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At Play with AOA: Diving Ewens Ponds

What:                   Diving Ewens Ponds

Where:                Ewens Ponds Conservation Park, South Australia

*Access is via Port MacDonnell Road,

 36km south of Mount Gambier.*

With:                    Red Warren (AKA Josh)

A series of three spring-fed limestone ponds, Ewens Ponds CP is truly a wonderful place for scuba diving.  Arguably its greatest attribute is the water itself, it is perfectly clear; it feels as though you are diving in a fish tank, rather than a natural water body.  This means the visibility is absolutely sensational, on a sunny day you can literally see from one side of the pond to the other and from the surface to the bottom, which varies from 8-11m in each pond.

The clear water not only provides for great visibility but enables plant life to grow to deeper depths, (around six meters) in fact some of these plants are not found growing fully submerged to these depths anywhere else in the world.  The plant life provides the perfect habitat for a variety of fish life including various estuarine species, native galaxids and the tiny (and very rare) Ewens pigmy perch.

After exploring the first pond (keep an eye out for a spring outlet) you’ll be able to move between the ponds via a thin, shallow (1-1.5m) channel that has a slight current to assist.  From the first to the second pond is around 50m and from the second to the third pond is about 100m, so make sure you have your snorkel with you to save some air.

You definitely need to keep an eye out for the (often very large) freshwater crayfish, they are quite a sight moving through the reeds, mud and limestone formations.  They are generally relatively easy to spot if you have a good look around.  REMEMBER – they are to look at only, all plants and animals found in the conservation park are protected, SO LOOK BUT DON’T TOUCH or TAKE ANYTHING.  Unfortunately over the years I have been diving at Ewens there has been an obvious decline in their numbers, so make sure they are there to see in the future by leaving them alone!!

The third and final pond has a little cave between the limestone and its worth sticking your head in for a look as there is often fish and crayfish hiding in there, so make sure you take a dive torch with you to be able to have a good look.  You can exit the water via the ladder and floating pontoon, which leads us to the worst part of diving; the walk back to the car park approx. 300m.

If you’ve done lots of saltwater diving you’ll appreciate not needing to wash all your kit after this dive!  So looking for a sensational freshwater dive, then this is the place!

A few things to consider:

  • The water is cold, really cold, so you’ll need a good wetsuit. I would certainly recommend at least a 6mm with gloves to ensure you get maximum time in the water.
  • The water is crystal clear, unless you disturb it, so avoid touching or stirring up the bottom, what you stir up can also have the tendency to follow you through the ponds.
  • Snorkelling is allowed however you may need to book a time slot. Swimming is only allowed in the first pond.
  • Ewen’s is a cracking night dive and it’s the best time to see all the fish and crays come alive, but dive the ponds during the day first to get your bearings.
  • We are really lucky to be able to access this area so please remember the underwater environment is incredibly delicate so look after it. It’s ours to enjoy, not destroy!
  • The usual diving rules apply so dive with a buddy and ensure you read through the DENR diving guidelines for Ewens (link below) before you enter the water.
  • Don’t forget to check out ‘A splash in Ewens’ video on our facebook page. Happy Diving!!

 

For more information re diving Ewens, go to the DENR – Parks SA website:

http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Find_a_Park/Browse_by_region/Limestone_Coast

and follow the link to the Ewens Ponds Conservation Park

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