A Travellerspoint blog

Perth to Broome continued

Running out of acronyms for amazing...

So, where did I leave you?

Ah yes. The next day we went on a day long boat trip where some people dived but the dive master scared me off (terrifying woman. Tells you off then calls you 'hon' or 'darling' to soften the blow) so I just snorkeled which was very cool. The first dive we saw lots of lovely fish and loads of incredible coral but we came up freezing cold as it was really overcast and a bit drizzly. Do not like.

The next dive was fantastic though. The boat was guided by a helicopter to where there were Manta Rays on a 'cleaning station' - swimming up and down the reef covered in little fish that were nibbling on them to clean them! We took it in turns to go in in smaller groups and swim with a guide just behind the Ray and it was incredible!!! It was about 4 m wide and so graceful as it swam! We followed it for about 20 minutes and also saw a Leopard shark just chilling on the ocean floor. Wow.

After lunch and some exercising of the 'pervcam' in the direction of some hot young germans (shameless) we went in again and this time was even better - apparently there were over 200 different types of coral! We also saw and followed (and slightly freaked out!) a little turtle!! It was so cool - just pottering about minding its own business (not like those busybody turtles you get sometimes) and we swam with it for about 10 minutes. Awesome.

Then we went back and drove up to Exmouth for an outdoor BBQ and another night of beers and ridiculous chat. A few of us decided to go to the beach after we were told to leave the BBQ area by a militant man with a golf buggy but got bored half way there so ended up back in a room, turning to tea cups of gin and jaegermeister when the beer ran out, playing games and generally messing around. Great fun but made getting up the next day quite painful!

The next day we went to Oyster Bay and Turquoise Bay - both of which were beautiful and practically entirely deserted except for us! Did lots more snorkeling including a 'drift dive' when we walked up the beach, got in the water with our snorkels and were just washed down the beach by the current to where we started! Saw another turtle and also some reef sharks! Then napped on the beach for a bit, nursing our coral wounds which ended up with one person in hospital on a drip at the end of the trip! I had no idea coral can continue to live under your skin if you get scratched by it!

Driving back to the accommodation was a bit like being on safari - saw lots of kangaroos, an eagle, an apparently rare dark (though with the Aussie accent it sounded more like duck. Quite disappointed not to see a mallard waddling down the road in front of us) and a very cute puppy. That night we had a game of mini golf before bed and all collapsed at about 10pm!

Then it was on to Karijini National Park for 3 nights of camping in swags in bright red sand under the stars and 3 days of trekking through gorges, swimming in fresh water pools and climbing waterfalls! SO much fun! We encountered other tour groups so drank and played games with them in the evenings and spent the days exploring the park.

Each morning we woke up when the sun rose (which, amazingly it did every morning), had breakfast then went out for a day's trekking and swimming. There were bits where you had to get down on your hands and feet and 'spider walk' along the gorge, bits where you waded through water, one point where you left all your stuff and swam 300m to get to the other side of the gorge... it was at that point that our guide jumped 24 m off a rock into a pool of water. TERRIFYING! Being a bunch of girls we spent the whole time trying to talk him out of it rather than encourage him but i think masculine pride took over. Still, he survived so we weren't abandoned! Catriona and I decided to 'race' the 300m swim back and again epitomised a pair of girls as we swam companionably alongside each other the whole way, except when she cut me up near some rocks and when I started my 'sprint finish' WAY too early as i didn't have my contacts in!

We also went to an incredible freshwater pool with a waterfall which is a sacred place for Aboriginals so we had to introduce ourselves to the area and thank the aboriginals for letting us visit. It was so beautiful - really tranquil. We might've slightly spoiled the atmosphere by climbing the waterfall for a group photo but hey. It was a good picture!

Eventually we had to drag ourselves out of Karijini (taking most of the red sand with us. Oh well, at least i don't have to wear these clothes for the next 5 months...) and head further up the coast to Pardoo where we stayed in a miners town in 'containers' which ... erm ... contained a bunk bed, a single bed and about 3feet of floor space! There was a pool though and i think it says a lot about how hot and sandy we were that we weren't even really put off swimming in it by the gradually amassing groups of miners!

Then it was on to Broome, stopping for a beer and a brawl at Bojangles - a bar that's in the Guinness Book of Records as being the roughest pub in the world! There's a boxing ring, a board of photos of people who've been banned and a protective case around the DJ booth! I'm guessing that's to stop him getting beaten up when he plays S Club 7.

