Excursion Bellarine Peninsula 2014

I Brought A Jeep? To The Arch

After many weeks perfecting our finning technique off Portsea under the guidance of resident drift-dive obsessive, Luca, the Labour Day day off had us enthralled by the idea of drifting elsewhere.

No, we didn’t buy a Jeep, but we did decide to rent a boat. A charter boat of biblical, epic proportions. Okay, it wasn’t that big, but it was a Dive Charter boat with extensive experience in Victorian waters. More importantly, one that caters to the freediver in all of us*.

Prepping the underwater media set-up

Prepping the underwater media set-up

*That may seem an insignificant point, but with freediving expeditions relatively new to the Victorian marine environment, finding a charter that gets what open water freediving is about is a real joy.

With temperatures soaring well above 40c (well inside 3-5mm of neoprene when baking in the full sun), the time on the jetty got a bit hot for some whilst we awaited the refuelling vessel. A quick plonk into the murky, yet refreshingly cool, waters of Queenscliff soothed the expectant anxieties of the 8-strong freediving posse.

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In scenes reminiscent of Volvo drivers chatting with Jeep drivers about tackling that bit of off-road grass next to the school crossing, the Scuba divers on the pont warily chatted with the svelte looking Freedivers about what lay ahead.

Spot the Freediver!

Spot the Freediver!

“Where’s all your gear?”, they might have said.

“In here” <PR Officer points to her head>.

Calisthenics or Freediving? Serious stuff.

Calisthenics or Freediving? Serious stuff.

Okay, that didn’t really happen, but we did have a great chat whilst readying for the boat transfer.

Ready for Launch

Ready for Launch

Reaching the dive location, the Skipper gave us the detailed info on the dive site including placement of the features, the swim-throughs, the depth contours and X-marked the exact spot with a buoy.

Two dive set-ups had the eight free divers easily catered to, either line-diving to warm up or as a reference point for “The Arch”.

Whilst we waited for Ant to finish his 20 minute warm-up static at 10m, a number of us found sand at the bottom, stared at fish, laughed at the anchor getting stuck and tested our wits on the swim-through located at around 15m depth.

One of us even spent the whole trip thinking about whether we’d find an electric BBQ on shore and whether it would actually work upon arrival, but that’s another story….

Unbelievable flavours! Thanks to Italian heritage and know-how.

Unbelievable flavours! Thanks to Italian heritage and know-how.

Treated to great visibility by Victorian standards, around 10-12m, and flat conditions (miraculous, you’d say for the Southern Ocean), we enjoyed the peace and serenity right up to the moment when our friendly scuba friends arrived. Chasing bubbles and ridiculously waving at our new friends at depth, as Freedivers tend to do as a type of game, time had unfortunately run out.

The return trip to land saw the focus singularly focused on locating a BBQ, with everyone engaged in the problem, kind of like connecting a network of computers for more processing power.

It's a feast!

It’s a feast!

Clearly, it worked, because what followed was a feast of Italian proportions delivered by BBQ. Delicacies of “Momma made it” gusto with mouth-watering flavours to match put us all in our place at the table. And all was quiet.

No ribs on the BBQ but plenty of flesh.

No ribs on the BBQ but plenty of flesh.

It’s at these moments you’re additionally thankful for Melbourne being the multi-cultural haven it is. Did I tell you the story about the Russian, the Italian, the Kiwi, the half-Hawaiian, the half-Polish and the others that went freediving one day? Yep, it was in colonial Queenscliff.

The other flesh.

The other flesh.

After all the feasting and de-neoprening on the shores of Queenscliff, it was back into the Jeep to head back to Melbourne soothed by the sweet sounds of Kiwiana and Hawaiian vibes (aka music).

The calm...after the calm.

The calm…after the calm.

This freediving life, hey, it’s not half bad, aye Bro?

Choice. Til next folks.

PR Guru Luna once again has captured the closet movie director spirit in all of us and unleashed this visual feast.

Specs:

  • Air Temp: Hot 28c
  • Water Temp: Balmy 19-20c
  • Freedive Duration: 4hrs total, 2+hrs at The Arch
  • Depth: 13 – 17m
  • Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
  • Distance Carpark to Shore: 50metres to the boat ramp
  • Drive from Melbourne: 1.5-2hrs
  • Nearby Treats? The Public Electric BBQ’s or Ginger Mai’s in Queenscliff Main Street