilty: 12m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 90minutes

Max Depth: 8m

Details: Despite howling northerlies, the swell was so low that it made for near perfect conditions at the Bluff. I decided to explore a new area towards the middle of the bluff and was amazed by the terrain. Gnarled limestone gullies and caverns hidden under a crayweed and bull kelp canopy…it was one of my favorite dives at the bluff…but this place will always continue to surprise me.

Camera Details: Canon 10-17mmmm 2 X YS-D1 Strobes

Photos:

Feb

17

Snorkel – 17/02/2013 Barwon Bluff

Conditions: ??

Visibilty: 10m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 60minutes

Details: Love this site… the terrain, the critter, the vegetation.. and good on snorkel if you pick the right day. The water was nice and clear so so i took the opportunity to catch the waves breaking above me in the shallows.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm 2 X YS-D1 Strobes

Photos:

Nov

28

Dive Number: 409 28/11/2012 Wreck of the Charlemont

Conditions:

Visibilty: 10m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 60minutes

Max Depth: 5m

Details: No Camera : (

Camera Details: None

Photos:

Nov

7

Dive Number: 401 07/11/2012 Earl of Charlemont Wreck

Conditions:

Visibilty: 7m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 60minutes

Max Depth: 5m

Details: Another dive on the Charlemont, this time with a working camera.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm, 2 X YS-D1 Strobes

Photos:

Nov

6

Dive Number: 398 06/11/2012 Wreck of the Earl of Charlemont

Conditions:

Visibilty: 7m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 60minutes

Max Depth: 4m

Details: Camera focus issues on the charlemont. Just enjoyed the ride.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm, 2 X YS-D1 Strobes

Photos:

Dec

19

Dive Number: 231 19/12/11 7.35, Barwon Bluff

Wind: ???

Tide: ???

Conditions:???

Visibilty: ???

Water Temp: 16.8c

Bottom Time: 93minutes

Max Depth: 5.3m

Air usage: 170bar/2500psi

SAC: ???? litres/min

Details: Barwon Bluff is world class when it comes to kelp gardens. The bull kelp and cray weed dwarves you, and you feel like Alice through the Scuba Mask. This was a dive to poke around the Earl of Charlemont wreck again, but its goooorn….reburied under 2-3m of sand. Incredible! I actually felt the sand gathering in a thermocline on my last dive at Collendina. A 1-2m of warm water thick with sand sat above the clear cool water below. I’m not sure where it came from, but i’m sure its responsible for occulting the mysteries of the charlemont once again.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm , SS400/SS200 Strobes

Photos:

Nov

9

Dive Number: 215 09/11/11 8.08, Barwon Bluff – Charlemont

Wind: 10knot northerly

Tide: ???

Conditions:

Visibilty: 8m

Water Temp: 16.0c

Bottom Time: 66minutes

Max Depth: 4.5m

Details: Another fascinating dive on the Earl of Charlemont Wreck.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm , SS400/SS200 Strobes

Photos:

Nov

7

Dive Number: 212 07/11/11 11.01, Barwon Bluff – 2nd Stairs

Wind: 10knot northerly turning westerly

Tide: ???

Conditions: Wind and swell picking up. Surgey with dropping vis.

Visibilty: 6-8m

Water Temp: 16.0c

Bottom Time: 52minutes

Max Depth: 4.1m

Air usage: 170bar/2500psi

SAC: ???? litres/min

Details: The swell was picking up around the bluff, and we met up with Scott at the carpark, who was keen to do some freediving in the kelp gardens. We headed west along the beach and swum out over the limestone shorline reef, out towards scattered bommies thick with bull kelp. The swell and surge were really starting to pickup, so we ended the dive before it got too nasty.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm , SS400/SS200 Strobes

Photos:

Nov

7

Dive Number: 211 07/11/11 9.10, Barwon Bluff – Charlemont

Wind: 5-10knot northerly

Tide: ???

Conditions: A lot of free floating weed in the water with a bit of surge.

