Dolphin Swim Australia gave us the unique experience of swimming with wild dolphins at NSW’s beautiful Nelson Bay and it was magnificent.
Dolphin Swim Australia operates the first and only permitted wild dolphin swim in NSW. The fantastic team have worked hard to create the first and only wild dolphin swim of its kind in the world.
A 5am start saw us up bright and early, excited and not knowing exactly what to expect as we departed Nelson Bay marina. It was clear as soon as we boarded the boat that the entire Dolphin Swim Australia team are very professional and extremely passionate about what they do and the safety of their local, wild marine life.
My brother joined me on the experience, and we were suited up in our wetsuits, snorkel and goggles as we listened to the safety briefing and training. Jacob and I sat there with big, goofy grins as the nerves and anticipation started to kick in.
The boat was packed, with some people visiting as far away as Switzerland to take part in the amazing interaction. We were assigned to group three, giving us the chance to watch the first two groups glide through the water only metres away from dolphins, including a couple of tiny baby calves which was incredible. One of our instructors pointed out how wobbly the little fella was in the water as he leapt out with his mother, still learning the ins and outs of diving.
By the time it was our turn to dive, we were jumping out of our skin to get in the water. We entered the net, grabbed onto the rope and with guidance from our swim leader, slid into the water where we were pulled gently with the boat. Dolphins love noise, so we screamed and yelled as much as we could to keep them entertained.
There were around 5 dolphins swimming with us excitedly through the water as close as 2 metres from us. The only way to explain how I felt is pure joy. I have never experienced anything like it.
We spent around 15 minutes with the beautiful creatures and climbed out exhausted and exhilarated. My brother looked at me and said, “holy moly that was the coolest thing I have ever done” and I had to agree with him.
With tonnes of photos taken by the swim team throughout the day and a video of each group in the water, you can remember the experience for the rest of your life. I know I’ll never forget it and will without a doubt do it again in the near future. You’re even given a certificate of achievement at the end which I have proudly displayed on my desk at work.
Swimming with dolphins in captivity is a common tourist attraction around the world, yet many of these dolphins die prematurely due to stress or illness. Swimming with people in shallow pools and towing people through the water are not natural behaviours of these beautiful mammals.
In 2010 CEO Andrew Parker fulfilled his dream, creating a program in which wild dolphins choose to swim with humans in their own natural habitat, and in which no harm comes to either species.
After thorough research and regulation, the swim ensures that the team never chase or harass dolphins and that no harm comes to any dolphins as a result of each swim with them.
I encourage everyone to book in with Dolphin Swim Australia to experience the pure beauty of our beautiful marine life in their natural habitat. A unique, ethical, spiritual and exciting adventure, you’ll absolutely love it!
On the Market
Spring is here and after what feels like one of the longest winters ever, we are all wanting to pop our heads out and emerge from hibernation.
With COVID restrictions still taking out events left, right and centre there‚Äôs one place you can go, soak up some rays, grab yourself some delicious treats and mingle in a world that is COVID safe‚Ä¶ our local markets.
Perhaps you haven‚Äôt been to the markets in a while, if that‚Äôs the case let me tell you now more than ever, is the time to get your market back on for a range of reasons.
Firstly, you will be supporting local farmers and producers. Secondly, it will put a spring in your step as you get out and about and thirdly, you will be blown away by how hard our market organisers have worked to make these events safe.
Incredibly, many markets around the Hunter Valley have ridden the wave of lockdown and after being deemed an ‚Äėessential service‚Äô they have pivoted their business models to run a safe, family-friendly event.
Kevin Eade from Newcastle City and Lake Macquarie Farmers Markets said there was simply no hesitation when it came to continuing on; it was a challenge they accepted and rose to.
‚ÄúAfter we got the green-light to continue operating, I contacted all the farmers and producers and it was a unanimous yes to continue trading, so we researched everything we needed to do and went from there,‚ÄĚ Kevin said.
‚ÄúThere are very clear rules which have been laid down by the Government but we have implemented them all and market-goers are really great at sticking to the rules, so there have been no issues.‚ÄĚ
Don‚Äôt despair that the enjoyment of wandering around musing over produce and stimulating the senses has gone.
