A glimpse of fin and the splash of a jumping fish; only a little look of the marine life of Port Macquarie but it was definitely worth getting up just after 6am for it. When Codie had woken me up saying it was 6:15am, I’d immediately jumped up and got dressed, ready for an early morning of dolphin watching. We hadn’t had much luck seeing them before so I was determined that we’d see them today before we left to go to Coff’s Harbour, even if it meant surviving the day on very little sleep. When there’s dolphins involved, sleep just doesn’t seem to matter which is a good thing really since we’re booked on a dolphin watching trip in New Zealand which leaves at 5:30am!
Wandering back down the harbour where we seem to have spent most of our time over the last few days, I felt quite optimistic that we’d see something today. There was something about the quietness of the harbour and the way the newly risen sun reflected off the surface of the sea that just seemed to say they were about. After deciding that we should move further around to the mouth of the harbour instead of being next to the river, we slowly walked around watching the pelicans clumsily balanced on the lamp-posts and the cormorants diving into the water. Occasionally they’d pop up with a fish in their mouths and it was quite funny to see them battling with something bigger than their heads! We ended up sitting on a jetty type of thing on benches for the fishermen though I made sure to avoid the one with the half eaten fish in front of it. I’m not sure how well Codie would have coped with that that that early in the morning!
After we’d be sitting there a while, just watching the birds and the people wandering past, I was watching a woman paddle boarding when I noticed something pop up in front of her. A dolphin! I wasn’t entirely sure to begin with but once I’d pointed it out to Codie he thought it was too and we watched it slowly making it’s way around the harbour, presumably hunting for it’s breakfast. I looked around at the people just walking past us and nobody seemed to care that there was a dolphin nearby which completely amazed me. Even if you see them quite often, surely you can’t be that numb to it all that you don’t even want to look at it? I’d never want to end up like that and I really don’t think I ever would; I could happily watch the sea gulls and pigeons for hours at home and I see them all the time. It’s a mystery to me.
For a while, the lone dolphin seemed to just disappear so I watched 2 pelicans following 3 cormorants around instead. I’m not sure if the cormorants were enjoying having their fish stolen but they didn’t seem in a rush to leave and just bobbed around alongside them. I stared and them and wondered if this was perhaps a sort of symbiotic relationship and they both got something out of it but they all suddenly took off and skimmed the water, swooping over to the other side of the harbour. The fin had bobbed up again in the distance so I watched it for a while but another cormorant caught my eye and I turned my attention on that for a bit. It had a huge fish in it’s beak but just couldn’t seem to know what to do with it and so just swam up and down holding it. I think it managed to munch it in the end, it just seemed a bit overwhelmed and probably quite pleased that there wasn’t a pelican trying to steal it.
Suddenly, a fin broke the surface about 20 metres away from us and just as suddenly, disappeared under the waves. It was close. Almost straight after another fin appeared and we realised that it wasn’t a lone dolphin, there was 2 of them and they were both hunting together. Visiting Scotland quite a bit and the dolphins of the Moray Firth, I’ve seen bottlenose dolphins fishing quite a bit but no matter how many times you’ve seen it, it’s still incredibly excitement to watch. I did try and get some photos of them but with them only breaking the water for a second then diving back down, I only got a bit of a fin and a fluke. Of course it was a lovely bit of fin and I enjoyed every second of seeing it, I just don’t think it made for very interesting photos! As soon as they’d appeared, they disappeared again and so rather than head off back to the hostel, we hung around watching the sun rise high in the sky and hoping that they’d return. A fisherman had turned up at this point so I watched him for a little bit and various paddle boarders bobbing past. I loved paddle boarding when we were on Fitzroy Island so I’d be happy to do it again but probably not there. If there’s a board showing what fish you’re allowed to catch and keep showing a Great White and various other sharks, I think I’ll pass!
After about 15 minutes, I noticed some splashing along the harbour wall. I walked a bit closer along the jetty and saw not one, not two but three fins surfacing. The seagulls and terns who’d been drifting about and paddling on the surface where now hovering above and diving right next to them; a clear sign that there were fish about so they were obviously having a pretty good feed. As we watched, the dolphins headed back towards the yachts moored near to the river. I would have loved to have stayed for longer and seen if they got any closer again but it was starting to get closer to us needing to check out and we really had to leave. As we gathered everything together, I watched a tern plopping into the water and glanced back at the fins before we headed off.
Sleepy from the early start and the excitement of the dolphins, we made our way back to the hostel to finish packing and check out. After having packed most of our things up last night we didn’t really have anything to do other than stuff our towels in and everybody in the room was already awake so we didn’t need to creep about. It’s always quite a challenge when you’re checking out and nobody else is as you end up tiptoeing about like some sort of imp, making more noise than if you’d have moved everything normally. At least we try though, a lot of people we’ve come across seem complete oblivious to the fact that there’s anybody else in the room with them. I think I’d just feel far too guilty to be like that! Once we’d managed to get everything out and left it by reception as they didn’t have a luggage storage room, we went to make our noodle breakfast in the kitchen. We’d had to make a quick stop at the IGA on the way back from the harbour as we were in desperate need of something to drink and had picked up a pot noodle each too. Perhaps it wasn’t the most nutritious snack ever but we were absolutely shattered and didn’t want to be trying to make anything with the limited kitchen equipment. Of course that caused a few sniggers from a girl who seemed to just eat porridge oats and almond milk but as far as I was concerned, she could go away. I’d choose noodles over almond milk any day!
