Far Northern Expedition – South Bound
Spirit of Freedom sat at the every tip of Far North Australia, Horn Island awaiting the arrival of 21 guests to board and begin their Far North South Bound Expedition. Within the bunch we had Tricky owner of Manly Dive Centre and his entourage of 13 amazing divers. We also had plenty of repeat guests like Peter, Lorrie & Jez who bought Josh along for the ride. As well at Dave and Mal, a couple of Cray fisherman adventurers, Rania was part of the bunch coming onboard as a celebratory trip for herself to celebrate finally finishing her PHD.
With an AWESOME bunch of divers we were off to a cracking start, we also had Captain Tony at the Wheel so we all knew we were in for a fun and somewhat challenging 7 days at Sea diving some of the most remote parts of the GBR.
We made our way south down towards The Great Detached Reef where we jumped in for a quick check out dive at Perisher Blue before making our way to Raine Island for a couple of Live Drops along the walls. The visibility was less than 10m and there weren’t many turtles around as they were in the prime time of their nesting season which makes them very skittish, but it was cool to cruise along the huge walls and gullys that surround Raine Island.
We then went to explore a spot where we wanted to find some coral Gardens for the chance of seeing the Coral Spawning. An event that only happens once a year where the coral polyps release their eggs, spawn and spread them as far and as wide as the current will push them to keep the GBR alive and growing. We found an incredible patch of reef that we named Manly Magic that was covered in branching and boulder corals! We saw a little bit of coral spawning but think it would have gone OFF in a few more hours, later on into the night.
Day 2 Dive Sites:
Raine Island x2
Manly Magic x2
We started day 3 off with a BANG and headed to EPIC to enjoy this massive seamount rising from 200+M from the sea floor up to about 10m where the coral and sea fans are the size of a small car. Next of the adventure list was hunting for a new and unexplored dive site. We checked a few spots but it was Captain TONY himself and his faithful side kick Nick Leigh, that jumped in and found a site, which we then named THE AWESOME! Where we spotted a lone Minke Whale cruising around. A huge mound rising up and with a bit of current running it made for an exciting exploratory dive. Seeing sharks and mackerel swimming around us checking us out. We then made our way over the The Pinnacle for a couple of dives again hoping to get some more coral spawning action.
Day 3 Dive Sites:
The Awesome- Minke Whale Sighting!
The Pinnacle x2
We spent day 4 morning at WELL WORTH IT where these incredible ridges rise up and with a bit of current flowing it makes for a pretty fun crazy current dive!
We then mixed it up a little bit and headed out to the seaward side of the reefs in hope of finding some nice big wall dives, the visibility has been about 15m because of the coral spawning so we were hopping to chase some better vis an find some cool typography on the outer reef walls.
Day 4 Dive Sites:
Well Worth it x2
Nimrod Passage Outer Wall
Black Rock Wall Wildside
A day full of exploring and live drops as we explored Cat Reef and attempted to find a wreck at Ham reef with no success. No Worries…. we then spotted a MINKE WHALE as we were searching for a site and then found a cool section of reefs which great coral coverage and fish life cruising in the current. We headed south to Tijou Reef where we did 2 wall dives on the outer side and found some amazing big drop offs with lots of sharks and a school of Bumphead parrotfish!
Day 5 Dive Sites:
Cat Reef Outer Reef
Ham Reef Pinncales- Minke Whale Sighting
Tijou Reef Nth
Tijou Reef Sth
We headed down to Creech reef area where we explored the outer wall, before heading to Alladins Caves to enjoy the amazing coral up in the Shallows and a beautiful slope of coral bommies scattered around. We then made our way to Joan Reef to dive a sight called Jett where the current picked up as we were doing our current checks, this wouldn’t be a Far North trip without a bit of adventure and excitement and Jett is definitely a site not for the faint hearted. Trying to make this dive happen took a little bit longer than expected however we managed to work it before people entered the water… thennnn about 5 minutes later all were back on the tender coming back to the safety of the mother ship! However we had the legendary Crazy Cray fisherman who were the only 2 to make it down and finish the dive in what was definitely a 5/5 current! WOOOHOOO Far North Baby! We aborted that sight and made our way to Pirates Caves to enjoy the caves and swim-throughs. Afterwards enjoying a well-deserved beer on the sundeck to chat about our big day of diving!
Day 6 Dive Sites:
North of Creech Reef Exploratory Wall
Joan Reef, Jett- Abort mission!
Our last day we made our way back to familiar territory and had a day of diving the pinnacles of the Ribbon Reefs, with 25+M visibility it was nice to have some great blue water dives, and the pinnacle around the RR always produce an amazing array of marine life especially macro and pretty coral! We dived Tony’s Deep Pinnacle around RR 3 and also Crack A jack where the vis and fish life were awesome!
We then finished off our day at good old faithful Steve’s Bommie where we spent 2 dives cruising around the pinnacle finding Stone Fish and Nudibranchs, Snappers and schools of Trevally, Nemo and Unicorn fish everywhere, The orange and purple Anthias lit up the bommie and the afternoon sun made for a magical finish to our 7 day Far North Expeditions.
Day 7 Dive Sites:
Tony’s Deep Pinnacle
Crack a Jack
Steve’s Bommie x2
We were then Cairns bound with an awesome aussie style BBQ to enjoy the sunset with, It was a true expedition diving the Far North region of the GBR. We covered almost 600 Nautical Miles and dived part of the reef NO OTHER has ever dived, we found new sites and put our name/mark on it, we were challenged by currents and conditions and tested in ways that only make us stronger and more confident as divers. These trips are all about exploring the parts of the reef almost untouched by humans 80% of the year and you can tell this from the marine life you see, the sharks coming super close buzzing you as you jump in because they want to check you out as they’ve never seen divers before.
Thank you to all our awesome guests; it has been a wild adventure out on Spirit Of Freedom.
Congratulations to Jez and Rania for making your 100th dive onboard and happy birthday Matt!
FAR NORTH BABY!!!