A day of whales and wine (I know, not a likely combination)

Augusta Travel Blog

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This morning we woke up early to drive down to Augusta for a whale spotting tour, which was one of my birthday surprises. Dave managed to keep me wondering for the last few weeks about where we were going until he told me the night before. He had told me we had to leave at 9am to be at the location for 9:30am. Having done the drive before, but from Margaret River (which is closer), I knew the drive to Augusta would be closer to an hour, so I assumed we weren't going there. Well I can say I was quite happy to hear this was the surprise because it'd been hoping for!

I will admit that it may be strange coming from someone who grew up an hour from Digby, Nova Scotia, which is famous for its whale watching, to be excited about driving 3 hours each way to Southwestern Australia to see whales.
But ever since I was last in the area and heard that lots of whales are in the Dunsborough area around September, I was super keen to visit the area again and see for myself. Since we were there in August, which is a bit early for the whales to be around Dunborough, Augusta is the place to be.

The town is on the southwestern-ist point of Australia, and is known for its past history in whale slaughtering and for where the Southern Ocean and Indian Ocean meet. It also has a lighthouse that you can pay $5 a person to walk up to and then back to the entrance. The town takes about 5 minutes to drive through and consists of a petrol station, bakery, news agency and a couple restaurants.

Anywho, back to the whalewatching. The drive took a bit longer than we thought but we arrived before the crew started ferrying people over in a small boat, out to the larger boat.
The sky was overcast and it was windy and cold, but at least it wasn't raining. We boarded the boat, and started sailing out towards a Southern Right whale, which we could see from the shore. The captain told us that they are called a Southern Right because they were the "right" whale for the job for whale hunters. Apparently the amount of blubber they have keeps them afloat after they are dead, so the hunters could kill one and then move onto the next without having to stop and haul up the dead whale, thus saving them time. It's hard to believe there was a time when there was an active whaling industry. Now they make $75 a person, sailing out to watch them.

Since this is the time of the year that Southern Rights are in the area to give birth and the whale was exhibiting signs of giving birth, we sailed past it and into the bay to see some humpbacks.
We ended up seeing about six to eight of them for well over an hour. It was tough to take pictures because the boat was a bit rocky, and the boat turned and so did the whales. I did my best though and concentrating on taking pictures helped to keep the seasickness at bay.

After spending some quality time with the humpbacks, we sailed back in towards the Southern Right. This time, he (or she) was swimming and had a pod of dolphins with him/her, which was pretty dang cool!

Overall the trip out was a lot of fun, with the exception of the couple spurts of rain and the queasiness that comes with being on a rocky boat for a couple hours. We were also hoping to see the whales jump out of the water but they only surfaced enough to get some air and then went back under.
Even though there were no "free willy" moments, it was still very exciting!

After we were back on shore (thank god!) we went for the quick drive over to the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse. The last time I was in the area I arrived 15 minutes too late to see the lighthouse, so this time we went to see it. We also saw where the two oceans meet. I was hoping for a big crashing of waves on that imaginary line, but if you didn't see the sign, you'd have no idea the oceans changed there. But at least with all the wind there were big waves, so I was partially pleased with the $10 entrance fees.

After the lighthouse we headed back north and went to Flutes Restaurant, which is located at the Brookland Valley winery, which happens to be the only winery I'd been to before. The meal was absolutely amazing and the view from the restaurant overlooked a river and part of the vinard.
Since it's winter, the wineyards are just rows of sticks but it was still quite nice, and well the wine didn't hurt either. The best thing about these restaurants is that you can go to the cellar door and taste the wines and then know what you want with your meal.

Ahhhhh .. I'm just having flashbacks of my confit of duck Leg with butternut pumpkin, pine nut and spinach risotto was to die for!

After a very fulfilling meal, we set back off to our home in the woods.

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photo by: genetravelling