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Sydney without Gear

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So I am heading to Fiji in May and have a five day stopover in Sydney on my way there. I have to ship my dive and photo gear into Fiji, but I at least had the foresight to pull one body and a couple of topside lenses from my kit. So beside the obvious of a bridge climb and photographing the opera house, what other type of topside activities might keep me occupied during the daytime? How about learning to surf?

 

As far as where to stay, what are the beaches like the second week of May? Is it starting to get too cold? I've been looking at Bondi or possibly Manly. If not a beach, which part of the city? Potts Point popped up on a couple of searches I did, and looks to be a fairly central location, but not as pricey as the city center.

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So I am heading to Fiji in May and have a five day stopover in Sydney on my way there. I have to ship my dive and photo gear into Fiji, but I at least had the foresight to pull one body and a couple of topside lenses from my kit. So beside the obvious of a bridge climb and photographing the opera house, what other type of topside activities might keep me occupied during the daytime? How about learning to surf?

 

As far as where to stay, what are the beaches like the second week of May? Is it starting to get too cold? I've been looking at Bondi or possibly Manly. If not a beach, which part of the city? Potts Point popped up on a couple of searches I did, and looks to be a fairly central location, but not as pricey as the city center.

 

We spent a few days in Sydney after our Liveaboard trip to the Ribbon Reefs. We stayed at Holiday Inn Potts Point as it was a bit more reasonable. Very decent hotel, some rooms even have a harbor/Opera house view. The Subway was literally outside the hotel doors, so no car needed. And we actually WALKED from the hotel to The Rocks and The Opera house....only once though....Did Bondi Beach, Manley Beach, the Fish Market and Darling Harbor at night. If we had another day, I probably would have done the Blue Mountains.

 

We are going back to Oz in December but I find no need to stop in Sydney again.

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I like the Manly area a lot. It's my favorite set of beaches, and is far more laid back than south of the bridge. There is a big national park at the southern tip for day hikes and photo opps over the harbour. The ferries run regularly and are a very pleasant way to commute

 

On the other side, at the far end of the eastern bays, there is a very good walk along the shore and cliffs starting (or ending) at Watson's Bay. Plus if you are into it there is the added bonus of nude sunbathing at Lady Bay (better leave the camera in the bag though!)

 

In the city, you can easily spend the better part of a day at the botanic gardens, which offer lots of different ecosystems and some gorgeous views over the harbour.

 

For a day out of the city, you could rent a car and drive up to the Blue Mountains, or southwest down the coast through Woollongong and over the hills all the way to Canberra, which is well worth a day trip if you don't mind 3+ hours one way through (mostly) lovely scenery. Or head north to the wine country of the Hunter Valley for a day. Just remember to drive on the left!

 

For more exotic pursuits, check out adrenalin.com.au. You can book a day driving European sportscars, head to the race track to drive V8 supercars, go hot air ballooning, etc.

 

I think of Sydney as primarily a night life destination, probably because I am there for business a lot and that's the only free time I have. If you are a jazz fan, The Basement often has top local and international players and an excellent dinner menu (which is the only way to get a table on the main floor). The Art House Hotel always has some interesting music going on if you are looking for something more adventurous. The State Theater usually has good touring acts too. Check www.jazzandbeyond.com.au/sydney_gig_guide to see what'e happening. If you are a foodie, Sydney restaurants can be world class. Just be prepared to pay world class prices too!

 

I avoid Potts Point, as there is very little of interest in the immediate vicinity (other than King's Cross, the red light district!) and it is a_long_ walk into the city. It's possible to find a few good values in the city center, and also around the Chinatown area. My go-to site for the best prices for accommodation in Sydney is wotif.com.au

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I live in Manly and love it with a passion, if you wanted to dive May is a pretty good time of year, the water will still be reasonably warm 20C or so and Manly has some really shore dives. (easy to hire gear from a local store)

Boat dives again you could hire gear if you are into sharks there is Magic Point with a small colony of Grey Nurse (Sand Tiger).

There may be Whales coming past so you could go Whale watching (Season runs May-end July in Syd)

 

Heaps of great restaurants and bars

 

If you are into Zoo's or Aquariums Sydney has both and they pretty good.

 

Regarding air temp, mornings and evenings will be cool, daytime temps can be really nice around 20-25C

 

Hopefully it will have stopped raining by then, we have had a truly British summer :lol:

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Thanks for the responses. I think Manly is now on the top of my list of places to stay for this trip. Can anyone recommend a reasonable lodging? I don't really need to be pampered, as anything will be a step up from the tent/cot I live in now.

 

The whale watching sounds interesting, and might be safer for me then some of the more adventurous possibilities. I've got to watch myself, because before my last drive trip with this group, I dislocated my shoulder, and spent the first few days of the trip in a sling (still made all the dives though).

