Swimming with Wild Dolphins on the South Coast
I feel like Alice in Wonderland, but instead of the white rabbit guiding us down a rabbit hole, it’s a wallaby. We are, after all, somewhere in Australia…
I say somewhere because we threw away our maps and plans days ago, and the only hint of our location is a small sign reading, ‘Gillard’s Beach.’ But this beach may as well be our own beach – there’s nobody here.
In both directions the sand stretches mile after golden mile within the coastal wilderness. Clear water wipes away any trace of our footsteps as we stroll barefooted along the shore to check the surf. The Ocean calls, inviting us to submerge ourselves within her aqua depths and crystal tipped waves.
And as Ocean Dwellers – we heed her call.
Let me explain. The two of us are on a ten-day surfari – Sydney to Somewhere. Off grid. No real plans other than to follow the waves and camp under the stars. To live under the moon, wild and free, nestled next to a roaring campfire.
Surrounded by New South Wales bush land and wild birds with exotic calls we pitch our tent in nature’s own version of prime real estate – with uninterrupted views of the beach below us. While we prepare our pre-surf campfire, we can see the Ocean, hear her – taste her salt on our lips. No longer can we resist her allure, and we race to the shore break, passing a group of nonchalant kangaroos along the sandy beach path, who observe us and our surfboards with curiosity.
It’s an unusually dark day for Australia – even in the middle of winter. The sky is grey and threatening to rain at any moment. Behind the clouds, the sun does its best to shine through, occasionally lighting the sea fret with gold. The atmospheric surrounds, and the bracing cold as we paddle out, only adds to the wildness of this deserted find.
Yet despite being the only two surfers in the Ocean – we are not alone.
A puff of air grabs my attention as I sit in a calm lull. Then, in perfect synchronicity, as if dancing to whale song, four, five, six dolphins slowly arc, breaching the surface – graceful and ethereal. Then ten, eleven, twelve, twenty, thirty…more. Around us, the Ocean bubbles with dolphins.
They take their time, chilling out – like us – enjoying the feeling of the Ocean around themselves. They weave around our surfboards, in and out and under us – their little faces popping out of the water, making me squeal with delight. Sometimes, they dash towards the shore, surfing the waves in groups of fours and fives. And we watch, and we forget we are there to surf.
Time passes, chill sets in – waves are forgotten as we leave our boards, plunging below the surface to join their world and we swim with the wild dolphins.
Then slowly, very slowly, they swim away into the endless horizon – watched only by us, and the majestic sea eagles circling and crying above our heads.
We return to the shore. Salty tears merge with salty water. And my heart swells to the size of the Ocean.
As the sun begins to set and the moon begins to rise, we relive our aqua-adventure around the crackling campfire. Warming our toes, drinking our beer and watching the Ocean – we vow never to forget this moment, and I begin to write it down in the diary… Then, in the dusky twilight as if to say farewell, the dolphins cruise along the waters once more. Frolicking, jumping, dancing – they are living life, wild and free under the moon, and we, besides our Ocean and flames, are doing the very same.
Getting yourself to Gillards Campground
P.S – Head’s Up! We didn’t have a camera to snap the picks of the dolphins in Gillards – we were too busy being mesmerised, so these cheeky chaps are for visuals only and taken from our Crescent Head trip!