Sunday, December 14, 2014

Whale Watching in November

Whale watching is a popular activity in New South Wales due to the annual migration that takes place from May to November. 

When my brother, Razlan and his family were in town, we signed up for this unique experience by booking ourselves on a Whale Watch Cruise with Dolphin Watch Cruises in Jervis Bay. Not only it would be fun for the little ones to watch the gentle giants up, close and personal but also for us adults too.

Cruise departure times vary each day - depending on type of cruise and boat used. Hence it is best you get in touch with Dolphin Watch Cruises prior to making plans. They will advice you on the departure times for your chosen date. Since we had chosen a cruise with the bigger boat (I thought we would fare better on a bigger boat when out at sea), our 3 hour whale watching cruise departed at 11:15am on Tuesday. 

Since we live approx 2.5 hours away from Jervis Bay, we decided to spend a couple of days in Huskisson to allow us to enjoy experience without exhausting the little ones. That was a good decision as while the adults were able to wing it, the kids (2 years and 4 years) took naps in between whenever they could.

Departing Sydney at 11am, we took a leisurely drive along Grand Pacific Drive in making our way to Huskisson. Stopping along the way (read about it by clicking on Part 1 and Part 2), we arrived at our rented property about 6pm. 

The next morning, we arrived 15 minutes earlier to collect our cruise tickets from the management office across the jetty. Complimentary tea/coffee and biscuits are provided on board for period of time. You can also bring your own snacks/drinks on board if you wish. Don't forget to bring your jacket along as it tends to get cold with the strong winds.
Lan, Reen, Pebbles & Dedek in front of Tekin III, our vessel of the day.

With everyone on board, the captain introduced us to his crew and briefed us on house keeping rules (which included shouting out and pointing towards the location of any whales we spot). Once the formalities were done, we were on our way. 

Earlier when the captain was heading back to shore, he spotted a mummy whale and her pup within the bay itself. This was excellent news because if the whales were not within the bay, we would have headed out to the rough open seas towards the "whales highway". More often than not, participants would end up experiencing sea sickness! Having said that, the captain quickly headed for the area they were last spotted to catch up with them.

It was our lucky day! Catch up with them we did. Not only we did not have to go far, we were entertained by them for the next 1 hour 45 minutes. Baby whale seem to be practising his jumps - straight up above the water and falling back in. He did this many many times, possibly showing off his skills to his mom. There were times mummy whale decided to show him her own skills as well by doing the same, often ending with a bigger splash. This of course thrilled us on board and we all had our cameras (phones, compacts and SLRs) snapping away. Some of us decided to switch to "video mode" when we found out it was not easy trying to capture the moment with a point and shoot.

One of the very few clear pictures of the whale in action. I gave up after a while and decided to focus on the live action instead.
Pictures by Razlan Dawood, who had greater determination than I did in capturing these moments. This was going on for at least 1 hour 45 minutes.
Lan, so focused in trying to record the whales while we gave up and took a wefie instead.
Mr H caught it on video.

After nearly 2 hours of action, baby whale and mummy whale got tired and decided to swim away. It was also time for us to make our way back to shore. Captain of Tekin III decided to take the route along the shores of Callala Bay due to kinder wind conditions. As we were approaching land, several dolphins decided to surprise us by appearing along side our cruise. They playfully tagged a long us for a few hundred meters before breaking away. Such a bonus for all of us on board.

Once docked, we said our thank yous and made our way across the street for some much needed lunch.
Don't forget a jacket as it could be chilly on board.
Pebbles found a whale on land too!

Our rented unit - The Anchorage
We could have stayed within Jervis Bay itself but wanted to be closer to the beach without having to pay an arm and a leg. After much searching online, I came across The Anchorage at Callala Bay. This attractive 3 bedroom 2 bathroom unit was not only reasonably priced it did not include add on charges for linen and BBQ cleaning (common charges for other property rentals). You only have to bring your own toiletries and beach towels. Everything else is provided.

We had a comfortable 2 night stay. The place is well equipped and child friendly. When not at the beach, there wasn't a dull moment either with the many board games, DVDs (even cartoons for the litte ones) and books to choose from. 
Top: Lounge area
Bottom (L-R): Master bedroom with ensuite, queen bed and two single beds
Location wise, it is
  • 36 minutes to Jervis Bay National Park
  • 30 minutes away from Jervis Bay
  • 5-10 minutes drive to nearest shopping centre
  • less than 3 minutes walk to beach (Callala Bay - home to 80% of bottle nose dolphins in Jervis Bay. We spotted a dolphin or two from the shore when we were there).
If you intend to have all your meals outside, the distance could prove to be a disadvantage. However with a well equipped kitchen, it is worth to consider doing your own cooking. We did just that and brought along enough food to last us for 2 breakfasts and 2 BBQ dinners.

For more information on this awesome rental unit, click on The Anchorage.

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