Australia - Monkey Mia & the Pinnacles

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Kent & Berkshire
12th - 15th November

Monkey Mia & the Pinnacles

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Monkey Mia is famous for a small pod of Dolphins that come in to the shore for hand feeding up to three times per day.

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The beach at Monkey Mia, probably the most beautiful I've seen anywhere.

Although we both had a decent nights sleep we awoke to the alarm for Dolphin viewing a little groggy. Our big ride days now starting to take a higher toll on our energy reserves. We went down to the beach where a small crowd had already gathered to see and feed the Dolphins, and although we were advised yesterday evening that we should get down there for 07:30 an announcement came at around 07:50 that the Dolphins have been arriving around 08:30-09:00 the past few days and so we found ourselves a nice bench to sit on and wait. Not long after we sat down we heard and soon saw that the Dolphins were now on their way in to the beach. At this point there was a general surge towards the sea and most people stood about thigh deep waiting for a chance to see them close up. Before they actually arrived though we were given a briefing of the behaviour we are to adopt. This basically consisted of being told that the Dolphins must not be patted or stroked under any circumstances, that when they arrived we had to be only ankle deep in the water so there was no confusion over what was food ! The whole program at Monkey Mia has been very well thought out and set-up. The origin of feeding the Dolphins was a couple of fishermen throwing some Dolphins the fish they didn’t need/want-this grew & grew until the Dolphins appearance became reliable and people actually started coming to see them specifically. Initially they fed them as much as they wanted but that generated problems as their calves were not learning how to catch fish for themselves. Now only the female adult dolphins are fed. The males are not encouraged nor given food as they can get quite aggressive, the young dolphins are not fed for the reasons I’ve out-lined above. The females are only given approximately 20% of their daily food requirements so they cannot ultimately be dependent on ‘take-aways’s’.

They were soon with us and everybody was snapping away like their lived depended upon it-a lucky few were even given the opportunity to hand feed the dolphins themselves. After about 30-45 mins the whole ‘show’ is over and the shinny chrome buckets that had held the fish are washed out in the ocean to let the dolphins see there is nothing left. Within 30-45 seconds of this procedure being completed the dolphins were on their way back out to the sea.

The feeding process.

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The Dolphins swim around a bit before getting their food.

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The Dolphin 'Minders' keeping us ravening hords ankle-high in the sea !

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The magical Chrome bucket.

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We took a catamaran sail in the afternoon to see some of the sea life and got to see the very shy Dugongs.

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The Catamaran.

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The notoriously shy Dougong.

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We met up again with the American Mother & daughter team from Coral Bay again.

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They were looking for some lardies to do the work and I volunteered - I mean, how hard can it be to shout instructions to the crew ? ....oh, that's not what the Skipper meant !

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We also witnessed a woman who brought a whole new meaning to 'putting a pencil behind your ear'...in fact, through it !!

We had swim afterwards , got a beer, a Bundaberg & Johnnie Walker and went for sunset sail.(which was offered as part of the same sailing package.)

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Life on the sea.

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We’d decided against getting up for the early Dolphin feed the following morning as we were feeling that all of our mornings were becoming early ! We took the day very easy. We then learnt that a new baby dolphin had been born and had come in with ‘Mum’ for the first time on the early appearance. ….and we’d missed it !!! In the afternoon we went down to the beach and went for a swim. At one point I noticed a few Dolphins out at sea on our deserted side of the pier-the next thing was that I could see a Dolphin headed right for me. It actually got to within 2m, cocked it’s head to one side so that its eye was out of the water, saw that I didn’t have a bucket, swam over to see Sylvia, noted she too didn’t have the required bucket, and took off out to sea. What a privilege !!

Later in the day we sent a few mails, had dinner and went to bed. When we went to bed we were amazed as to how quiet the campsite was for the number of tents. At 02:30am that changed as 2 English men returned to their tent hungry after too many beers. Sylvia and I were both woken and she took the opportunity to tell them both off and go to the toilet. After she left I heard one of them say that she was using her toilet needs to blame them but I soon chirped in with ’that’s not the case’ …to which they apologised and quietened down. Unfortunately for us our sleep had been broken and it took us around an hour to get back to sleep which then only came in fits and starts.