Visibilty: 8m

Water Temp: 15.6c

Bottom Time: 62minutes

Max Depth: 4.5m

Air usage: 170bar/2500psi

SAC: ???? litres/min

Details: I was keen to get in and see the wreck of the Earl of Charlemont while the conditions were good. I met up with Phil and he was able to lead me straight to it from his previous visit. In a heavily sand affected area, the level of exposure of the wreck was amazing. The site gave a real sense of history with personal belongings and artifacts scattered amongst the brass-pinned timbers. The helm was visible together with the large anchor chain. Scouring the bottom, i found a wad of leather “straps” peaking out from the sand. They were stamped with “Patent C.Macintosh & Co”. These “straps” looked like some type of shoe maker accessory, and appeared to had never seen the light of day since the the vessel sunk in 1853. This lead me to the conclusion that this wreck has never been as exposed as it has over the last couple of months. My initial search for this wreck was spurred by the “50 year storms” we had back in July which battered the coast with monster swells, and gave me hope that the swell may have carved the wreck from the sand. In hindsight it looks like the media didn’t overhype this event, and it was historically significant enough to totally expose a wreck that has sat preserved beneath the sand for 157 years![UPDATE: The wreck is now buried under 2m of sand again.] Anyway, as i researched the makers marks on these leather straps, i came across references and advertisements in Melbourne’s “Argus” and Hobarts “The Mercury” to this London manufacturer of Garments. With one article proclaiming this manufacturer as “the Waterproof Kings of England”. Then it struck me…”A Macintosh!”..the colloquial name given to the english raincoat, after the manufacturer and chemist Charles Macintosh.

Here’s an interesting history on the Macintosh:

http://www.lakelandelements.com/rainwearhistory/macintoshfactory.htm

It seems the company manufactured many different types of items, so i’m no closer to working out what this was. Here’s some references i found around the net:

http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/9418163
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Page:Bradshaw’s_Monthly_(XVI).djvu/49
http://historicaltidbits.blogspot.com/2011/10/seasickness-how-to-prevent-it.html

I guess this is what makes diving wrecks so interesting.

NOTE: Please dont remove artifacts from a wreck site. Its inconsiderate, disrespectful and illegal.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm , SS400/SS200 Strobes

Photos:

Aug

3

Dive Number: 174  31/07/11  10.01,  Barwon Bluff, Barwon Heads

 Wind:   10-15knot north/north-easterlies

Tide:  2.5hr before 1.48 high tide at the Heads

Conditions:  Absolutley perfect conditions. Sun shining, gentle northerlies, flat seas and crystal clear waters.

Visibilty:   15-20m.

Water Temp: 11c

Bottom Time: 113minutes

Max Depth: 6.8m

Air usage: 210bar/3000psi

SAC: ???? litres/min

Details:  Conditions were absolutely ideal for diving today. Clear blue skies, flat seas, and crystal clear water. Phil was going to meet me down at Barwon Bluff and he brought a couple of buddies with him. I also persuaded Chris (with some crap about flying kites), that he shouldn’t miss this opportunity to dive Barwon Bluff while the going was good, so Chris and Harry also came along. All up i think we had seven divers in the water to experience the goodness that is Barwon Bluff and the wreck of the Earl of Charlemont.  Phil and crew had to get in the water early, since they had a boat dive later in the day, so Owen joined me, Chris and Harry on the dive. We trudged down the stairs and along the beach to the rough entry point  which i tried to memorise from yesterday. We swum out about 100m and descended, spreading out and searching the gullies trying to spot some of the wreck remanants with not much success. The vis was spectacular and the terrain matched it. My over -eagerness to re-find the wreck, mixed with the great vis, saw me getting seperated twice from the others. On the second occassion however, i refound the wreck area from yesterday, and started taking photos.  Excited with the find, and wanting to share, i looked up to see Chris hovering above me, right in my face trying to scare the beegebus of me.   It didn’t work.. ;P too much adrenaline from the find, so i motioned to go over to the ridge where the deadeye rigging lay. We checked that out and surfaced to discuss the approach from here on. We decided to swim further out and see if more of the wreck was visible further out. No doubt there was more under there, but covered in the  endless sand, which  made us turn back to the exposed area. We came across some type of basket net…possibly a modern day cray net, but beneath it was some gnarled iron that was definently wreck material. We tried to clear the sand to uncover more of it, but it was fairly uneventful. It was nearly 2 hours into the dive, and air was running low, so we headed back into shore. An unforgettable dive..         

