Email written 11th Oct 06.
Our last week in Melbourne passed in a blur with a series of send offs and many a late night!
On the morning we were due to fly I strolled home at 6am and stared at my backpack waiting to be packed!
It was hard work but after 2 hours sleep I managed to cram everything in and off we went!
The airport shuttle was full of old people and they all stared horrified at the sight of the sleep deprived couple stumbling on to the bus!
As the bus pulled away and I bid farewell to St. Kilda I shed a tear!
We arrived in Perth and our last week’s activities finally caught up with me; I was in bed for 2 days suffering a major case of cold / overtired / toomuchpartying itus!
Finally I got up and we headed out to explore the most isolated city in the world!
It certainly felt more Alice Springs than Melbourne. We headed to the pretty seaside town of Fremantle for the day and enjoyed a wander around the Fremantle markets.
The next morning at 7am we were ready to explore the West Coast all courtesy of the trip that I had one in TNT magazine!
First stop was the Nambung National Park where we explored the fascinating Pinnacles Desert.
It was amusing to see such a vast area of desert dotted with these limestone pillars, left behind after the earth around them had disappeared!
We headed to Jurien bay for our first glimpse of WAs infamous beaches. It didn’t disappoint. White sand and clear blue water and it seemed to stretch on forever.
During our picnic our driver came to give me and Adam the bad news. We were the only 2 on the 7 day route everyone else was carrying on north rather than heading back to Perth.
This meant that they didn’t have a vehicle to send us back on. They were afraid we were going to have to stay for 2 nights at their expense in the beautiful Coral Bay!! Karma is kind!
Obviously we were very disappointed, and the idea of having to spend 2 days on a white sand beach beside the Ningaloo reef was very disturbing!
WA has some amazing sights along the coast but barren scrubland for hours in between each sight. And so we spent a lot of time driving through red dirt.
The following day we headed in to the Kalbarri National Park and went to ogle the Z bed gorge!
We walked all the way in to the gorge and admired the fresh pools at the bottom before making the tiring journey back up the other side.
We walked to see a famous rock called 'Natures Window' which funnily enough is shaped like a window and looks out on to the beautiful National Park.
We also visited Hamlin Pools famed for its Stamotlites. Now at this point I could get very scientific and explain the history of Stamatolites but I fear that even those who are kind enough to have already read this far will then add me to their spam list!
We also visited a beach called 'Shell Beach', again no explanation needed! The shells made the beach extremely white and from a distance it was very beautiful to look at.
The next morning I woke very early (even earlier than the 5.30am that the alarm was set to!) today was the day that we were going to see the dolphins of Monkey Mia!
Now I will admit it is a bit of a circus and you do wonder if the dolphins come in not really for the fish but to laugh at the 300 tourists armed with cameras knee deep in water at 7am!
However this said it was fantastic! The dolphins come right in to the shallows of the bay and swim around your legs!
They were common pacific bottlenose dolphins and as always happy to show off posing for the cameras whilst waiting for their fish.
The beach was also full of another creature that I have grown to love, the hilarious Pelicans! I can’t help but feel that they look like they have stepped straight out of a cartoon! I love them!
After the excitement of Monkey Mia we headed off to learn why this area of WA is known as Shark Bay!
It turns out that this stretch of coast has more Sharks per square kilometer than anywhere else in the world! Anyone for a swim?!
We stood high up on the point known as Eagle Bluff and looked down in to the clear waters of the bay below.
Sure enough the sharks were there!
However they were actually about a kilometer from where we were standing and looked very much like tadpoles!
After all that excitement we had a 5-hour drive through red dirt! However it wasn’t all bad with lots of sightings of wedge tail eagles!
As sunset began we pulled over and climbed on to the roof of the bus to admire another of the stunning sunsets that the west coast has to offer!
Our destination for the night was Warrora Sheep station! As we began to drive down the 23km drive way (unfortunate for the postman!) we were graced with the presence of Kangaroos!
The sheep station was a great overnight stop complete with campfire and spiders however we failed to see any sheep?!
The next morning we arrived in Coral Bay where Adam and I would bid farewell to the bus and relax for a couple of days.
We started with a trip out on the ningaloo reef accompanied by spotter plane to swim with Manta Rays! It was a breathtaking experience!
Once the plane spotted one everything happened very fast. You have to be quick to keep up with a Manta! We threw on our fins and snorkels and slid quietly in to the water so as not to disturb the Manta.
We began swimming very fast and I couldn’t see what we were actually following at first! Manta Rays are plankton eating and therefore to encounter one you have to swim in very cloudy water. Once my eyes adjusted I couldn’t believe that I was swimming along above this great gummy creature!
Every now and then they come up to the surface and you have to make like a very still starfish while it maneuvers around you!
We swam with a couple of very playful young Mantas and then spent half an hour trailing after a 3 Meter adult! When they are underneath you it is hard to grasp their size but as they gracefully come to the surface you are completely dwarfed by the gentle giant!
Back on the boat and cruising along admiring lots of turtles we were graced with the presence of a humpback whale and her calf! It was wonderful, we were so close!
Our last snorkeling adventure of the day was to be at the famous 'Sharks Cleaning Station!'
Sure enough we swam above 4 sharks who were happily allowing the smaller fish to clean then!
The following 2 days were great; we got to fully appreciate the beauty of Coral Bay.
On the day that we were due to be picked up by the next tour through we got to experience Grand Final Day for the AFL world! Luckily for us we got to see it in all its glory with the final teams being West Coast Eagles V Sydney Swans! The west coast was a blaze with yellow and blue and Coral Bays one pub was packed! We joined the locals got in to the spirit! Also lucky for us was that West Coast won!
Our next tour collected us and while we exchanged names with the new group we were transported to Exmouth.
During our time in Exmouth we ogled the vistas of the Cape Range National Park, you would have believed we were in central Australia not so close to the coast. The contrast of red dirt and blue sea is a wonder!
We took a long walk along Yardie creek admiring the red canyon like rocks with a view to turquoise bay!
After 2 nights in Exmouth it was time to head back to Perth! We thought it had felt like a long journey over 5 days, we now had to do the same back but over 2!
We broke the journey up with a night at the NorthBrook Farm. Unfortunately it would seem that the farmer is cashing in on tourism more than farming these days, we barely saw any animals but we did get to see the construction sight for more dorms!
And so our last day of driving arrived. We broke this day up with a visit to another country.... Hutt River Province!!
Owned and governed by Prince Leonard, an old guy who is quite frankly mad as a hatter!
It’s quite a long story but Hutt River is actually a different country, we had our passports stamped to enter!
He showed us around his government building and his chapel.
It was in the chapel that I really understood how far gone this guy is, he has paintings of the last supper in to which he has had his sons painted in! He also has a religious series which include a carpenter friend of his!
It was very hard to take this guy seriously but he must have been all there once to have challenged the government and made Hutt River!
The last stop was to be a reptile centre which Adam and I were quite skeptical about. We figured it was just a stop gap from the journey and wouldn't really interest us.
We were pleasantly surprised with the main feature - Snakes!
We got to handle lots of snakes and it was really informative! I fell in love with a baby Carpet Python who I gather was quite taken with me, he fell asleep in my hands! The handler was quite happy to leave him there while he continued! Me and the baby snake spend a wonderful half hour together! I almost slipped him in my pocket until I heard he would grow to 3 meters!
And so back to Perth!
We spent a manic evening trying to get our packs ready for our flight the next day!
Which leads to us sitting here in an internet cafe in Kenya! But that’s another story!