Sunday, June 28, 2009

Day 5, Exmouth and Cape Range National Park

Today we hooked up with a couple people from one of the other Western Xposure tours as our bus lost its air conditioning a few days prior to and was in getting fixed. Most of the other group members where on other tours (include a whale shark tour, in which they saw whale sharks - bastards!!) so there was just enough room for us on their bus. We got to sleep in somewhat today, left at 7:30, and spend the day touring around the Cape Range National Park. We visited one of the lighthouses in the area that was put up in 1912 after a wreckage of a ship in 1907, there was also a old anti-aircraft gun emplacement set up from WWII. Next we went to the visitors center, I bought my magnet as I have been trying to get a magnet of all the places I visit! We then headed to Sandy Bay for a rest break and lunch. Rob and Rich where being typical boys and sprayed the girls with water guns as they where sleeping!! haha, good thing I was out on a walk! After lunch we headed to Turquoise Bay for some snorkeling. When we arrived there was another tour just leaving and we where warned about the jelly fish as a couple people got stung from their group. I was a little hesitant to go but went anyways. We had to be careful of the rip as well as there is one spot that you can get caught in and it is difficult to get back in. Another thing that I was worried about, but I figured as long as I was careful, I would be ok. Pete also told us that if we followed him out he would take us to where a 6 foot reef shark hides. Cool I thought! As we headed out to the reef, there was a bunch of jelly fish that we had to dodge, but it was only for about the first 30M, then we where pretty much clear, or so we thought. Next thing you know Rob started splashing around as he got stung, twice. He was the only to get stung though, poor guy! Pete went off to try and find the reef shark, but no such luck (why was I not surprised!!!), however we did see a turtle that we followed around for a bit. I love snorkeling and could have spend forever just swimming around looking at the coral and the fish. No one really stuck together and after awhile I realized that it looked like I was the only one left in the water so I headed back in - almost paranoid about getting stung by a jelly fish, not paying attention to the fish below me! Oh well, I didn't get stung so I was happy! There was a bunch of jelly fish washed up on shore, and Rich picked some of them up - I held one and they are surprisingly heavier that you would think!! We also buried Rich in the sand - poor guy had sand EVERYWHERE!! And of course we had to make things more entertaining, so we have him arms made of towels, we gave him flippers, and a snorkel - you can guess where we put it!! lol, and Rich couldn't do anything about it! Back to the hostel we went and I helped make the best supper of the tour!! It was chicken (mine was sweet chili as I couldn't eat the other stuff they had - can't remember what it was) grilled honey vegetables and the best most greatest fluffy rice EVER - and I was proud to have been the one to make it! (With the help of Pete though!) This was also the night we all got 'dressed up', just for the hell of it. It was kinda nice to see people in nice clothes and a bit of make-up......of course, after supper, half of us decided to go and play volleyball, in the sand!! haha A bunch of us stayed up drinking and it was another late night for me - but what fun we had!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Day - 4 Whale shark day

