|Whale with calf at Head of Bight, Nullarbor Plain, South Australia|
The dry, dusty and unseasonally hot wind that had kept our fuel consumption at an all time high swept us out of the car, whistled around our ankles and bent us double until anchored by our lunch bag we landed in the shelter shed.
|The Nullarbor Plain through the windscreen, South Australia|
Despite the thrill that came with being on one of the largest Karst landforms in the world, and traversing 90 mile Straight (Australia's longest), so far our virgin crossing of the famous Nullarbor plain wasn't really doing it for us.
Even the Scenic Public Toilets* were few and far between. Although there were probably more loos than trees (Null = zero, arbor = tree, geddit?) …
34º C and winds that bent us double. No campsites out of the wind along the way. And a LOOOOONG way to go across the bite-shaped Great Australian Bight that stretches along a third or more of the southern coastline. Hell, we weren't even half-way across Australia! We almost didn't stop.
|Bright Blue Bight View! Great Australian Bight, South Australia|
The path led through the Interpretive Centre (where we paid our fee) then down to the viewing platforms nestled in the cliffs. Our visit to one of the largest Southern Right Whale breeding grounds and nurseries in the world had better be worthwhile after the dramas we'd faced to get there.
And on a whale viewing platform above the Great Southern Ocean** in peak creche season (May to October), that meant there'd better be whales.
|Bunda Cliffs, Great Australian Bight, South Australia|
May as well have just flushed the AUD$12 entry fee down the toilet, I thought as I grimly pushed back against the wind still determined to see me off the cliffs and into the Bight.
Still, I could feel a photo coming on when I saw the boardwalk against the magnificent coastal scenery. I slowed down for the inevitable shot as Pilchard continued down the track.
Then I heard it!
'It's a boy!' a wind-blown traveller exclaimed as she emerged onto the cliff top and drew level with Pilchard. 'Look down there!' Pilchard looked, then turned to me and beckoned excitedly.
|Bunda Cliffs up close, Great Australian Bight, South Australia|
And there, below us in the water, wallowing RIGHT below us in the water was a whale and her calf. As we both watched (and one of us photographed wildly) the calf put on a fine display directly from the whale-watching handbook.
But one thing was puzzling me. I turned to the helpful traveller.
'How can you tell it's a boy?' I asked, intrigued.
'Well, just look at how he's showing off!' she replied, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. Which perhaps it was. Is.
Half an hour later, as we reluctantly returned to the hot, dry and dusty Nullarbor, our memory of the spectacular sight of at least 30 whales with calves swimming along the cliffs obscured by one little show off.
Years of corporate life failed to equip me with the skills required for whale-sexing, so I am unable to confirm if our friendly guide's assessment of this little whale's gender was correct.
But, until a more accurate explanation – or a more highly qualified whale-sexer – comes along to disprove it, I'll accept her conclusion.
Somehow I think I'll be waiting for quite some time ...
Want More Information?
- Southern Right Whale (Eubalaena Australis)
* Enjoy Aussie Scenic Public Toilets all year round! Click HERE to find out how!!
**As it is known to us Aussies – according to the Eyre Peninsula tourist guide, the rest of the world calls it the Indian Ocean!
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