North-Stradbroke-Island

1 night, 2 dives, 2 reunions – home!

Living in Brisbane most people think a decent dive trip away requires an entire weekend to make it worthwhile. Oh no it doesn’t I say!!

To prove my point, last weekend I set off on an 18 hour adventure to North Stradbroke Island, on the other side of Moreton Bay from the city.

It was a weekend of well overdue reunions…

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On September 12th 2008, I qualified as a PADI SCUBA diver whilst travelling around Africa during my Afritrex expedition. Nkhata Bay was the location on the banks of Lake Malawi, a crystal clear freshwater lake in the warm heart of Africa.

My dive buddy at the time was another traveller, Craig Letham, a Kiwi on the road for his own adventure. We went through three days together, got our dive certification, shook hands and thought we’d never see each other again.

On May 9th 2009, three days after being announced as the successful candidate for the Best Job in the World, I enjoyed two days rest and recuperation at Manta Dive Lodge on North Stradbroke Island. Finally after snorkelling and flying over the Great Barrier Reef, I’d have the chance to actually dive in Australian waters for the first time! Read about my first ever Aussie dive here.

My dive master for the day was (as I described him at the time) “a funny little man” named Dave Biddulph. In reality a fantastic man, a superb photographer and a bloody nice chap. We got on like a house on fire but again, thought we’d never see each other again.

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FAST FORWARD THREE YEARS – Craig has moved to Brisbane from New Zealand, Dave is still at Manta Lodge and I’ve decided to stay in Queensland. Personally I can’t think of a better reason to have a reunion!

Craig and I, Lake Malawi The Manta Lodge Team

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Time is precious in everyone’s lives. Finding a free weekend is close to impossible. But old friends living on your doorstep should never become strangers so I organised a speedy weekend away to reunite those friendships.

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Brisbanites (that’s people from Brisbane and surrounding areas!) try this on for size …

Finish work at 5pm on a Friday

  • Drive to Cleveland ferry terminal
  • Jump on a ferry (we chose Big Red Cat but there are others)
  • Catch the bus to the Manta Dive Lodge and arrive by 8pm
  • Grab a bite of dinner and relax for the night
  • Up early for two dives
  • Back to the lodge to shower and pack
  • Bus back to the ferry
  • Drive back to the city (home by 3pm on Saturday)

A whistlestop tour? Yes. But if you’re looking for an opportunity to get underwater and blow bubbles with some amazing marine life and only have a day to spare, then this is the way to do it.

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Manta Lodge YHA offers a real island style retreat so the pace of life is that much slower – we’re on island time baby! Evenings are spent meeting new friends, checking out the huge array of dive photos and hearing tales from below the surface. They live and breathe the ocean and have been diving the waters around North Stradbroke for years so know where to take you to find their local heroes. Dave takes some amazing photos too, here’s some from our dives together:

Yellow Trumpet Fish Up close for me with the camera Harlequin Shrimps

There is absolutely loads to keep even the most experienced diver happy from the bigger stuff like Tasselled Wobbegongs to stunning Harlequin shrimps. We had gone there optimistically hoping for Manta Rays but were too early in the season – they love the cooler winter water.

It really is a simple trip to do, head out of work at 5pm for the island and be back in the city by the Saturday afternoon. There are no more excuses!

Making the most of every opportunity,

Ben :)

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  • Kaylah Buckman

    Straddie is one of my favourite spots in Queensland!