We were recently walking on the beach and AJ stopped to point out a plastic shopping bag lying on the sand at the water’s edge, saying, “Mum we should pick that up or it could end up killing a turtle, dolphin or bird.” As much as I didn’t fancy picking up the dirty wet bag, I did. How could I not? Our visits to zoos, animal parks and aquariums has proved educational and given us a sense of responsibility towards our precious marine life. I’m proud it has influenced AJ so positively and hopefully in the future she’ll continue to care and protect animals. Maybe she’ll even be the one to pick up the wet yucky plastic bag.
So, while staying at Urunga Heads we took the opportunity to visit Dolphin Marine Magic which is in nearby Coffs Harbour. A day at Dolphin Marine Magic gave BJ an up close encounter with some beautiful marine animals and the rare opportunity to be part of the show. To say BJ was elated would be an understatement. It was another highlight of our time in Coffs Harbour and accessible to all.
If you’ve been following our travels for a while you may already know BJ isn’t fond of furry animals but is fine with reptiles and dolphins. We take every opportunity to expose him to animals in the hope of breaking down this phobia. BJ’s first chance to interact was to feed a fish to a seal. The fish was small, making it tricky for BJ to co-ordinate holding it and feeding the seal but Hubby helped make it happen.
We timed our arrival at the park to ensure we didn’t miss the Marine Discovery Show and it turned out a highlight of our visit for BJ. Audience participation was encouraged with the trainers asking for volunteers from the crowd. BJ’s hand was up faster than a dolphin swimming for its fish dinner. From previous experience I doubted he’d be chosen as I think people query how he can participate. However, the lovely trainer, Luke, had a can-do spirit and picked BJ. He gave him plenty of time and BJ lapped up both the opportunity to be included and the crowd’s encouragement. As BJ flashed us a huge smile I realised it was going to be one of those very special travel moments I’ll treasure forever.
Of course, the seal was the actual star of the show catching the rings BJ tossed to her without missing a single one.
Such a star needs a place to relax and Seal Shores allows visitors the opportunity to check out the seals sunbaking and enjoying a swim in their home. Glass windows make for good accessible viewing for young children and wheelchair users.
Although the dolphins and seals are the main attraction at Dolphin Marine Magic, there’s the opportunity to check out fish, reptiles and penguins.
For BJ, who has a visual attention difficulties, Dolphin Marine Magic offered lots of opportunities to get up close to the animals. It’s often hard for him to spy animals at a distance in the wild or in an enclosure so we were thrilled he had this opportunity which included feeding a penguin.
Both AJ and BJ were thrilled to meet Zippy and Bella, two of the dolphins. BJ was able to see well from his wheelchair.
MEET THE STARS
Our family were treated to an extra special Meet the Stars experience which gave the kids a behind-the-scenes tour with a trainer and included a pat and play session with the dolphins and seal and souvenir photos of their afternoon.
First stop was the dolphin pool where we learnt many dolphin facts including one I’d not heard before and that’s that they get ageing spots. We get wrinkles and they get spots. BJ’s favourite activity was playing ball with the dolphins.
AJ didn’t mind getting a kiss from Maxine but BJ wasn’t so keen. I’m not sure if it was the whiskers (BJ has a few of those himself!) or the fishy breath.
There is an additional cost per person for the Meet the Stars tour. You can read more about this interactive experience and others here.
Paths and ramping make Dolphin Marine Magic accessible. When heading to the Marine Discovery Presentation head to the left of the building to the ramp on that side. It’s the most accessible way to get to the show.
Wheelchair seating for the Marine Discover Presentation is at the front and to the side of the grandstand. BJ had a good view as he’s pretty tall. Children in a wheelchair may have an obscured view due to the height of the dolphin pool.
The turtle pool may be too high for many wheelchair users to see.
An accessible stand-alone bathroom is available.
Plenty of parking is available in the open air car park at the entrance though there isn’t specific accessible parking.
All the excitement of the afternoon had our kids keen to hit the café. We sat outside and enjoyed the view to the water while the kids chowed down on sweet delights. According to BJ the Hummingbird cake is the best.
Check session times so you can arrange your visit to include the Marine Discovery Presentation.
Guests can feed a seal and penguin for free at the designated times (included in general entry price)
Dolphin and seal kisses are also free to all visitors with general entry tickets, with the option of a photo to remember the experience (additional cost).
Dolphin Marine Magic allows guests to get up close to animals which we hope will educate and make people want to do the best for them. “In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught” – Baba Dioum
You can read more about Dolphin Marine Magic here.
We were guests of Dolphin Marine Magic but as always, we hope the photos show what a great time was had by all and our opinions are our own.