Camera Details:  Tokina  10-17mm , SS200 strobe + SS400 Strobe

Dive Report:

Aug

1

Dive Number: 173  30/07/11  10.09,  Barwon Bluff, Barwon Heads

 Wind:   15knot north/north-easterlies

Tide:  1.5hr before 1.42 high tide at the Heads

Conditions:  Very dark cloudy morning…Cold with drizzle..uninspiring..but  flat!

Visibilty:   8m.

Water Temp: 11c

Bottom Time: 108minutes

Max Depth: 8.5m

Air usage: 210bar/3000psi

SAC: ???? litres/min

Details:  Geez it was hard to get inspired for this dive. A very cold winters morning, with light drizzle and very dark. But Swellnet promised flat seas and Barwon Bluff’s lure was irresistable.  I had my heart set on trying to find the wreck of the Charlemont, and i knew i had a good chance with the big 50 year swells a few weeks earlier. So i manned up, geared up and headed down the stairs and towards the point of the bluff. I went out south for a while and through the bull kelp and brown algae forests. Out the back the limestone started flattening out with little growth on it, and just a few small crevices.  I spotted a small cuttlefish doing a pretty good job trying to blend into its surroundings.  I then started swimming west and crossed a multitude of different terrains.  Back through the kelp forests, exploring the crevices and gullies that lay beneath, and then through vast areas of sculpted limestone that didn’t have a ounce of vegetation on it. I spotted a pipe formation beneath a rock which got me a little bit excited but turned out to be just a peice of PVC.  I continued westerly and the vegetation started to increase slightly, and the formations became more dramatic with some amazing contours and lines carving the rocks and gullies. I was nearly two hours into my dive and nearing the end of my tank, when i spotted my first peice of wreck… large iron gurder that sat on the bottom of a rocky gully, right on the egde of the sand line which had shifted to reveal it. I sensed i was onto  an area that held more goodies, so i tried to remain calm to conserve air and explore the surrounding gullies.  An old peice of timber was the next to shows itself, further along the same gully. I doubled back and over a ridge into the next parallel gully, and came across a large cable..possibly some part of the rigging. It was fused into the rock and calcified, so could possibly have been rope, but i’m not sure it rope would last the 160 years (if it is remanents of the Earl of Charlemont).  The stylings of the rigging definently had an 1800’s feel to it though. It was an exciting find, but unfortunately i was out of air. So i surfaced and did my best to burn the location into my brain, taking in the distance out from shore, landmark spotting and using my compass on the way in to determine the way back out.  Tommorrow promised more flat seas, so it gave me hope to get back down and reexplore the area for more artefacts.   

Camera Details:  Tokina  10-17mm , SS200 strobe + SS400 Strobe

Dive Report:

Jul

23

Dive Number: 171  17/07/11  13.51,  Barwon Heads  Bluff

 Wind:   15knot north/north-easterlies

Tide:  1.62 high tide at the Heads

Conditions:  There were smell sets of swell rolling in intermittently, but only breaking on the shore. Generally pretty flat. Visibility was really bad with lot sof weed stirred up in the water.

Visibilty:   2-4m with 6m later in the dive.

