sydney bridge australia drivingAustralia driving and diving

I would never recommend renting a car in Sydney. Take the great public transportation if you can and walk till your feet fail you first. The city is scaled for pedestrian pleasures and you miss them when tangling with maps, the frustrations of one way streets and restricted right turns. But we had a mission to find a room for my friend and so we wound through to the University District daily until that was settled. We found the UniLodge off of Broadway and chose a small studio for her four month stay. The neighborhood had everything close for setting up a temporary home and catered to student tastes.

To celebrate, we left the city and headed out the next morning to Jervis Bay Preserve, a three hour drive south of Sydney. We cruised past famous Botany Bay, where the British first deposited boatloads of convicts. On we drove through the beautiful National Parkland, one of the largest in the world, to the small seaside town of Jervis Bay.

At the Jervis Bay Dive shop, we rented scuba gear from the shop owner, Robert, who suggested the best dive would be at Murray’s beach. The beach was a 20 minute drive from town and tucked in next to a small boat ramp. The afternoon was scorchingly hot and bright. A fisherman walked by with his catch for dinner. A Japanese woman sat under low branches with an umbrella, waiting for her family to come in from the tide pool. A few small boats dragged up the ramp after their morning adventures.

We squeezed into full wetsuits and wiggled into gear, before scuttling down to the water and out to the shallow reef. While the sand was churned up some, the visibility was still about 30 feet and there was much to see. A giant deep blue Grouper chased his female companions away to chomp on sea urchin. A brown octopus and one diver had a little tug of war – the octopus trying to pull his hand into a crevice, then being stretched out to full view, before squeezing back into his hiding place. There were huge striped Guitar fish sleeping at the edge of low kelp and large grey Mantas napping too. Near the end of the dive we spied brown spotted Wobiegong sharks curled up in reef holes and schools of odd wide-eyed small fish under a ledge.

When we came in for a closer look, we discovered right behind the school, a large, round Cuttlefish, just floating in the shadows. I squeezed in as close as I could under the ledge and  he instantly flashed colors, changing from brown spots to flat grey. His front tentacles must’ve been at least a foot long but he generally seemed unperturbed by all the attention and the camera flash. Seeing that exotic creature was a real gift and I was so thrilled that the long drive back to Sydney seemed short in the afterglow.