A full time traveller Kate and her partner have called a Toyota Coaster home since December 2016. They are currently touring Australia making memories and lapping up everything this amazing country has to offer. Visit www.theroadhousecoasters.com
Published April 30th 2018
Back in 2016, when we decided to do the big lap and pinned a map of Australia to the wall of our Newtown home "Swim with whale sharks at Ningaloo" was one of the first Post-It notes to go up. Unfortunately, as we rolled into Western Australia in June 2017, the whale sharks were just on their way out. And so we waited, and waited. We ended up with 9 months on our hands until the oceans largest fish was due back at Ningaloo. We house sat, we walked dogs, we did paper rounds, casual teaching, casual labour. We explored the South West to death, twice. Then finally they were back.
There are tons of whale shark tour operators at Ningaloo and we painstakingly read review after review. Some offer guarantees, some offer barista coffee, some have newer, faster boats than others. We ended up booking with Ocean Eco Adventures. The reviews were amazing, so we handed over our $800, otherwise known as 2 weeks worth of travel money, and pointed the bus towards Ningaloo. A week and a half after leaving Perth, we rolled into the tiny, dusty town.
We spent a few days exploring the ranges and the water. Swimming with turtles before we'd had breakfast and then taking an afternoon stroll in an empty gorge as black-footed wallabies jumped by. On Friday, we drove our bus from our beachside camp in the Cape Ranges National Park to the jetty and met the rest of our group of 22. The tour guides were enthusiastic and helpful. They were marine biologists, deck hands, underwater photographers. They assured us they would make the day perfect for us. As is standard with adults who are taking part in organised fun, we eyed them suspiciously.
They were right though. The day was perfect. From the moment we stepped onto the Latitude 22, the fastest and best-looking boat in the bunch, the adventure started. Their enthusiasm was contagious. They passed around coffee and fussed over breakfast while making sure we had all the info we needed and then we were all kitted out with perfectly fitting stinger suits, masks and flippers. In no time at all, we were in the water for a practice snorkel with Nemo and his Western Australian cousins. A short boat trip through the turquoise water while morning tea was served and next thing we knew, a whale shark had been spotted by the light aircraft. Before we knew it, we were back in the water and for an hour and a half we were in and out as the two groups of ten took it in turns to swim alongside the whale sharks.
On my first sighting of the whale shark, I was both terrified and excited at the same time. I swam alongside him, just 3 meters away from its fin. It was magical. It was like being part of a new special underwater world for a few moments before he out swam me with a few easy flicks of his tail.
To celebrate ticking off a line item on so many people's bucket list, we all spent a happy hour on the top deck drinking bubbles and eating fresh fruit as we sped back to the jetty. A happier group of people you couldn't have found.