Oh the strong SE trade winds! They have been relentless since arriving in the tropics. But, we did manage to sneak in a few days out at John Brewer Reef with a welcomed calm forecast recently.
We had a small window of three or four days, so after some planning one morning over a cuppa, our departure was set. I hadn’t been in the water with my cameras since Lady Musgrave which seemed like forever ago so I was very keen and it’s always fun travelling in company. In 2019 we had a magical time at Lodestone Reef, a short distance from John Brewer, so we were keen to join up with our friends on Waterfront, Getaway and Skedaddle and check out John Brewer.
So who’s John Brewer?? John Brewer Reef is named after the “John Brewer”, a troop ship sailing from Sydney to India that ran aground on this reef in 1842. It is 33 nautical miles offshore, approx’ a 5-hour sail from Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island for us.
As always, our ETA at John Brewer was planned for the middle of the day. The time of best visibility. As it turned out, we did need all eyes on deck. It was like a minefield with bommies everywhere and with a bit of choppy water it was tricky viewing. We were fortunate enough to pick up one of the two moorings but even so, there were several bommies to dodge on the way in. Our track was saved for next time!
John Brewer Reef is also becoming quite well known because of its Museum Of Underwater Art (MOUA) installation. This underwater structure was created by artist Jason deCaires Taylor and completed in 2020. It’s a ‘Coral Greenhouse’ built out of stainless steel and it’s 18 metres deep. Unfortunately, not for me! Way too deep so just for the divers. It has been designed for the underwater environment with a stainless steel skeletal structure ‘greenhouse’, along with full size sculptures of children working within the ‘greenhouse’ and a treed garden outside. Hopefully visits to the MOUA will encourage more understanding and research of the ecology of our reef in years to come and it will be our children who will be the caretakers of this wonderful but fragile Great Barrier Reef. Here’s a link if you are interested … www.moua.com.au
Back to the snorkeling …
This reef out here was fantastic! It was in such good condition with healthy vibrant coral and so many fish. At times you felt like you were in an aquarium. There were numerous bommies near our boat and several stunning ones near the MOUA. We didn’t have super calm water but once under it did not matter. We had very neap tides so you could virtually snorkel at any time of the day. We will hopefully get back to John Brewer Reef.
There were so many Feather Stars and of all colours. Feather Stars have fringed arms and are really quite like a walking plant. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen them walking but apparently they are quite a sight. My reading tells me they simply don’t move around much. They attach themselves amongst coral with their fronds firmly curled up or freely billowing. Either way I find them quite beautiful, especially the red ones.
Here’s a slideshow showing a variety of Feather Stars, colour and location …
And a slideshow of the various corals I captured …
And some critters …
It’s always fun visiting the outer reef in company. We all snorkel in different places but when we get together (for that drink at the end of the day) we exchange our day’s discoveries. Our two moorings (ours with Getaway) was some distance from Waterfront and Skedaddle who were anchored near the MOUA, so catching up on their adventures meant we scooted up there next. The reef near the art installation was amazing! At times it did really feel like we were in an aquarium. I’m not sure my photos captured this but the memory will live on.
Oh … and would you believe we got perfect TV reception out at John Brewer?! Yes, I’d chosen a reef visit over watching my beloved Demons playing in final. Who would have thought I’d get the game on TV way out there!! And they won. It really was a great few days.