Whale Watching and Other Wonders

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Oceania » Australia » Queensland » Noosa
July 13th 2014
Published: July 25th 2014
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Coolum Beach, Sunshine Coast, QldCoolum Beach, Sunshine Coast, QldCoolum Beach, Sunshine Coast, Qld

The sand on this beach was so firm the Surf Lifesaver Club could use beach buggies on it. You can see point Arkwright at the end of the beach.
Yesterday was a rest day, come fix-it day, come blog day. We slept in and then got on with our things while waiting for the call to say if the whale watching was on. It finally came and we breathed sighs of relief.

Today, the alarm went off at 5.30am on a very chilly morning. (Whose silly idea was this cruise, again?). We had a quick breakfast and got ready to leave – only to discover a thick layer of frost all over the ute windscreen. We spent the next ten minutes pouring cold water over it and using the windscreen wipers to get rid of it. Despite the delay in departure we managed to arrive half an hour early and found a good parking spot.

We walked down to the Tewantin Marina and were met by Natalia, who said we were the first and invited us aboard. The others slowly arrived over the next fifteen minutes. We then had a rather long wait while the Captain, Alex, and some friends tried to work out what to do about the fuel cap that he had dropped into the sea while he was filling the tank from a can.
Aboard the Audrey Lorna, Whale Watching BoatAboard the Audrey Lorna, Whale Watching BoatAboard the Audrey Lorna, Whale Watching Boat

It was bitterly cold still so we were rugged up.

We weren’t bored waiting, though, as there was plenty of wildlife activity on the Marina. We spent a long time looking at a predatory bird, maybe a Kestrel – it was hard to see with the sun behind him, trying to scare a large group of Cockatoos that were sitting in a tree next to the Marina building. He kept flying off and then swooping back in on them from a height, really fast. The Cockatoos would screech loudly and get all flustered but they didn’t leave the tree, which is probably what he was trying to achieve so he could pick one off. Mind you, they were nearly as big as him, so maybe he was just being a pest and having some fun.

Alex eventually rigged up something and we were given the safety speech and told where to find the life jackets. Then we were off. It was quite cold still but you couldn’t really see anything from inside the cabin as the prow blocked the view and the front window was high up. The boat was really designed for deep sea fishing. It had an upper deck but I didn’t feel safe climbing the ladder
Humpback Whales in Laguna BayHumpback Whales in Laguna BayHumpback Whales in Laguna Bay

We saw two whales and followed them but they would not come closer than the legal 100 metres the boat can approach them. They spent most of the time submerged.
and it would only have been even colder up there so I stayed on the back deck once we were clear of the sand bar (we had to stay inside while we crossed it as it got rougher). It was slightly sheltered back there, depending on our travel direction.

The sea was quite calm and we had some good views of the beaches and cliffs. There was a little exposed sand bar with lots of Pelicans clustered on it and several rowing boats passing them as they raced along following the cliff line. Some were two person and some four person boats. They were really fast! We also passed a fisherman standing on some rocks at the base of the cliff. I don’t know how he got there because it looked quite steep and the sea was right up to the rocks. It’s no wonder rock fishing is such a dangerous sport, as even on apparently calm days there can be freak waves and he would have nowhere to go.

We kept motoring on and after an hour and a half of our three hour cruise, we had still not seen any sea creatures at all. I started
A Tail Slap by the Male Humpback WhaleA Tail Slap by the Male Humpback WhaleA Tail Slap by the Male Humpback Whale

Evidently this is either a warning or a mating display. It seemed to be a warning - leave us alone.
to think we weren’t going to. Finally, about twenty minutes later, Natalia spotted a back. We headed that way and saw two whales rising up and down on the surface in the distance. We stopped as required about 100 metres away from the whales who immediately showed us their flukes and dived below the surface. They were gone for about ten minutes and then someone spotted them further away. We followed again and got to about 200 metres away. One of the whales gave a big tail slap, which we were told was either mating behaviour or, more likely in this situation, a warning. They kept motoring along, just showing part of their backs when they breathed, and then the flukes went up again and they were gone.

Alex had felt some vibration when under way so while we were stationary, he put a pair of goggles on and put his head under the water to look at the propeller. He suspected that he had a bent prop from having hit a rock a few days before. He found it was bent and will need repairing.