So, we arrived in Broome for our final night covered in red sand, bruises and coral scratches, exhausted but having had a superb time. I feel quite bereft now it's over! I was getting quite used to spending time on my own but now i've been reminded of how lovely it is to have people around you! Made some great friends though and plans to see them later in my trip so it's all good :-)

Now i'm sweating in Darwin for a day before heading off on another trip to Kakadu National Park tomorrow. All in all, it's not a bad life!

One night, Catriona and I slept on the roof of the van which was great fun. At first we were terrified we'd roll off but once we were settled we didn't have to clutch each other as desparately as we'd imagined! Though we did turn down Adam's offer to drive around for a bit with us up there... Gave us a good view of the camp and allowed us to spot dingos wandering around!

Posted by Hoodfish 20:47 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

From Perth to Broome in 10 days

The time of my life :-)

Apologies in advance if this gets a little lengthy and over exhuberant...

I've just got back from a 10 day tour in a huge (mostly) airconditioned bus (it broke in the drivers cabin and despite constant squirtings with a water spray, temperatures in there reached 63 degrees!!) with 15 girls (7 of whom were german :-) no excuse not to practice!) and one somewhat baffled (baffling?) Taiwanese guy. It was fantastic!! We covered about 7000 km, ate approximately 4000 bags of crisps and generally had a superb time.

First stop was the Pinnacles where there's a huge expanse of rock formations ranging from a few inches high to several metres - very (berry) impressive despite the swarms of flies determined to commune with us. We stopped briefly there to introduce ourselves, where we're from and what we're doing in Oz. I instantly forgot everyone's names!

Then we went on to an incredible beach for lunch - white sand, clear blue sea and utterly deserted apart from us! Then we tried sandboarding which was a LOT of fun. It was less frightening than i expected (not being a natural at high speeds...) but then that could well have been cos i was slowing myself down to the speed of an arthritic koala.

After a quick dip to clean the sand out of everywhere, we headed on to our first night's accommodation in a surf lodge on the coast where we had a few beers and watched the sun set (in a shock end to the day). We were put into teams of 3 responsible for meals and took it in turns to do all the cooking/cleaning up from food that we were carring round with us in 'eskis' - by the end, being the diligent and helpful lot we were we were all just mucking in when we felt like it but for the first night we were all happy to sit back and be cooked for! Managed a good night's sleep despite stories of brown snakes sneaking in to our rooms...

On day 2 we saw a pink lake which was stunning! Really salty - reminded me a bit of the dead sea as there were huge salt crystals at the side of it and half of it was just an expanse of glittering salt flats. Then we went on to Kalbarri National Park where we hiked through a beautiful canyon and then up to a place called Nature's Window where there's a natural window (funny that) shaped rock with a great view. Spoiled only slightly by the queue of people waiting to have their pic taken there!

That afternoon we stopped at Shark Bay and Shell Beach (no idea why either of them were called that) - again, stunning blue sea, crystal clear water - it just felt like an aquaerobics session getting in there as you had to wade through thigh deep water for about 500 m to get into the deep water!

Day 3 was Dolphin Day which i wasn't in the least bit excited about. We got up early in time to get to Monkey Mia where at 7.30 they feed 5 wild dolphins in a cordoned off section of the bay. 8 dolphins came in and we stood up to our knees in water listening to the DEC officers talking about the dolphins and the dolphins themselves swam up and down the row of people - sometimes swimming on their sides with their eyes out of the water to eye us up! It was A-MAY-zing!!! I took one or two photos then we were asked to step to the edge of the water to the feeding. Only 3 of the 8 were the 5 females they feed so 3 people came out with buckets of fish with the dolphins' names on them and they started to choose volunteers to feed them. I totally wasn't expecting to be picked - partly as my sister had been chosen last year and partly as i'd been told they usually pick kids (you hear that, Lucy?? CHILDREN!!) but when the person nearest me looked towards us, one of my friends (who, bless her, might have heard once or twice about how excited i was...) started pointing at me like a maniac shouting 'her! her!' so i was chosen to go and take a fish and feed it to a dolphin!!! It was quite good.

