Australia: Day three – ERHMAHGERD WHALES
Once again, I woke up bright and early at 11am (I could get used to this! Except for the nightmares…) and trodded on down to the first floor for breakfast. After a few minor changes to my routine the night before (extra hair conditioner! Body lotion to the max!) my sleep went much better than before, and I also looked less like death, which is always exciting.
The night before, I asked people on my facebook page which I should care about more: koalas or whales. Most people answered whales. So I took that, plus the link my cousin sent me about the whale migration just finishing up here in Sydney, as a major hint that I should get down to the harbour and go on a whale watching cruise.
The man working the booth at the boat cruise place was very convincing. Despite the fact my wallet was saying ”GO CHEAP!” something in my heart said that I should go with the larger boat. It could have had to do with the fact that I am incredibly susceptible to heat stroke and can also be quite weak to motion sickness. The larger boat would let me sit indoors if need be, and was large enough that it could handle the ocean waves much better.
Luckily, there wasn’t that long of a wait for the boat. I did have to endure the “comedy” of older Australian men while waiting. Someone does need to tell the older men of this country that being rude and being funny are not synonymous. Luckily, he wasn’t offensive (like older men of another country I make take residence in can be) but I did still find his humour rough and abrasive. It’s a little hard for my gentle, polite Canadian heart to take in (I hear you all laughing, even in Sydney.)
Thankfully, the staff with Whale Watching Sydney were much nicer than the old man lurking by the harbour, helped us all on board, and away we went, rocketing towards the ocean.
One of the things I was stunned by when we first got out to the ocean was just how beautiful the mouth of the Sydney Harbour can be. Huge, majestic cliffs line each side of the entrance, and despite seeing the skyline in the distance, and buildings dotting the coast, it was very easy for my imagination to think of what it must have been like for the first explorers to discover Australia, and to sail into Sydney harbour. It must have seemed so perfect to settle there, the cliffs looking strong and protected, the harbour creating a long, safe coastline for all of the boats that would be there in the future.
It’s always dangerous when my passion for writing and my love for history collide. All I want now is a movie about the discovery of Australia.
But I digress.
Apparently, the company had found a whale earlier that morning, and said that whales were very predictable, so we would be able to catch up with her. We went up and down the coast a little. Another boat was also in the area, looking. Suddenly, the smaller boat turned very suddenly, making it’s way over to the left. We hadn’t seen anything, but any sudden movements like that could mean only one thing: whale ahoy!
It took a few minutes for us to spot her, but she announced her presence with a long spout of water. Much closer to us were three seals that were happily sunbathing, soaking up the warm sun. (I, on the other hand, was hiding in the shade, wishing I had prescription sun glasses so I could deal with the sun and ocean glare better.) It was so much fun to watch the seals, who were jumping around, that I forgot for a moment that we were there to see the whale. Luckily, the whale came up for a breath again, shooting off some more steam. I had my camera ready this time.
For well over an hour, we followed the majestic whale as it came up for breath. According to our boat guides, there are strict rules on whale watching. The more boats that are around a whale, the further away you have to be. Soon, we had three boats watching one whale, so we had to keep over 100 metres away. Then it became four, then five. Eventually, we had eight boats at one point. We were supposed to keep a good distance, however some of the other boats didn’t seem to care, and were a bit closer than the others. I think the whale researcher on our boat was angry at that and was going to do something about it, but another girl standing in the back started talking about being sea sick again so I ran off to the front of the boat.
The whale really didn’t seem to like having eight boats following it, and stayed under the water for long breaks. It sometimes stayed under for 7 minutes! I was worried that we were upsetting the whale, but apparently, if we were doing that, the whale would have been slapping its tail about. Instead, it just seemed pissed off about our general existence, and attempted to ignore us. Smart whale.
Over an hour later, our captain decided it was time to head back into shore and leave the whale on its way up north. A few of the other boats seemed to follow suit, and we all cruised our way back into the harbour.
I know it doesn’t SOUND exhausting, sitting on a boat taking photos, but I was quite tired after. It took a lot of energy to not fall over (I am terrible at keeping steady on moving objects) so I stumbled my way back to the hostel and napped in my room for about an hour. Once I felt it was a socially acceptable time to have dinner, I made my way over to the Australia Heritage Hotel for dinner, since I had a voucher for there from my hostel.
The restaurant in the hotel was really nice, and had a cool, classic pub feel to it. However, there was one small problem. I had forgotten it was a Saturday night, and that even the nicest of pubs become bars for socially normal people of my age to get drunk off their faces and forget everything the next morning.
Fact: There are not many places I loathe more than “western” bars. It is up there with roller coasters. I don’t know why, but I just never feel comfortable in those places. I prefer places where you can sit and talk to friends, not shout over terrible music.
So I ate my meal, which was incredible and filling and I couldn’t finish it, and then quickly got out and headed back to Broadway Shopping Centre. This time, I attacked Target, and spent far far FAR too much money. I am currently suffering from crippling buyers guilt, but I will deal, because I get to go clothes shopping so rarely and it was so very necessary.
Tomorrow, I hopefully will have a much cheaper day. Fingers crossed, at least. I’m just hitting the half way point, night three of six, so I have four days left. And I have yet to see a koala… Hrm… I must fix this… But how…
~*~To Be Continued~*~
If any of you are going to be in Sydney, and want to see some whales, I highly recommend Whale Watching Sydney. Their staff were friendly and knowledgeable, and while there are many companies offering trips out to see the whales, they are the only one who works in cooperation with scientists and researchers to help monitor the whales and research sustainability. The best seasons to see whales are from April to August, with July being the peak time to see the Northern migration, and then the end of August to December, with October being the peak season then.They also offer a discount for people holding an Hostel International member card, which is pretty awesome.