So today was kind of an optional day, we had a choice to hang out in coral bay, kiaiking, snorkeling, swim with manta rays, or swim with the whale sharks.  I had heard from a friend that if I was in the area during the running of the whale sharks I should go as it is completely amazing.  So when I booked this tour and realized I would be there during this time i was super pumped about being able to doing this once in a life time experience.  It was an day excursion, lunch included and it cost me AUS 365.  We started off in the early morning, and had about 20 people on our cruise, about 7 from our tour group.  How it worked was, at about 1000 am, a plane took off and would cover an area 30 km long, and about 6 km out from the reef.  The bad weather that we had in Perth, as well as the not so great weather on the way up had hit Coral Bay, and we found out that the previous three days, there where no whale sharks spotted - possibly due to the bad weather that went through prior to that.  We where worried that we wouldn't see any that day, but we all tried to keep our spirits up.  As we set off, within 10 minutes, we saw our first shark, but not a whale shark, a tiger shark!!!!  I thought it was pretty cool, but two Irish girls that I was with - Ciara and Denise, kinda freaked out a bit!!  After about an hour cruising around, we stopped for our first snorkel, just to get used to the water, and getting in and out of the boat.  It was a pretty awesome snorkel and saw some really cool coral and fish.  We cruised around some more, hoping for a call in from the pilot telling us where the whale sharks where.  Nothing.  We had lunch at about 1230, sandwiches - the usual for us!!  Shortly after lunch we stopped for another snorkel, again, some pretty amazing coral, even spotting some sting rays and turtles.  It was getting later in the day and no word yet.  Ciara, Denise and I tanned on the front of the boat, just enjoying the nice weather we had.  At around 1530 we got the word that we probably weren't going to see any whale sharks, but there was going to be one more snorkel.  Sure enough, 1545 the pilot headed inland with no sighting of a whale shark.  We where all really disappointed, it was a lot of money for three snorkels and lunch, but I guess it wasn't meant to be :(  The last snorkel was pretty amazing though, some of the best coral I have every seen!!  Some of the marine life we did see though was, turtles, tiger shark, tawny nurse shark, dugongs, and even a sea snake, which thank goodness we saw from the boat!!  

So, yes, no whale dream, heart broken :(   The company did give us the DVD of pictures for free as well as a 3 year voucher to come back and swim with the whale sharks again.  The chance that many people return to use this voucher is slim, however you never know where I might be next year between March and June, and I may just have to make a special trip out to try again!

After leaving the boat, it was close to 5 and Pete was there waiting with the bus, we hoped on and had a quick look at the beach of coral bay - nothing really all that special and then drove 135 km's to Exmouth.  Again, we didn't arrive till late and didn't eat till 2100, which was becoming the norm for us!   We had mashers, sausage and steak for supper. Seriously, some of the best food was on this tour and I went back for seconds every time!!  I couldn't resist!  A bunch of us where pumped from the day still and decided to walk about 20 minutes to the beach.  We grabbed a couple beer each and had a grande ole drunk time at the beach!  It was one of my first late nights, but not my last!! LOL

Us from the tour on the boat
Tiger shark!!

Me on the boat
Sunset at Coral Bay

Friday, June 26, 2009

Day 3, Monkey Mia!!