After that we went on a Catamaran trip where we were able to sit in a net in the water and get dragged along at the back of the boat! I slightly misunderstood the instructions about how we were meant to lie in the net and ended up nearly drowning, whilst maintaining a death grip on my bikini bottoms which were threatening to go an throttle a dolphin at the next wave. So much fun! Then we went Dugong spotting. They're a cousin of the Manatee and funny brown creatures. We saw a few and also watched a dolphin swimming beside the boat for a while :-)

Then we headed on via the world's smallest town (population: 1. Steve) for BBQ lunch and a beer in the shade and had a brief stop at the Stromatolites. Of great ecological and evolutional significance (3.5 billion years old (i think...) and the organisms from which everything on the planet descended) we were rather disappointed to find that they just resembled a few rocks. After our tour guide Adam's enthusiam for them I think we were expecting them to be singing and dancing their way around the bay. No such luck. Gave us some ammunition to mock Adam throughout the rest of the week though which was nice.

We arrived at the Ningaloo Reef (where Hayley managed to convince me, on the basis that Shark Bay and Shell Beach were such obvious names, that the Ningaloo was a large, platypus-like creature with a fin...) stopping only to wipe a Kangaroo off the grate on the front of the van :-( Had a BBQ for dinner, played giant jenga where apparently 'house rules' are that if you lose, you jump in the pool, either naked or fully clothed. Lucky i'm so good at jenga....Oh bugger. Also played some pool and mucked about on the table tennis table playing around the world and pioneering a new style of flip flop bat. Very practical as you can have one on either hand. Ended the night drinking by a bonfire on the beach where I became even more grateful for our ace group of people when we encountered a member of another tour group throwing himself down a sand dune naked.

I think i'm going to save the next day for my second installment as i'm running out of time and don't want to lose this masterwork when my time runs out. Apologies for rambling...

Posted by Hoodfish 20:05 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Whales and dolphins, kangaroos and quokkas

Yesterday was officially my Best Day So Far.

Got a ferry from Perth over to Rottnest island - about an hour off the coast, 11km long with 63 beaches! I'd hired and bike and was determined to cycle the whole way around on the 22km trail. Sadly, I only had about 5 hours on the island and i'd vastly underestimated the distance/the 'undulations' (i'd call them hills, but Theo wouldn't be impressed) and TOTALLY overestimated my own fitness so I actually spent most of the day pedalling frantically rather than relaxing on secluded beaches but i LOVED the cycling bit - stopping every few minutes to take a photo, spot a lizard, take a photo, watch the 'quokkas' (cross between a rat and a kangaroo and surprisingly cute!), take a photo... I also did a bit of snorkeling and when I got to the furthest point of the island, sat staring intently at the sea and spotted some humpback whales!!! SO exciting! It's the time of year when they migrate south for the winter and they're quite often to be seen around these parts. I've booked myself on to a whale watching boat trip tomorrow and can't wait! I also spotted some dolphins on the boat home and revelled in the perverse delight of being the person laughing AT the people getting soaked by freak waves, rather than the person being soaked (cf: Istanbul when NIcki, Francesca and I were 3 of the only 4 people to get soaked from head to toe to underwear by a wave on a boat whilst everyone else remained bone dry and hysterical).

This weekend I'm in Fremantle which i'm really enjoying. It's really laid back and there's a festival going on so there are street performers, food stalls, entertainment at every turn. I've taken full advantage of all the free samples being handed out at the food markets. I also sat for quite a while watching a group of old(ish) people doing the lindy hop, stifling giggles as their teacher sang along to the music, interspersing the lyrics to the songs with instructions for the next dance move: "I'm a fool for love...swing your partner and do-si-do". As someone who took part in an outdoor Tai Chi class just a week ago, which included moves like 'float like a cloud' and ' repulse the monkey', I'm not sure i should criticise...

So, tomorrow i'm off to Free Willy and then for a tour of the prison (apparently a great tourist attraction?!) and then on Monday i'll be setting off a stupid o clock in the morning with a group of 16-24 people in a little mini bus to travel up the west coast to Broome. It's rainy season up in the north so i'm picturing it a little bit like Stockport. Apparently all the conditions so far are matching exactly with 30-odd years ago when a cyclone completely destroyed Darwin on Christmas day. Should be interesting.