Water Temp: 12c

Bottom Time: 79minutes

Max Depth: 5.6m

Air usage: 140bar/2000psi

SAC: ???? litres/min

Details:   I’m going to find it hard to put into words how bizaar this dive was. But i’ll give it a go.  I started heading out through the shore breakers and despite the 2metres vis, decided to head out into deeper water to see if things would improve. I dropped down into about 4-5m and the water column was absolutley filled with free floating weed (presumably a remanant of the big seas last weekend.) The weed was moving energetically with the surge and the still attached brown algea and bull kelp swayed and thrashed against the reef. I found this all a bit much, not only was the vis and surge bad, but having “objects” in the water coming towards and away from me, really started getting my imagination working overtime. After 10minutes i decided the conditions were just too disorienting and dangerous to continue, so i started heading in. On the way, i checked out lots of the little overhangs and gullies through the reef, which provided shelter from the surge. Wegded in a rock crevice, i found a largish bone, i have no idea what it was from… it seemed terrestrial rather than from a marine animal. Anyway, my overly stimulated imagination made me start thinking that perhaps i was in somethings lair (perhaps the mythical barwon bluff monster the aboriginals called ‘Colite’…oh hang on..i just made that up.) Anyway, i got out of there pretty quickly. I then came across some red and blue material held under a legde by sand build up. It gave the impression of one of those old wetsuits from the 60’s-70’s, and since parts of it were filled with sand (which had given it form), again my over active imagination started thinking “diver corpse trapped under a rock”. I investigated further and started to try to uncover more of it, eventually realising that it was fabric rather than neoprene. My thoughts then started pondering the idea that this red and blue fabric might be remanants of the union jack of a flag.(damn..reading too much wreck iterature this week!). Anyway, i eventually discovered they were just plain old tracky dacks which i reassessed to be from the 80’s. I think this set my mind at ease a bit, and changed my focus to the certainty and solidity of rock, rather than becoming entranced by the movement of the weed. As i got shallower, the reef structures started getting more and more interesting, with amazing pinnacles, caves, overhangs, ‘windows’ and gullies. This is where all the fishlife were hanging out too, protected from the surge and providing better vis by reducing the movement of weed into the gullies. Some big sweep came to check me out, and large schools of juvenile zebrafish darted about. Blue-throated wrasse, magpie perch and a couple of species of leatherjacket  all made an appearance. The amazing thing about this area was the swell was breaking directly over my head, but because of the pillars and pinnacles of reef surrounding me, i sat (relatively) safely in about 3-4 metres of water. It was quite incredible to look up and see waves breaking over you…very surreal. I was so fasicnated by this area, that my dive turned from a 10minute one to 80minutes, and i only really got out because i was shivering uncontrollably (plus i’d ran out of memory in my camera.) I got out near the cliff faces and felt like i’d stepped out into another world, or perhaps another time.  There were 4 jetski’ers close to shore, which added to the strangeness of the situation given that these seas are usually reserved for hardcore surfers only. All up a really interesting dive, despite the bad photography conditions.

Camera Details:  Tokina  10-17mm , single  SS200 strobes.

Dive Report:

Jul

5

Dive Number: 165  02/07/11  15.36,  Barwon Bluff

Wind:   Howling 20-25knot north/north-westerlies

Tide:  2.5hrs past 1.62 high tide at the Heads

Conditions:   The howling northerlies over the past few days had flattened out the seas and ocean swell. Only small breakers breaking right on the edge of the shoreline. Surface was otherwise calm…a very rare phenomena at this site.  Cloudy condition, but not overcast giving alternating periods of sunlight and dullness. 

Visibilty:   10-12m

Water Temp: 12c

Bottom Time: 58minutes

Max Depth: 10.8m

Air usage: 100bar/1400psi

SAC: ???? litres/min

Details:      Swellnet promised flat ocean conditions on sunday and monday, but the forecast for saturday still had swell at about 1ft…it doesn’t sound like much, but thats enough to stop diving at most ocean dive sites along the surfcoast. I decided to have a peak at Barwon Heads on my way through, and was amazed to see flat conditions. Luckily i had all my dive gear in the car, but only half a tank of air. This was too good an opportunity to miss, so i geared up and started getting all excited about diving a site i’d been drooling to dive since getting my OW ticket. While gearing up, I had a chat to Brian Latter, who was checking to see if the Earl Of Charlemont wreck was visible today. Brian’s written a book on the wreck, and dived the area extensively, so he was able to point out some good areas of reef to check out.  I hurriedly scrambled down the stairs and entered the water, swimming out on a 45degree angle out towards the point.  Even the shallows were impressive with large boulders and fish darting around amongst them. Further out the vegetation started thickening up with large outcrops of brown algae covering the reef and standing elegantly around 1metre high in the gentle seas. I soon came across the fields/forests of Bull Kelp that i’d heard so much about. Its truly an amazing plant..massive in proportion and sculpted beautifully in its shapes and subtle colourations.  The fishlife wasn’t all that prolific and i saw no notable species, but the terrain and the vegetation made it a memorable dive. There were some nice overhangs and swim-throughs and i even reached nearly 11m at one stage, although most of the dive was around 6m deep.  Despite having only half a tank, i still got in an hours dive and was wrapt to finally check out this site.       

Camera Details:  Tokina  10-17mm , dual SS200 strobes.

Dive Report: