Rest day - Nanga Bay

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With alarms sounding shortly after 5am today, you could have easily been mistaken we had a 200km ride in store, but this was not the case! In fact, after an early breakfast, we were all piling into the All Trails Troop Carrier and mini-bus headed for Monkey Mia. Expectations were high as many had this destination on their bucket list and it certainly did not disappoint.

After the Park Ranger gave us an explanation of the dolphins’ habitat and breeding patterns, volunteers entered the water with feeding buckets and the five female dolphins soon appeared and feasted on their first of three feeds for the day. Puck was the matriarch, at 41 years of age, and she was exceptionally placid. They were playful and moved through the water effortlessly along the shoreline as though they truly knew they were on display. From the jetty we spotted a couple of turtles, that also moved through the water majestically and effortlessly, poking their heads up above water for the perfect photograph.

The pelicans also had a presence, with several 'Mr Percivals' staying close to the shore statuesquely, preening and hoping they might be offered some of the fish given to the dolphins. Although not a marine animal, entertainment was provided by the resident emus, that seemed to intuitively know there was food in the cafe. It was quite a sight to see them make their way onto the deck in anticipation of errant food scraps being left behind by unsuspecting tourists!

We made our way into Denham to restock supplies, consume real coffees and baked items, etc..., then we headed back to Nanga Bay for a nanna nap, a run (Lou), a walk (Maz), a spin on their bike (Al and yours truly after JB worked his magic on our temperamental gears and derailers!), a selfie of all the START Foundation painted toe nails and a final wander down to the beach to capture the extraordinary vista (Baz).

At 3pm we all piled back into the Troop Carrier and mini-bus and headed to the Ocean Park Aquarium. We were treated to an outstanding tour, with marine biologist Mitch (the cool dude who knows lots of stuff!) giving us a passionate explanation of all the various marine creatures that populate the local Shark Bay. He taught us that sharks are placid, cold blooded animals, that move slowly (most of the time) as they are all about efficiency, and are not particularly interested in humans (most of the time)! Apparently squid and octopus are the most intelligent of marine life, but their life expectancy is short, they breed prolifically and we should not hold back in ordering them for a meal. We also learned that some fish (Nemo) are born male, but with some complex micro-biological synthesis, become female and breed; essentially Carl becomes Karla and the circle of life continues seamlessly.

From fish pools and tanks, we moved into the cafe and were treated to a spectacular dinner as we watched the sun set over Shark Bay. Banter was loud as we reflected on the day and began to mark out our respective strategies to tackle tomorrow’s ride of 162km Wooramel River Retreat. With north easterly winds forecast, we knew we would be riding into a head wind for the first 80km back to the Overla nder Roadhouse. That meant, an early night was required, so we headed back and soon everyone was back in their rooms and lights were out by 9pm. It was a fantastic rest day and has set us up well for the next four days into Coral Bay.

Richard Cooke