Once again it was an early morning.....I'm going to get get at these by the end of this tour! We left the hostel at 0630 and made the short drive to the beach of Monkey Mia. Now at monkey mia, there are no monkeys, but dolphins, and lots of dolphins!! They come in for feeding throughout the day and we arrived to watch the sun rise over the water, and watch the dolphins getting fed....some of us getting to feed the dolphins. I however was not picked to do this :(
Now, a bit of history of Monkey Mia. The dolphins have been coming here for close to 50 years after a wife of a fisherman began feeding a couple of the dolphins as they came in from fishing. I became such a routine for the dolphins and they got so used to the people, they actually began feeding directly from the hands of the fisherman. The name Monkey Mia came from a fishing boat, Monkey, that anchored there during the pearling season, and Mia is aboriginal for shelter or home.
The sunrise was amazing and as it came up we watching pelicans cruise along the beach, turtles swimming in the water and the dolphins coming in for feeding! 13 dolphins came in that morning for feeds, and there was a TON of people at the shore watching. I didn't get a great spot on the beach, but oh well, I still got to see them and it was very exciting.
After the dolphins, we had the option of going to an aboriginal walk in the town of Monkey Mia with an aboriginal, or go on a Catamaran to see some marine life. However, the aboriginal that was to take us on our walk was in another town, so this was canceled....and at that point it didn't surprise me as it seemed that everything was going wrong! So, a bunch of us opted to go on the Catamaran. And that too, wasn't great as we didn't see ANY marine life, even the pearl boat was closed as it was a Sunday. The only exciting thing that happened was when we got on the boat, we had the option of going on 'the boom', which was a net at the back of the catamaran that you could sit in and the boat would drag you along. It was so much fun, and when they asked if we wanted to go faster, we all said yes, not realizing what could happen. You see, you get dragged in the water, at fast speeds, and not only do you get a wedgie from your bathing suit bottoms, but occasionally the tie at the back of your bikini can come undone.....and boy did I give a show to Rich and Rob who where sitting beside me!! They noticed before I did, and even one of the skippers that was keeping an eye on us, had a smirk on his face when I realized what had happened. I don't think my top had come undone for very long, but I got Rob to tie a double knot so it wouldn't happen again!! GT's (good times!)
After this we drove to Eagle Bluff, a view point along the coast that you can sometimes see reef sharks. But, just as our luck was going, no such luck! Although it was pretty! After enjoying the view, we drove to Shell Beach where I randomly ran into my friends Brid and Gethin that where traveling up to Darwin with a camper van! What where the chances! Shell beach had loads of shells, in fact, it wasn't really sand, it was ALL shells, some small and some big. A few of us went for a swim in the surprisingly cold water, and before we knew it, it was time to move on. We drove back to Hamelin pool for a quick lunch, and at this point we all knew what was needed to prepare lunch and we where all helping as a team, different people helping out with different things each day. Not everyone helped out with every meal as it would just be too many people, but we all helped out pretty evenly throughout the tour. Lunches where usually the same, sandwich, wraps, and veggies. But I didn't mind, and I usually went back for seconds!! It was free so why not :) We then hoped on board the bus and drove to Coral Bay. It was a long drive and by the time we arrived in Coral Bay (in the dark and after hitting kangaroo, poor guy) we had driven a total of 1820 km's from Perth, and this was just the end of day three!!

The dolphins coming in for feeding at sunrise
Beautiful sunrise
In the Katamaran boom, prior to the 'incident'!!
On the Katamaran
At shell beach!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day 2- Kalbarri

Today was an early start, breakfast was out at 0530 and we departed at 0630 - another long day of driving planned ahead.  We drove to to Kalbarri National Park, about 130 km north of Horrocks.  This was our first gorge, a fairly easy climb down compared to some that we did later in the tour.  We had the option of going abseiling 30M to get to the base of the gorge (at an extra cost of course) however the guy that was supposed to take us down got drunk the night before and didn't show up.  A little unprofessional if you ask me, but whatever.  We spent quite a while at the gorge as we all as seemed very intrigued by it and did a little exploring, one of the guys, Rich (AKA, Richie or dickie by the end of the tour!!) even went for a brief swim - it was a little too shallow for me!!  After the gorge, we headed back up to the bus and drove to the other end of the gorge for a BBQ lunch as well as a look through "Natures Window", a very cool rock formation - see pictures below.  After lunch, and a beer of course, we drove to Shark Bay, which is a World Heritage Site, the first in Australia to be given this title in 1991.  In order for a place to obtain WH status is must be of outstanding universal value, and meet one of 10 criteria.  Check out for more details.
Once in Shark Bay we headed to a place of significant value, Hamelin's Pool where stromatolites exist.   They are the oldest living organisms on the planet and are believed to be the first living organisms on Earth, the first to provide oxygen.  The oldest fossil record is 3.5 BILLION years ago.....CRAZYNESS!!!  The funny thing, is that this is not the first time I have seen these, there are fossilized one's in the arctic, Tree River to be exact, where I saw some.  A friend suggest I try and make it to see all the stromatolites in the world!  Brazil here I come! LOL!  We also got to watch the sunset at Hamelin's pool before heading to Denham, in Shark Bay for our next night accommodation.  Located right on the water, a very small fishing town.  We arrived late, like usual, and didn't eat till after 8, so we didn't get a chance to see the town, apart from early in the morning the next day - which was once again, an early one!

