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Monday, January 26, 2015

Australia 2014: A Wild Time in Bunbury

A Date with the Dolphins

It was a nice and sunny morning on the day of our date with the dolphins of Bunbury. Thanks to the lovely people at the Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre, we had complimentary tickets to visit these majestic creatures. The Centre describes how feeding the dolphins became a local tradition:

During the mid 1960’s, Mrs Evelyn Smith, a local resident, began feeding the dolphins from a small jetty near her home on the Leschenault Inlet (directly south of the Discovery Centre). Unfortunately, she passed away in the early 70′s ceasing any regular feeding of the dolphins she befriended. Some dolphins continued to be fed by the public from areas nearby. However it wasn’t until 1989 that a dolphin specialist was hired by the newly established Bunbury Dolphin Trust to continue this tradition and begin feeding and studying the local dolphins of Koombana Bay.
From this work came the establishment of the Interaction Zone in 1990 and the Dolphin Discovery Centre in 1994 to allow tourists and members of the community to interact, understand and enjoy the group of five to six dolphins that regularly visit this Zone.
We don’t clearly understand why the dolphins continue to visit the Zone today however research does suggest that the small amount of food they receive as a reward for their visit is not the only attraction. There are many dolphins that visit the Zone regularly that do not receive any fish and many of them stay for extended periods of time for interaction with the human visitors.
Sick and injured dolphins also treat the beach as a haven, with some repeatedly visiting during periods of illness or injury.
And we thoroughly enjoyed our time at the centre (which as it turned out did not only feature dolphins); and our two boys were enthralled by all that they saw!
The Dolphin Discovery Centre has many volunteers who help to provide awareness on the
animals in the centre, telling many exciting stories about the interesting inhabitants there.

One of the interesting stories was about an octopus who loves to live in the box at the centre. She is fondly loved by all.
And there are also many crayfish who are native to the area. Our sons were unfortunately thinking of them
more as food than as "friends"!

Many children are intrigued to learn about the exciting wildlife in the area.
Our two boys were also among the number, both excited to learn about the marine life in Australia.
Having just watched "Finding Nemo", our two sons were fascinated at seeing the clown fish up close and personal.
And they were equally delighted that "Dory" was also around!
Did you know how much dolphins eat each day?
The spectacular dolphinarium features three short stories about dolphins and their behaviour in the wild.
It is a 360 degree experience; and you truly feel immersed in the world of the dolphins.
Our children were mesmerised to be able to "see" dolphins from such an
up close and personal perspective!
We had seen quite a bit of the discovery centre, so we decided to take a much-need lunch break. The children of course got to run around to work off their boundless energy.

Lunch break at the centre. Our children got to run around at the lovely
playground located within the centre itself!
Here's out little 2yo acting all "grown up"!
Just as we were enjoying our lovely lunch of smoked fish and country beef pies, we heard the sound of a bell. "Dolphin alert!" yelled a volunteer. There was suddenly a buzz of activity, and a certain thrill of anticipation in the air. Would we really come nose to nose with one of these majestic creatures?
The Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre tries its best to ensure a healthy
interaction time with the dolphins.
The dolphin visitation chart. Volunteers take notes on the frequency and duration of each visit.
That's Daddy Mark waiting in line for the arrival of the dolphin. We were asked to stand still and
wait for the creature's approach patiently.
Our 2yo looking on.
It was a sad moment when we realised that the dolphin had indeed come, but that he had decided against coming into the interaction zone to be with us. One could almost feel the sadness that was in the air.... As for me, I decided that I definitely wanted to come back again; and hopefully I would get a chance to feast my eyes on the untamed beauty of a dolphin in the wild..
Our 4yo enjoying the beauty of the Bunbury coast.
Barefooted and at home!
As we left Bunbury that evening, we were filled with a sense of awe. There's something about the majesty of animals in the wild; we didn't know it then, but in the days ahead we would come barely within inches of the largest mammal in the world - the whale....

Previously: The magnificent Ngilgi Cave and the grand Cape Nationaliste Lighthouse...
Next: The untamed marshlands of the Tuart Forest National Park...

Note: This is a review arranged between the Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre and Parenting on Purpose. We received complimentary tickets to the discovery centre for the purpose of writing this review. All opinions expressed here are our own.

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