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.