Tag Archives: Dolphins

Hanging out in Port Stephens

Copyright: Louise Creely

The most striking thing about Port Stephens, on the NSW coast, is the pristine beaches curving around each bay and cupping the gorgeous aquamarine waters.

Somewhere out there in this huge marine park are dolphins, turtles, sponge gardens, fish and more. While there are dolphin tours for all tastes, I was keen to get in there with them in their natural environment with Dolphin Swim Australia.

Talk about bad timing – and a reminder to book ahead if there’s something you really want to do on your holiday – the boat was out of the water being prepared for the tourist season. So… no wild dolphin swims for me.

This didn’t phase EB. He was itching to get me up a hill somewhere and, on the hottest day so far (of course), we headed up to the Tomaree Head Summit. There are a lot of stairs and a lot of locals panting up and down them with their earphones firmly wedged in place.

If you like to do more than just sweat up and down hills, the panoramic views are worth the effort.

You can also see the historic gun emplacements and other reminders that Australia was once ready to protect its shores from invasion.

In World War II, this natural harbour was an ideal entry point for hostile forces, intent on attacking the aerodrome at Williamstown and, more importantly, the Newcastle steelworks.

Steel was a vital wartime commodity, so Fort Tomaree was built here in 1942. It was a perfect vantage point, with 360 degree views covering the coastlines, headlands and surrounds.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Port Stephens is a great place for a family holiday, with beaches the kids (and you) will love.

I admit I was a little disappointed at not spotting a single dolphin, even from the headlands.

But we did have gorgeous early morning swims, and lots of walking and cycling. So I’m leaving fitter than when I arrived…and that has to be a good thing.

Next stop… Crowdy Bay National Park. 


Born to be wild…

Copyright: Louise RalphI first thought of the title for this post when we were riding on our Vespa into Yamba, in northern NSW, from our camp spot on the Clarence River.

There we were in our very Italian helmets, leather jackets …and shorts. Born to be wild and all that.

But then we went for a relaxed Sunday paddle – in gale force winds, against an outgoing tide, on an expanse of choppy water that was more like a harbour than a river! It all seemed a little too hard really, until…

As we paddled along in the welcome shelter of an island, two fins emerged near our kayak. Then another baby-sized fin popped up. Then a big, darker fin. Copyright: Louise Ralph We edged in closer to watch the four dolphins cruising and playing in the pristine water…so close, we could hear them communicating with their distinctive whistles, chirps and clicks. Copyright: Louise Ralph Copyright: Louise RalphAs we approached a fishing boat, the dolphins sank below the surface and disappeared.

Later we passed dozens of darters roosting in the trees and, even though we tried to be silent, they weren’t about to stick around as a highly-suspect yellow beast passed nearby.

On the island’s beach, a pair of stone curlews – one snuggled in a hollow on its eggs and one standing guard – watched warily as we passed in the distance.

A challenging, but brilliant day on the water, watching creatures born to be wild. No leather jacket required.

Find out more about the pristine coastline, magic Clarence River, and village charm of Yamba here


Bruny Island cruising

With EB stuck in Hobart dealing with investment property issues, I had a choice – stay in water-logged Brisbane or head to Tasmania for the weekend to hang out with the crazy boy. Tough choice…

Copyright: Louise Ralph

…can’t resist those water views.

Tasmania’s capital city, Hobart is an absolutely delightful place steeped in history, but not stuck in it.

There is so much to love about this city, from its sandstone buildings, wharves and iconic Salamanca markets, to its proximity to some of Australia’s most pristine wilderness and waterways, and an abundance of delicious food and wines.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

The Monuments. Just one of the spectacular rock formations on Bruny Island.

But wait, there’s more…and more… and more.

A short drive or boat ride away is the the always fascinating Museum of Old + New Art (MONA).

With its surreal other-worldly feel, MONA’s architecture is the perfect backdrop for the artwork and a fantastic event calendar.

There is a winery, brewery, café, cemetery and stunning accommodation onsite – notorious gambler David Walsh‘s gift to Tasmania that has helped put Hobart on the world map.

So much to explore, so little time. The plan was to go back to MONA, but cruising Bruny Island won out in the perfect boating weather.

The multi-award winning Bruny Island Cruise has just taken out Australia’s No.1 Tourist Attraction, and as soon as you meet Robert Pennicott, who founded and operates the tours with wife Michaye, you can see why…

He is absolutely nuts about this part of Tassie, a passion that’s rubbed off on his staff and affects everyone who takes the tour.

From breathing rocks, towering cliffs and sea-carved monuments, to show-offy dolphins, sleek fur seals and migratory seabird encounters, this is exhilarating in every sense – including becoming instantly windswept and interesting as you zip along on super-sized zodiac-style boats.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Surfing the wake…

March and April are great times to do this tour, but I’m coming back in October when the whales are migrating…

Meanwhile, here’s more of our Bruny Island cruisin’ encounters. I rest my case.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Shearwaters take flight…

Copyright: Louise Ralph

A fur-seal bloke’s life is fraught with danger. Apparently.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Black-faced cormorants…

Copyright: Louise Ralph

And the last word goes to…dolphins in formation. Magic.

This is the next stop on our different journey list. Just as soon as I’m brave enough to implement my FIFO granny status. That’s fly-in fly-out (FIFO) as opposed to drive-in drive-out (DIDO).

Sometimes you’ve got to take a dolphin-style leap of faith…