The problem with whale watching during a gale is that sea spray and whale spray look ridiculously similar.
There are a couple of wild windy pressure systems being squeezed up the east coast of Australia over the next two days.
We had planned to drive to Tilba to have a poke around, but on seeing the sheer volume of forrest detritus getting sprayed across the roads by rolling gusts topping 80 kph, we decided to opt for plan B. Ripley is a motorhome seemingly wrapped around the DNA of a catamaran. Her large surface area presents a significant sail side on to the wind, and I have this suspicion she wants to show off and get herself up on two wheels given half the chance.
So instead, it was hunker down, do little, and drink lots of coffee whilst doing it.
Later, thoroughly fed up with our plan B, Juno walked us up to a lookout above the local beach. Snubbing the spectacular view he trotted around preferring instead to investigate a series of half hearted rabbit holes, or wombat holes….trolls perhaps (we argued about it) that pockmarked the ground. Assured that there was nothing actually lurking in the holes, he satisfied himself by chewing thoughtfully on found treats of soft-centred kangaroo scat.
At the end if the point there was an old wooden picnic table set with a commanding view out across the Pacific. Despite the wind, the sun was warm and we settled down to soak it up. The perfect perch to try to spot some of the first whales of the season as they made their way south down the coast.
Looking for whales, everything is a whale, and we made many excited false sightings. First person not to see a whale had to make dinner. A confused swell and an angry chop rolled across the bay and sea spray curled back off the tops of cresting waves that verily breached and lept and tail-slapped in a wild liquid anthropomorphis.
Soon enough though we did spot a couple of more promising sprays (I was going to have to make dinner). Through the binoculars I could resolve 3 humpback whales way out to sea. Loping through the whitecaps, at one point flipping up a gloss of black tail to mark a deep dive.
And then. Kelly spotted a humpback. Just there!
50 metres offshore, way closer than we expected. Looking out through the binocs I would never have seen it. Cruising steadily below us, no fuss, dorsal fin cutting its direction, a large serene presence of dark grey, a flash of fluorescent green/blue from the underside, attended by a gaggle of hopeful seabirds.
Kelly snapped a couple of pics on her iPhone but with distance they looked like wasted nothing. Better to simply watch.
Tracking past the point the humpback eventually submerged out of view and that was that. Nothing left but to make our way back to Ripley.
How about take-away?