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Diving the S.S. Yongala

One of the reasons I tend not to blog while I’m living somewhere is that “I’m not doing anything worth blogging about”. You guys want to hear about my East Coast exploits, not how my job is going or what my new house is like.
However since I’ve been in Cairns this hasn’t exactly been true. Thanks to my (awesome) job I get to do some pretty awesome things and I thought it was high time that I documented some of my experiences.
The first adventure to tell you about is when Dave, Becki and I drove down south to dive on the S.S. Yongala – widely touted as one the of the best dive sites in the world.
It’s located a short boat ride away from Ayr, just south of Townsville, so we decided that we may as well make the whole thing in to a big road trip! Originally we were supposed to go the week after we did, being joined by my boyfriend Mikey. Unfortunately because the Yongala is in the middle of ocean and not protected by a surrounding reef the weather conditions mean it often gets cancelled…and the wind forecast for the following week was NOT looking good.
On a whim we booked ourselves in on the Wednesday evening to dive on the Friday meaning poor Mikey couldn’t come because of stupid work. Sorry Mikey – blame the wind! 
Doing what any normal person would do, we didn’t cancel the night out we had planned and found ourselves waking up on Thursday with slightly sore heads…but a lovely Toyota Corolla to whisk us down the coast.
As we’d all loved Mission Beach we decided to stop off for the afternoon and spent a lovely few hours swimming in the ocean and drinking ciders (just Becki and I, Dave volunteered as designated driver – thanks Dave!).
It was a gorgeous afternoon and we happily topped up our tans.

Once again not wanting to leave we dragged ourselves away and continued on to Townsville.

We had dinner (and a few drinks, ahem) at the Yacht Club and then strolled back to Mick and Val’s house where we were met by Jasmine our lovely hostess for the night as most people were on Magnetic Island for the race week.
A few ciders later…and we realised it was nearly midnight. With 5am alarms set we rapidly turned into pumpkins and said our good nights!

Becki’s new best friend George

We were all up very early indeed and dragged ourselves in to the car. It was a gorgeous day and we managed to not be late – success! 
It was all going so well until we had to change in to our wetsuits and I realised that I’d left my bikini and towel on the veranda in Townsville…so I got to dive the Yongala in my undies – at least they were nice and matching!!!
Mishaps aside we were soon winging our way off Alva beach and very excited about the dive…
Marble Ray
The Yongala is so special because it’s miles away from any other bit of reef. Our guide likened it to staggering around in a desert and finding yourself in an oasis: you’re not likely to leave again in a hurry!

Olive sea snake
As a result the Yongala site is simply crammed full of marine life. The abundance of fish is staggering.

Not only the abundance but also the size of things, we saw marble rays bigger than coffee tables and were told that we hadn’t even seen the impressive ones.

This groper looked like he’d happily take me on in a fight.

You can’t tell but there are three sharks swimming around in the photograph!

You really do see some strange things swimming around underwater…sorry Dave!

This was my view as we were descending down the line on our second dive – I was the last under and all I could see were bubbles!!!

There were just so many things to look at. After each dive we would all comment “…and I could see the shark but you weren’t even looking“, “well that’s because I spotted that 4 metre long groper…”. No matter which way you looked, there would be something incredible to see.

You see that big dark shape? That’s the groper genuinely big enough to swallow you.

The wreck sits at between 22-28m underwater, and there can be no better example of how colour changes with depth than the two clown fish in the above picture – not really working that signature orange look now are they?

The above in my favourite picture from the two dives – I just wish Dave didn’t have such big feet!

This is a picture looking in to what used to be the first class toilets! 

#yongalaselfie
The dives were genuinely incredible and I can’t recommend diving this site enough. If you’re addicted to diving you have to experience it. I can now understand why my mum used to go down every week or so for a cheeky dive! I’d happily stay in their hostel accommodation and dive for a few days straight.
Unfortunately I had work the next day and we had to make our merry way back up to Cairns. It’s funny how back home I’d never drive a 1,000km round trip for a one day activity but here you don’t even think about it.
Thankfully we were treated to some lovely scenery and a gorgeous sunset.

Becki made herself a little nest and managed to do some napping as Dave and I put the world to rights.

It was not only fantastic to dive such an amazing dive site, but also to do it with two of my best friends! Miss you D&B 🙁

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