Friday, January 2, 2015

Western Australia Day 6: Dolphin Discovery Centre @ Bunbury

Saying goodbye to new found friends.

It's midway through our road trip through the southwest, and after four nights at the Big 4 Beachlands Holiday Park in Busselton, it was finally time to leave for Perth Hills where we were grateful to spend the rest of the holiday at a friend's place.

We headed out to the Dolphin Discovery Centre at Bunbury with mixed feelings. Friends at the caravan park came back disappointed as they did not see any dolphins despite driving an hour to Bunbury. That was excluding the one hour drive back to Busselton. We were wondering if we should give the place a miss as the sightings are after all, not guaranteed. These are wild dolphins and the volunteers there don't know when the dolphins would swim near the shore or if they would even entertain any visitors today. Still, we decided to give it a go, believing that even with no dolphins in sight, the children would be able to learn a lot at the Discovery Centre itself. It was also on the way to Perth anyway. Upon arrival, we learnt that the dolphins had yet to appear for the day and the volunteers were all on the look out for them. It was only 9.20 am so we still had lots of time to play the waiting game with the gentle mammals. Perfect.

Lots of creatures on display. Magnifying visualizer lets us in close on a dried baby turtle's shell.

'Biskit' is the name of an unborn dolphin foetus, otherwise nicknamed 'Sleeping Beauty'.

A projection room screening 3D movies on underwater life at Bunbury.

Man-made trash is hurting marine life!

Let's look inside a dolphin!

We get our photos taken with the friendly mascot.

10 am and it's feeding time for the animals in the aquarium. Our hilarious volunteer takes us tank by tank as he shares interesting nuggets of information with us. For example, did you know an octopus has purple blood? The octopus kept trying to escape the tank and squirted jets of water at its audience. Kids were definitely amused, despite being sprayed at.
Hand feeding the octopus with shrimps

The animals in the touch pool need to be fed too.

We learnt about how crayfish (known as lobsters where we come from) shed their shell in a process called 'moulting'. Do we shed our skin too? The answer is yes, but it comes off in tiny, tiny pieces.

Coming face to face with the predator of the deep.

This is one lucky crayfish. It will fetch A$40 at the restaurant down the road. This one however, like all the other animals here, will be released back into the sea when its duty is done.

Port Jackson Shark

Getting a feel of just how difficult traditional fire-starting is. The demonstrator took months to master the skill. Now where's that lighter?

Just as we were about to leave this beautiful beach after a 2 hours wait...

... the volunteers rang the bell! We had a lone visitor!

Visitors formed an observation line in waist deep water with guidance from the volunteers. The dolphin curiously swims in front of us. The girls were apprehensive to get into the water at first but Mummy got in and they, too, followed.

Even though we had a very short encounter with just one dolphin, seeing it just in front of us (one arm's length away from Mummy!) was a memorable experience. Dilated eyes and wide grins weren't enough to express the thrill and awe we felt even though the water was cold and we were soaked from the waist down. The one hour drive and the two hours wait was worth it.

On our way to Perth we passed through Mandurah, where Mummy had picked out a nice place for one of our favourite meals of the trip. Cicerello's is a popular seafood joint with award winning waterfront outlets here and at Hilarys.

Next up, lunch at Mandurah waterfront

A very no-frills concept. Aside from their fish and chips specialties, they have a wide variety of seafood to choose from.

This crayfish wasn't as lucky as his friend at Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre, but at least it did not die in vain.
The meal was expensive considering the crayfish cost close to $50 but at least Mummy got her wish. One crayfish per trip. That's was it. She was satisfied with the day and so was everyone else.

We reached Kalamunda in the mid afternoon and made a couple of detours to top up the tank and get some groceries. The next few days will be spent exploring the family friendly spots around Perth. I am sure it will be just as exciting as it has been getting here from Denmark.

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