Friday, April 19, 2013

Moreton Island + Dolphin Feeding

I've brought you the world's biggest sand island and the second biggest.  Today I present to you....the third biggest, Moreton Island.  Alternate working title: The Most Expensive 24 Hours of My Life.

We started our journey by being picked up in Brisbane and, like all sand islands, took a ferry over.  This island is super duper close to Brisbane; it takes an hour to get there, max.  It's somewhere you should totally go if you ever visit Brisbane, and if you have assloads of money.

Like all sand islands this:

Means you're going to have to get out and push your stuck vehicle, which we had to do.  It wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't hotter than the center of the sun out there.  Seriously, some of us got blisters on our feet from the heat of the sand.  It was so, so, so, so hot there.  So hot.  But worth it:

Sand tobogganing!  It was super duper fun, but I only went twice because of the aforementioned hotness.  My absolute least favorite thing about sledding has always been walking back up the hill once you reach the bottom (hey, I was a fat kid) but add to that 110 degree heat and painfully hot sand under bare feet and that equals minimal sand tobogganing for me.  It was ever so much fun, but you need to be aware that if you sand toboggan you will eat it and will find grains of sand in your ear for weeks to come.

We then cooled off and washed the sand out of our crevices in the freshwater lake which is a barfy shade of brown:

The barfy color is due to all the tea tree oil that's in the water, and tea tree oil is a big thing here.  It's supposed to heal wounds and be really good for your skin.  We went with our Canadian friends (who I shamefully did not abseil with), their friend from home and a colleague of Martins.  That's not just a picture of a bunch of randoms.  Once again Martin found himself the only dude in a sea of women.  Pimp, Martin, pimp.

We then got escorted to a lookout point with expansive views of the island coastline.

Our tour guide guaranteed us that we'd see turtles from this vantage point, but I hadn't seen one up to that point so I was skeptical.  But we totes saw turtles!

See that dark splotch there?  That's a turtle!

After a few "Is that a shark?" false alarms it was time for us to be dropped off at our accommodation/entertainment for the evening, Tangalooma Island Resort.  Besides camping (umm, no) this resort is the only accommodation option on the island.  And for that you better sell a kidney so you can afford to put a down payment on a night here.  It's nice, though.

Before I continue to whinge (Aussie slang, definition here) about the price point of this place I would like to point out that this was the first time I used my wine purse out of necessity, rather than novelty.

No $9 beers for us that night!  This thing is brilliant and I highly recommend everybody get a goon bag of their own.  "Goon" is Aussie slang for boxed wine and this word has forever been adopted into my vocabulary.  The word is so....grotesque and uncouth - the perfect description of boxed wine (particularly the kind you smuggle in a purse to save a few bucks).

After a few cups (yes cups, not glasses) of wine we headed out for The Main Event: Hand. Feeding. Wild. Dolphins!

That is obvs not us but it's the clearest picture I got.  Martin tried taking a picture with his left hand while he fed the dolphin a fish with his right.  It was not successful, and I wasn't about to pay $20 for the official photo the resort photographer took of us.

Every night at dusk a few wild dolphins swim up to the shores of the resort for some free food.  They even keep attendance of "who" shows up each night:

Three were there on our night, and a bit later a mama with her baby came and hung around.  OMG the baby was so cute.  It was about the size of my lower leg from knee to foot.  Adorbs!

They don't publicize this fact enough: If you want to feed the dolphins you need to sign up earlier in the day.  We damn near missed the sign-up time because we didn't know we had to do this.  I repeat: If you stay at Tangalooma you need to sign up for the dolphin feeding by 4 or 5 p.m. (there was conflicting information, but we signed up at 4:30 and were fine).

This is the kind of fish we fed them:

Classy, eh?

All the fish they get only make up 20% of their daily diet.  You are not allowed to touch the dolphins or the resort staff will shiv you.  However!  My dolphin totally touched my leg, and there's nothing I could do to stop it.  It felt just like how you'd expect dolphin skin to feel.  Not rough, not smooth.  Kind of slimy, though.

They are such playful little buggers!  They were riding the waves as they crashed into shore and they were just having a gay old time.  I'd never seen a dolphin before, and on my first time I got to touch one!  The dolphin experience was nothing short of incredible and 95% of the reason I wanted to visit Moreton Island (the other 5% was the sand tobogganing).

After a night of drinking sweet, sweet goon we had the whole next day to chill at the resort and use the facilities and activities, at varying levels of expense.  Keeping with the whole feeding-animals-for-entertainment theme, we watched a pelican being fed the same type of fish the dolphins got:

And Martin went on a "quad bike" tour.

That means 4-wheeler.

For your cultural literacy, I will review the new terminology I've taught you in this post:

Whinge = complain
Goon = boxed wine
Quad bike = 4-wheeler

You can do a day tour to the resort which departs back to the mainland after the dolphin feeding is completed.  I recommend this because you can do the main things you gotta do on Moreton without spending a thousand bucks for a single night.

For that price I expect to have all access to a live dolphin all night long!

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