Breakfast finished, we grabbed our laptops and headed into the TV room to sit on the comfy sofas. I had quite wanted to go out and do the walk around the botanic gardens we’d missed out on yesterday but it had started to pour down with rain and so we decided against it. It’s all very well wandering about in the rain and getting soaked if you have clean clothes and shower to enjoy after but when you have to get on what I presumed would be a busy bus, it’s not quite as much fun. I love walking in the rain so I wasn’t happy about missing out but thinking logically, it was probably best to not get too wet. Instead I spent a couple of hours reading about animals of the world and the best places to visit in Australia before attempting to do a jigsaw of a hot air balloon parade. I’m sad to say that I only managed to get the outside and a few bits done before it was time for us to leave; it pains me to even say it. Poor, unfinished jigsaw. Still, it was either finish it or catch the greyhound bus and I was very excited to visit a new place. The owner of the hostel who’d picked us up on our arrival, took us back to the bus stop and 15 minutes later we were on the us, sat together at the front and ready to leave.
At only 2 hours 30 mins or so long, the bus journey was quite pleasant and with us sitting right at the front, I was able to take in the beautiful views as we travelled along. I saw loads of signs warning drivers to beware of koalas crossing but as hard as I looked at the trees towering above the road, I didn’t manage to see a single one. Codie didn’t manage to look out the window for long; after about 20 minutes I looked around and saw his head lolling about. It always really makes me laugh, apart from when he’s cracking his head against mine, but it looked really painful so I woke him up briefly to give him my koala neck pillow. I’d have liked to use it as our seats couldn’t recline at all but I wasn’t sleeping and I didn’t want him to damage his neck. Of course I had to take a photo of him, it was too good an opportunity not to and he was completely oblivious to it he-he-he. Not too far away from Coffs Harbour there was a bus driver swap and we suddenly seemed to gain about half an hour on to the trip though I’m not entirely sure how. Our arrival time, 16:50, came and went and we were still ages away which worried us a bit as we were relying on a shuttle bus and they might just have left. I presumed the bit of traffic and the torrential rain is what slowed us down a bit but it wouldn’t have been nice for us to have been told about it by the bus driver. Most of the drivers we’ve travelled with have kept us informed but today we weren’t. Grrrrr. I suppose he was concentrating on just getting there and thinking about why the door was letting in a little river of water but you know, just would have been nice.
As we pulled into the bus stop in Coffs Harbour, we both hoped that the shuttle bus hadn’t just given up and gone back as we didn’t have a clue where we needed to go and it was still absolutely throwing it down. Luckily for us, there was a few of us going to the same hostel and so the bus was still there. I think that if it had only been us two, they might just have left! The girl driving was really nice and once we’d all shoved our bags in the bag and piled into the minibus seats she asked us if we wanted to go to a lookout above the little town. Even though it was raining, we all agreed that it would nice to have a proper look at Coffs Harbour so off we went up the hill, quite glad that we weren’t having to do it on foot. It really was a stunning look at the area and the thunder and rain was rolling off the mountains behind us which seemed to give it an almost magical feel. We were shown where all the beaches were, the jetty and various other things before it got a little bit too damp and we all got back onto the bus and headed off to the hostel.
My first impressions of Aussitel, the hostel, were really good and it had a happy atmosphere the moment you stepped inside. In some places we’ve been, like the one in Port Macquarie, you arrive and it all feels a little bit awkward and as though you’re stepping into somebody’s house whereas here everybody just seemed to want to have fun. I was a little bit concerned about how loud it all was as there was a TV corner with Peep Show playing ridiculously loud but that was it really, everything else seemed great. They also let you hire canoes, kayaks, surfboards etc. for free which is great- I think I know what we’ll be doing for the next couple of days! Once we checked in and gathered our sheets, we found our way to our room, room 10, and let ourselves in. There were already people in there, two Canadian girls and two girls from Yorkshire, who were all very friendly and spoke to us for a little while. It’s always nice to find people who are really friendly and want to talk, all too often we’ve found ourselves in places where everyone keeps themselves to themselves and it just feels so awkward. After a while we decided it was probably time for tea and equipped with our pasta and pasta sauce, we left the room and headed off to the kitchen but there was a problem. It was packed. There was no room at all for us to make anything without stepping on anyones toes so rather than shove our way in, we settled on a big bag of Doritos and 2 cans of coke instead. Ok so we didn’t exactly have the most amazing, vitamin filled food today but the plan for tomorrow is to pay a visit to Coles and treat ourselves to something tasty and not pasta related at all. In the end, the kitchen cleared a bit and we managed to have some of the pasta but I was so, so full after the crisps, I could barely manage it! Not a problem though, Codie managed to finish mine off too….
Tea finished and with most people stood watching a ping pong tournament we’d managed to not get roped into, it was time for showers and bed. When we went to get our things out of the room, the two Yorkshire girls were sitting in there avoiding the guy running the ping pong tournament as they’d signed up but didn’t want to do it. They’re so persuasive that I think it was just easier to hide than try to say no! I was the first in the shower and it was absolutely amazing to not have a cloudy piece of glass in between them. Whoever thought that that was a good idea I have absolutely no idea at all. It was mental! The mens were made of corrugated metal so why couldn’t the girls have been too? Very, very weird! I took a little while in the shower, warming up and washing the rain out of my hair before throwing on my pyjamas and going back to the room. Just like the last few days, I’m now sitting in bed wrapped in a sheet and writing my blog whilst waiting for Codie to get back from his shower. It’s been a really long today today though we don’t seem to have done that much and I’m more than happy to just fall asleep now. The hostel seems like a really nice place, if perhaps not a little bit louder than what we’re used to, but there’s a really friendly atmosphere and that’s always good. It’s a shame that the nice girls in our room are leaving tomorrow though as it would have been nice to talk to them for a bit longer but hopefully there’ll be more nice people tomorrow. Providing it doesn’t throw it down all tomorrow, we’re going to rent kayaks in the morning and have a look around the creek. Should be fun!