Middle Head

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Not the most usual dive sites, but hey that's why they are described here.

Shore dive with sea scooter: Cobblers to Obelisk

In 6/2021 I did a circumnavigation of the head by entering at Cobblers and exiting at Obelisk. I parked above Cobblers, walked to the beach to drop scuba gear, camera and scooter, then walked back to the car and moved it to the carpark above Obelisk.

On the day I was greeted with 8-10 m visibility, which is not common, even if the proximity to the entrance of the harbour should make it better than deeper inside. That day I came across a skittish sea turtle, many blue gropers and a large school of yellowtail obscuring the view.

The best part of the dive is certainly the NE segment of the head, with large sponge gardens near the 8-10m deep sand line. My dive lasted 1h40m with a 15L tank, with frequent stops to look at the sponges and the many abandoned anchors (I counted at least 20).

A special mention to the 2 admiralty anchors from the Edward Lombe disaster in 1834, which claimed the life of 12 persons on board. The wreck was salvaged and sold but the two anchors are still there after so many years! Sitting in a sponge landscape, they are definitely a sight to remember. History of the Edward Lombe and the Inspection Report from the Heritage Office

Be mindful that the head is a high traffic area for boating, especially the easternmost corner which borders with the ship channel.

Shore Dives: cobblers or obelisk

You can access the water from either Cobblers Beach or Obelisk Beach. I found Cobblers more interesting for exploring the sand area, where during a night dive (9/2020) I found a hammer octopus, a juvenile 30cm Port Jackson shark and a 6m barge.

Obelisk Beach provides a closer access to the sponge gardens, at the end of which I found a school of Port Jackson sharks during a night dive (9/2020). Sponge gardens here are not as extended as the ones on the NE side of the head.

From Cobblers Beach

Park the car at the start of the path to the beach and be ready for a bit of a walk, 450 m in length and 37 m in difference in altitude, but nothing particularly hard as the incline is moderate.

One target is the wreck 210 m from the beach, nothing too fancy, it's a barge 6 m long and 1.5 m high with the steel hull partially corroded and some vegetation on it, but being in the middle of the sandy bottom the trip itself is a potential attraction. When I dived on 16/9/20, in the space between the coast ant the wreck I came across some juvenile (30 cm) Port Jackson sharks and a always interesting Hammer Octopus.

Being the wreck pretty small and far from the beach, it's a good practice to keep an eye on the watch and if you don't get there in say 8-10 minutes you have overshot it and it's time to start aiming for the coast. This assumes that you know your underwater cruising speed, mine is 25 m/min, it's a good practice to measure it at some stage as it helps heaps in avoiding the number 1 mistake in underwater navigation which is overshooting a waypoint and basing the subsequent decisions on the wrong assumed position, potentially triggering a chain of errors as I discovered myself one night when I landed in somebody's backyard at Vaucluse instead of Parsley Bay.

From the wreck you can aim East and start following the coast as air allows before turning back. I did about 200 m and found an interesting landscape of big boulders on top of each other with crevices and swim throughs, covered with colorful sponges blue, green and orange here and there. There was also a big lobster, which is not common to see, definitely not during the day as they stay hidden.

From Obelisk Beach

Same difference of altitude to be walked, but definitely the narrow path is shorter and with tall steps.

The dive is simple, just follow the sand line towards East as air allows. In my dive on 3/9/20 I swam 450 m before turning back. After the first unimpressive 200 m, there is a change of scenery with sponges of any color and overhangs that reminded me of Fairlight. The depth of the sand line is 7 m. A group of 5 Port Jackson and Crested Horn sharks resting in the crevices, a crocodile fish, 3 eels, 2 octopuses, red morwongs.

Once back at Obelisk, wanting to consumer the last bars, I stayed in the shallow water of the beach trying to shoot some tiny squids floating in the first 50 cm of water amid a lot of small particles. I only managed to get one in focus but across the multitude of shots I was deleting I found a real surprise: a tiny plankton with the shape of a cosmic star casually came into focus. I even went checking whether there was a crack in the glass of my lens that precise and symmetrical the plankton was. With the system I described here I managed to calculate the size of the little marvel, see picture below. I don't know if those tiny creatures are resident or probably just pushed in that corner by the wind.

Pictures from the Cobblers to Obelisk dive

the southernmost anchor indicated in the map, there since 1834!

This other anchor is 70m N to the one indicated on the map

Very pleasant sponge gardens all along the East side

The length of the circumnavigation and the midway point in case you need to abort and reach shore

Pictures from the Cobblers Beach night dive

On my way to the wreck, tiny PJ

A hammer octopus between the wreck and the coast

This barge must have seen better days

Another picture of the wreck

Rabbitfish

Pictures from the Obelisk Beach night dive

the supertiny plankton that casually came into focus as I was trying to shoot a squid midwater

Crested Horn shark

Crocodile Fish

Squid 2 cm long