Different Experiences

Sat. 25th May 2019

Happy Birthday DaveWe feel that we have to visit Monkey Mia, whatever we think about public feeding of wildlife, in this case dolphins. Yesterday, Harvey did a lot to assuage our concerns and eventually persuaded us that we should go and see it. We are moving on to Carnarvon today and Monkey Mia is a 30 minute drive in the opposite direction. There is a charge to enter the resort, which appears to consist of holiday bungalows, caravan site and a car park, not a good start. Then we see the restaurant is closed for renovation work and we are so glad we went against all the holiday recommendations and booked On the Deck @ Shark Bay in Denham instead.

Smaller crowds at the third feedThere can be up to three dolphin feeds a day and we have missed the first two. We knew we would not get to the first feed as that is at 7:45 and it is always the busiest. There is only a 60% chance the dolphins return for a third feed but if they do, we are told that it is much quieter. A stroll along the sea front and a look at the jetty and we had run out of things to do, except get a coffee at the mobile café. As we headed that way, saying “ what would we have done here for two nights” we heard a cry that the dolphins were back.

I'm watching youAbout twenty people lined up along the waters edge with their feet in the water to watch two dolphins head up and down whilst we listened to information about the dolphins and the experience programme. The rules of engagement are much stricter now and there is no touching. I think back to our swimming with dolphins experience in Bermuda in 2000. Quite a different experience as we were encouraged to stroke their noses and had our photo taken with them. Apparently the dolphins survival rate here has increased since they changed the policy – what a surprise!!

The feeding experienceTwo helpers then arrive with fish for volunteers to feed the dolphins. As it is Dave’s birthday I thought about having a quiet word so he was picked but he looked so content, shoes on, out of the water taking photos, so I kept quiet and watched. Somehow I was picked to feed the dolphin, no idea why as I had a longish dress on that was in danger of getting wet and carrying my camera with long lens attached. Still never one to turn down an opportunity I ditched the gear, hitched up my dress and went for it. This involved taking the fish from the helper and laying it on the water. It was all over in a few seconds but I did get a buzz from it.

We definitely wouldn't have swapped On The Deck for thisWe are glad we took the detour and experienced Monkey Mia for all its outward appearance of over tourism. Harvey had said we should go anyway and he was right. After that detour we headed for Carnarvon which was only 350km away, so we cambered back into the beast for the journey to the Best Western hotel, which was the most glamorous hotel in town. We retraced our steps past Denham, Shell Beach and Hamelin Pools to Highway 1 and pushed north.

A different viewpointDave had identified a viewpoint as a stopping place to change drivers and when we arrived there we were not sure why it was worth the stop. As we turned to leave Dave spotted a pile of stones 100 yards away and said that’s it. I was not convinced and still not sure whether it had a purpose except for people to leave their mark on the place with gnomes, other memorabilia or just write their names and a date on a rock. The rest stop was just as unmemorable, it was tiny and the chef seemed to be working there to earn more money to fund his travelling. You would need a reason to work in the middle of nowhere and over 100km from any other shop or people.

Your carriage awaits or not!By the time we arrived in Carnarvon for afternoon tea, the sun had reappeared and the outside temperature has reached 28°. A quick look at the tourist leaflet showed there is a one mile jetty and other stuff so as we are only here for one night we had to set out to explore and hopefully catch another amazing sunset. Well the jetty is shut as it is unsafe but we were easily distracted by the Railway Station Museum next door.

Carving of a trainAlthough it was gone 5pm it was still open but unmanned, so we had a good nose around inside and out. There was a clever carving of a train from an old post from the pier. Also the Kimberley steam train which was the last steam train to operate in the North West. Outside were many old trains, tractors and other machinery which are unlikely to ever operate again. Just the sort of stuff we like to mooch around and take far too many photos.

Monument overlooking One Mile PierAfter stocking up at Woolworths (yes it is a supermarket chain out here) and the attached bottle shop, as alcohol is not sold in supermarkets, we heading back to the glamorous Best Western. The hotel had a tour group staying tonight so we walked back towards town to the even more glamorous Carnarvon Hotel which according to Google is one of the best eateries in town. It is Dave’s birthday after all and despite my hardest efforts I could not give him a birthday experience he was used to, nor as exciting as my dolphin experience this morning. At least we have had a mix of good places and mediocre places on our trip. My birthday treat on The Ghan was the other end of the spectrum to Dave’s pub grub in Carnarvon.

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