Jon Cragg runs a full-service dive operation: he can arrange PADI Training, gear hire, on-site accommodation; or if you’re ready to go; just fills (air and nitrox) and a space on the boat. But what distinguishes Fish Rock from other operators for me, was the quality and passion of the dive guide. Check out their own website.
Fish Rock Dive Centre is at 134 Gregory St, South West Rocks, which is the main road that you come into SWR on. It’s on the right – look for the Costa Rica motel – it’s the same driveway.
Enquiries: please contact Fish Rock Dive Centre directly on: 02 6566 6614 or via their Contact Us page.
What distinguishes Fish Rock from other operators for me, was the quality and passion of the dive guide: as soon as we’re over the Macleay River bar and skimming across Trial bay, Jake is giving us a lesson in the local geology, followed by bathymetry and history which includes references to how hard the local granite is, the proximity of the EAC and why South West Rocks never made it as the strategic harbour mid-way between Sydney and Brisbane. This sets the scene for why diving Fish Rock is so special and what we are likely to see there, plus what else there is to do at South West Rocks: where to get the best pizza, coffee, and for the international guests on board – where to get a great shot of the local kangaroos.
This makes the trip to the rock pass in no time, and we’re soon onto the dive brief. Jake has a very clear chart showing the terrain, and we get a thorough briefing of where we’ll be going, and what we can expect to see there. He even points out where we can expect a bit of current, and when to stay a little over weighted as we’re going over ledges and walls.
The dive runs exactly to plan, and any air-pigs are delivered to the mooring in good time, whilst the rest of us get an extra 15 minutes in the gutters watching the sharks or on the fish bommies looking out for passing rays.
During the surface interval aboard the well-equipped ‘Terror’ we’re served soup and crackers and coffee and cake, and go through the names of all the critters we’ve seen. This to a level of detail which distinguishes the wobbes into three classes: the banded, the spotted and the ornate.
The much more ornate spotted wobbi – which has similar bands to the banded, but just looks like it’s grown an additional layer of lichen. (Though given the amount of time these guys spend just lying around on ledges, that wouldn’t surprise me).
Before the second dive we’re asked if there’s anything in particular we’d like to see, and I’m subsequently indulged with shots of divers and sharks in the same pic.
This is me having my fin cleaned by a cleaner wrasse, whilst shooting shark.
Another benefit of diving with Fish Rock Dive is that Jake carries a camera, and takes a number of shots of both divers and critters throughout each of the dives – though I’d hardly noticed him do it. These are available to load onto your USB for free.
Diving with Fish Rock Dive is pretty laid back; here’s the form:
Arrive at the shop and set up your tank which will go onto the boat if it’s an am dive; or into the trailer for a pm dive. There’s also room for a tub on the boat so you can board the boat dry, or in your wetty, depending on conditions. You can also drive your own car down to the jetty if you choose, or have a lift down.
On the morning dive, the gear goes down pre-loaded on the boat; and you unload the boat into the trailer to return to the shop at lunchtime. If you’re on the afternoon dive your gear goes down in the trailer and comes back on the boat. Simple. There are showers and toilets down by the jetty, where there is also a bar-restaurant. And there are hot showers back at the shop. The wash down tubs are also at the shop, and there are locked cages to leave your gear to dry for a few hours or overnight. To easy.
There are other dive sites besides Fish Rock including Green Island which can make an excellent second dive. There’s only one rule at Fish Rock Dive that Jon takes every opportunity to remind you of, and that’s: “Enjoy it!” – we certainly did.