I am very nearly 4 months into my adventure and I have done some pretty cool things. But there are 3 moments that stand out over and above the rest as my top 3 moments in Australia so far.
Sea Kayaking with Whales in Byron Bay
On the 18 Day East Coast Encompassed tour we stopped off in Byron Bay for a couple of days. We had a few options activates to choose from and one was sea kayaking. This made me a little nervous but I wanted to give it a go. Cape Byron Kayaks offer a tour, I think it’s called kayaking with dolphins. They guarantee that if you don’t see any dolphins then you can go again. So they are pretty sure you will get to see something epic.
We had our introduction to the paddles and carried our kayaks down to the sure. I don’t even remember how we got in the kayaks and got out to sea now but once we were out it was really cool. It was hard work paddling. I was in the front of the kayak and a girl called Hannah in the back. She is experienced in kayaking, so I felt bad for her being with 0 arm strength Steph over here. As the person in the back Hannah was in charge of direction and pace. I felt like we got into a good rhythm and we were keeping up with the guide pretty well.
We spotted a turtle not long into the trip but it was a lot of paddling and quite a while before we saw much else. I was starting to worry that we were not going to see any dolphins. As we were turning around to head back in, one of the guides spotted a whale in the distance. We paddled like crazy against some big waves to get over to the whales. There is a legal distance you were you have to stop approaching the whales so we stopped as close as we could get and we waited. It was pretty spectacular to see what we were able to but these whales wanted to show us more.
As we were sat calmly waiting a couple of whales came very close to us, the rolled about and flicked their tails out of the water. I am rubbish with distances but they were so close. Part of me was incredibly nervous. What if they launched out of the water and knocked us over with the splash or smacked us with their giant tales. But the overwhelming feeling was just being in complete ore of them. They are massive slimy dinosaurs. Huge majestic creatures, bigger than I had imagined and they made me feel so small. I had goosebumps and a tear in my eye as we sat there watching them show off for us.
That day I gained a new appreciation for the animal kingdom. I realised how amazing it is to see such epic creatures in the wild. And I was so grateful I was able to see them so close. So although we did not get to see dolphins up close, this was one of the most incredible moments of my life.
Fraser Island Joy Plane Ride
Another memory from my 18-day tour was on Fraser Island. The largest sand island in the world, home to the stunning Lake McKenzie. We visited McKenzie on our first day on the island and on the second day as we drove along 75-mile beach on our 4×4 truck we came across an aeroplane. This was not something that they advertised on the tour itinerary, not that I had noticed anyway. But as we pulled up alongside the plane sat on the beach our guide asked if anyone wanted to jump on for $80. Having said yes to the sea kayaking a few days before and loved every second of it, I was ready to say yes to more things that scared me 🙂
It was just a couple of other girls, our tour guide and myself that jumped in the plane with the pilot. As I was climbing into the small rickety plane I had a few nervous butterflies. What had I gotten myself into? As the plane took off I was super excited though. The views were stunning out over the ocean. It was a beautiful morning but there were a few patches of rain out in the distance so it was pretty cool to see that. Then our tour guide spotted a whale. I didn’t get a proper look but I saw the splash.
As we flew inland the pilot looked back and saw I looked pretty nervous, he asked if I was ok and then started doing all kinds of man overs. I have no idea what he was doing but my heart was in my mouth. At one point I was looking straight down at the lush green rainforest. I have never felt anything like the adrenaline rush I was getting. I was terrified but loving it. We flew over Lake McKenzie which was even more beautiful from the air than it was on the ground. In the distance was a lovely rainbow. I absolutely loved it.
We landed back on the beach not far from where the rest of the tour had come to meet us. I was on a massive high. I couldn’t stop smiling. Flying normally scares me a bit. I get nervous and start thinking about crashing etc. But this was different, the views were a massive distraction. I remember thinking we could quite easily crash in this tiny little plane, but thinking, what a way to go, I’m loving it!!!
Watching the Dolphins Play in Byron Bay
One morning, during my second stay in Byron Bay I got up early and attempted a run to the lighthouse. I didn’t make it far with running but I managed to walk the rest of the way up to the top. On the last stretch before reaching the lighthouse I stopped to admire the view. In the waves below me, I spotted a couple of dolphins. I couldn’t take my eyes off them. To start with all I could see was the little black fins poking out of the water and the odd hump of their back. But as time went on more dolphins joined.
When there were a couple of pods joined together there were about 15 dolphins. I had my phone camera glued to them and I managed to capture the most beautiful moment as some of the dolphins played in the waves. They were jumping out of the wave as it came in towards the rocks and swimming along with it. It was an amazing moment. I full-on cried at how beautiful it was. I have never seen dolphins to that in real life in the wild and I was memorised by them.
Out to see as this was going on there were also about 4 or 5 different groups of whales. There were plumes of water coming out of the sea and a few of them were breaching. It was the most spectacular scene and one that makes me emotional now just thinking about it. It was the most emotional, the most grateful and the most blissfully happy I think I have ever been.
To Sum Up
These moments are not just the most special moments of my trip to Australia so far. I think that have to be the most magical moments of my life so far. I don’t think I have ever felt such overwhelming positive emotions. I have had so many ‘I would die happy if I died now’ moments in my life in such a short space of time. Those 3 moments alone make this trip completely worthwhile. And there are so many more that I have had and so many more to come. Watch this space…