According to Kevin, simply spacing out the market stalls has meant that they are able to have a steady flow of numbers, families can still all come together, and you still have a wonderful vibe.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs lucky,‚ÄĚ Kevin laughs, ‚Äúwe have so much space, so we just moved everyone out. And funnily enough, I think people actually like it more, things aren‚Äôt crowded and it‚Äôs relaxed and enjoyable and everyone has space to move.‚ÄĚ
When it comes to those all delicious tastings, Kevin said they are working on finding safe ways so market-goers can ‚Äėtry before you buy‚Äô.
It‚Äôs a sentiment that is echoed across the Hunter with many of our popular markets continuing to trade with their new look operations.
If you find yourself at The Levee in Maitland on a Thursday morning, you may be pleasantly treated to a range of fresh produce from the Earth Markets Maitland. The markets are on the first and third Thursday of the month and run from 8.30am to 1.30pm.
Meanwhile if you are at a loose end on a Saturday morning, you can pack up the troops and head to Pokolbin for the Hunter Wine Country Markets or Handmade in the Hunter.
Located at De Bortoli Wines and Kevin Sobel Wines respectively, you can enjoy a large range of produce, artisan stalls and live music to invigorate the senses.
As for Newcastle and Lake Mac, Kevin says you‚Äôll enjoy an enormous range of produce from farm fresh meats to oysters with new producers being added to the line up on a regular basis.
‚ÄúJust come on out and support your local market,‚ÄĚ Kevin said in closing.
‚ÄúSupport your farmers, local producers and think local. If we make our Hunter Valley greener, it‚Äôs for the betterment of the entire community.‚ÄĚ‚Äô
Details of all markets can be found at their various Facebook pages.
Although restrictions are lifting, there‚Äôs still not much on the calendar in the coming months. To keep you entertained, we bring you more of our top recommendations.
Movies & TV
The Outsider is a 10-episode Netflix mystery/horror show based on the book by Stephen King. Part police procedural part supernatural whodunnit with captivating performances from the whole cast.
A Hasidic Jewish woman in Brooklyn flees to Berlin after an arranged marriage but she cannot escape her past that easily. A poignant performance by Shira Haas as we experience through her what it is like to live in an ultra-orthodox Jewish community.
A woman falls victim to a dominant mafia boss, who imprisons her and gives her one year to fall in love with him. This erotic drama is based on the bestselling novel “365 dni” by author Blanka Lipinska. Available on Netflix.
In a small New York town, a haunted detective hunts for answers about perplexing crimes while wrestling with his own demons. There are now 3 seasons of this Golden Globe nominated anthology series and every episode will have you on the edge of your seat trying to figure out what happens next.
The End of the F***ing World
A budding teen psychopath and a rebel hungry for adventure embark on a star-crossed road trip in this darkly comic series based on a graphic novel. Together, they get caught up on a trail of violent events that grow increasingly more ominous as their quest progresses over 2 seasons.
The Goodbye Man by Jeffrey Deaver
Colter Shaw is a reward-seeker. In this fast-paced adventure, he is tracking down two white teenagers who are accused of hate crimes. Colter finds himself going undercover in a mysterious cult as the mystery deepens.
Dry by Neal & Jarrod Shusterman
A post-apocalyptic thriller for young adults set in California. As drought escalates to catastrophic proportions, one teen is forced to make life and death decisions. It will leave you thirsty for more.
A Bigger Picture ‚Äď Malcolm Turnbull
Candid and compelling, Australia‚Äôs 29th Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull tells the story of his life in this political memoir. A great walkthrough of Australian events since the mid 2000s. Regardless of your political views, it‚Äôs well worth a read.
Someone Like Me by M.R. Carey
Ever felt like you‚Äôre not in control of your own body? For Liz Kendall that feeling becomes all too real as dark and malicious alter-ego begins to take control. A great psychological thriller that will engage you from the get-go.
The Boy from the Woods ‚Äď Harlan Coben
A new thriller from New York Times bestselling author Harlan Coben. Fans will recognise characters though this is a standalone novel. What at first seems like simply a mystery of missing run away, quickly delves into subplots of conspiracies, kidnappings, fake news and blackmail.
