Encounters with dolphins and other wildlife in a tiny resort town prove mesmerising.
The morning sun’s rays were quickly warming the air but an equilibrium was found when I stepped into the cool water.
After only a few steps I was handed a small yellowtail trumpeter. Lowering the fish into the water was met with a small splash, and the fish was swiftly removed from my loose grip by Piccolo, a big Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin, with her newborn, Pan, confidently frolicking around me and the four other dolphins who joined for the feed.
Where was I?
In the crystal-clear waters of the world-famous Monkey Mia resort, 835km north of Perth.
I was visiting as a lifeguard for 10 students from Willetton Senior High School who were volunteering for the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions – Parks and Wildlife Service.
They were volunteering as part of their Gold Residential Project, a section of the Award only for Gold Award participants – the highest level of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.
We “glamped” at the recently renovated RAC Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort. “Lavish”, “stunning”, “brand-spanking new”, all perfect words to describe the resort’s facilities since the renovations were completed mid last year.
Kitchens, toilets and showers, beachfront villas, recreation rooms, and a new 23m wheelchair-accessible pool made our stay as pleasant as having a suite at the Four Seasons.
Every day at 7.45am travellers from far and wide are greeted only a few metres from the shoreline by four or five dolphins for a small portion of the dolphins’ daily feed, approximately 10 per cent.
Guests who attend the feeding sessions are chosen at random to have an extremely close encounter with one of these beautiful marine creatures. Feeding sessions are three times a day, every day of the year.
Unique experiences like these, pristine white beaches, turquoise water, fiery orange sunsets, and nights scattered with the most brilliant and brightest stars you would have ever seen give way to a still, magnificent sunrise; it is easy to see why so many West Australians make their way up here once, if not several times a year.
Each day once the volunteering jobs were complete, we filled our afternoons with light walks along the Wulyibidi Yaninyina trail. This beautiful off-road walk encompasses the natural phenomena of Monkey Mia, showcasing the unique transition from the rich Australian red dirt to the soft, white sandy beaches, and an array of Australian wildlife such as the emu, red kangaroo, thorny devil, goanna, echidna and much, much more.
The Shark Bay region is home to some 200 species of birds, most of which can be seen during a casual stroll along this enchanting trail; a haven for bird photographers itching to capture these exquisite species.
Travelling to and from Monkey Mia was as much of a treat as being there was. I travelled up in a lime-green 2018 model Jeep Wrangler, followed by the students in a school bus hitching a trailer, blowing up dust in its wake. We made several stops at small towns to refuel but never missed the opportunity to have a little look around and stock up at the local cafes and coffee shops; dare I say, some of the best sweets and treats in WA.
With plenty of sights along the way such as the Greenough Bendy Tree, Wanagarren Nature Reserve and WA’s farmland, it is an exciting drive with an extraordinary end.
(Top image: The dolphins coming in to Monkey Mia for the morning feeding session. Picture: Jesse Tucek)
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