MOVING IN: Outrigger Mick Cromack had a chance encounter with a whale.
MOVING IN: Outrigger Mick Cromack had a chance encounter with a whale. Michelle Wagner

'It was a whale or a submarine.' Paddlers brace as curious gentle giant creates waves

OUTRIGGER Mick Cromack has seen his fair share of turtles and dolphins when paddling on the ocean.

But at the weekend he had a chance meeting with a whale at the mouth of Burnett River that almost knocked him overboard.

Mr Cromack, a member of the 1770 Crew of Bundaberg Outrigging Canoe Club, was working his way out of the river in an OC2 outrigger with a rowing colleague, Donna, when he noticed three half-metre waves heading towards him.

He said the swell was about 10 metres long and three to four metres across, which, he said jokingly, "meant it was either a whale or a submarine”.

"It was just cruising and was probably coming to check us out but the trouble was it was carrying with it three waves, which hit us on our left side,” Mr Cromack said.

"When I saw the waves I just said 'watch out here it comes' and braced for it.”

Comparing the encounter to a "great dane playing with a chihuahua”, Mr Cromack said he thought the experience "was cool but only an hour later”.

"The waves it was creating weren't breaking but it was creating some movement,” he said.

"We were a bit nervous and then we saw the shadow go underneath and it took off.”

Although Mr Cromack was in Bundaberg for a monthly outriggers meeting he said no one else on the river saw and he had to wait to tell his crew once he was back on dry land.

He said he'd never been that close to a whale and loved the experience.

"It's a great sport and really good fun. It's about being out in the ocean and having that connection.”