Blissed out in Byron Bay

Copyright: Louise Ralph

It’s dusk and we’re walking up to the lighthouse at Byron Bay, that magnificent most-easterly point in Australia, where the azure sea wraps around the rocky headland.

From here, you can see humpback whales on their annual migration – heading north between May and August to breed and returning south between September and November. But there aren’t any whales out here today.

Today, we’re in for a treat – something I’ve never seen in decades of walking this Cape Byron pathway.

All the way along this stretch of coastline from the Cape to Tallow Beach, pods of dolphins are surfing the waves and feeding.

One pod of about ten dolphins is fishing, shadowed by gulls that swoop to catch fish darting too close to the surface in all the chaos.

More dolphins streak in, alerted to the action by the squawking gulls. It’s an incredible sight. At least eight groups of between three and ten (or maybe more) dolphins are here.

Four dolphins are more intent on surfing at breakneck speed down the front of waves than fishing. They duck and weave, then leap out of the water in what is a moment of sheer joy. We can’t help but laugh. It’s intoxicating to watch.

EB can’t stand still forever though, so he’s off, bounding up and down the awkwardly-spaced stairs to the lighthouse and back. It reminds me of trekking in Nepal, when our travel companions said he was more mountain goat than human.

With EB, there’s no bistaari, bistaari (slowly, slowly). But what’s not to like? He makes me smile as much as those exhuberant dolphins do.

Finally, I drag myself away from the dolphin antics, and we continue along the circuit through the coastal forest.

Male brush turkeys are intent on raking leaf litter into impressive mounds, where several females may be convinced to lay single eggs, before leaving the male to deal with the whole incubation thing.

EB decides to run down the hillside (he loves stairs, that boy), while I stop to investigate a rustle in the bushes. We’ve already seen a green tree snake today, so I’m not in a hurry to poke around.

But just off the track, staring at me with enormous brown eyes, is the cutest young swamp wallaby. They’re shy creatures, so it’s the first one I’ve seen here.

The tiny wallaby bounds off, and further along the track I see an adult. It’s bigger, more solid. It lifts its head to observe EB running up to meet me, then continues feeding, unperturbed.

Dusk has always been my favourite time of the day and this evening, after last night’s liquid burnt orange moon, just confirms it.

It also serves me right for not taking my camera with me. I’ve got to get used to lugging it around. Those smart phone cameras just don’t cut it… c’est la vie.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

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