A Travellerspoint blog

Xpose Yourself!

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I started a 7 day adventure tour from Perth to Exmouth and back. Bertha (the Western Xposure Bus) picked us up from our hostel and wisked us north of Perth. We stopped at the Pinnacles again and also went sand boarding for the second time. It was a much cooler day so I went sand boarding a few more times than before. We continued in the direction of our destination, Kalbarri, only to stop at a few sights along the way. We stopped at an outcrop of rock on the side of the road that had some aboriginal art. Mainly just handprints that were created by blowing ochre over top of one's hand. There were also drawings of boomerangs. Further up the road we stopped to take photos of the Pink Lakes. They are exactly as their name suggests. The bed of the lake is solid salt which is the perfect evironment for red algae. The by-product from the red algae gives the lake its colour. At dusk we stopped off at Eagles Bluff to view the rocks on the coast.

The next morning we rose bright and early to visit the Murchison River Gorge before the sun started to beat down the heat. We drove down to the z bend loop and hiked down the gorge. I got to abseil again down this beautiful red canyon. We drove down the road slightly and came to the trail to the rock formation of Nature's Window, which is exactly what it's name suggests. It was starting to get really hot, as we are nearing the Tropic of Capricorn. We stopped at Hamelin Pool where we got to see living stromatolites. They are the oldest living organisms on Earth, having been predicted as the first forms of life. Stromatolites are cyanobacteria which live in very extreme conditions. Hamelin pool is perfect for these creatures, which is twice as saline rich as sea water. Hamelin Pool is this way because of the shallow water in the area and the rapid evaporation of it due to the heat of the area. Cyanobacteria grow through sediment and sand which binds the particles of rock together. This results in successive layers which eventually harden to form rock over time. They are important in the history of life because they contribute oxygen to the atmosphere, as their by-product. Therefore, they are considered to have helped in the development of humans, indirectly. This is my bread and butter, I love this kind of stuff.

At the end of the day it was so hot and we were all drowsy and sweaty from being on the bus all day. We stopped at a beach called Shell Beach which is composed of mini cockle shells, about 3 meters deep. We all dove into the ocean to cool ourselves off, but the water was not that cold. It was fairly warm, but did it's job at cooling us off.
Carrying on into the Shark Bay Peninsula, on our way to Denham, we noticed a very large fence and a cattle grid. Apparently, it was built in an attempt to keep out introduced species, such as feral goats, cats and rabbits. As a conservation project, native species were re-introduced back into the area. But we didn't think that the cattle grids would completely deter the animals from entering this area. So we were forced off the bus, and in a group were herded towards the cattle grid to figure out the mystery of what actually kept the animals away from this area. As we crossed, a sensor felt our movements and set off an alarm of ringing bells and dogs barking. It was enough to scare us let alone rabbits and goats. Apparently it is 95% percent effective.

The next morning we went into Monkey Mia where we witnessed the feeding of the dolphins. We got to stand in the water up to our ankles and get very close to the dolphins without touching them.
Dolphins are considered to be very smart creatures, and they definitely exhibited that fact because they were very impatient to be fed and kept rolling over on their bellies infront of the handlers.

At the Monkey Mia Resort, I went on an Aboriginal Tour with a man named Capes, whose mother was from the Malgana Tribe and his father from the Nandu Tribe of the Shark Bay area. Shark Bay is called Gathaagudu by the aboriginal people, which means 'two waters' or 'two bays'. He showed us different food sources and medicinal plants in the area. They used the very sweet but sticky berries from the Charlie Tree for nutrition as well as the Tea Tree for it's antiseptic capabilities. He showed us how to track kangaroo, echidna and emu by following their respective tracks in the sand. This allowed his people to find water more successfully. He told of the legend of the spiny lizard. Apparently, the lizard was once a beautiful, smooth lizard long ago, rather than his pointed and rough skin. He was a very greedy little creature and drank all of the water one day without sharing it with any of the other animals. Therefore, he was punished and transformed into an ugly creature with spines. He also could not drink water because his reflection was so horrible he could not handle seeing himself that way. So he absorbs water through his thick skin and stores it in two little pouches behind his neck.

