Summer in Perth

I flew over to Perth on Christmas day in the late afternoon, for a diving holiday with my old mate Lorro (Paul Lawrence) and Gut (aka Justin Lindsay Boylson, aka Gutty-boy etc etc). It was to be a most fun-filled adventure indeed.

Lorro picked me up in a fire truck (he's a fireman), as he was on shift and managed to wangle a work assignment that saw us hooting around Perth dropping off oxygen cylenders at various fire stations, before he dropped me off at his flat and went back to work (he was on a night shift).

Boxing day saw us drive down to Rockingham to get some Nitrox fills and have a quick dive, as I wanted to set up my weights, but the dive shop down there (which was the only one in Perth open on Boxing day) couldn't do the fills we wanted, so we turned around and headed back to Perth. We'd been invited to the Swan river raftup, and we threw on bathers and drove to Claremont and swam out to the raftup.

The raftup is a collection of largish boats, all tied together, and it's basically a big floating party. When we arrived I ran into Juttyboy and his brothers, and a few other old friends (HI Claire, Lou! It's been a few years eh?) and we set about the afternoon's partying. The floating trampoline was a highlight, as was the scenery in general, and at about 7, whn the party was breaking up, we grabbed a ride to shore (it being unwise to swin in the state we were in!). Back to Lorro's place and a sleep before heading south on the 27th, for the big dives.

We woke up at about 4 on the 27th, and threw the dive gear in Lorro's urban insult vehicle, and drove the 200-odd k south to Busselton, where HMAS Swan has been sunk as a diving wreck. We were diving with Diving Ventures, who have a pretty well set up operation, and the trip out was pleasant.

The wreck lies in about 32m, and we were using EAN32 for this dive, and as Lorro knew the wreck very well, I was going to follow him around it. As we descended the wreck loomed up and was a most impressive sight.

We headed towards the stern, and Lorro started to descend a narrow shaft, but just as he went down it my main torch faded and his pony bottle fell out of its band. No way was I going down that hole! I waited and Lorro returned back up the shaft, and we headed under the stern, and then into the wreck from a cutout in the rear. By then I had my spare light running and was a lot more comfortable!

We toured around inside the wreck, and after about 30 minutes returned slowly up through the superstructure and then back to the dive boat to reload our tanks and have a one hour surface interval..

For the second dive, I had only an air fill, but Paul was on EAN32. his computer was telling him 50% O2, as he hadn't fully understood the nitrox setting mechanism on it. It didn't matter much, as I went almost into decompression on this dive, and he was diving the same profile as I was. When we returned to the surface I noticed his computer's setting, and we discussed the behaviour of the computers, while enthusing about the quality of the dive.

Then, the long hot haul back to Perth ... We stopped briefly to look at Paul's dad's country estate(!) before getting back to Mosman Park, refilling our tanks and then heading out to have dinner at Paul's girlfriend's parents house. We had a lovely BBQ and a few ales in their pool, before heading home and getting some much needed sleep.

The 28th saw Lorro, Bruce Stanbridge (Lorro's girlfriend's father) and I head out to Rotto and dive for crays. We racked up 3 dives but caught no legal size crayfish. Heading back to Freo we were stopped first by the fisheries officers who checked our boat for crayfish, and then by the waterpolice, who suspected we'd been speeding past Chidley Point (we hadn't). then Paul & I got more air fills and headed up to Mindaree to do a night dive with MDA.

There was only 2 of us (Paul & I) on this dive, with 2 divemasters from MDA. We had the boat to ourselves! While waiting for nightfall the crew of the boat were fishing, and caught a big jewfish, and hooked a few others, but failed to bring them to the surface. We were over a reef that had a dropoff down to about 25m. This time I'd fully charged my main torch, and this night dive was stunning.

The reef was crawling with crayfish, and heaps of fish. A school of Samsonfish payed us a close visit, and after around 35 minutes we surfaced to a BBQ on board the boat. Wonderful dive, and full compliments to MDA, they run a very good charter boat indeed.

More diving on the 29th ... Rotto again .. this time with Gut on board. We racked up 2 dives, and filled the boat with legal size crayfish. 16 crays to take home and feed the various families. Paul and I kept 10 of them and took them to Paul's parents where we fed the tribe. Paul cooked the crays on the BBQ with a little olive oil and garlic, and they were scrumptious. I provided a bottle of Laphrioag, and we were all very happy with the day.

The 30th saw us up early, Gut threw me the keys to his new WRX, and we drove back up to Mindaree to do a couple more dives, one on the Gemini, and a reef dive.

The Gemini was a pretty good wreck dive, but a little silty, especially after Gut churned it all up! Lorro caught two crays inside the wreck, and we headed up surrounded by batfish, straight into a squall. the dive boat was moving around a lot, and a few of the other divers were looking pretty green while we motored to the next dive site.

This was going to be another cray hunt, I was diving in a 3 with Gut and Lorro, and they split in opposite directions, so I stuck with Gut, figuring if either of them was going to need help it would be Gut! He spent the next 20 minutes groveling in a hole fruitlessly trying to catch a cray, while I hovered overhead dutifully standing by should he need air or assistance.

Back to the surface, then home. I went off to visit some old friends and took Paul to work on the way.

The 31st Paul was working during the day, and I spent the day relaxing and took Crystal (Lorro's brother's girlfriend) for an ice skate and taught her to crossover and stop. She's a lovely young woman and Justin (Lorro's brother) is a very fortunate young man! Then it was off to pick Lorro up from work and gear up for the big NYE party at the Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club.

Dinner suits on and off we went. It was a *huge* night, the club had put on a fantastic party. There was an orchestra, a live band area, more seafood than we could eat, and more booze than an entire rugby club could drink (but we gave it a serious nudge!).

It was an excellent party, and we staggered home at about 5am, with the sun just rising. Hello 2000!

Oddly enough, the 1st was a rather subdued day. I went over to Paul's oldies place and did some repairs on the sonar on their boat, and generally soaked up the airconditioned comfort. We ended up having a picnic dinner on the banks of the Swan just behind Meads. A very peaceful day indeed.

I was due to fly out on the 2nd, and beforehand Paul and I headed out to visit Sir Graham "Greaser" Martin, VD and scar, onboard Sand Crabs' Disco, his new yacht, moored in at the Royal Perth Yacht Club Freemantle moorings. We had a few cleansing ales on board, and a good conversation, before heading off to get lunch and while away the afternoon before I flew out.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip, and I'm looking forward to my next trip west!

Copyright Carl Brewer
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