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Halfway between Sydney and Melbourne is a little known but amazing oceanic cave dive.
We organised with Michael from Merimbula Divers Lodge to spend a long weekend exploring the dive sites in and around Eden on the Sapphire Coast, New South Wales. Eden is halfway between Melbourne and Sydney, and is equally accessible from both.
For Sydney-siders, heading south to Eden is only slightly further than heading north to South West Rocks. Both have excellent cave dives with very different waters and very different rock structures, however Eden Cave is relatively unknown in the Sydney diving community.
Unlike Fish Rock Cave, which is a vertical crack in semi-tropical waters, Eden Cave is a horizontal slit in temperate waters.
As a horizontal slit, Eden Cave requires much better buoyancy control to avoid damaging the roof, better trim to keep your tank and body level, and much better fining technique to avoid stirring up too much silt in the low but wide space. Eden Cave is at 15 meters depth, approximately 60 meters long and shaped like a funnel. The Northern entrance is an obvious overhang that gradually tapers down over a horizontal distance of 15 meters. The next 30 meters are a tunnel approximately 2 meters high. The final 15 meters are a horizontal squeeze approximately 1.2 meters high. The Southern entrance is a low slit, and is easy to miss from the other side.
I have heard talk over the years of divers taking their BCD and tank off to fit through the lowest part of the cave. We travelled the full length of Eden Cave and exited at the Southern entrance wearing twin tanks and technical rigs. Unless there has been an exceptional build up of sand in the cave that has further narrowed the Southern entrance, there should be no reason to take off your equipment. Just watch your buoyancy and trim.
Eden Cave was lined with a dense layer of soft, colourful growth. Inside the cave there were dozens of hermit crabs sitting on rocks watching the divers. Some of the biggest lobsters we had ever seen were located in cracks and under boulders. Large bugs clung to the roof.
To the left as you exit the cave is a submerged platform at 8 meters depth, dropping as a wall down to the sand at around 20 meters depth. The wall is relatively featureless and has only light growth but there are plenty of pelagic fish.
To the right as you exit the cave is the boulder pile and submerged ramp down to the sand at just over 20 meters depth. The boulder pile has plenty of sponge and soft coral growth. Eels, cuttlefish, lobsters, and octopus can all be found in and around the many cracks and hiding places.
Eden Cave was an excellent experience, and is well worth the trip.