19. Walk on the Wild Side

So I left you last time on a coach at 4:23am. That was very rude and irresponsible of me. Won’t happen again.

Hopefully I mean that last sentence literally because I did not sleep well on that coach. It did mean I got some nicely blurred photos leading up to sunrise;

But at the same time it was a bloody faff. Katie and I eventually ended up taking 2 seats each in the back of the coach to try and get some form of sleep. Just like last time, Katie managed and I did not. I suspect it has something to do with me being 6’4″ and the legroom being not that.

On the plus side, our Integrity coach this time seemed to be full of normal people (it was dark so don’t quote me on that) and was comfy and quiet. All you can ask for in an  overnight bus journeys really.

We eventually arrived at our ‘stop’; the Overlander Roadhouse. What is the Overlander Roadhouse I hear you ask? It is a petrol station on a bit of road that’s only feature is the fact that the road itself is perfectly straight for over 100km. It is in the centre of the heart of the middle of nowhere.

Luckily, we had arranged a lift to our actual destination Monkey Mia, about 2 hours drive away (yeh Australia is big. So big that the bus stop for Monkey Mia is a 2 hour drive from it. Not cool).

And so after 2 hours of silence with a driver who made Michael Owen look like Peter Kay, we arrived!

Monkey Mia is a dolphin sanctuary on the west coast of Australia where the dolphins supposedly come every morning to play at the shore. Well, we would be the judge of that.

Unfortunately we’d arrived too late on our first day due to the fact that the place is miles away from a petrol station which is miles away from a town which is miles away from anywhere, so instead we went to the beach and relaxed after a long hard nights sitting on a coach. (This was meant to be sarcastic but honestly, they were bloody tough).

The next morning we got up at 7am to see the dolphins. There’s not much that can make Katie get up at 7am but dolphins are pretty high on the very short list.

So fact number 1 – the dolphins at Monkey Mia are wild! I mean they’re a right good laugh and party animals, always up for a night out. Just kidding. They’re more pub dolphins if anything.

Sorry. So for a very brief history lesson: Monkey Mia used to be a fishing site back in the good old days, and in the 50’s and 60’s fishermen started giving the dolphins, which would hunt and play in the shallows near the beach, their leftover fish. Obviously as dolphins are clever they cottoned on to the free easy food and started coming every day.

To cut a long story (which we heard 8 times) short – after lots of regulations to stop the dolphins becoming over reliant on humans and forgetting about their babies, Monkey Mia is now a sanctuary and resort. The dolphins, being pretty smart, now come in at 7.45 every morning and have a swim in the shallows before being fed around 500g of fish. Some may say they have us very well trained. This is to make sure they actually go and hunt and teach their little baby dolphins to hunt their own food. All very interesting and there’s much more to tell, but I don’t want to lose you all with facts so let’s get back to the sub standard humour.

After listening to much of the things said above, feeding time came. They randomly choose people out of the crowd to feed the dolphins and we were incredibly lucky that Katie got chosen!

We were also incredibly lucky that the volunteer doing the choosing happened to be our roommate, but we’ll say no more about that.

So Katie got to feed a dolphin! Unfortunately her spud of a boyfriend (this guy) can’t work a camera, but please be assured it was magical. I got a photo of the dolphins in the water if that helps (I know it doesn’t).

We spent most of our 5 days at Monkey Mia on the beach or by the pool, taking full advantage of the fact that this was a proper resort that we got use of all the facilities of. This mostly involved a cycle of factor 50 suntan lotion, still burning because I’m English, aftersun, sleep, repeat.

Monkey Mia is truly in the middle of nowhere (Google map it, put satellite on and start zooming out and you’ll see what I mean). As a result it’s lovely when it’s sunny but doesn’t have a huge amount to do in cloud, especially not free stuff for those amongst us who don’t like to part with too much cash.

So out of these cloud induced jitters for stuff to do we booked onto two sailing cruises on a catamaran (obviously they were on offer), the first of which was on Monday afternoon. This was called in the brochure; ‘Afternoon with a bunch of animals’. Fair enough, the namer of these cruises did not mess about with innovation. Then again you can’t fault his accuracy. On our sail we saw turtles, boatload of dolphins (not in the literal sense), a splash that we think was a sea snake and best of all – a dugong.

Dugongs are supposedly the origin of the mermaid myth. It makes sense when you look at the tail which looks like the typical mermaid’s tail. It makes absoloutely no sense when you look at the head of a dugong. All I’ll say is that the sailors who thought these animals were mermaids either were pissed or had wives who looked like cows.

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for… a picture of a dugong!

Sorry. It’s pretty difficult. Respect to the wildlife photographers out there.

We also treated ourselves to a pizza between us and a glass of wine each that night. I know that seems hypocritical given earlier complaints about cash, but once you’ve eaten a packet of ‘Chicken Curry Pasta’ and a ‘Fantastic’ pot noodle (that was most certainly not fantastic) for two respective teas, you reach a certain point of desperation and become very easy to advertise food to.

Tuesday the 1st of November was our last full day and we spent a lot of it horizontal on the beach, before finishing off with a sunset cruise in 35 knot winds, meaning this pose was much harder than it looks:

So the next morning we were back in the shuttle and with just 2 hours of still not a friendly word (or in fact any words) from our driver we were on our coach again through the middle of nowhere to get to our next stop, the edge of nowhere…

Alex Odlin enjoys cliffhangers. 

Accommodation; Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort (Backpacker Dorm)

Tours; Shotover Sunset Cruise, Shotover Afternoon with a bunch of animals

Don’t miss; Dolphin feeding, the beach at Monkey Mia

Do miss; The shuttle bus (best to drive yourself), the communal kitchen at Monkey Mia

Twitter; twitter.com/AlexOdlinSUFC


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