On the first morning on Stradbroke Island I wasn’t in the best of spirits! I don’t know why, but that day was just not my day. I think having to go back to sleeping on a hard matt in a tent in hot temperatures (even during the night at this point) didn’t help. To wake up tired is the worst feeling, but I decided to persevere and go to a local market and then on a coastal hike with the gang. The walk took us along the most popular beaches on the island, from Home beach to Cylinder beach to Frenchman’s bay. These beaches we were told were important beaches for egg laying by the loggerhead and green sea turtles, and that this area was a pleasant conservation success story! The beaches were pretty, but the weather that day was very humid and overcast, so I was still not enjoying it at all! I also learned that day that in Australia (and particularly Queensland) overcast doesn’t mean you still won’t burn! We finished off our walk at Frenchman’s beach were the boys made sandcastles and I snoozed whilst Shawnee read her book. After that we returned to the campsite where I could finally be lazy, have a shower, snooze and read. The rest of the gang went for a dip in the sea, and when they returned they told me they had seen dolphins and koalas. I died a little inside, but at the same time I was still too tired to properly let myself kick myself in the leg.
The next day my mood had massively improved and all was good and well! This day is also one of those days that will remain in my top 10 best days of my life too. The “one of the best days in my life” started as quite windy, so we decided we would go on another walk called the North gorge walk. This walk went around a headland and gorges, passing small tucked away beaches, a blowhole and vantage points. The landscape felt particularly dramatic as the wind stirred the ocean. Huge waves crashed up against the jagged rocks and the currents were so strong and at unease that foam was building up in the inlets. For lunch I had fish and chips at a local café before returning back to the campsite to warm up a bit! In the afternoon we all returned to the beach around the corner that the gang had been to the day before in hope that I could see what they saw the day before, namely wild koalas and dolphins!! Sure enough, the little koala baby they said they saw in the same tree the day before was nestled up high among the branches and it was a truly adorable sight! The little baby had a little peak at us to see what the strange humans getting very excited about before she continued to keep on snoozing, oblivious to the commotion below. The mother was nowhere to be seen and we guessed she was out foraging for food on other eucalyptus trees nearby.
I stood for a while longer trying to get my damn camera in focus for a photo of the koala, before I heard Shawnee yelling excitedly at me to come quickly down to the beach! I rush towards the beach through the little path surrounded by eucalyptus trees and was greeted with the sight of fins sticking out of the water, metres away from my friends who had already made their way into the sea with them. I was so pumped and adrenaline fuelled when I entered the water that I was nearly skipping with excitement. Bottle-nose dolphins. Right infront of me. It was surreal. Some of the more curious ones swam up close to us, whilst other members of the pod were further out playfighting and jumping around. I reached out my hand and to my absolute excitement a dolphin approached it, letting me ever so gently touch his or her nose! The encounter left me trembling with joy and all high and squeeky in my voice! The clear water meant you could see them so well from above, but after spending a sufficient amount of time in the water with them from above I decided to take the wildlife experience a step further. I ran to the car to grab my snorkels, and returned to watch them swimming underwater, back and forth, in and out of sight. I discovered that I could hear them too, making those wonderful clicks and squeaks towards each other. Other beach-goers and walkers gathered around to watch these beautiful creatures. Most of them stayed on the sandy shorebanks, to our delight, and so we had mostly the waters to ourselves and thus got lots of attention from the curious dolphins. Many locals were not fussed by the sight of the pod, as these dolphins regularly visited the calm beach at the end of the day for some fun and games, as well as a naughty snack from locals and tourists feeding them (not to be encouraged).
The GoPro was of course used during the experience and I did manage to get some good videos despite me sort of just sticking it under the water while I enjoyed the experience above! I didn’t take any photos, but I have taken some screenshots of the videos to show you, as well as a little clip I posted to Instagram (click on link)! I can’t wait to show the rest of the videos though, it really shows how close we were to them and how adorable they were behaving around us!