“It’s actually more of an avocado green,” Julie observes as we leave the house and head to the Terrigal Haven Boat Ramp for our whale watching tour. She’s talking about Carolyn’s ‘beach shack’- as Carolyn herself calls it. It’s being repainted, and yesterday, someone had the gall to call it ‘lime.’
It’s the perfect place to come for a winter weekend with girlfriends, even though I forgot the Cards Against Humanity. We have hot water bottles, cheese and wine, and flannel sheets.
Terrigal is an easy drive from Sydney and located on the Central Coast; it’s laid back and casual with beach-kitsch shops and a wide shore frontage. Plan on 90 km’s, and if you’re going on a weekend, try and leave the city by 3:30 or learn to embrace the inevitable traffic. You’ll be on the M1 most of the route. On the way down, stop at Darron’s Seafood in Wamberal for a ‘healthy’ fish and chips dinner. Just do it, everyone does.
Humpbacks are populous along the coast during their migration cycle from April to November. All summer long, they’ve gorged themselves in Antarctic waters and are now coming south into warmer territory to mate and give birth. It’s a pretty sure thing that we’ll see at least one. None of us are budding marine biologists, but we love being on the water, and who can resist seeing a whale in the wild? At only $40 for the hour-ish experience, it’s a great deal. Plus, whales! Wild ones!
We go to the boat ramp and hop onto the tender in two groups. It takes us to the whale watching boat, which only holds 10 patrons at a time. This is good because it means it’s quicker and sleeker and everyone can see everything. Seating runs along the center of the boat and is straddle-style. Those with limited mobility should check beforehand that these close quarters will be something they can manage. Nala, the groodle joins us in her lifejacket (safety first!) and does her duty in watching for whale spray. (Y’all know I’m a sucker for anything concerning dogs.)
The ride is a blast; we bounce and bump and jet out about 3 km’s from shore. We don’t see anything for a while, but then we get lucky; we spot whale spray much closer toward the beach. Once there, they show off their acrobatic skills, breaching and exposing their white barnacle colonies and dorsal fins. They flop over onto their sides and show us their pectoral fins, each as unique to them as our fingerprints are to us.
We watch until they move on, and then we head back to the boat ramp. Some fishermen have come in with scads of flathead, and as they are cleaning it, the Pelicans have become brave beggars, waiting for the innards and heads to be flicked their way. I’m actually as interested in them as I was in the big sea whoppers. These birds are huge and storybook-strange. Fat toddlers with wings, they are. They’re also strangely agile, and when one comes at you with that sword-like beak, you find that you too are agile, and you get the hell out of the way.
- The International Whaling Commission banned Humpback whaling in the Southern Hemisphere in 1963.
- It is estimated that when this ban went into effect, only 100 individual Humpback whales remained in the east coast population.
- Recovery is 10-11% per year, and though the population is at pre-whaling numbers, threats, including the loss of krill in the Antarctic ocean, entanglement in nets and vessel collisions, loom large. They remain listed as a Threatened Species.
This experience was independently paid for. For additional information and to book a tour: https://terrigaltours.com.au/