We then motored on along the path the whales had been following to try and get ahead of them when they surfaced again. Unfortunately, when they did resurface they’d changed directions and they were even further away. They definitely weren’t in a sociable mood!

We’d been told when dolphin watching at Sorrento that they liked people singing and would come to investigate so I tried singing to them, with no result. They went below the surface again but this time we couldn’t follow because Alex was worried about the difficulty of getting his large boat over the sand bar at the head of the river as the tide was dropping. He speeded up to full power, which created a spectacular wake at the back of the boat between the two engines. He was racing the tide but he didn’t make it.

As we approached the sand bar he slowed right down to find the deepest spot and watched each wave to see which were big enough for him to ride on. As the bigger waves came, he gunned the engine a bit to get a spurt on and then reduced it again as the wave passed. We finally cleared the main sand bar but there were lots of others all
The Skate Park, Peregian Beach, QldThe Skate Park, Peregian Beach, QldThe Skate Park, Peregian Beach, Qld

We went to look at the beach and were fascinated by this boy on his skateboard. His friends had created a wall of stacked skateboards which he jumped over, getting progressively higher each time he cleared it. It finished by being taller than he was. He cleared it but was not happy with the landing and kept trying. We finally walked away and then heard a roar so he must have done it.
through the river and the channels were not very deep or easy to spot.

We heard a scraping sound and knew that the propellers had hit sand. Natalia came down and asked anyone who was able to climb to the front of the boat to follow her and sit on the nose. Five people did so and the tail lifted enough for us to clear the bar. They stayed up front while Alex slowly proceeded to his berth in the Marina.

By the time we’d disembarked we were really thirsty and hungry as we’d been told that we would have light refreshments on board but there was only water bottles and small packets of crisps (chips) you had to pay for and a small packet of 2 biscuits for free. Not really what I call refreshments, light or otherwise.

We walked around the boardwalk and found a coffee house, Cafe Vin Cino, with tables looking out across the berthed boats and the river. We enjoyed a coffee and cake each, Ugly Cake and ice cream for me and caramel cheesecake for Barry. Across the other side of the marina we noticed a white heron sitting on the roof. He looked lovely with his white feathers gleaming in the sun.

As it was still early, we drove further down the coast to Peregian Beach, where we had some hot pies for lunch, chunky beef for Barry and chicken and asparagus tart with white cheese sauce for me. We also bought a fresh cheese and chive loaf for future lunches that smelled wonderful.

We walked down to the beach to eat our pies and watched a Surfing Competition that happened to be running there. One person from each team ran into the water and paddled their boards out to the surf. They tried to catch waves, which weren’t very big, and ride them into the beach. They were scored according to how long they stayed on the board and what extra manoeuvres they performed while on the run. After each person had had several rides they ran back to the flags on the beach and tagged someone else from their team who then took over. The round went for 20 minutes. There were a few reasonable rides but nothing really impressive so it was time to move on.

As we walked through the park leading back to the car park we passed a skateboard park where a group of kids were doing tricks. We noticed that two of them were holding a wall made of skateboards at the top of the bowl. Other skateboarders came down the far side of the bowl and up towards the wall they were holding, then jumped right over it and landed on their boards afterwards. They were very good. Each time everyone had cleared that height they added another board to the wall.

Slowly, the number who were clearing the wall reduced to only two, and finally just one lad was left. The wall kept growing until it was taller than he was and they were having trouble holding it straight. He still cleared it but wasn’t landing as he wanted to so he just kept trying again and again. He was determined to do it. We watched for quite a while but then started to walk back to the ute. We were halfway there when we heard a big cheer so it would seem he finally did manage it. I must say I found that much more exciting than the Surf Competition on the beach!

Further along, at Coolum Beach, we found a public library with free Wifi so Barry went in to do some updates on his tablet. They closed at 3pm, soon after we arrived, so he sat outside and did them while I watched the antics of some Corellas in the garden at the front. When he’d finished Barry got some of our seed out to give the birds but they weren’t interested. Too well fed!

Our last port of call before heading back to the van was Perry Point Lookout. We still didn’t see any whales but the view was nice and we saw some more rock fishermen below us. I truly think they are nuts. There must be better and easier ways to catch fish.

Overall, it had been disappointing with regard to the whale watching but at least we had seen some briefly, and we’d enjoyed the rest of the day.


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