Up early to wait for the dolphins and on beach by 7.30am…. come 9.30am no dolphins!!!!
The dolphins at Monkey Mia are “the most reliable dolphins” and arrive 99% of days usually circa 8am. However the previous day they had first appeared at 10am. Our driver Chris was inflexible and wouldn’t wait another half hour. Ben and I tried to engage the group but they all remained mute and said nothing! Aaaah! At least have an opinion please! Was very disappointed when that evening we met up with another tour group and they had seen the dolphins at 10am! I had specifically chosen this tour company as they spent the night in Monkey Mia and I wanted to see the dolphins :-)
What we should have seen… I took this photo in the Visitor Centre
Next stop was the Stromatolites: living rock-like things by the sea. We had lunch there. Then long drive to Coral Bay, got there about 5pm. Another noisy backpackers.
Sat 10 – Day Four – Coral Bay to Exmouth. Today we went on a Manta Ray Tour from Coral Bay. The boat took us out snorkeling over the Ningaloo reef. The first snorkel session we were guided through a gap in the reef and saw several white-tip reef sharks –the waves were reasonably strong and to get back through the gap we had to kick hard against the current.
The boat was accompanied by a spotter plane to find the Manta Rays – easiest way to describe them is HUGE stingrays – average size is 3m to 5m span. They are not dangerous though as they don’t have a barb in their tails and they only eat plankton off bottom of ocean so we’re not food. Once we had located a Manta our guide got into the water and followed the Manta for at least the next half hour swimming at a fast speed with her arm in the air so she was easy to spot. The water was rough and the waves would flood your snorkel frequently. The first time we got in the water I could barely keep up despite the fact I’m a strong swimmer and was swimming frontcrawl as I had to stop and raise my head in order to clear the snorkel periodically. I could just about make out a huge grey creature flapping its wing-like fins.
We were pulled from the water after about 6-8mins and another group of 8 dropped in (only 4 of us were remotely near Manta at end of our session). There were 3 groups altogether and we jumped back in when it was our turn again. This time the Manta had changed direction and was swimming back towards the back of the boat at 90degrees to it. This time I swam ahead of where the Manta would be and within seconds it was directly below me and I got a great view of its face and then somehow managed to stay with it for several minutes – it must have slowed down but was still swimming fast. Amazing creature.
After lunch we snorkeled another part of the reef. Saw blue coral and amazing colour fish: tree green and one that looked like it wore eye makeup :-) Lots of lovely sun and a great day out. Back on bus at 4pm and drove to Exmouth. Stayed at Potshot Hotel Backpackers – dodgy tin motel-style room but we had a private bathroom.
Sun 11 – Day Five – Diving in Exmouth. Ben and Karin (Swiss girl on our bus trip) went diving and I went along for the ride and sunbathed instead. From the boat I got to see turtles in Turtle Bay. As it was mating season they were the most active turtles I’d ever seen and were smacking their fins on the water and their heads were clear out of the water so I got some good shots. Spent another night in Exmouth and Ben & I did the cooking and made an awesome Spag Bol. Was anti-social and went back to room and watched Australian Idol J My favourite is called Natalie and the girls get a kicking every week for their clothes and no matter how rubbish the boys sing everyone loves them! Just like X-Factor :-)
Mon 12 – Day Six. In 5 days from Perth to Exmouth we covered 1260km – we are now covering that same distance back in 2 days! Oh joy! We stopped at Tropic of Capricorn to take photos then drove until lunch in a hick town called Carnarvon
PHOTO TROPIC SIGN
More driving and we stopped late afternoon at a farm where we were to spend the night. We went on a short walk to the almost dry Murcheson River and got to feed kangaroos. Ben was very thankful that I had persuaded him to buy $5 headnets as the flies were unbearable and even managed to find a way into my net causing minor hysterics. Shepherd Pie for dins and a lovely quiet night’s sleep.
Tues 13 – Day Seven – Return to Perth
Left the farm and after a short drive we stopped at the Principality of Hutt River: an independent “state” (aka farm) in Australia. Back in the 60’s Australia put quotas on the quantity of farm products that could be sold – this farmer said he would sell his wheat regardless and the Government threatened to confiscate his stock and his land. This farmer was a clever man and found a loophole in the old English law that allowed him to declare his 20,000 hectares an independent state making him exempt from all Australian laws. He now pays no taxes and can sell his produce to whoever he pleases. He has also printed his own currency, stamps and has an ambassador in London amongst other countries. He doesn’t take himself too seriously though (we think!) We had our photos taken in the chapel sitting in the thrones.
After that we went to a Wildlife Park and I fed Kangaroos. They are so cute: whilst horses or sheep will gobble the entire content of your hand in one slimy sweep, Kangaroos are more particular. They eat slowly and will hold your hand whilst they finish their mouthful and come back for more. Ben fed cockatoos when the cage said, “These cockies bite” and guess what – it took a chunk out of his finger. Also fed horse, donkey and deer too. Avoided the Emu – savage eating style: sharp neck swinging lunges for your hands and we even watched one peck at the baby kangaroos to scare them away from the feeding.
Photos from this road trip are on flickr in “Perth to Exmouth Roadtrip”
Back to Perth at 5.30pm and Mike picked us up. Went back to their house for a BBQ.