Sunday, October 15, 2006

Killers on the coast

Eddie and I continued our obsession of travelling to far flung corners of NSW to hang out with wildlife this weekend, destination; Merimbula and Eden on the far South Coast.

In another rapidly developing tradition we managed to choose one of the unseasonably hottest days of the year to spend inside a car without any aircon. (When we went to Dubbo it was the same deal.) Ed's dear old Saab being a sensible scandanavian has windscreen wipers on her headlights to keep them clear of any pesky snowdrifts that might come our way but her scandanavian sensibilities mean that her aircon is more suited to a mildly warm Swedish day of about 23 degrees not a blasting 36. As a result we travelled all the way down the windy roads of the Sth Coast sucking back warm bottled water and hanging our heads out the window like dogs to catch a breeze.

The South coast of NSW is often the forgotten bridesmaid to the more showy glitzy bridezilla of the North Coast, who supposedly has the better beaches and a more 'tropical' vibe. While this is true the North also means a trip up a massive ugly highway past towns that have bulldozed away all their charm and replaced them with tasteless tacky new buildings, Nelson Bay being a perfect example. The South is quieter, has a kind of wild quality to it, lonely stretches of beach, cliffs, green rolling hills and a daisy chain of little towns filled with gorgeous old homes, pubs and shops. Mind you Ed and I were staying in Merimbula with his rellies where the vibe is a little more tacky beach side holiday town but it is the exception to most of the area which is glorious.

But Ed and I weren't in town for the buildings but for large mammals. It's whale season down south where hundreds of Humpbacks and Southern right whales like to stop for a month or so of r n r before heading south to the feeding grounds in the antarctic. I've been down before when my mate Megan lived in the nearby town of Eden and everytime we'd been out on a whale watch we had been treated to these giants leaping about, slapping their huge fins on the water, elegant tails being waved about in the air and on one occassion we even had a baby whale swim right up to our boat and pop his ugly but lovely head out of the water and take a good long look at us.

So it was with much anticipation I dragged Ed onto a whale watch on the weekend. Even though Holmes has been just about every-bloody-where and has done just about every-bloody-thing the one thing he hasn't done is whale watch. Off we headed cameras at the ready, we saw some cute dolphins and fur seals, plenty of sea birds and then.....nothing. Finally after about and hour and half we came across a whale which consisted of a spurt of water and a bit of back before it nicked off. We floated around for about another 40 minutes and then saw a bit of a tail and then...bugger all. This carried on for the rest of the trip. The captain made us feel really great by telling us it was "definately the worst day we've had all season and "last week we saw 35 whales in 3 hours". So what gives? Our captain told us that the whales were acting weird and the last time they had acted like that the killer whales had turned up the next day. Apparently killer whales like nothing better than a bit of tasty baby humpback so the troops were nervous, staying under the water and hiding. Bloody killers.
Luckily on the way home Ed and I got to spot some more wildlife, of the tv celebrity kind. While we had a stop in pretty Tilba we were treated to the sight of Getaway host Catriona Rowntreet prancing around the main street dressed in a bright orange shirt tucked into very tight faded jeans and high heels. The woman has obviously lost her mind after all those years at channel 9.


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