TW3 – That Was The Week That Was…

We headed from Jimmy’s Beach to the North Coast Holiday Parks Seal Rocks Caravan Park (North Coast Holiday Parks – Seal Rocks) which is right across the street from the beach. It is another lovely clean and spacious park with spotless amenities and the best part was it was only a 50 minute drive from Jimmy’s Beach. Winter had again forgotten to flex it’s muscles and it was another lovely clear day when we arrived. After we were set up, Dawn and I went walking on the beach just over the road and we were amazed to find the water temperature was still 20 degrees and pleasant to walk in the surf.

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Going to Newcastle to load more coal

The next day we headed up to Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse – a steep climb but well worth the effort. When we got there, it was familiar surroundings and we realised we had visited several years earlier. When we had visited before it was not in whale watching season but we were very excited anticipating spotting the magnificent creatures from the shore. Being elevated at the lighthouse means that the viewing radius is much greater than when on the beach and we spotted our first whale spouts in less than 5 minutes.

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This mother and calf were easily visible from our vantage point at Sugarloaf Point

It’s not just whales that we are excited to see – there are dolphins playing in the surf too and White Bellied Sea Eagles hovering overhead – beautiful, (unless you are a fish close to the surface….)

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White Bellied Sea Eagle

This picture serves to give an impression of how steep the approach to Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse really is

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This breaching whale is visible from the beach

We could see splash after splash from our vantage point – all of them either whales breaching or tail slapping.

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Nice Lighthouse Dawn

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The power of the Pacific

Dawn and I climbed to the lighthouse 2 days in a row and marvelled at how many whales were passing by. Locally it is called the “Whale Highway” and indeed there was a steady stream of the behemoths heading North for warmer climes…

We needed to return to Sydney for an appointment and so reluctantly we had to leave Seal Rocks. We were thinking of going a little further North to Forster but instead decided to go to Port Stephens proper and set up camp this time at Fingal Bay. Again we were at a site just across the street from the beach and Fingal Bay is a spectacular vista – highly recommended – Fingal Bay Holiday Park. However we did have an ulterior motive as there is an abundance of whale watch cruises set off from Nelson Bay. We chose Moonshadow Cruises for our opportunity to get up close and personal with the migrating whales and we were not disappointed. Whilst we were sailing across the harbour we were treated to a pod of dolphins playing in the bow wave – never get tired of seeing wild dolphins at play….

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Once we nosed outside the heads and into the ocean proper the captain soon spotted our first whale spout. We moved as close as we are allowed (there is an exclusion zone around whales so that they are not harassed) and as this was a mother and calf then the exclusion zone is actually doubled…

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It is an iconic picture – whale tail as she dives…

We could scarcely believe how many whales we were seeing – and their different natural behaviours – here is some pectoral slapping…

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A bit of tail slapping…

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When they are this close the sound of the exhalation of the air is deafening… especially when there are two together

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I’d never seen a whale breach before and especially not at close quarters. Suddenly, wherever we looked there was either a whale (or sometimes two) out of the water, or just falling back in, or a tell-tale huge splash as the aftermath – it was AMAZING!!!!

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The value we got out of that Moonshadow cruise was beyond our wildest dreams – this is the time of year to be in that area and witness this incredible migration…

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This guy almost landed on top of his mate…

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We got wet from the splash after this guy breached

It never gets boring to see these magnificent creatures – awe inspiring…

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This fellow is giving us the eye!!!

On the way back into Nelson Bay we cut across to Cabbage Tree Island where there is a small colony of fur seals. Here this seal pup is taking his first dive into the deep blue sea. He was going to dive, then stopped, then got to the edge of the shelf again all ready to go and then stopped again. When he eventually did take the plunge, everyone on the boat gave an almighty cheer – well done little one. Pity there was a Great White Shark waiting for his appetiser!!!

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And then it was night time and Mr Moon came a-calling!! What a great day we had. I’ve never seen so many whales….

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And so that is the end of TW3. We have returned to Sydney for a couple of days and I got to see some of my ex-workmates in The City on Thursday (the 13th). We are off to the Sydney Taronga Zoo on Sunday the 16th and then will head off who-knows-where on Wednesday July 19.

Stay tuned for another TW3

 

 

 

 

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