Coral Bay - Whales and Sharks but no Whalesharks, grrr ...
12 Jun 2006
|(NB: Our Coral Bay hotos are the old-fashioned kind on paper and we haven't had time to scan them yet - we'll add them at a later date)
K: I have always wanted to see a whaleshark and so, even though it was heinously expensive, I signed up for a cruise that tries and finds them. Ben didn't bother as he wasn't that interested but I was so excited - but of course there are no guarantees.
The day was mostly spent playing the wet suit hokey cokey - in that we've sighted one get suited up! Oh its dived! It was such a frustating day - whalesharks don't have to come up to the surface as they have gills and although we tracked 3 down and even managed to get in the water near one they never stayed round long enough to actually see them properly.
I did actually get to see a glimpse of one diving. I could see the distinctive white spots and stripes pattern but I couldn't see how big it was, apparently it was only a 3 or 4 metre juvenille and they tend to be quite skittish - hence the diving for cover from the tourists.
Over two days, as I got a free second chance since they didn't really show, I saw humpback whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles and sucker fish and so it wasn't a complete loss but I was still pretty gutted not to see what I really wanted to see.
I experienced two things though that I thought was strange. Firstly, how quickly we (or I, I should say) get blase about certain experiences. I remember being so excited back in New Zealand when we went whale watching, it was something I had always wanted to do and yet there I was, sitting on a boat watching whales, three of them, wishing they would do something more exciting than just swim about - I was already bored of watching these majestic animals in the wild. How sad.
What I also found interesting was, if you had asked me before, how I would feel to be out in open water with sharks (grey, blue and white tip reef sharks), I would have thought I would be kacking it. Especially since one of the girls on the tour had the book Shark Attack and proceeded to explain why we look like seals in wet suits and how else not to get eaten! But instead of being scared, I'm quite calm to see sharks swim below me (although I did a quick check to see that there were none currently behind me) and I decided to snorkle off after them for an attempt to get a decent photo. I hadn't gone too far before I realised this was a bit silly, plus they can travel a lot faster than me but I was really pleased that I didn't freak out and get out of the water.
B: The thought of spending 300 dollars to see some more fish didn't really appeal. I bought some bait and decided to head off fishing. I had been told that there was a short unmade track behind the campsite which led down to the beach. So off I went in the campervan. Unknown to me, the track changed from compacted sand (easy to drive on) on one side of the hill to loose sand on the other (not a good idea in a campervan). Needless to say, the campervan got stuck in the sand. I tried to back up but realised I was just digging myself in deeper.
I walked back to the campsite and sheepishly explained my predicament. I was expecting to have to get the AA out or something and they would present me with a whale-shark-watching size bill. Fortunately, the nice local maintenance man had a big 4x4 and pulled me out for free. He said there was another path to the fishing beach over some other sand dunes which was easier than this one but I decided not to let lightning strike twice and drove back to the road.
I went down to the swimming beach and walked around the headland whereupon I found another fishing beach. I headed back and returned with my rod. I caught 4 reef fish including a large parrot fish but let the all go. I felt happy that the whole day hadn't been wasted.
On leaving Coral Bay and driving south, we passed the 26th parallel which divides north and south australia. We noticed that, once past this line, everyone stopped waving to you and were right miserable bastards.