My Third Age Adventure
Not long after my 60th birthday, I walked past a bright colourful sign which attracted me. It said “Learn to Scuba Dive”.
Now, I had never before had the slightest inclination to scuba dive, but I have always been interested in the sea and, most importantly, I was going on a holiday to Lord Howe Island in a few months. Thinking it might be fun to dive on the reef at LHI, I went into the shop to make some inquiries. Laden with brochures, an appointment for a dive medical and a booking on the next Learn to Dive course, I had started my new journey.
Learning to dive in Melbourne is an adventure in itself. Over a few weeks, there were textbooks to read, online tests to pass, theory lessons to attend, equipment to master and – finally into the water carrying about 20 kilograms of gear on my back. Firstly, at the local swimming pool, swimming along the bottom of the deep end, trying to remain neutrally buoyant in the water, stopping for group exercises such as removing and replacing your mask underwater. It was way beyond my comfort zone. Not one to give up, I went back to the next dives which were in Port Phillip Bay, off the shore at Black Rock – and, the big test, onto a dive boat at Portsea, out to Pope’s Eye and two dives down to 12 metres. I got my certificate, I was qualified!
In the Water!
Thank goodness I had persisted as the journey in the underwater world has been amazing. Together with my son, Mark, who learned to dive shortly after me and became my dive buddy, we have done numerous dives in Port Phillip Bay, outside the heads in Bass Strait, Westernport Bay and Phillip Island. We have dived the coasts of Tasmania and New South Wales and Queensland and Western Australia, the fresh water lakes of South Australia, Kangaroo Island, Rottnest Island and New Zealand – and the Melbourne Aquarium with the sharks. And dived in warm waters – the Great Barrier Reef on a liveaboard dive boat, Heron Island, Ningaloo Reef, Vanuatu and Thailand. And dived in very cold waters – in Canada, in the Great Lakes. Every holiday became a dive holiday.
On a dive boat after another dive
We took advanced dive courses, such as deep diving and navigation and rescue, becoming dive masters. Mark went on to further technical diving and cave diving, but I am content with a maximum of 39 metres in depth.
Diving amongst the beautiful reefs or under piers, amongst amazing fish and marine animals and coral and sponges, the sights are always enthralling. Did you know that Port Phillip Bay has more marine life than tropical waters? Being able to float along in 3 dimensions is always magical – even the rituals of preparing for the dive and cleaning up afterwards are reassuring. Meeting many other divers with many a good tale to tell is always good fun – and so is catching your own food, scallops and crayfish and abalone.
Diving with Sharks and Turtles
And then I became enthralled with shipwrecks – there are over 200 known wrecks in Port Phillip Bay alone, including wooden boats wrecked in the 1800’s and decommissioned naval boats. This has led me into maritime archaeology, with study at Flinders University and Southampton University, attending maritime archeology conferences, archaeological research on shipwrecks in Port Phillip Bay, the acquisition of a whole new library of books, special trips to maritime museums around the world, training with the Nautical Archaeological Society and now maritime archaeology webinars – there is more than a lifetime of learning ahead of me.
On a whim, a spur of the moment decision, I had embarked on a whole new adventure.
Wooden boat shipwrecked over 150 years ago in Lake Huron, Canada