On our way to Coral Bay, we stopped at the Ocean Park Aquarium, where we got to see baby turtles, lion fish (that actually looked like a cross between a zebra and a butterfly) and sharks being fed. I also saw a fish called a long-john that was shaped like a spear and darted through the water and through the air above the water to gain more speed. There was also a tank full of sea snakes. They are 3 times as poisonous as the most poisonous land snake. However, attacks are very rare. In fact, there has never been an incident in Australia, that has been reported.

Four days into our trip we learn that a third cyclone has developed in the area, only 300 km away from where we are. Out at sea it was classified as a class 5, which is as high as you can go. However, it was slowly winding down as it got closer to land. Weathermen predicted that it would eventually become a class 1 as it touched land. Due to the intensity of the cyclone, our activities were cancelled in Coral Bay. The waves were reaching 3 m out at sea where most of the boats sailed out to. Oh well. We stayed at the hostel and played games such as pool and ping pong and then went for a walk along the beach in search of sharks and rays. It was very windy and we only saw a couple of rays along the shoreline.

We left Coral Bay early and drove further north towards Exmouth. We stopped for a detour through the Cape Ranges National Park, where we saw beautiful mountain gorges and canyons. The next day we planned to tour around Exmouth for the day. We went to Turquoise Bay for the day to snorkel. However, if anyone knows me well, I don't swim in fear of dying. So I got to be the official bus key holder and hang out on the shore. For lunch we went to Yardie Creek which is a tidal creek with a small canyon forming around it. We were in seach of rock wallabies, but we didn't get to see any. However, we did see lots of kangaroos.

The second to last day was full of driving, as we were headed back to Perth. We picked a few extra people up and eventually reached our destination, the Northbrook Farmstay. They cooked us supper, which consisted of a chicken stew and a kangaroo/beef stew. It wasn't very good and the chicken definitely didn't taste like chicken.

The last day with the group was very melancholy, as we all got to know one another quite well. We had been together for 7 days. We cooked together, slept in the same vicinity and drank together. It was quite sad to be leaving such an amazing group of people from all over the world. We all got along so well. On the way back to Perth, we had a couple of last stops before the trip was over. First we stopped at Hutt River Province. This place is governed by a man named Prince Leonard and his wife Princess Shirley. In the 1970's he declared war on the Commonwealth of Australia in hopes that he could develop his own country. He was considered undefeated in his attempts and was granted his own country. He developed his own currency and his own postage. Within his property he has his own post office, chapel, government offices and is planning on building an international airport. This man is very old and clearly off his rocker. But it was very hard to take him seriously because he took it very seriously.

After that we headed to the Greenough Reptile and Wildlife Park. We were handed a bag of food and herded off towards the kangaroos. They had rescued baby kangaroos from their mothers pouches after they had been hit by cars. As you put your hand down to feed them they would grab your hand and hold on while quietly nibbling on our offerings. We saw various other animals, such as cockatoos, camels, alpacas, deer, dingoes, a horse, pig and a salt water crocodile. Then we all gathered in a little hut where a man brought out various sizes of pythons. He let us all hold them. At one point there were two middle aged pythons around my neck and then he placed one on top of my head when I wasn't paying attention.

All in all, it was a great time on this trip. I got to see lots of different things along the way and more importantly meet a lot of nice people. I didn't expect to meet great people along the way, I was just expecting to see the sights. But this definitely was a bonus.

Posted by Jaders 02:25 Comments (1)

From the desert to the sea.....

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I went on another day tour around Perth, just because it is so much easier than travelling around by bus. On our way to the Pinnacles, we stopped at Yanchep National Park where we walked along a boardwalk and spotted sleeping koalas. Koalas only eat eucalyptus leaves and sometimes the leaves ferment in the koalas stomach and they become drunk. This has led to the legend of the 'drop bear.' Locals scare tourists by telling them not to walk out in the bush at night for fear of the 'drop bear' falling on their heads. In actuality, this is true because the koalas sometimes get so drunk they regularly fall out of the trees while they sleep.

