This Time Last Year

This Time Last Year

What were you doing twelve months ago? A lot has happened – worldwide!

We’ve had fire, floods, locusts, and there is always famine somewhere. We are currently going through the plague of COVID-19 and here in WA today, the worst storm in a decade is predicted.

I’ve been staying home, only going out when necessary and social distancing as much as I can. Sitting here today, all battened down awaiting the storm I thought back to this time last year and recalled I was swimming with the whale sharks!  I would never have imagined in a million years, the world as it is now.

swimming with a whale shark at ningaloo

It was a girls getaway.  4 of us.  2 from WA and 2 from Queensland.

girls getaway swimming with whale sharks in ningaloo

We hired a car and were great tourists around the town of Exmouth and surrounding areas.  It was like being back in the Pilbara - huge termite mounds and signs around town telling us to watch out for emus on the road and even in our villa telling us not to feed them!

termite mount in exmouth beware of emus in exmouth

Both Turquoise Bay and Coral Bay were a must on the agenda.  Turquoise Bay is pristine and well named.  Deserted beach of white sand, crystal clear, yes turquoise water.  Just beautiful.

turquoise bay western australia

We went on a Manta Ray Tour in Coral Bay.  Enjoyed some snorkling over a reef and saw turtles and lots of fish.  Then we came across a black ray that just cruised along doing black flips and completely ignoring us.  So over tourists!

turtle at coral bay black manta ray at coral bay

The reason for the trip and highlight was of course swimming with the whale sharks.  This was a long and tiring day and worth it.

We were picked up early from Exmouth in a bus and taken to Tantabiddi to board our boat.  Our tour guides were very knowledgeable and told us lots of information about the whale sharks. Then we were given the RULES i.e. distance to keep from the whale shark, don’t swim in front, over the top or underneath etc.

whale sharp approaching ningaloo

We were divided up into two groups with a guide each.  Once a whale shark was spotted the boat positioned us ahead of it. We had to be ready at the back of the boat with our mask, snorkel and fins on. Then we were told "go go go" and we all jumped into the water and lined up in the direction our guide indicated. Then we waited until she said “look now” and when I put my head down into the water – holy cow this huge thing was swimming towards me!

whale shark spotted at ningaloo

Before you know it, it is swimming past you and you have to swim like crazy to keep up.  This is the view I had most…..

back view of whale shark in ningaloo

We had very fast whale sharks that day. That is not just me saying this – the tour operators agreed. Anyway, the whale shark soon leaves us behind and the boat picks us up. We then have time to catch our breath before the boat gets us into position for another swim. And on it goes. Until we were all exhausted. The hot drinks and food on offer went down really well I can tell you.

An amazing experience.  It leaves you awestruck.  I feel very privileged.

With the travel restrictions currently in place, if you are thinking about where to go on your next holiday, consider doing this when the regions open up.  You won't regret it.

May your whale shark be slow.


Photo credits: Around Exmouth & Turquoise Bay: Me
Manta Ray Tour: Peter Wandmaker
Whale Shark Tour: Ningaloo WhaleSharks
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