Sunday, 25 February 2018

Brisbane Trip Day 7: Coffs Harbour

Amelie came up into my bed in the middle of the night and I was awake then for a couple of hours. Initially I was worrying about things then I looked up some auto electricians online and started to plan the next leg of our trip and felt much better. When I woke up in the morning I felt ok although my cold seemed worse. I went for a quick walk down to the beach then came back to ring an auto electrician who started work at 7am. He wasn’t able to help me but gave me the number of someone who would probably be able to. I played with Amelie for a while then rang the 2nd guy, he agreed to come out and have a look at the window the following morning.

We’d planned to have a quiet day today then go to Dolphin Marine Magic (formerly the Pet Porpoise Pool) tomorrow – but not knowing how long it would take the window to be fixed I didn’t want to risk having to sit around all morning waiting to be able to go. So we decided to go today and quickly got everyone else out of bed, had breakfast, packed some food, untaped the window and were at the Dolphin place by 9.30. I’d bought our tickets at the caravan park and saved about 15% which was a nice bonus. When we arrived I taped the window back up in case it rained and for security.

We had arrived at the dolphin place in time for dolphin kisses so we headed out to the dolphin pool – there were 2 dolphins swimming in the pool when we arrived so we excitedly watched them for a while. The kids then lined up to get a kiss from a dolphin which they all loved. They said the dolphin’s nose felt rubbery. We headed down to then get a hug from a seal – the kids all had one individually and then I joined them all for a group hug. We were able to put our arms around the seal – it felt smooth and furry and slippery.

We went back to the dolphin pool to get ready to watch the show – we were early enough to get the front row of seats, right at the middle of the pool. The show was enjoyable and funny – and Amelie was picked to go and help the dolphins dance – she got to stand by the side of the pool and conduct the dolphins by pointing her fingers and swinging her hands side to side. The smile on her face was as big as I have ever seen. The seals performed directly in front of us, we had a great view. Caitlin was picked to throw rings to a seal, who caught them over her head. She was also pretty thrilled. Once the show had finished we were all able to stand at the side of the pool and the dolphins swam past on their backs and we were allowed to pat their bellies. They felt cool and smooth and it was a lot of fun.

After the show we went to watch the shark and ray feeding. We looked at the fish, small sharks and rays in a large tank – we could look in through the top, or through windows in the side. There were also smaller tanks containing colourful fish from the region. Fish and squid were handed out on little metal plates and we were able to feed the animals using tongs. Some of the big snapper really splashed as they came up to grab the food, it was pretty funny. A banjo shark came right up the side of the tank and kept popping up to try and get food – it was beautiful and also amusing.

Next we watched the green turtles being fed – one of them was huge and the others a good size. We listened to the guy talk about how and where they’d been rescued and some other turtles that had been rehabilitated. On our way from there to the penguin feeding I noticed a plaque with this trainer’s name on it – he has been working there since 1970, so would have been there even when I visited as a 2 year old!

The Little Penguins were very cute (as expected). We got some photos then were able to help feed them fish – the guy handed out a couple of little fish or a piece of squid to each person as they got to the front of the line – we held out the fish and the penguins pulled them out of our hands (and then fought over the fish until one of them managed to swallow it). We were able to back to the end of the line and keep feeding them until all the fish were gone – the kids had several turns. Most people were feeding the penguins right up at the barrier, we reached a bit further back to feed some of the other penguins. Some of them didn’t like squid (and many people didn’t want to hold the squid) – Liam spent quite a while trying to find a penguin to eat his last piece of squid.

We then helped feed the small turtles (throwing pellets in to their pond), looked at the photos of the dolphin kiss and seal hug, then went back up to look at the dolphins again. One of the trainers was about to do a training session with a seal so we were able to sit (in our front row seats again) and watch that, it was cool to see how the trainer was working on tricks with the seal. We chatted to another trainer who had started working there part time in Year 11 and had recently moved to a full time job once she finished school, she loved working there and was really appreciative of the opportunity she’d had. One of the dolphins brought a ball over to the edge and Amelie played catch with it for a little while which was pretty fun. Walking back down from the pool we saw a trainer with a little New Zealand Fur Seal and talked to her and one of the vets.

We went and had some lunch (surrounded by a school group) and the kids wandered around and looked at the animals some more. Soon it was time for the afternoon session of dolphin kisses so we went back for more – I had a kiss this time as well, it was pretty cool (and yes, it did feel rubbery). Then off for hugs with the seal, the kids had another individual hug, I had one as well, and Caitlin and Liam hugged her together.

Back to see the show again, and had our front row seats again. This time I was picked to hold fish out for the dolphins to jump up and grab (very excited), Liam got to help the dolphins dance, Caitlin got to do a tooth and heart check on one of the dolphins, and Amelie got to throw a ball to one of the seals. (There were very few people in the audience this time, only 2 other kids and they also were selected to interact with the animals). We patted the dolphins again then went for another shark feeding and turtle feeding. We played with the dolphins in the pool again, throwing the ball to them, and then went back to see the penguins and fed them again. We went and watched the seals in their pool for a while, and then went to purchase the group photo of us with the seal. The kids browsed the gift shop and Caitlin and Amelie bought some jewellery.

It was very hot and humid by now so we decided to go to the Big Banana to get a frozen banana. I drove around via the beaches so we could have a look – the beach just to the north of the marina looked very inviting, not rough, wild surf like everywhere else we’d been. I drove all the way to the end of Ocean Parade and the last little bit felt very familiar – just like a memory I have of walking with my Dad when we were in Coffs Harbour in 1974. (I checked with Mum later and we stayed just near that road on that trip, so I think it was the place from my memory). On the way out of town we passed a shopping centre so called in to get some milk and something for dinner. We also went to Target and bought some clothes that were needed.

At the Big Banana we bought 2 choc (and sprinkle) covered frozen bananas to share, as well as an Ultimate Banana smoothie (with cinnamon and maple syrup) and a Choc Banana smoothie. They were all delicious and very very enjoyable. We wandered through the banana and then went to play in the video arcade for a short time. The kids all got lots of tickets and we exchanged them for a few little toys – including those rubber popping domes that I remember loving as a kid. We went back to the banana and took some photos of the kids in front of it, and I figured out the self-timer on my camera and we got a group shot.  There’s now a fun park at the Big Banana as well but we were there too late in the day to do any of the activities.

Back at the caravan park we went for a swim in the pool which was lovely and refreshing. Amelie played for a while with some other kids in the playground. I figured out that this caravan park was the same place I’d stayed with my family in 1986 – but it looked different because they seem to have recently sold the top half of the park and it’s now a housing estate. So I was feeling quite nostalgic for previous Coffs visits.

We cooked sausages on the bbq in the camp kitchen and then headed back to camp for a quiet night. There was more rain coming so I spent a bit of time setting up the awning so that none of the rain pooled in the roof, and felt like I did a pretty good job (it worked overnight). 

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