Start: Carnarvon - Finish: Billabong | Distance: 548km approx. |
I saw my first wild emu! And lots of goats! Even though when we got to Monkey Mia we were told that we'd missed the dolphin feeding - typical.
Okay, so I wrote that little bit before all this amazing stuff had happened. Monkey Mia honestly turned out to be the best day of our road trip and will probably be one of the best days ever (only to be topped by the day I become an Aussie Citizen, I feel). I even saw more emus . . .
So, the fun really began as I was on my way back from the toilet. Too much information? Strutting across the sand, I spied a Poppy on the horizon, calling out and waving. As is my usual reaction, I ignored her and carried on strutting. It is what I do best, after all. But no, she kept on and I finally figured out that she was saying there was a dolphin behind me. Lo and behold, there was a dolphin behind me. In the water, obviously, this is a happy story. Crazy.
Then, on an aquatic mammal high, we decided to rent SUPs (stand up paddle boards, for those not in the know) for a couple of hours. It appeared the dolphin gods were in our favour, as Leon very kindly let us have two boards for an hour for the price of half an hour. I was on cloud 9!
Off we paddled, into the abyss. I'm exaggerating, but just round the corner from Monkey Mia is one of Australia's 5786948690 stunning national parks and - according to our mate Leon - one of Australia's best kept secrets. We were heading for the national park - and the shark nursery - but we got a little side tracked by . . . sting rays.
It all started when Poppy thought she'd seen a ray, but on second thoughts she decided it was probably just a rock. We doubled back but couldn't see anything. Then, as I was innocently paddling around, I saw not one, not two, but three pairs of eyes looking up at me. Did I keep calm, cool and collected? No, of course not. I majorly freaked out.
"Poppyyyyy! POPPPPPPYYYYYYY!! I've just seen some bloody eyes looking up at me! OH MY GOD! I CAN SEE TAILS! THEY'RE HUGE! YUGEIHNRIDLKXJGNSLKJFNSKZ"
I may have edited out some swear words. I completely lost my cool. These rays were massive. There were about five of them and their bodies were wider than our boards - I'd say they were at least 1m wide. I didn't even realise they grew that big. Their tails as well, my word, ridiculously long. They were a bluey/grey in colour and every time I tried to get a photo (even from a safe distance) I'd bottle it. This coming from the girl who wants to dive with sharks and whale sharks. 😏
In the end, one stuck its tail up out of the water and so we made a hasty retreat. Madness.
The cherry on the top of the cherry-tastic cake had to be the little pod of dolphins that we saw on our way back to the beach. As these are wild animals you have to keep at least 10m away from them at all times; luckily for the dolphins and us, we're not speedy paddlers so there was no way that we were going to be able to get any closer to them. Not one to boast (😏), we also saw two little spotted rays and a half-ray/half-shark creation on our way back too. It's making me happy just writing about it!
Sadly, we had to leave Monkey Mia, but on our way out we made a slight detour on to the jetty in search of sea turtles . . . and what did we see? Two sea turtles. Poppy was so happy she bought a commemorative sea turtle soft toy.
Did you think the drama was over? Oh boy, there's still a little surprise in the day yet! On the drive down to Billabong, our stop for the night, I almost hit an emu. Me, Sarah, driving a camper van, almost hit an emu. The absolute nutter (the emu, not me) thought it'd be a brilliant idea to dart out in front of us without warning. Thankfully for all involved the brakes were working.
I must also mention the Billabong Homestead - $12 per person for a powered site, what luxury! There are also hot showers and we got free burgers from two Israeli guys. Happy days!