Sunday, 20 July 2014

Jolly jaunts in July: Part 1

Having spent most of our weekends in June at home, we decided to get out on the road again and do some more exploring. First up was a trip to Newcastle  No, we didn't sneak back for a cheeky weekend on the Tyne - there's a Newcastle two hours up the coast from Sydney and it's where our friend has just moved. So we took Matilda (the anthropomorphic automobile) off for her first long drive!

We drove to Newcastle on Friday evening and made it in time for a delicious dinner of tapas at a local restaurant. Unfortunately there are no pictures of this - well, look, it was a long drive and I was hungry, ok?! That's why my burgeoning career as a gourmet photographer has never taken off - the food is always gone by the time I remember my camera.

On Saturday we headed up to Nelson Bay, where they run whale watching tours. This is the height of the season for the humpback whales' migration to warmer waters to have their young. The captain of our boat was very confident we would see the whales, and we were all set with the binoculars our friend had lent us, so we were excited.

It was a nice trip out through small islands and into the main "corridor" the whales use to travel. 



The captain kept shouting "Thar she blows!" (I swear) as he was allegedly seeing lots of whales blowing water into the air as they reached the surface. Even with binoculars, the blighters were too quick for our unexperienced eyes and I started to worry we wouldn't see anything. 

Then finally, after it seemed like she had been blowing "thar" for ever, we finally got a glimpse:



We were excited to watch the whales surfacing and soon got the knack of spotting the little bursts of water that indicated a whale coming up.  

We heard there were reports of whales breaching and jumping out of the water further on, so we went in search. At last we were rewarded with what all people going on a whale watch really want to see - the beautiful sight of the humpbacks leaping out of the water and what looks like, to human eyes, playing around and having fun:



Waving us hello
The picture is a bit grainy, but thar she blows!
The second picture was taken as the whale leapt out right next to another whale watching boat, but we still got a great view.  After this picture, I decided to put my camera away and just enjoy the show. Which was a good job, because I then got completely soaked by a wave!

While we were heading back to shore, we also managed to say hello to some of these chaps, having a leisurely sleep in the sunshine:


It's a sunbathing sea lion. 
We also saw some dolphins, but they were far too quick for my photography skills to capture! 

Back on dry land again, we decided to get a fish 'n' chip lunch to celebrate and sit on the harbour side in the sunshine. Here, we rapidly discovered where Alfred Hitchcock had got the idea for "The Birds" from - and it wasn't from Daphne Du Maurier. Old Alfie, too, must have chosen to have a nice fish 'n' chip meal by the coast once upon a time and experienced the same terrors we were subject to:




They swooped in from everywhere and put me right off my battered sausage. Jan had to keep shooing them away, as I went jumping and running around, shouting "They'll snatch it from my hands, get them away, satanic b****rds" every time one got too near.

After we had made a hasty retreat from the seagull horde, we met up with our friends again and had a nice afternoon cruising along the coastline:





On Sunday, we had a nice lie in and a relaxed brunch, then headed for a walk around a local park, replete with duck pond:


These moorhens were slightly less ominous than the seagulls, although they still made a beeline (or is it a birdline?!) for us expecting food... They were, like their seagull counterparts, left wanting.
And of course, other than feeding the ducks, there's only really one other thing you go to the park for:



After all the fun, it was time to head home. We had a fantastic weekend - but this is only the start of some more fun weekends to come. Stay tuned for our "Christmas in July" celebrations!