Posted by Hoodfish 05:11 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

All the way to the other side of the world


I'm actually in Australia!!! All the excitement has clearly addled my brain as I realised I'd booked myself into a hostel for the night I was on a plane for rather than the night I arrived in Perth but i've ended up somewhere very central. There are loads of people there and it's all very sociable - though there are so many people who've been there for months and are working / drinking / saving money i'm not tending to meet people who are up for joining me on jaunts around the place. But that's all good - turns out i'm getting on better with myself than I thought I would.

So far i've just been pottering around Perth - faffing about booking various tours and getting over the jet lag. I patted a kangaroo yesterday which to my mind means i've truly arrived :-)

Today the first of my day trips out of the city began with a visit to my cousin Nick's wife Cherette's sister Alex's (you followed that, right?) and her two little boys - Cooper and Hudson - which has been fab! Seeing a friendly face and having a cup of tea on a sofa has been great and it's been really lovely to meet a very (very) distant relative and play lego with the boys. I've even had a picture drawn for me so i feel very lucky!

I feel as though the adventure is really getting going and am loving it. My main mistake so far has been trying to cook dinner for myself in the hostel's kitchen... so far i've had a pan that fitted about 4 pieces of pasta in it, a pan that would feed 40 and 2 pans without handles. Pasta, tuna and tomatoes was going ok as a uni-nostalgia meal until last night when i realised that i'd left my pasta and tomatoes in the kitchen the night before so they'd been thrown away. To add insult to injury, my pepper had frozen in the fridge so i was left with a tin of peas and a tin of tuna. Yum. The whole thing was cheered right up though as i'd been given a chocolate brownie earlier in the day by a waiter as a 'welcome to Oz' present!! He gave it to me on the wrong side of a litre's worth of chocolate milkshake so for once in my life I managed to save it and it very much helped sooth the pain of my pea and tuna disaster.

Right on que, Alex has just come in to ask if i'm ok with fish in thai curry sauce. Yes, i very much am...

Ok, so this is getting more stream of consciousness than anecdotes of interest so i'll leave it there - i'm very excited about the trips i've got planned for the next few weeks so next time i might actually have something to say!

Love to everyone! xx

Posted by Hoodfish 01:23 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Hong Kong

I LOVED Hong Kong. It's just incredible - enormous sky scrapers, tranquil parks, huge mountains, tiny tiny bedrooms...

Arrived late on the Monday afternoon and was very kindly met by my uni friend Lyndsey's brother Andrew. Andrew was fantastic - took me on a walking tour down to the waterfront, to see the 'Avenue of the Stars' (which in terms of my understanding of 'star' JUST deserved the plural. Beyond Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee, my knowledge of chinese cinema is clearly not up to scratch) and then across on the ferry to Hong Kong island where we went up the hill so steep and long that there's an escalator! It goes down in the mornings to take all the commuters to work and then up for the rest of the day. Genius!

We then headed back to Kowloon where we wandered through the markets that sold everything from t shirts, sun glasses and 'Louis Vuitton' footballs (!) to vibrators and 'lady harnesses' (Gran's not reading this, is she?) then had some delicious Chinese food (of course, there they just called it food) in a street cafe where they kept live prawns running up and down on a table nearby just to prove that it's all fresh!

I was staying on the 16th floor of a huge building full of hostels, shops and flats and my first night was quite luxurious (I was told i was in luck as they didn't have any single rooms so i was in a double for the same price) and I didn't think that a single room could be THAT much smaller. After all, it had to be at least the width of a bed. Which it was... just... the room actually got narrower than the width of a door to accomodate the bed that was probably 5 inches wider than my shoulders on either side and fitted nicely between the 2 walls! Kind of like sleeping in a coffin. Quite a comfy coffin though so it was ok.

Over the next few days, I explored parks, a monastry, a nunnery, a temple, a big buddha, a floating village, saw Tai Chi classes in the park (some of which were accessorised with swords, others with fans) and chatted to a lovely Hong Kong man who's table I was sat at at the "Perfect Vegetarian" restaurant (not going to walk past a place like that!) who taught me how to eat more effectively with chop sticks and a word for 'thank you' in chinese that noone since has recognised.

I also had chance to meet up with Anthony Ash of school fame and catch up on the various goings on of school friends - thanks again for dinner! :-)

All in all, a fab few days. The weather on the last day was a bit reminiscent of Stockport but apart from that, no complaints!

Posted by Hoodfish 01:11 Comments (0)