In January to May 2012 I enjoyed 14 dives at South West Rocks with my old (in every sense of the word) downunder buddies Jon Shaw and Mick Todd and from the UK my equally old dive buddy, Graeme “Spotty” Hastings, all the dives being with South West Rocks Dive Centre.

January. Spotty flew into New South Wales in for a full-on weeks diving which included two dives with Mick and I at Fish Rock. The water temperature varied from 16 to 24 degrees but Mick coped quite well. We showed Spotty the swim-through and popped up in the bubble cave for a chat with each other. During our subsequent safety stop we saw a large school of about one hundred Bat rays, each roughly ¾ of a metre across. For our second dive we swam against the current from The Aquarium to the front of Fish Rock where there were plenty of Grey Nurse sharks and Mick stopped to feed a turtle. The Bat rays returned for our safety stop where bizarrely some Batfish chewed Micks fingers. If only they had been Grey Nurse sharks.

February. Following three weeks of heavy rainfall, particularly in lower Queensland and upper New South Wales, plenty of muddy water flowed down local rivers making diving conditions very disappointing. Mick and I dived Fish Rock Cave twice but predictably the visibility was pretty poor.

March. While Mary headed south for a girls’ weekend in Sydney I headed north to South West Rocks for six dives at South West Rocks. The South West Rocks Dive Centre guides, Albert Robinson and Troy Robbs, made sure I had a great time. I particularly enjoyed diving The Pinnacle which is on the north-eastern end of Fish Rock. This is a spectacular submerged rock formation rising from about 30 metres up to about 8 metres - at times this dive was simply stunning with a great sponge wall drop off. On a less positive note, the swells were pretty heavy, several divers were seasick and I had an unfortunate “first”. I’ve often been sick above water but never below. Below was a refuge. Or at least it had been. When the signal came to kit up, I kitted up extremely quickly to ensure I got in the water before I was sick. I sank rapidly from the surface feeling extremely nauseous but relieved at my narrow escape. I had got in the water way ahead of everyone, now all I planned to do was hold onto the mooring line at a depth which had no swell effect and wait for the feeling of motion sickness to pass. But “oh no” - I had a now uncontrollable urge to vomit. I knew that I must keep my regulator in my mouth. If I didn’t and I vomited into the sea water, I would then immediately inhale sea water. With hindsight I should have quickly switched to my octopus and vomited through that but instead I vomited through my main regulator. It was all rather unpleasant! It took me almost the entire dive to get rid of all “the little bits” in my mouth and regulator. Yuccck! The dive itself was quite good but of course my abiding memory of that dive is of vomiting into my regulator!

May. Jon Shaw and I enjoyed four fabulous dives, all at The Ridge off Fish Rock. Jon tried out a new camera system while I happily photographed Grey Nurse and Wobbegong sharks and even more happily, was not sick this time!