We reached the Pinnacles, located in Nambung National Park. The Pinnacles are about 4,000 limestone pillars that are approximately 80,000 years old. They are formed by the wind blowing sand away from the tree roots that resulted in the appearance of solid limestone rock.

They were formed by seashells that were brooken down into lime rich sands that were carried inland. Lime leaching from the sand occurred and rain cemented the lower levels of the dune into a soft limestone. Over time, vegetation started to grow in the area that created an acidic layer of soil and humus, thus producing a hard cap of calcrete that formed above the softer limestone. Cracks were created in the calcrete from the roots of the plants and the soft limestone was dissolved by the acidic soil. The channels formed by this process allowed sand to infiltrate in. Eventually, the vegetation died and wind blew away the sand covering the eroded limestone, thus producing the Pinnacles.

To end our day we drove off to the sand dunes in Lancelin for some sand boarding. Sand boarding is just like tobaggoning, but on sand instead of snow. It was so much fun. First we went 4x4'ing along the dunes to find a good steep one. However, we managed to get stuck and almost tip the truck. So all of us on the truck had to evacuate and push the vehicle out of its rut. It was so much fun!

On another day trip, we travelled south to Margaret River to wine taste at Xanadu Winery. I tried 7 different wines and hated all of them! I'm not a wine drinker, but this is not why I came on this trip. There were a lot of other things to do besides drink the wine from this famous orchard region.

We visited the Eagles Heritage Raptor and Wildlife Center and got to see a pair of the biggest eagles in Australia as well as a pair of peregrin falcons. We also got to see a free flight show of the black kite hawks. But most excitingly, I got to hold a black kite hawk on my arm. They have a pretty good grip on your arm and it gave me a new respect for birds of prey.

We travelled further south to the Leeuwin Lighthouse, where you could see the Southern Ocean to the left and the Indian Ocean to the right. It was very windy and cold down there but such a beautiful sight so see both oceans.

Posted by Jaders 02:04 Comments (0)

A taste of Western Australia

I wasn't really planning on spending a great deal of time in Western Australia, but while we were in Sydney we decided to do our trip backwards than originally planned, and got a flight from Sydney to Perth. I've done some very interesting day tours from Perth, however, they have all been very long days in which I got to see alot of the landscape.

I started off with a tour to a place called Wave Rock in Hyden, west of Perth. We drove through the Darling Ranges through the Avon Valley and stopped in a quiet little town called York. It looked like I was transported to England. The buildings were very British. As we continued east, we travelled through the wheat belt plains, which are the equivalent to the prairies of Alberta. They even grow canola out here! We stopped to view a rock formation called the Hippo's Yawn which was formally used as a woman's quarters by the aboriginals. It was mainly used as a place where the women gave birth, and the men were not allowed anywhere near it. A few kilometers down the road was the beautiful tiger striped Wave Rock. This was used as a meeting point for the aboriginal men. The rock has been estimated as being over 2700 million years old. From there we travelled down to Mulka's Cave where we got to see aboriginal cave paintings. According to legend, Mulka was the illegitimate son of an aboriginal couple that were not allowed to be married. They married anyway and as a result their child was born cross-eyed. Despite his disability, Mulka grew to be quite big and strong but was unable to properly hunt with a spear because of his vision. Therefore, Mulka began to hunt and eat children instead. He was driven out by his tribe and found haven in a cave. His mother went after him and in a fit of rage, Mulka killed her. The men of the tribe hunted him down and speared him to death and fed him to the ants because they did not believe that he was worthy of a proper burial. The moral of this legend is a warning to those that break tribal laws.

I got to see some awesome wildlife on this trip as well. I saw a couple of love birds, which were gray and had pink breasts as well as wild kangaroos hopping through the bushes on our way back home.