 

Are there any must dive sites around Manly/Sydney?

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I lived in both places, Manly first for 2 mths then I moved to Bondi so I could be closer to work. Albeit this was quite a few years ago. I preferred Manly for the more relaxed atmosphere but Bondi has slightly better restos... but the best restos are in the Rocks/Wooloomooloo/Darling areas anyhow.

Bondi has the very nice Bondi-Coogee trail which is a great run/walk and quite picturesque for photos and people watching. The Manly - Shelley run is also nice but less scenic. Bondi is MUCH more touristy of the 2.

Bondi is closer to the southern sites, including the ones around Botany Bay Park (which is also nice to visit) and a very nice night dive site call Shipwreck or Rock or something, which has a nice mix of little and medium stuff including pj sharks.

From Manly, you can dive Shelley (which is nice with weedies, C.Obscurus and wobbies), and for something different, Palm Beach, which is nice and also has giant cuttlefish, weedies and wobbies/pj sharks.

Non-dive related includes the Blue Mountains (3 sisters) great drive but also great to see by air if you can get a charter plane. The Rose bay to Palm Beach sea plane ride is also awesome. The Manly/Circular Ferry is a nice way to travel back and forth. One day could be spent at the Botanic garden then sunset shots of the opera house from Mrs Mcquarie's Pt.

Have fun.

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...and a very nice night dive site call Shipwreck or Rock or something, which has a nice mix of little and medium stuff including pj sharks.

Shiprock. It is currently closed at the moment (has been since August 2011) while the council install some proper stairs and other things. It was supposed to be open by Christmas, but it is the council after all. Their latest update says early March, weather permitting, which given all the rain we've had, will probably slip. It should be open by May, but then again... :swimmingfish:

 

In my opinion, Shiprock is the best dive site in Sydney and well worth a dive, day or night.

 

My second favourite site is The Leap at Kurnell on the southern side of Botany Bay. On one dive you can see giant and reaper cuttlefish, seahorses and weedy seadragons, Port Jackson sharks, anglerfish (AKA "frogfish"), many species of nudibranch, moray eels and more.

 

Shelly Beach is an OK site but you'd have to do it mid-week. On the weekend it get so many dive schools that sometimes it is hard to see the water for divers.

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ATJ, I think viz is important and the times I went to Shiprock (thanks btw). it wasn't that great (5-8m). The ocean facing sites had much better viz. Granted I only went maybe 15 times because it was a drive, but my memory of that site is not so great viz...as in my notes.

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While viz is important, it isn't everything. Seeing a vast array of organisms on a single dive with ordinary viz is far better than 50 metre viz and seeing nothing. Shiprock is an estuary and so will never have viz as good as some of the ocean sites, although, when conditions outside are bad, Shiprock can actually have the best viz for all of Sydney.

 

The appeal of Shiprock is the amount of life there. The wall is covered with soft corals and ascidians and the soft corals are all over the bommies, too. It is rare that you dive there and don't see: pineapplefish, frogfish (the real ones), triplefins, moray eels, cuttlefish, octopus, numerous nudibranch species. There's also a good chance of seeing wobbegongs , Port Jackson sharks, numb rays and other interesting organisms.

 

But each to their own, I guess.

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Here are some samples from Shiprock from 2011 alone (and only up until August).

 

P_poindimiei_Shiprock1108-2.jpg

 

P_lineatus_Shiprock1106-2.jpg

 

Octopus_Shiprock1106-2.jpg

 

Blenny_Shiprock1106.jpg

 

G_prasinus_Shiprock1105-2.jpg

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O_tetricus_Shiprock1105-2.jpg

 

D_brachypterus_Shiprock1104.jpg

 

P_imperialis_Shiprock1104-3.jpg

 

Urolophid_Shiprock1104.jpg

 

C_gloriamaris_Shiprock1103.jpg

 

H_whitei_Shiprock1103.jpg

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Now you guys have me thinking I may need to rent a rig for my stop in Sydney. I didn't realize weedys were that far north. Hopefully Shiprock will be open by the time I get there.

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I'd never dive without a camera! There are quite a few endemic species found only around the "big island" of Oz and Sydney has quite a few of them around the city.

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I'd never dive without a camera!

I loath diving without a camera however it can still be better than not diving at all.

 

I went to Borneo last October and my main aim of the trip was to see and photograph flamboyant cuttlefish. I had never seen in nature before but they are my favourite underwater creature. Within a couple of hours of us arriving at Kapalai we went on a "check dive" on the house reef. There was not enough time to get my camera ready so I went sans camera. Five minutes into the dive I spot a flamboyant cuttlefish ambling across the sand. I was rapped to finally see one (I think I even cried). I regretted not having the camera, especially if this was the only one I'd see for the trip but I was also very pleased that I had seen one at least.

