Nudifest at Manta Lodge, North Stradbroke

2013 Nudifest at Manta Lodge, North Stradbroke Trip Report

Our group met early on Saturday morning in the bright sunshine and headed down to Cleveland to get on our ferry. After a short trip across the water, and a few jokes along the way, we were met by Sam from Manta Lodge to drive us from Dunwich to our accommodation for the night at Point Lookout. After a quick drive round the island, we arrived just in time to watch the mid-morning boat depart. Watching them get ready, got all of us itching to get in the water, so after dropping our clothes and other dry gear in our rooms, we got suited up and got ready to go Nudi Spotting!

The weather Saturday was not all that kind, it was windy and choppy and we were in a very full boat. However, as soon as we got in the water it was all worth it. We dived around Shag Rock, with a great swim through and an awesome alley. After two great dives with so much to see, we headed back in. If we thought beach launches were fun, the exit was even more fun!

We headed back to the lodge walking along the beach, with the sun setting and campers fires burning. It was beautiful. From there we headed up to the Bowls Club for dinner, which was also very nice. After a few drinks a good feed, all guests gathered in the common room for Gary Cobb’s amazing talk on Nudibranchs. Gary really is an expert! He answered every question, and even gave some great advice on how to find and photograph our favourite colourful slugs. After some great giveaways and some amazing cake, the speech was over and we all hit the hay in anticipation of our dives early next morning.

After the wind howled all night, we were sceptical that we’d even be able to dive, but Sam and James assured us the diving would be fine. We put our faith in them and it paid off – we had amazing conditions. A bit rough on the way out, but up to 20m vis and perfect conditions underwater. We also had the boat totally to ourselves, so we could really take our time. We saw so many Wobbegongs and Bamboo sharks I lost count. We also saw a great exchange between an octopus and a damsel fish and a Mantis Shrimp.

We landed back just before 10am and after some lovely hot showers, we trekked off in search of food. It was a long trek, but in the end we found what we were looking for… except no coffee! After a stop at the shop next door, we set to packing in readiness for our trip home. After another beautiful ferry ride and a drive home, our weekend was over, even if I did fall asleep in the car. Our group had an amazing time, such an array of life, and we all learned so much about Nudibranches.

Thanks so much to Sue, Mark, Don, Witon and Karen for an amazing trip. Bring on Shark Fest!

Ashleigh Newton

Nudibranch with Shell (primitive Nudi!)

Nudibranch with Shell (primitive Nudi!)

Stout Moray Eel

Stout Moray Eel

Images copyright Ashleigh Newton