Finding Pandora in Jervis Bay

You’ll find only a few measly paragraphs written on Jervis Bay in the Lonely Planet. It’s a two-and-a-half hour drive south of Sydney and mainly known for Hyams Beach (sometimes said to have the whitest sand in the world). You can snorkel or dive with penguins, turtles, stingrays or go on a dolphin/whale watching tour. But, there’s more to Jervis Bay than white sand and cruises.

While the marine life is awesome, the nightlife is… well, lacking. There is only one proper place to go get a drink – the Husky Pub. As soon as we arrived, we decided to test out the local drinking hole and have a bevvie or too. Right on the dot of 9pm, we were assaulted with bright flashing disco lights and the booming sounds of Katy Perry. Local surfies (who looked about 17) tried to infiltrate with fake IDs.

So we decided to hit the local bottle shop, only to discover that it was shut. Luckily, one of us had a brain and had already stocked up on booze from Dan Murphy’s. If you haven’t already discovered the priceless gem that is Dan Murphy’s, then get yourself there pronto. It has every kind of alcoholic beverage under the sun. My favourite? Clean skins wine. It’s tasty and costs a meager $6. Woohoo.

Our house was two streets back from the beach. It was one of those homes-on-stilts places you usually find in northern Queensland. Out the back was a massive patio and we sat there drinking, listening to the waves softly crash against the sand. A few bottles of wine later and a group of us walked down to the beach.

Collingwood Beach is long and peaceful, especially when you look up and see a sky full of stars shining down on you. The water was as smooth as glass and the place was deserted.

“Let’s go swimming,” my friend said.

“Hmmm. Well, the water is pretty flat,” I said. “And we’re in a bay so there won’t be rips or anything, right?”

“Right.”

“I don’t think there are sharks here either,” I said.

“Well, surely not big, toothy ones anyway…”

Looking back, this was obviously drunk logic, but with a stomach full of Dutch courage, my two girlfriends and I plunged into the black warm water as the others “stood guard” on the beach (ie were too chicken).

Imagine my surprise when my friend began to resemble a glow stick. I looked down and even in the darkness I could see my feet at the bottom of the ocean, my toes were glowing green under the water. I lifted my hand and silver specks like sparkling diamonds dripped off my fingers.

“Look at me,” my friend said as she began doing over-exaggerated breaststroke movements, her body and the water around her lighting up a bright green.

“It’s like I’m in Avatar.”

What it actually reminded me of was that scene in Blue Lagoon where Brooke Shields goes swimming in the phosphorescence.

“You know what we need to do to truly experience this?” I said.

“What?” my friends asked.

“We have to do it naked.”

The girls didn’t need much convincing.

Within minutes the bikinis were off and we began to frolic and splash about, creating a bright wash of fluoro green around us. The group could not only hear our giggles from 10 metres away, they could see us glowing in the darkness.

I’m not sure if this happens all year or whether it comes from plankton or algae, but whatever the heck it was, it was one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever encountered.

Published in TNT Downunder Magazine online and in print on June 13, 2011

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