 

I did another 21 dives on the trip and only saw one other flamboyant cuttlefish (1st dive of the next day) and I got photos. It so very nearly happened that the one on the 1st day was the only one. I would have been really annoyed that I hadn't got any photos but I still would not have traded that dive for anything. Seeing one was 95% - getting photos was icing.

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ExPat, Sydney diving is great but to experience it at its best you really need either a car or a local to drive you to the various sites.

 

Sounds like you are keen to see Weedy's? When I think Weedy I think Kurnell or Jervis Bay ... if you had 5 full days and were particularly keen to dive, you might like to go to JB which is a few hours south of Sydney.

Take a look at the live aboard Oceantrek http://www.oceantrek.com.au/frames.html for a 2 or 3 day trip?

It is an older boat, not flash (and an old style website) but a good stable platform with a very friendly and knowledgeable crew.

 

Re Weedy's in Sydney, sightings for the past few years have been down (Sydney is at the top of their range) but you can on occasion see them at Shelly (Manly). I've never known one to make it to Ship Rock but I guess it may have occurred .. the Sydney site with best Weedy prospects would be the Kurnell dive sites (The Leap, The Steps, The Monuments, Inscription Point....)

 

Michael McFadyen's web site,

www.michaelmcfadyenscuba.info

is a great reference site for Sydney diving.

 

If you are on facebook you can also view my dive clubs page (need to be a club member to join the group)

https://www.facebook.com/groups/208786489161552/

where amongst the posts you will find fresh dive reports that will give you a feel for conditions closer to the date (although not many reports at the moment as it has been raining all week with associated wash out).

 

Re accommodation in Sydney, if you are not fussy and want to be in the city, definitely try and get into the YHA in the Rocks!

http://www.yha.com.au/hostels/nsw/sydney-s...sydney-harbour/

 

Hope that helps.

 

Aengus

Edited by AengusM

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I've never known one to make it to Ship Rock but I guess it may have occurred .

Note that no-one in this thread suggested that weedy seadragons have been seen at Shiprock. I have certainly never heard of it and would be extremely surprised if they have ever been seen there.

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Note that no-one in this thread suggested that weedy seadragons have been seen at Shiprock.

 

WTF? Relax Dude ....

Edited by AengusM

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WTF? Relax Dude ....

Sorry? Who's overreacting here?

 

I was simply clearing up a misunderstanding. Seems you are the one that needs to relax.

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I have dived shiprock with easily 20-25m vis. Very rare occurance but it does happen. Kurnell is also great & bare island too for that matter.

Manly is very nice & you would be very happy to stay there but it is also an hour, maybe even longer in peak hour traffic to drive to kurnell or shiprock.

If critters are your thing then head up to nelson bay. About 3 hours drive north of sydney & well worth the effort for macro stuff.

Hope that helps.

Cheers Pete.

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Shiprock is now open. It is well worth the effort for a dive & you can even hire some gear local if you need.

Depending on your days i may be up for a dive or two.

You could even try kurnell.

Cheers Pete.

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Shiprock is now open.

It certainly is. I did 3 dives there over Easter (first weekend it was open) and they were all good. Found my first Sepioloidea lineolata on the Thursday night and found 2 different species of pipefish on the Monday.

 

I love Shiprock.

 

I also love The Leap at Kurnell. I've had some great dives there of late and found the seahorses every time.

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Hey Andrew,

Yes the seahorses have been at the leap for a while now.

The leap is definitely one of my favorite dives.

The funny thing is that my last few dives I havnt found 1 single seadragon!

Cheers pete.

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Pete, I have seen the seahorses regularly at "Seahorse Rock" for over a year now. I first saw them in January last year. I think the only time I haven't seen them was when I missed "Seahorse Rock". Last weekend I was there is 5 other divers. They swam the wrong side of "Seahorse Rock" and missed them (I did manage to attract one of them over for a look but he left me while I was taking photos). I then went looking for more along the boulders at the sand line and managed to find one more further north.

 

Interestingly, they managed to find a seadragon or two.

 

The Leap is my second favourite site (Shiprock my favourite). The Leap almost always has cool stuff (giant and reaper cuttlefish, octopus, anglers, seahorse, seadragons, etc.) but at Shiprock I almost always find something I have never seen before, in addition to the usual cool and interesting stuff.

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You know i have never seen an angler at kurnell. I have seen 2 at bare island but never any at kurnell.

Might have to go for a hard look this weekend.

Cheers Pete.

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They are pretty hard to spot because they look like a sponge. The first one I saw was pointed out to me and I refused to believe it was anything other than a sponge until the kept insisting I look more closely. The next one was also pointed out to me but I saw it straight away. I then found my own one a few weeks ago. It could be the same one each time, although if it is, it must move around a lot.

 

Antennarius_Leap1109-2.jpg

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