To see a lion

Trip Start Jul 11, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Elliston Caravan Park

Flag of Australia  , South Australia,
Saturday, October 20, 2012

Our "interesting" neighbours left the camp at about 10pm last night, leaving one ladies shoe (which I suspect may be her only one) behind, the younger boys toy (which we had been told by his brother last night was his favourite one that he takes everywhere) and a pile of mussel shells they had obviously earlier cooked up. They had said they'd be gone in the morning, but hadn't said they drive through the night.

We had come to Baird Bay as we had seen that there are tours here where you can swim with sea lions and dolphins. This trip has been about doing things we wouldn't get the chance to do, so had decided we couldn't miss this opportunity.

What an experience. We were all put into wetsuits before getting on the boat, even Claire and Lachie. They were both very excited about it, and were all smiles on the short ride out to Jones Island at the mouth of the Bay. The island is the home of a sea lion colony and we headed in close to the shore and spotted many of them on the beach and up above the rocks. We could see the younger pups and a few of the larger sea lions beginning to move into the water and then head out to swim around the boat and check us out almost immediately.

We backed into a kind of shallow pool area where we were then able to get into the water with the guide. Harry and Emily were first in there with life buoys as a bit of insurance as the sea lions came in and circled them. Lachie and Claire both came out, but didn't last too long as they got cold quickly. They were much more comfortable on the boat, which even had hot milo's and biscuits.

The sea lions darted up and down and around and came in close to check everyone out with their huge eyes. Mark, the guide played with them. He initially placed small rocks on a large underwater rock, which were quickly pushed off by one of the sea lions. He also mimicked their swimming, which sent them into spins around him as they tried to do the same to him. They jumped out of the water and swam so quickly, it was amazing. They just seem to love the interaction with people.

We left Jones Island and headed a few hundred metres away to where the dolphins usually hang around. This was in an area where the waves come through, so both Harry and Emily decided just to watch from the boat this time. When we were told to get in, everyone quickly had to get into the water and follow Mark. A pod of dolphins came all around us and up close to see who we all were. They were  either a little quicker than the sea lions or more skittish as we had to swim to keep near them and would then lose them for a while before they returned. There were a few that seemed to want to come in to us more than the rest and got close enough that you could have put out your hand to touch them if you wanted to (or were allowed). The pace  split the group (of people) quickly and soon only a few of us remained. After losing them again we got back in and had another go at picking them up. By this stage only Paul and Mark were still going, with the rest shivering on the boat from the cold.

It was truly an unforgettable experience, and one we would all love to do again in a heart beat.

A short drive up the dirt road lead us to Murphy's Hay stacks. They are limestone rock outcrops that were named by an agriculture expert who on seeing the rocks from a distance, exclaimed that "Murphy must have sowed his land well to get such large hay stacks".  On closer inspection he realised that they were rocks and those with him saw the funny side of his mistake. Everyone started calling the outcrop Murphy's Hay Stacks and the name stuck.

Elliston, a small coastal town was our stop for the night, about half an hour further south.  We went down to the pier of a bit of fishing but the wind was too crazy, so we retreated to the caravan park for a jump on the jumping pillow and the kids ventured into the pool for an after dinner swim.
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