It wasn't an easy way in or out!
At the base of Kalbarri Gorge

Natures Window
Time for a beer before lunch!
At Shark bay
Sunset at Hamelin's pool

May 22nd - Day one of 21 day tour from Perth to Darwin

Well, it is now June 26th, and I have just been able to sit down (by the pool of course) and write about my amazing journey from Perth to Darwin. It was a combined tour from Perth to Broome, had a couple days in Broome to myself, then a separate tour from Broome to Darwin.
On May 22nd at 0700, after a long night of partying and only getting about an hour of sleep, I boarded our bus (AKA, coach, van, depending on where you're from) and we headed towards Nambung National Park to see the classic Pinnacles. Straight away i got to know my 'bus buddy' Rob, or Robbie by the end of the trip, and despite being extremely tired, I was able to keep up a conversation for most of the morning. To be honest, I can't remember how long it took to get there, but I do remember there being lots of driving the first few days. We stopped at our first roadhouse - one of many - and introduced ourselves, our guides name was Pete, and there was 18 of us 'travelers'. The weather wasn't that great, in fact the day before it poured rain in Perth, ending one of their longest draughts, something like 25 days. Once we hit the national park, the weather wasn't looking too promising, it rained will we where in the visitor's center, and after briefing looking at the pinnacles and taking some dirty pictures (you'll see why), we decided to end our walk early as it was looking like we where about to get dumped on. Good thing we did as once we all got back to the van, it pissed down rain. Now, for some background on the Pinnacles as I'm sure most of you don't know what they are - I had never heard of them prior to Australia. They are limestone formations, seashells blown inland forming high dunes. However, this is controversy on how specifically these pinnacles where formed and there are three different theories, you can wikipedia it to find out more details!!
We where supposed to stop for lunch, however due to the weather - wind and the possibility of rain, we decided to hold off lunch and head to our next destination, Greenough Wildlife and Bird Park. It was a further 2 hour drive, but it made the most sense. In the itinerary we where supposed to go sand boarding, but due to all the wet weather, this was cancelled. Instead we went to the wildlife park, had a great lunch and then proceeded to feed the animals, roo's, camels, emo's, horses, goats and sheep. We obviously stayed away from the dingo's and croc's!! Didn't want to lose a finger, or an arm for that matter! I also got to hold a joey, who was very very cute, until he decided to shit, (pardon my language) but luckily he was in a pouch and none got on me :)
Our group then headed to our first destination, Horrocks, 496km's north of I said, lots of driving, and that doesn't include the 100km detour to the Pinnacles.....just a small detour!
We also made a stop to pick up beer.....mmmmm, beeeeer, and enjoyed a couple with supper. (which was stir fry chicken, which Pete forgot to take out some for me before adding the sauce which had sesame, so I had noodles and veggies, which was surprisingly good). I was off to bed early as only getting one hour of sleep the night before, was feeling a little exhausted, plus we had another early and long day planned ahead!

See what I mean?? They were ALL shaped like this!! LOL

The cute Joey - pre poo

Feeding the roo's (thinking: yummm, you would taste good tonight!! jk)

After this, I could tell that I was going to be with a great group of people!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The SW of WA!!