On another day trip, we headed down to The Valley of the Giants in Warpole. We travelled through Donnybrook, which is famous for its apple and stone fruit orchards. We stopped at a cafe and I grabbed a homemade apple pastry, which was very delicious. We continued our journey through the Blackwood River Valley, which consists of rolling farmland with an increasing number of trees. We arrived at the Diamond Tree for lunch. This giant Karri tree (51 m) had rungs built onto it like a ladder, spirally all the way to its top. Instead of eating lunch I decided to climb it. It was a long way up but I finally made it in record time. It was very beautiful at the top where I could see above the Karri trees for miles and miles. Finally reaching the Valley of the Giants, we walked along an elevated walkway constructed within the canopy of the trees. It was amazing to see the trees at that level. We were also allowed to walk along the base of the trees as well. Lots of them were hollowed out by bush fires so we could walk through the middle of them. These trees are famous for originating millions of years ago, when Australia was connected to Africa as Gondwana Land, when the continents were in a different orientation than they are today. After our little adventure with some local people within these trees, we made our way down to Williams Bay, where I finally got a glimpse of the Indian Ocean. We stopped at a visitors center in Kodja where we had a home cooked meal made for us and then a tour of the museum from a local aboriginal man named Jack. He was a very personable man who was so funny.

Sorry, pictures will have to wait until a computer decides to cooperate with me. Talk to you all soon.

Posted by Jaders 20:48 Comments (2)

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

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I'm finally in Sydney, Australia, where I've wanted to be since I was about 10 years old. The airports in both Christchurch and Sydney were excellent and hassle free. Sydney has been getting alot of rain so we decided to book a flight to Perth, western Australia, and start our journey there.

Until our flight leaves, I have gone on a city tour, in which I saw the famous Harbour Bridge and Opera House. However, instead of looking at those places further, I am going to wait until Aaron gets here in May.

Yesterday we strolled down to Darling Harbour, where we bought tickets to the Undersea Adventure at the very first IMAX Theatre in the world. It was very exciting, as you can tell by our pictures.

Today we took the train and the bus and managed to finally get to a famous beach, Bondi Beach. It was very beautiful there, but there were so many people! I am getting a little people claustrophobic and can't wait to get to Perth. Tomorrow we are going to check out the Taronga Zoo!

Now that I am finally here I can say that it is by far better than pretending to be here.

Posted by Jaders 23:27 Comments (3)

Milford Sound

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I travelled down the famous Milford Road towards Milford Sound to take an overnight cruise. There were lots of curves in the road, but it was definitely worth it because the scenery was astounding. We were in the middle of the Murchison Mountain Range and crystal clear rivers were everywhere! We stopped at a popular tourist attraction called Mirror Lakes. The lakes were so calm that you could see the reflection of the mountains in them.

We also passed through a tunnel in the mountain called Homer's Tunnel. Instead of building a road around the mountains, pioneers decided to build the road through the mountain. Before it was built, the Post Man had to scale up and over the rock face to deliver the mail to the development of Milford Sound and other areas. The other side of the mountain they named The Post Man's Drop and it is definitely steep.I'm glad I didn't deliver mail in New Zealand at that time.

Once aboard the Milford Wanderer, the cruise ship, we sailed through a little inlet named after the town. We sailed up past Stirling Falls, a trickling waterfall that seemed to start at the very top of the mountain. Across the inlet we got to view Mitre Peak. This peak is 1682 m high and is believed to be one of the world's highest to rise directly out of the ocean. We eventually made it to Anita's Bay where we unloaded people to go kayaking. I went on a guided tour of the area on a smaller boat and learned some interesting things about the geology of the area. The area has lots of Jade and hasn't been mined because of the poor location. So if I was lucky enough to go on a kayak and onto land I could have picked up some Jade.

We sailed back to Harrison's Cove, where we had a delicious roast beef dinner and stayed the night. It was the best sleep I have had since being in New Zealand.

The next morning we cruised around Dale Point where we spotted some fur seals lazing about and then some bottlenosed dolphins frolicking beside our ship. Before we headed back to the boat harbour, we gazed at the 160 m Bowen Falls. And before we knew it, it was over. It was very relaxing and one of the best things I've done since being in New Zealand.

Posted by Jaders 19:42 Comments (1)

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