Of beasts and boats

FOL­LOW THE READER

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Afloat - DAVID BISHOP

PLYMP­TON, SA SOME years ago, in search of the ul­ti­mate wildlife ex­pe­ri­ence, I took a trip to Alert Bay on the north­ern tip of Canada’s Van­cou­ver Is­land. I headed across the Straits of Ge­or­gia from Van­cou­ver, Bri­tish Columbia, on a com­fort­able ferry and then boarded a bus for a five-hour jour­ney north to Port Mc­Neill.

Then an­other ferry to Alert Bay, where my ac­com­mo­da­tion was a log cabin over­look­ing the fa­bled In­side Pas­sage. That night I was wo­ken by a very loud noise that turned out to be the foghorn of a huge cruise liner slip­ping past on its way up to Alaska. It was an eerie sight as all I could see were the lights of the ship through the fog.

The next few morn­ings I waited on the pier for var­i­ous small boats that promised to show me species of whales, in­clud­ing or­cas, and bears.

The first voy­age was on an old-fash­ioned sail­ing ship that slipped along the coast but un­for­tu­nately was a bit slow and be­fore we could get close enough to get a good look most of the wildlife had dis­ap­peared.

My next ex­pe­ri­ence was on a speed­boat that whisked off pas­sen­gers in search of bears. We even­tu­ally ar­rived at our des­ti­na­tion of Knights In­let, noted for its pop­u­la­tion of griz­zlies. We got quite close to a huge male fish­ing for salmon. The fish were plen­ti­ful and our bob­bing pon­toon was a con­stant dis­tur­bance, forc­ing them to jump out of the way.

My next ad­ven­ture was on a much larger and faster boat in search of or­cas and I got spec­tac­u­lar shots of th­ese killer whales surf­ing on the wash of our boat. This was the wildlife ex­pe­ri­ence I had hoped for and it was just won­der­ful. Send your 400-word con­tri­bu­tion to our Fol­low the Reader col­umn: travel@theaus­tralian.com.au. Pub­lished colum­nists will re­ceive a three-piece set for clothes, shoes and toi­letries by F1 Spacepak, a com­pres­sion pack­ing sys­tem that max­imises suit­case space. $98. More: flight001.com.au.

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