Father’s Day this year in our house started pretty much the same as always with the family. Daddy made a pile of pancakes to feed his hungry family, unwrapped a super-duper 7-pack of K-mart business socks, and then hopped in the shower for the 30 seconds it was free before the hair salon and nail parlour opened for the girls.
Did I feel guilty? Nope. Not one little bit. Because a certain smug Mummy-pants had a surprise up her sleeve today, and it was about to pop a smile under his moustache. You see, this particular Father’s Day, we were going to pull out all the stops for Daddy. We were off to see some sea lions in sunny Shoalwater Bay, and maybe spot a penguin or two. Penguin Island was on the agenda after all.
Little did Daddy know, when he sauntered in from his shed at approximately 9:00am, we were about to head due south for a glass-bottomed boat adventure. Our host today was Rockingham Wild Encounters, and I was really looking forward to sitting back with the wind in my hair, taking in the rugged scenery. I also couldn’t wait to see Daddy’s face when he found out he had to drive us all the way from Tapping for a 10:15am departure. Oh dear…
I meant to have it all planned out; honestly I did. But the unfortunate trouble was, with a glass of wine in hand last night, I hadn’t properly considered the 90-minute travel time it would take us to get down there. Matters were made slightly worse by the fact we had to stop for petrol, and then Daddy decided that our tyres were too soft for travelling.
‘Well, that’s what you get when you don’t plan the journey properly,’ he said as I bowed my head over Google maps and swore delicately under my breath. Things could only get better. Although, based on past experience with our two excitable pre-schoolers, our day trips don’t always go to plan. Read about our last trip with the family here: https://kidzabuzz.com.au/cruising-with-the-dolphins-a-family-day-out-in-mandurah/
Screeching into the carpark with only 5 minutes till departure, I was triumphant. We’d made it! And the girls hadn’t killed each other… yet. Just at that moment, the sun peeked out from behind a cloud, and I saw the shadows lifting from Daddy’s face before my very eyes. He even cracked a joke as we followed the path down to the jetty, and the girls were screeching with glee as they hooned around in the sand. With their two little beanies on, purchased by Daddy in the gift shop, they looked the picture of innocence. Even Ada was being good.
We found our seat on the boat and set off across the bay. It always makes me happy, bouncing across the ocean with the family. I’d even brought a flask of coffee, so that was an added bonus. Although the wind was chilly, we didn’t need much more than light jackets. The girls wouldn’t have noticed the cold anyway; they were too busy looking out for dolphins. Me? I was busy wondering if the glass bottom of the boat would reveal more than it currently did. Alas, the visibility wasn’t great today, but luckily, as we were about to find out, most of the local wildlife was well and truly above the water.
Camel Rock was our first attraction. The girls were a bit confused when we pointed out the ‘hump’, but soon they realised that there wasn’t an actual camel standing on the rock. Hehe.
I was fascinated by the fossilised tree roots, forever set into the rocks, telling tales of an ancient tuart forest that would have grown where we were now floating. I knew that Daddy was enjoying himself by the telescopic camera lens that was glued to his right eye. Still hoping we’d spot a penguin, I was most disappointed when our knowledgeable guide explained that the penguins actually left the island in the day time, and they were now either swimming under the waves or sleeping in their burrows. But what were those black and white birds waddling up ahead on the rocks?
‘Penguins!’ I cried, to my husband’s acute embarrassment. It turns out they were cormorants. I decided then and there to leave the commentary to the experts, and I opened my bag of snacks instead. Big mistake.
Now some of you who might be familiar with my now 4-year-old Ada might also know that she likes her food. In fact, she likes her food so much that serious tantrums have been known to ensue when she can’t get what she wants in her tummy. Unfortunately, today was no exception, and as soon as she spotted the biscuits, strawberries, and Babybells, she could think of nothing else.
Now, a boat bobbing on the ocean isn’t an ideal place for a picnic with the family, and let’s just say I had to pick up numerous half-eaten morsels that slipped right out of her hand. Sigh. Upon zipping up the snacks for a more appropriate moment, the tantrums raised their ugly head. “I want more strawberries! More biscuits! More cheese!” Thank goodness for good girl Eve, 5 years old, who averted the potential disaster by shouting out, “Look at the sea lion, Ada!”
By jove, she was right! There he was, a single solitary sea lion, lolling about on the beach in front of us. He looked so peaceful, snoozing there. Like he needed a good cuddle and a blankie. But I was wrong… again. Apparently, one thing you never want to do is wake a sleeping sea lion. Not only can they run at over 30kph, they don’t like humans very much. Arf! Arf! It’s a good job Seal Island is protected and you can’t step foot on the island. Only the pelicans were game enough to get close.
Due to recent storms, sadly we couldn’t disembark on Penguin Island, which is the largest of the marine park’s islands and normally the next part of the tour. But it didn’t matter too much, because a different highlight awaited us. Yippee! A playful, friendly dolphin jumped out of the waves ahead! We had to practically hang on to the girls’ feet as they catapulted themselves across to the side of the boat; all thoughts of strawberries forgotten, they were desperate to try and pat him. But Mr Dolphin didn’t want to come too close, and I can’t say I blame him. We were a little bit noisy!
Our final attraction for the day was a stop at the onboard First Aid kit. Ada insisted she needed a band aid for the scratch on her knee… acquired well over 2 weeks ago. I explained they were for emergencies but didn’t get very far. What great timing when the captain asked everyone to be seated for when the boat pulled into shore. As promised, there was a bump as the ropes pulled taut, and then we were back, ready for our picnic on the beach. Well, what was left of the picnic anyway.
Thank you, Rockingham Wild Encounters, for a great day out with the family. We’ll be back in the summer when we can swim and explore the islands on foot. Although I’ll definitely be on the look out for galloping sea lions!
Enjoy a choice of superb adventure wildlife cruises with Rockingham Wild Encounters and receive a fantastic 10% OFF all cruises with your KidzaBuzz Membership. Download your membership today and find this great discount in the ‘Visit the Animals’ section of KidzaBuzz.
For more information on Rockingham Wild Encounters, visit www.penguinisland.com.au