Beneath the Jetty

Freediving Busselton

Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, under. The water is colder than I thought it would be. Nothing cools water like the shade of a jetty. Did I remember to turn the flash on? Feet touch the sand, something sharp: a shell. Check for that telltale blue ring but the ocean floor remains sand.

Seven metres below, the filtered light dyes the water, that dark familiar deep-ocean blue dominates, even yellow sand begins to assume the hue. The instinctive need for oxygen begins to surface but I push it back down: mind on other things. Worrying uses up the air.

It was three days into my trip to Busselton that I got to dive on Busselton Jetty, the longest wooden jetty in the southern hemisphere. By dive I don’t mean scuba, ironically schoolwork never left much time to learn that: by dive I mean holding my breath and swimming to the bottom. Trust me, it works.

The jetty was quiet, apart from when the occasional half-full jetty-train rumbled past, and the day was clear and but wind-chilled.

About 1.5km along the jetty is “Allie’s Landing”, a landing a couple of metres above the water which is where I decided to jump in. As soon as I looked under the water, I was struck by the variety of fish and the incredible visibility. I’d been told by the local dive shop you could see at least 5m on a good day but I could easily see at least 10, even in the shadow of the jetty.

I swam right under the jetty and dived to the bottom, looked up and noticed the light, filtering down through the water. As I clicked the shutter I felt a swirl in the water around my head and a metre-long fish glided past. My flash was on so I refrained from taking a picture for risk of scaring it. Instead I watched it circle me for a few minutes, before I had to come up for air, and as I dived back down I saw it far in the distance, vanishing into the blue.

Before too long the waves began to pick up and my parents couldn’t see me below the surface, so I had to hang up my snorkel. But I had the pictures I came for.

This was my winning piece for The West Australian Young Travel Writers Competition 2014, it can also be accessed here.