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Published: November 19th 2007
• Coastal Gorges
• Coral Bay
We have the morning to spend at Monkey Mia to see the wild dolphins that come in shore which is a truly unforgettable experience. There is also an opportunity to take an optional cruise on a catamaran, ‘Aristocat2’ 'Shotover’ to see more marine life, maybe a Dugong (the legendary Mermaid Myth), as this is the best place in the world to see these magical creatures. Sea snakes, turtles and tiger sharks may also be seen. We will have lunch at the resort, before moving on to one of the many coastal cliffs , where we admire breathtaking views of Shark Bay. See more marine life swimming down below, maybe a Sting Ray or a shark or two. Then it’s back south to Riverside Sanctuary farmstay situated close to the Murchison River . We have a chance to explore the area with a guided bush walk .
Overnight Farmstay, all facilities. (B,L,D). Sunday 17th
Set alarm for 630, but something wakes me 540, so I decide to get up to see the sun rise again. Nothing much happens til 622 when the sky suddenly glows red...
Although the appearance of a sea-turtle at the jetty creates great excitement (none of my pics worked). At 624, now you see it, sun first pokes above the horizon, by 626 it's clear of the horizon and starts to create some great colours/lights/reflections in the water. Then it's trying to decide which bits to photograph or whether to take photos of the pelicans and dolphins (including mother/5 day old calf) which have appeared around the jetty. 650 decide better have breakfast as we're clearing that away 715, on way in told my alarm has been going off and is locked in my bag... Sorry guys! Quickly snatch breakfast which actually has been cleared away (Laurie: 'yes, sorry love, I know we said 'til 715 but everyone was up earlier'), and load everything into the bus.
Head down to the beach in time for the 730 dolphin feeding session. Mother and baby are flipping back and forwards near the shore whilst a group of males are playfighting a bit further out. We are given information over the mike and several people are chosen to hand fish to the dolphins (only 5 are ever fed, and the mother is currently fed
only by rangers) - I'm one but by this time my dolphin's not hungry... So always remember, never work with children or animals! The buckets are then rinsed to signal the end of feeding time so that the dolphins will go back out to the deeper water (particularly important as this is where the mother's feed... And female dolphins spend their time either feeding their young or pregnant with the next one - what a life!). The dolphins are fed here 3 x day, and can be half-hourly from first feed or any time before 12! Half-hour later clear the second feed is in progress. Laurie is behind me and volunteers me to try and feed again but I have picked the same dolphin - apparently s/he rarely wants to eat! Never mind!
Quick trip to the bus to collect another camera battery (sunrises and dolphins are battery heavy!), and then it's onto the catamaran and out to sea. First option is to hang on the boom net at the back - this is great fun - after 5-10 minutes most get off but a couple of us choose to stay on and they crank up the speed (which
combined with less weight is more airbourne experience!) until it's clear we're tiring then we're helped up and off we head to see some sea-creatures - we see a school of dolphins, then a brown flip to the distance, which is the dugoun, or sea-cow (like a manatee, but the manatee is a freshwater creature, whereas these are sea-bottom feeders) - we don't quite manage any great shots, just various brown surface movements (the wind dries their skin, so they're not staying up much) - then it's time to head back in, where we help bring in the food before heading off for a quick shower and back for some tasty looking chicken fajitas!
Back on the bus and we're on the road again. First stop is the Stromatalites, living rock formations which we inaccessible until a boardwalk was built. Whilst waiting outside the bus we're hit by a very small thermal-wind spiral - we've seen these on the way in - tall whirling towers of sand which can knock the bus off its course - and usually means that a storm is coming! Stromatalalites are pretty interesting, but very fly-infested. One guy jokingly offered me $100 for my
fly-net, and Laurie says he thinks they are going to buy a job-lot for the buses and selł them (at cost) to passengers! Some more silly photos and it's back on the bus and back to the Australiana music we've been listening too.. Yes, Waltzing Matilda included. Not too long before we stop at the Overlander again - grab 10 minutes on the internet and try a Pollyanna chocolate bar before we're back on the bus and heading to a nearby ranch where we'll have our final dinner and a bushwalk before heading back to Perth tomorrow via sandboarding and a small princiality which is able to add a stamp to your passport! At least the Australiana has now been replaced by a bit of U2... And we're currently driving towards a mirage which looks like a lake of river stopping about a mile ahead!
So, we arrive at the Riverside Sanctuary
- looks pretty nice, and a good diversification of farm land! We have an hour or two to wander around (and for Melanie to sort out her shampoo which has exploded all over her bag!), and I go on a photo hunt - find some 'galahs' (anyone else
keep hearing Alf Stewart saying 'You great galah' - always wondered what they were) - pink-chested birds. We're then taken on an eco-walk, which was a little strange, but get a chance to feed the kangaroos and the ostrich, plus nice to see a few things (including a spider hidden behind a 'roll-door'), and to have a group photo taken before heading back for dinner - an absolutely delicious Shepherd's Pie. Conversation is lively and interesting but by 10pm I'm in bed with a book, and asleep shortly afterwards - all these early mornings are tiring!
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