Like many Australians, I was constantly around water since I was a little baby. For years I swam, I surfed the fast waves fearlessly, I volunteered at the local life saving team. Once, I even managed to gather the courage to jump off a coastal cliff. But to be to be honest, I entered my thirties first before I entered the mystical and breathtaking underwater world. God bless my beautiful wife who signed me up for a diving course as a birthday gift. And once I took that first plunge, I never looked back.
But before I could go diving on my own, I had to get a permission by one of the many organizations that offer scuba certificates. The most widely recognized one in Australia is called PADI Open Water Certificate and it is issued by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. Make no mistake, this course is easier than it sounds. The PADI website offers online teaching material which you can go over and learn at your own pace. The next part of the course is going to your local dive centre to take a written exam on which you need to achieve at least 75% to pass it. Initially, you’ll have to take a couple of diving lessons just so you can gain more confidence when swimming underwater.
If you’re instantly hooked, like I was, it’s reccomendable to get your own gear as borrowing constantly could leave you bankrupt. Like I said, we live around water, so it’s no wonder there is an incredibly wide choice of diving gear in Australia. To make things easier, shop online so you don’t have to waste time aimlessly walking around stores. To help you out on your journey I’ve assembled a small list of everything you need to know when looking for basic diving gear in Australia.
- A scuba diver is like an underwater astronaut. Once you dive in, you’re left without the precious life-sustaining air, so the first important piece of gear is the regulator. It draws the high pressure air from the scuba tank and de-pressurizes it to the normal degree your lungs can support. Moreover, it has a mechanism that supplies you with air only when you inhale, which is important for the sake of sparing the air in the tank.
- Next up on your diving list is the mask. This is your window to the underwater world, therefore pick one that is clear or light-coloured so that you can see clearly underwater. Besides protecting your eyes, the mask’s nose pocket helps in equalizing the air as you dive deeper.
- Remember – the deeper you dive, the colder it gets. So to protect yourself from freezing over, do not skip on the wetsuit. A foam neoprene rubber material will provide a lot of thermal insulation and at the same time will protect you from hurting yourself from the rocks down there. The wetsuit should be snug around your body so that there are no gaps which will allow water to enter and render the suit useless in preventing heat loss.
- The fins will allow you to move freely underwater just like a fish. There are two types of fins, and what you choose depends on the diving location and water temperature. Full foot fins are ideal for warm waters with a flat and soft bottom. They are extremely light so you won’t feel as if they’re weighing you down. The other type is adjustable heel fins which will provide thermal isolation in colder waters and protect your feet from any rocky terrain.
- Last but not least is the buoyancy control device or BCD. This is the most complex part of the scuba gear which ties all other life-support parts together. It’s basically a vest that’s made of an inflater and deflater which are designed to help you carry your tank and float in the water with minimal effort. All other parts depend on this device, so don’t spare any money on it.
These are just the basics to get you started with scuba diving. To be honest, I really envy you – nothing is as awe-striking as descending into the unknown sea waters for the first time. The underwater world of Australia is truly a Garden of Eden and it’s a really enlightening experience when you get to see it with your own eyes.