There’s been a lot of talk about sharks along the coast of northern New South Wales in 2016. There have been a few spotted in places close to where I live and work in Casuarina, Cabarita and Hastings Point, and have been spotted as far south as Coffs Harbour. Just last month there was a shark attack in Ballina, in which a young guy narrowly avoided fatal injuries as a (what is believed to be) 4m Great White chomped away at his surfboard.
So it stands to reason that with unprovoked shark attacks on the rise in Australia, that I decided to start learning to scuba dive last week.
Now, before we continue, for the sake of my mother’s heart I should inform you that the risk of being attacked by a shark during a dive is almost nil. This is because humans are too big to be considered prey and too small to be considered a threat, so unless you attack or provoke them- chances are they’ll just swim on by minding their own business. The reason sharks tend to attack surfers is because they’re after the surfboard, which they can sometimes mistake for prey or even threats.
Back to the diving, it’s fair to say that I struggled a bit with the whole situation. For me, it’s a very difficult transition from breathing on land to breathing underwater. I’m not ashamed to say I was a bit nervous and it was because of these nerves that I was overthinking everything- especially my breathing. I learned a lot from the initial dive, but one of the main things I learned was that although you have to respect the dangers and risks associated with being underwater for long periods of time, it’s also nothing to fear and staying calm and being relaxed are very important things you need in order to enjoy it.
It was a great experience and I’m not one to give up on a dream, so I’ll be back next week to take the next step forward in getting comfortable with diving. Now I’ve put it out to the world, I’ve got absolutely no choice but to follow through with it and I’m determined to see the Great Barrier Reef up close when I head to Cairns in November.
I also recently tried paddle boarding, which was a much less nerve-racking experience. Paddle boarding has only really become a popular hobby in Australia over the past few years, but it has taken off to the point where you won’t see a river on a hot day without one. Not only is it incredibly fun, but it’s dirt cheap- $10 is all you’ll need to hire a board for an hour, and it doesn’t take long to get used to balancing the board and steering it. The water is also getting warmer, so there’s no sharp shock if you get dumped in the drink.
You can see the attraction that Aussies have to the water here, even with the dangers that come with it. Surfing, paddle boarding, kite-surfing scuba diving, swimming, fishing are all extremely popular because of the fascination we have with the water, and our desire to see more of what’s in it. There are many people from my part of the world who wouldn’t even consider going beyond the shallows of the coast, and while I completely understand that viewpoint when you haven’t seen it up close, it’s a whole different story when you’re here.
There’s nothing quite like catching your own dinner either! I went on another morning fishing trip last week and finally caught something big enough to cook and eat. The high tide meant we caught three fish each much easier than usual, and there’s nothing better than a fresh-cooked fillet seasoned by saltwater. This is also another reason you should always know somebody who owns a knife and a hot plate.
It’s only going to be a short post today, mainly because I’m in the middle of working 12 days in a row without a day off, which will end this coming Tuesday- hurrah! It’s less than a month now until I start my road trip, so I really need to pull my finger out and start booking the activities that I want to do (THERE’S SO MUCH ROOM FOR ACTIVITIES!).
Lookout next month, because I’m going to try and post every other day at least during my trip and try and share as many experiences with you guys as possible.
In the meantime, stay safe and thank you for reading!
Goodbye and remember: people are friends, not food.