Thursday, August 14, 2008

DAY 292: Day off Coral Bay

DAY 292: Day off Coral Bay
Mon 11th August 2008
Sunny, 26 deg C
Elevation of /destination 5m
Distance to date 17956 km (11222 miles)

Nice to sleep in a real bed for a change, and I was surprised how much warmer it is here at night compared to the last few weeks. There’s a fan in the room, which I employed to mask the hubbub emanating from the bar - it wasn’t excessive but I tend to tune into these distractions almost against my will. I think it may be the grumpy old man syndrome that increasingly afflicts me!
I only had to get around to the ticket office by 0915 for the whale-watching tour so as it was only 100m away I could afford to take my time.
There were around a dozen people on the tour, which included snorkelling on the reef, and we initially headed out to the deeper waters just beyond the reef where the whales have been seen lately. Within the hour we had spotted a pod of 3 Humpbacks a few hundred metres away, and we shut off engines and kind of drifted towards them. They were 2 females and a calf - one was the mother and one (we were told) was either a relative such as an aunt, or a female without a calf for some reason. They stick together for security and companionship. It’s the first time I’ve seen a whale up close, and they are an amazing site - the adults 7 or 8m long and 30 tonnes or so in weight. They obigliged by doing all the whale-type things like breaching, wagging huge tails, and blowing off (exhaling!). A great thing to see. At one point one of the females cut across the calf as it started heading towards the boat, possibly curious of us and the boat. These Humpbacks are still moving north, and as summer comes on they’ll head back to the Antarctic to feed (the females don't feed at all for months as they travel north).
We also saw a couple of Dugongs - big seal-like creatures that apparently gave rise to the mermaid myth. (Very drunken) sailors were it seems attracted to the wavy tail; you get the gyst. We later moved to a ‘turtle sanctuary’ - a protected area for 3 different species - and many of them obliged us with an appearance on cue. It was quite a good value trip, there was plenty of snacky food around too to add to my pleasure.
I didn’t go snorkelling in the end, the water was quite cold, and I was content to laze about on the deck, in the sun, with most of the others. Good tour though, good value.
On getting back I went to upload, but the internet connection was very slow and I could only manage to send the text component, not a chance with the images. I was somewhat annoyed that the place charges $8/hr for what is tantamount to dial-up speed, but there were plenty of punters using the service nevertheless. Money for jam; big money for very poor service!
I strolled down to the beach to watch the spectacular sunset, and it was very beautiful, but might have been better shared with someone as usual. It is hard travelling alone at times, yet at other times it is certainly a distinct advantage. One can’t have it all ways! I had supper at the backpackers again, and a couple of beers, and got chatting to a few young folk from the UK. Tomorrow I head off again, and although Coral Bay is OK, there’s really nothing to do here apart from spend money on tours and in shops - maybe morewill come as this very young town matures.

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