10th November 2016 – Max Temp: 25°C
Today we went travelled 120 miles north of Sydney to the picturesque coastal suburb of Nelson Bay in Port Stephens. Nelson bay is most popular for its dolphin and whale watching and other aquatic activities.
We are currently staying at Nelson Bay Bed & Breakfast which backs onto a national park. We are staying in the room called Yaracubba which has its own private hot tub! (Which eases the pain of leaving Sydney a little bit). Our host Trish is lovely and is quite motherly towards making sure we’re ok and we’ve always had enough to eat.
This afternoon we took a walk in to Nelson Bay to look for bottlenose Dolphins. After about 20 minutes waiting we spotted one coming up for air and he stayed around for quite a bit which was nice to see. Hopefully we will be seeing a lot more tomorrow!
This evening we are watching some Christmas movies and having an early night because we are both so tired and we have to get up at 4am! But I did just find out that we have the Disney Channel and the Disney movie Channel so I might be up a bit longer!
11th December 2016 – Max Temp: 25°C
This morning we had to get up at a shocking 4am to be at Dolphin Swim Australia by 5am for wet suit fittings. We were surprised how noisy the wildlife was this early in the morning. As soon as we stepped out the door, we heard loud bird calls which sounded just like monkeys!
Dolphin Swim Australia is the first of its kind, to swim with wild short-beaked common dolphins. They pride themselves on respecting the dolphins and their environment. They don’t chase the dolphins or feed them to lure them in. They wait for dolphins to chose to interact with the boat.We departed the bay at about 5.40am and headed to the open ocean. Unfortunately I got very sea sick, very quickly, because the sea was so rough. So Petes going to take over the Dolphin blog now as he was able to do a lot more!
As we headed out to sea, we were split into 4 groups and given safety harnesses and snorkels. My name was literally read out last so I knew I had a while till I was getting in the water. The first job was to actually find the dolphin pods. Before the trip, I was quite nervous about not being able to find any dolphins at all, as I knew this would be my only chance to do something like this. I was soon at ease when I heard they crew had found a pod. They do this by looking out for birds circling above the water or splashes from the dolphins.
Sure enough, we were suddenly treated by a pod of dolphins. It was awesome. The most I saw at once was around 20-30. What was truly amazing was how the dolphins loved interacting with us as swimming right up to the boat. We were told the more excited we were and the more noise we made, the more the dolphins would interact. Everyone was screaming, whistling, clapping – you name it. It made a great atmosphere, and as you can imagine, I was itching to get into it the water!
As I said, I was in the last group, so I had to watch three groups go in before me. I was just hoping the dolphins would stick around! The reason why only 5 people were allowed in at once was because of the width of the boat. Basically, you get lowered underneath the catamaran and clip your harness to a rope that hangs across the bow. So, just 5 swimmers + the instructor can fit along this rope. When everyone is clipped on, the swimmers get lowered into the water off of the net and the boat starts to move, which is called bow-surfing.
It was finally my turn, and I was not disappointed! As soon as I got in, I felt the presence of these beautiful dolphins around me. As the boat moves, it felt like I was swimming along side them, as if I was part of the pod. I could see quite a few dolphins near me – the most I saw at once was 5. Near the end of my swim I reached out my arm to try and touch one, but couldn’t quite reach. It truly was a unique and unforgettable experience!
This evening we just wanted to relax so we made use of our private spa bath, preparing ourselves for the seven hour road trip tomorrow. Nelson Bay is lovely and we could have quite easily stayed a couple more days to explore the sand dunes. Onwards and upwards!