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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 200: Diving at the Navy Pier

AUSTRALIA | Friday, 23 May 2008 | Views [840]

Friday 23rd May

I had slept pretty well during the night and was up at 05.30, and waited for the Ningaloo Reef Dreaming bus to pick me up at the reception. This particular dive at the Navy Pier was considered a very special one, and is advertised as being one of the top ten dive sites in the world. NRD is the only company with a licence to dive there, so it was another reason for me to get the package that I bought from them at the start of the week.


The Navy Pier dive is a bit different to the other sites around Exmouth for several reasons, a major one of which is that you don't need a boat to get there. We were also required to fill out forms with all of our details on it and provide proof of identity; all of this information was registered with the authorities who administered the pier area that still belongs to the US Navy (but which does not have a presence there at the moment).


After a short briefing, we got our gear sorted and set off for the pier. We had to present our ID to a security officer and the paperwork was given over to make sure that everyone on the dive could be accounted for. The reason why Exmouth exists is because the US Navy built a base here in the 1960s, and the town grew out of a need to service the several thousand people who lived and worked in this very remote area. The 'Harold Holt Communictions Station Towers' is a huge structure, with about nine very tall metal towers close to 400m each was constructed to enable navy personnel on land to communicate with submerged submarines around the world. It is apparently one of the tallest structures in the whole of the southern hemisphere.


We got to the pier, put on our gear and jumped into the water off one of the lower-deck platforms. The temperature was pretty good, although for some reason I was expecting it to be colder in the morning time. There was about four of us plus a dive master, and we spent about fifty minutes underwater, and the place was teeming with fish of all kinds and sizes: reef sharks lying on the seabed, wobbegong sharks camouflaged on the rocks, a frogfish, massive potato cod, octopus and a whole lot more. It was a great dive and a good one to finish on.


I had really enjoyed the diving trips with NRD, even though I couldn't say the same about their whale shark operation. However, I was still quite annoyed by their attitude to customer feedback and opinions. At the end of every trip, on all four separate occasions that I had dived with NRD, they asked those of us who had enjoyed the trip to tell everyone about them, that word of mouth was the best form of advertising. On the other hand, they asked those of us who had not enjoyed it so much to 'leave town quietly' without saying a word to anyone else. This could have been taken as a joke, but it sounded like the crew had been provided with a script from someone else. It seemed that it was company policy for them to ignore any kind of negative feedback (they didn't hand out feedback forms), and I took this to be rather arrogant, that any criticism of their operation wouldn't even be considered because it had no value to them. 


We got back to the hostel at about 10.30 and I spent the rest of the day relaxing by the pool. It was nice to have a full day to get my stuff in order, to pack my bag and take it easy before I got back on the Easy Rider bus the next moring to continue on my WA road trip. We kept an eye out for the ER bus that was due to arrive from Coral Bay at lunchtime, the same time that we I had arrived into Exmouth almost a week before. It was nowhere to be seen and nobody had spotted it at any stage during the day. Those of us who were due to leave the next day were a bit anxious that it hadn't turned up, as any delay would badly affect our own schedules further down the line. We were also a bit concerned that something might have happened to the guys on the bus. It finally arrived after dark and we got speaking to the guys that had been on it for the day; there were reports that the driver was a complete muppet who didn't know what she was doing. I didn't mind too much as long as she got me to where I wanted to be close enough to the time I wanted to be there.


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