Yes, I decided to travel the southwest coast of beautiful Western Australia. After picking up Marina's friend Naoimi, we headed down the southern coast from Perth and made our way to Dunsborough. The scenery was quite busy with traffic and towns spread out, but you all know I love driving, so I didn't mind it all. Marina actually drove the first day, and was kind of glad she did as I don't like driving in cities that I don't know all that well, and to be honest, Marina can be very intimidating and I sometimes got nervous doing new/different things around her. Not that it stopped me as I did drive, but I was more then willing to let her drive the first day!! Now, Dunsburough is a small town on a small strip of land 254km south of Perth, with a small population of 3300. As most of you know I prefer the smaller towns, and luckily, so did Marina and Naoimi. We arrived just in time to watch the sunset and enjoy a refreshing beer, or wine for the other two girls!! Marina is an amazing cook and she did up BBQ chicken, sausage and my fav, kangaroo!! The next couple of days included a lot of driving and stopping at small towns and beaches as well as a tree top walk in the "Valley of the Giants" - which I am proud to say that Marina who is scared of heights, walked the whole way!! We also visited some of the largest trees in western australia - nothing compared to what's in canada, but still surprisingly impressive! We also stopped and checked out the elephant rocks which, as you can guess, where very large, and actually looked like elephants!! Nearby was an amazing pool of water where no waves come crashing in due to all the rocks breaking the waves, unfortunately, we had to head back to Perth and so couldn't stay and enjoy it.
We also hit a couple wineries, ok, maybe a few wineries!! Marina was kind enough to say that she would drive and only have a taste of a couple wines at each place. We also found a nice rosea wine that we all liked, so got it and had it with supper that night. By the end of the day (about 5 or 6 hours), and after about 6 or 7 wineries, lets just say that Naoimi and I where feeling pretty good! If you ever get a chance to try wines from the Margarite river area, I highly suggest you do and they where all quite pleasant, with only a few that I didn't care for. (That is also the alcoholic coming out in me! lol)
We had to have the car back to the rental place by 5:30, so our last day was pretty much driving, but all in all, I had a great time touring the SW of WA and was glad to have done it in such great company!!!

Sunset at one of the beach's - the name has slipped my mind

Valley of the Giants
Do you see the elephants?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Perth and Freo (fremantle)

Alright, got sometime to spare while lazing around in Bali, so i thought I'd update you all on my travels while in Western Australia.
I arrived early in Perth, so Marina (a girl I met on the train) and we checked in early and toured around the CBD (central business district, aka, downtown) of Perth, saw the bay- which was not all that interesting and the some bells that had been in London for years, but they didn't like the sound of them so Perth bought them. The CBD is just like any other CBD if you ask me. The nice thing was that out hostel had a pool! Thank goodness because we where located right beside the train tracks - something had to make the hostel appealing!! About 5 of the people I met on the train where all staying at the YHA, so we had a nice evening in, playing cards and drinking beers. The next day we checked out and took the train to Fremantle. We actually just took a few things with us and left our big bags in the luggage room at the hostel - we didn't have to pay a thing. Fremantle is a small town south of Perth, right on the water. We once again, checked in and walked around Freo. Marina had the opportunity to fire canon at the round house which was used 80 years ago to aid the ships navigating the seas. I was fortunate enough to fire the canon the next day, how cool was that!! We chilled on the beach all afternoon, met up with Warwick, who we met on the train as well, and ended the night at a really cool brewery right on the water. The brewery is called Little Creatures, they have great beer, and the bar is set up within the brewery! The next day was pretty much the same, but my friends Brid and Gethin who I met in Melbourne and happened to be working in Perth at the time, came down for a beer! Small small world. I found out this night that they where renting a camper van and driving up to Darwin, leaving the same day that I was leaving on my tour! (I tried desperately to sell my seat on the tour and go with them, but no such luck. All in all, I think it turned out well as they missed a lot of things that I did on the tour!)
So on Friday Marina and I headed back to Perth for the night and on Saturday we picked up a rental car, along with Marina's friend Naomi and we toured all of south western, western Australia!! That will be next!!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

In Darwin and alive!

So I've been neglecting my blog for the last while, but with good reason!! First of all, I've been having way too much fun partying and haven't had the time to update, and secondly, the last three weeks I have been on a tour traveling from Perth to Darwin, with 90% of time in the outback, middle of freakin nowhere, with no reception!! But what fun I have had!

I will be posting about my travels later, probably next week sometime, as I am currently waiting to go to Bali on a jet plane! My flight leaves this evening and I will be there for a week. When I get back I have 6 days in Darwin in which I will be blogging like crazy to tell you all my crazy stories.....
to give you a sneak peak: rented a car and traveled down the SW of western australia, snorkeled in the most amazing coral reef ever, and jumped of a 12M cliff, into water of course!!

Anways......I'll be back :)