The Happiness Lab with Dr Laurie Santos
Yale professor Dr Laurie Santos shares the latest scientific research and plenty of inspiring stories that will change the way you think about happiness. She has changed the lives of thousands of people through her free online class ‚ÄėPsychology and the Good Life‚Äô and listening to this podcast will change your life too.
Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard
One of the more popular podcasts on iTunes, Actor Dax Shepard and his Co-host Monica Padman interview everyone from celebrities, to academics to journalists. Shepard has said his goal is to give people the ‚Äėexperience of an AA meeting without them having to become a drunk‚Äô.
This gripping true crime podcast by Wondery delves into the life of neurosurgeon Christopher Duntsch who radiated confidence but was vastly incompetent. It‚Äôs a story of gross malpractice for 33 patients, many of whom were also victims of a spineless medical system.
Hosted by ABC News, this podcast helps to answer your questions about the virus that has turned the world on its head. With all the ‚Äėfalse news‚Äô circulating social media and the internet, this is a reliable source of the latest news and research to help you understand how the world is living through a pandemic.
The Mindset Mentor
Hosted by Rob Dial who has racked up over 2 million social media followers, this podcast is designed for anyone desiring motivation, direction, and a focus in life. Tune in if you‚Äôre ready to take your life to the next level and become the best version of yourself.
Time to Fly
Have you always wanted to skydive but you’re scared of heights? Then indoor skydiving is for you.
When I was a kid and would dream of having a superpower, it wasn’t invisibility or teleportation, it was always flying. Funny then that I’m so petrified of heights that even the thought of skydiving leaves me sweating and shaking. So when I recently heard about iFLY Downunder, I was excited that at long last a childhood dream could be fulfilled. Finally, it was time to fly.
If you’ve not heard of iFLY, it’s an indoor skydiving simulator where the simulation of freefall is created by fans generating extreme upward winds. Entering the wind tunnel, you are cushioned by a column of air allowing you stay suspended in place or, with a bit of practice, try a few rolls and spins.
Although there are similarities to actual skydiving, this activity is very different.
Instead of jumping from a plane and falling thousands of feet to an often rough landing, here it begins with a gentle lift off. There’s no bad weather to worry about, no need to have an instructor attached to your back and best of all no parachute to risk getting stuck in a powerline.
Which brings me to the biggest difference. Safety. The likelihood of injury is extremely minimal, which is why the let anyone from the age of 3 up can have a go. 3! That’s an age that you’re not even trusted to wipe your own butt properly, but you’re allowed to indoor skydive!
iFLY have locations around Australia, but the closest to us is in Sydney, located next to Penrith Panthers (which made it very convenient to celebrate my newly acquired superpower with a couple of coldies). The Penrith facility can also lay claim to being the largest and most powerful indoor skydiving facility in the Southern Hemisphere.
So back to the flight. It’s a simple process right from the start with self check in. Then on to a quick orientation, watch a video, listen to some simple instructions, gear up. Flight suit, helmet and glasses donned, I’m ready to go.
The activity is done in small groups, with each flyer getting to go twice for around 1 minute each time. It’s funny how a minute can seem both exceptionally long and way too quick at the same time!
The first time in the tunnel was spent trying to maintain a stable body position as I was buffered around by the super strong winds. By the second time I managed moving back and forth, up and down and even pulled off a somersault. Okay, the somersault was unintentionalÖ
In between turns you wait outside the tunnel as the other participants have a go. I still can’t decide what brought a bigger smile to my face, the exhilarating feeling of flying, or sitting on the sidelines watching my husband struggle to rise up in the air. This is where I should point out that you are weighed before you start as depending on how heavy you are is how high they have to turn on the fan. After my husband failed to achieve lift off a few times they adjusted the intensity and he was soon soaring. But it had been such a hilarious sight watching him fumble around that I suspect it’s a trick the wind operator often plays. And it wasn’t just his antics that kept me amused. Watching many of the participants felt like I was watching a Monty Python skit. Flying circus, you bet.
I recommend indoor skydiving to everyone. It’s a thrilling and fun experience. I even more encourage you to convince your friends and family to have a go. And have a good laugh at their expense.
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