Yesterday was a superb day. We checked out early in the morning, after a sturdy “brekky” of baked beans for all males in the household and the usual toast & marmalade for me.
At nine we met our fellow whale spotters in front of the diving club that organized the trip. A no-nonsense captain told us what to expect and how to behave, we left all valuables behind and put our cameras into a waterproof case, put wet and sloppy wetsuit shoes on (except Falco, he had to go bare foot since they didn’t have anything in his size and complemented the outfits with bright yellow southwester coats. On the kids they were more like dresses than coats; Falco had to be carefull not to trip over the hem and we had to roll up all their sleeves till almost the shoulders. They already had the cameras locked away, so I can’t share the vision with you 😉
They transported us to the beach, where we had to waddle through the waves and the incoming surfers to hoist ourselves into a big rubber boat. 12 Of us, back to back on small benches in the middle with no room between your knees and the board, the skipper and his mate – and the boat was full. They had told us this was more safari-style, but we hadn’t realized how much more FUN that would be. After an introduction speech about whales and how they were brought near to extinction but are recovering – if climate change doesn’t destroy the plankton they eat in the near future – we raced full speed to Julian’s Rock; a distinctive hump in the middle of the Bay.
There are no guarantees, but we spotted two big whales and went closer. I had carefully changed my batteries for brand new ones the day before, to make sure I wouldn’t run out on the trip… and discovered that those didn’t seem to contain any juice. So there’s one photo of a waving flipper, and that’s all. But in my head I have the magnificent images of a humpback whale jumping completely out of the water!
Later we say plenty of dolphins passing by and we even saw a sea-turtle swimming to the EAC (East Australian Current); the golf stream phenomena everybody who saw ‘Finding Nemo’ will recognize. A wonderful experience and a much nicer cruise than the one on the big luxurious boat we had done previously.
We crowned our stay in Byron Bay with a truly excellent lunch in a place called ‘The Balcony’. Sitting outside on the balcony, looking out over the sunny main streets, eating well prepared fresh food, drinking great espresso and enjoying a marvellous lemon tart; who could ask for more.
But we still want to see more of Australia, so we moved on to Queensland. Though it is very understandable why Byron Bay is such a favourite holiday destination; We would have gladly stayed a few weeks longer.
On our way up we had to drive past Coolangatta Airport to pick up to more of our bags. And one of them was the bag with Tims camera, the chargers, my lenses and my toilet bag. Contrary to my expectations it was all still there and the only thing broken was the little box that held Tims tarot cards. So we now have four of the five bags, though one of those four is in Sydney with my cousin.
We ended the day in Barragata Waters, a few kilometres north of Surfers Paradise. So far we’ve not been impressed by the goldcoast; lots and lots of high buildings and very touristy. But the camp we are now in is very nice; heated pools, jumping pillow, midget golf and a wifi network. Today we are lazing out again, whilst Tim finishes the last Harry Potter book. Tomorrow we will probably do one of the major theme parks in the neighbourhood and than we have to think about our way back. Maybe we still will go to Harvey Bay and Frasier Island, but at the moment the North of NSW seems much more appealing than the south of Queensland.