The alarm clock went off at 06:45 to get us set to see the early morning Dolphin ’show’. We threw down a cup of coffee as we walked to the beach area and stood with the other 150-200 spectators waiting for today’s spectacle. Everybody in the know keen to get a glimpse of the new baby dolphin arrival. They were later today but came in force- I think I heard somebody mention 17. Initially the baby and Mum weren’t in the group but finally they arrived. Mum was hurriedly fed to allow her and junior to get a way from the shore-line. After that was done we were allowed back into the water ankle-deep again. After struggling to get some decent photos this morning I was asked if I’d like to hand-feed one so I went over and got to see one really close up. It really is a privilege to be able to be this close to the wild-The dolphins are so gentle taking the fish you’d believe they’d been trained like you would a dog.

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A few Dolphin antics.

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They even let me feed one !!

Over the few days we were there we found the Pelicans to be the biggest poseurs. On the second morning we were waiting(with a group) for the Dolphins, somewhere between 3 -5 Pelicans stood right in front of us all. They almost seem to be saying, 'here, have a look at me' - then they would spend some time preening. It was very funny to watch.

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The arrival of the first Pelican.......

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...followed by copious preening and waiting for some attention(or so it seemed !!)

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..and some more preening !

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Two Comorants we spotted around the beach area.

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Spotted at the end of the pier we first saw the Turtle from.

Once the show was over Sylvia and I took a too-long breakfast and packed up our gear to leave. We finally left around 12:00 to try and cover 600km’s. Initially I thought we might make it but a combination of phenomenal heat and two speed cops in an unmarked car put paid to that plan. I was caught doing 127km/hr in 110km/hr limit. $AU150(about 60 pounds) was the fine and had to be paid within 28 days. I was also breathalysed !!?!?!

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Later that day we crossed......

The heat was very hot and dry. If I left my visor open my face would burn form the heated air rushing across my face. Even with it closed there were points where I could still feel the intensity of it. It really is hard to explain, and whilst numerically it was hotter when we were in India, the heat here was far far more unbearable. Eventually we settled on staying just outside Geraldton in a nice quite campsite. We took a few beers down to the beach, had a really nice dinner and retired for the night….after I’d finished writing the account your now reading that is !!!

Next day we got up a little late but set about getting ready as usual. We met another Swiss couple at Breakfast and ended up spending a bit too much time talking to them. The net result was the owner(a man) giving Sylvia an unnecessary earful and telling her to get off their site(witnessed by two long-termers), whilst I was in the shower.(We’d already heard from others that the owners were really miserable & unhelpful). When we handed the keys in I apologised for being late(1 hour) but asked if it was necessary to speak so badly to Sylvia ? I was given a bit of a tirade about what if they had to go round kicking 8 people like us off? To which I responded that we didn’t need kicking off(which she could see). We were sorry that we were late but I pointed out that all our stuff had been packed up and a new camper could have taken our space but she wasn’t really interested in practical issues just her & her Husbands wants had been a little ruffled. We left definitely feeling they were running the campsite for themselves, not their guests. We hope they find a smile somewhere.

We arrived at Cervantes in plenty of time to see the Pinnacles, found a decent camp spot, set up tent and went off to the Pinnacles. Despite some initial scepticism I was pleasantly surprised to see them. There are thousands and they are all different shapes. Sylvia and I did our normal camera frenzy until we were 'pinaccled' out.

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The Pinnacles.

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On the way back to the campsite we picked up some beer and a DVD. We ate the remainder of our dinner from the previous evening and watched our DVD and settled down for the night.

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Indulge me !

Mike.
 
coral bay

hope you aren,t enjoying yourself to much, i stayed in coral bay a few years ago, hope it is still unspoiled, we stopped for one night and stayed for two weeks ,so peaceful, turtles etc, watch out for the dreaded roos and have a good time
 
Great pictures - I visited the Pinnacles and Monkey Mia 20 years ago so its nice to look back at this area. Looks like a super trip. One day....
 


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