Merimbula & Eden - Easter Weekend by Tom Dragon
We headed down to Eden over Easter 2009 from Melbourne, Victoria. Eden is approximately a 7 hour drive from Melbourne and an hour drive from Sydney.
The town is famous for its whales and its scenery. Enroute there are numerous small pretty little towns, with many B&B's to stay in, however, most people opt for a long drive. However, the Police are always out in force, looking to catch speeding drivers, so....
So anyhow, Eden, thereís a campsite, lots of B&B's, a motel or two and two pubs. However everyone eats at the Fishermenís club. Its membership only, but gives out weekend memberships for nothing, and has the best food in town.
Anyhow, apart from that, Eden has a nice beach (at the bottom of the Hill), a whale museum, and thatís about it... But itís renowned for its fishing, and its diving, well the two tugs anyhow...
The two tugs were purposely sunk in the mid eighties and sit in 33m and 26m... Both are great little dives, covered in reef, and providing limited penetration.
Apart from that, the other dive sites in Eden are noted as the cave (which is more a swim through) and the chip mill, which is nothing more then a jumped up pier dive with Weedy sea dragons.
All dive sites are nice however, and the tugs are one of those dives you have to dive once at least.
Anyhow, the only dive shop in the area is based out of Merimbula, the closest big town, which is half an hourís drive from Eden. Merimbula being famous for its oyster farms...
Anyhow, Merimbula divers lodge, a combined dive centre and backpackers, provide all the diving in the area. They also provide all hire gear, and can provide nitrox fills on request. However, air fills are not cheap, at $10 a fill, and as experienced on the dives, can be unpredictable, with some divers only getting 160 bar.
Anyhow, out of Merimbula, and by special request only, Merimbula sometimes hires a part time fishing boat, to take people to dive the Empire Gladstone and a bommy up the coast. The Empire sits in 10m, is smashed up, but is spread over a large area, very subject to surge, but contains some lovely swim throughs, and 3 intact boilers. The wreck now looks like a reef however, so... As for the bommy, ironically itís probably the best dive site in the area. Where the boat drops you, is only in 12m, and for the first 30m is nothing more then a pile of rocks... as soon as you get past this, and extend your diving a little bit more then the holiday divers, then you are much rewarded. The site suddenly opens up to 20m+ and the marine life really explodes, so much so that we bumped into a Bronze whaler who came past to check us out.. Note, on surfacing, you have to swim back to the boat, as the boat is, for whatever reason, static.. The boat is not setup for divers,
so do not expect luxury getting back on the boat and getting back to shore however...
As for diving out of Eden, well, the dive centre operates a shuttle service with their new boat. Their old boat unfortunately sunk last year, so they now have in use a temporary boat, which it has to be said, is temporary, as itís not that good a dive boat. However, it only takes 10 mins to get to the dive sites, in comparison to 45 mins out of Merimbula.
The boat leaves from the main jetty, which is well versed with cafes parking and changing facilities. The average turn around time of a dive is 2 hours, and so the boat generally has 4 trips a day. Upon prior request, the dive shop can arrange for your cylinders to be taken back to Merimbula, filled and then brought back to you, but this is by special request only. Again, expect to see Port Jacksons, the occasional wobbyong, and heaps of fish.
Oh other things to note, Eden has an annual whale watching festival first week of November, everyone is incredibly friendly, and there is an amazing coastal walk, of approx 10km, which can be undertaken by anyone of a reasonable level of fitness.
Links to Eden etc: