Once we had decided to embark on our Road trip around western Australia, we had two options.
Option one: head down south towards the wine regions of Margaret River where we would spend the week touring the local wineries amongst beautiful landscapes, getting slowly drunker by the day OR
Option two: travel north to see some dolphins.
Despite the draw of a plentiful supply of cheap Western Australian wine, we had two extra people to consider. The Kids, so option one it was and what a good decision it was to.
Monkey Mia is located midway up the West Australian Coastline, approx 850 kilometres from Perth. It sits in the middle of Shark Bay which is a World Heritage Area.
We stayed at the Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort for two days which was a welcome relief to. After the previous days of intensive driving we were all pretty ready for a couple of days off.
Monkey Mia is one of the more unusual place names I’ve come across. Apparently Mia is the Aboriginal term for home or shelter, while the Monkey part of the name is allegedly derived from a pearling boat called Monkey that anchored at the now Monkey Mia in the late 19th century, during the days when pearling was an industry in the region.
It’s also been suggested that the origin of the name Monkey Mia could also be the pet monkeys owned by early Malay pearlers who camped at the location. All I know is that it’s a truly beautiful place.
Monkey Mia is famed for the numerous bottlenose dolphins and that is exactly what we came to see.
The wild dolphins visit ‘dolphin beach‘ 3 – 4 times a day and interact with the humans at the beach. They are part of a pod of around 300 wild dolphins that live in the bay.
The dolphins have been visiting the beach since 1964 when a lady from one of the near-by fishing camps befriended the dolphins, regularly feeding them.
Generations of wild dolphins have enjoyed the regular human contact which has now become a part of their daily lives although it’s now closely governed by the DEC (The Department of Environment and Conservation) who ensure the dolphins are treated in a way that will not adversely effect them.
These measure include things such as as feeding the dolphins a maximum of 25% of their daily food requirement (so the dolphins continue to hunt for fish and do not become reliant on the humans giving the dolphins food).
The baby dolphins are never fed when they visit with their mothers to ensure that they learn how to hunt and become self sufficient prior to receiving human handouts.
Physical contact with the dolphins is also not allowed (by the rangers who facilitate each feeding session), not to say that a dolphin can’t still swim so close that it would brush up against your legs!
If you were swimming outside of the presentation area you could come face-to-face with a dolphin to. However the rangers simply don’t want people reaching out and touching the dolphins. A little over kill in my opinion but in some respects it makes sense. Dolphins have teeth but touching them could also cause the dolphins more harm than good in the long term.
It was great to share the Monkey Mia experience with our kids. Watching Junior number 1 (who is now 6) standing there in the turquoise green waters of the Indian ocean whilst he had a couple of wild dolphins swimming around his ankles is a memory I will treasure forever. It’s certainly something I’d never thought I’d be doing when he was born in the bleak grimness of the UK all those years ago!
Junior number 2 (now just over 1 years old) also enjoyed the experience although if the truth be known she did seem a little more interested in grabbing my camera then watching the dolphins. Much in the same way that she was more fascinated with the paper than the presents this Christmas!
Whilst at the resort we also (somehow) managed to befriend an emu with its two younger chicks (big chicks at that). Monkey Mia resort has a number of wild emu’s that also choose to call the resort their home.
They roam throughout the resort picking at scraps and generally looking quite sweaty. The adult would easily stand at my chest height (and I’m over two meters tall) and it’s big beady eyes kinda freaked me out a little. I’m sure it’s mother still loved it though!
Anyway, onto some pictures:
Our final post in this mini series will be on Shell Beach which we’ll post tomorrow.