Dr. Rick Fenny is no stranger when it comes to road tripping in the outback of Western Australia.
One of Australia’s most respected vets, who has cared for thousands of animals including the legendary Red Dog, Rick clocks up more than 5000 kilometres every couple of weeks tending to sick animals and checking in with his team of vet doctors and nurses across WA.
His travels over the last 40 years have also made Rick something of an expert when it comes to exploring outback WA and, ahead of a new TV special that chronicles a month on the road as Desert Vet, he's shared some of his favourite experiences.
Gentle giants of thesea
One of my most memorable experiences was swimming with the largest fish in the ocean – the gentle whale shark – at Ningaloo Reef with my daughter Louisa by my side. Louisa is a vet in Exmouth and we went out with one of the local operators, Exmouth Whale Shark and Dive, and had an unbelievable day. Before swimming with whale sharks, we were also lucky enough to spot a mother humpback whale teaching her calf to breach, and after topped off our day overnight at Sal Salis, eco resort in Cape Range National Park.
I regard the Pilbara as my spiritual home, I’ve spent a lot of time in the region and Karijini National Park would have to be one of my favourite spots. Cooling off in the rock pool gorges by day and sitting under a canopy of stars at night at Karijini Eco Retreat is pure magic.
Nearby, the little known racetrack at Landor in the Gascoyne is best known for its annual horse racing event. I’m the race vet and it’s good to catch up and have a yarn with old friends; it’s a quintessential Australian experience.
Our ocean and itscreatures
I couldn’t travel north without dropping into Shark Bay to visit my son Ed who runs the Ocean Park Aquarium. Ed’s also interested in animals, but of the marine variety, and as a Marine Scientist keeps me up to speed with life under the ocean. World Heritage listed Shark Bay is a marine life hotspot – best known for the wild dolphins of Monkey Mia, it’s also home to one of the largest dugong population in the world.
As we started our day we talked about there being something in the air at Monkey Mia that makes you feel like you belong. Just offshore we could see a pod of dolphins and some seabirds catching their morning snacks.
With the first glance through my goggles I fell in love with this stunning underwater world! There were colourful fish everywhere, a large green turtle jovially crossed my path, and it felt like I was floating through a sea of flowers and colour. I was delighted!