Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Jimmys Cave
The Seal Rocks area of NSW has some amazing dives. As well as the well known grey nurse shark dives, the area is well known for the wrecks of SS Catterthun and SS Satara. Another dive in the area is Jimmys Cave.
To the south of Seal Rocks lighthouse, past the wreck of the Satara, there is a large rock that comes up from 40 plus metres to less than 10 metres. This piece of reef is called Outer Edith Breakers and it has some great caves, overhangs and gutters as well as shear walls. The fishlife as you drop to the reef top is quite prolific, with huge schools of yellowtail and silver sweep floating over the reef and the occasional kingfish coming in for a view. The reef itself is carpeted with wobbegongs, more than 20 seen in a single dive.
|A map of Edith Breakers|
Courtesy of Ron Hunter, Dive Forster
The main reason we have come to dive Outer Edith Breakers is to dive Jimmys Cave. The reef has a ridge that runs roughly in an east-west direction and ranges from 10 metres down to 16 metres. The ridge has a small wall (or series of walls) that drops a few metres at a time to a series of boulders. The cave starts at about 25 metres in amongst the boulders and then drops through a vertical chimney to the main tunnel that runs parallel to the ridge in a westerly direction. It is quite easy to explore, no tight spots, and as you follow the cave it drops a bit to 35 metres. Along the way you can choose two different routes, including an exit at 37 metres before coming into the Ballroom. This looks a bit like The Cathedral at the Wall in Sydney. Briefly, the roof of this section of the cave looks like the ceiling of a church and the cave's exit looks like a stained glass wall.
There is another exit near the Ballroom and further along the main exit at 28 metres. After exiting the cave there is a gutter that runs up the wall on your left to about 20 metres. You can either swim inside the small crack or go outside to the top of this section of the reef.
From here you can swim a bit further to the west and you will see a huge gutter called The Trench. This drops from 20 metres to 28 metres and extends 40 or 50 metres in a north-south direction. Following The Trench to the south you rise over a few large boulders before coming across a huge black coral tree in between two of the rocks. The depth drops away past here to 37 metres or more with a sandy bottom.
By now you will be well into you dive, say 22 minutes and on most dive computers you will have only a few minutes no-deco time left. Returning along the top of The Trench to the ridge you gradually rise to 12 metres and regain lost time. The rest of your dive can be safely spent on the ridge where there are heaps of fish to see including the species mentioned in the second paragraph. Mados, red morwong, leatherjackets as well as dozens of combfish swam around you and blue gropers and crimson-banded wrasse come in and examine you.
After 35 to 40 minutes you will be reaching the limit of your available air and this great dive almost over. Well worth doing.
On my trips to Forster, I have always dived with "Rotten" Ronnie Hunter of Dive Forster. Ronnie has a large comfortable cat to dive from. Ronnie also has cheap but neat accommodation in a house centrally located to all facilities. Contact "Rotten" Ronnie on 61 2 6554 7478.