Australia

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Photo album and Movie


Perth to Shark Bay is the same distance as Lands End to John O'Groats

Day 45 - Arrive Perth.

27 hours travelling and 36 hours without sleep. Had to fly via Sydney first!

Day 46 - Kings park. Temp 40'C

It's hot. Really hot. Even the trees are melting. But we have a nancy air conditioned car from now on...


Day 47 & 48 - Lancelin

Hired a car to drive 3,000 km north and back again. First stop was a kite surfing mecca called Lancelin. More frustration at not having my kit with me, as there wasn't a hire place. Still, it's easier to stay alive if I don't kitesurf. There's some beautiful sand dunes here. A little known fact is that the Toyota Wombat is hopeless at crossing sand dunes. I told Michelle we wouldn't make it but she insisted we try.... <Ahem!>

Digging the car out of the sand

Dakar Rally dreams almost fulfilled

Once we'd dug the car out, I hired a motocross bike to pretend I was in the Dakar rally and razz around the dunes. It was excellent, no poncy tourist thing. The only drawback was that I didn't have my motocross body armour with me either so had to stay quite cautious. I will have to bring a bigger bag next time...

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Day 49 - Lancelin to Sharks bay (via Kalbarri)

The drive to Sharks bay was only two inches on the map, but in Australia that's a long way. You can't drive at night as there are no streetlights, no cats eyes, and kangaroos waiting to jump out and make your car change shape and go a bit bloodier. So we stopped off at the only place in between (and it was 100km out of our way!)

We drove 3000km in 2 weeks on roads that looked like this

Day 50 - Shark Bay

These may look like dull rocks, but to anyone who knows about the history of the earth, these are stromatolites - the original bacteria responsible for filling the atmosphere with oxygen 3.5 billion yrs ago, killing everything that had evolved before and allowing the evolution of lower forms of life, like humans.

Stromatolites formed by cyanobacteria. Possibly the first life on earth

Pelican (left) & Michelle (right)

Day 51:Monkey Mia dolphins
It's an aquatic dreamland. This is the place where dolphins come to the beach every day and the sea is full of animals that David Attenborough tells you about. After giving the dolphin a fish (they wouldnt let me wrestle it) we went snorkelling with rays (a shovelnose one was 5ft long
Bit touristy but still magical

It's a dolphin, Karen

and scared the life out of us.) Then we went on a yacht where we saw dugong (giant sea-cow things that were the origins of mermaid legends (the sailors must have been on LSD!)). Also saw a 2-3 metre tiger shark. They said I could wrestle that, but I was err... too busy...

Shark Bay sunset

Day 52 - Coral bay - Sharks
27,000 miles is a famous number. Some people think it's the distance around the world, but actually it's the distance between towns on the west cost of Australia.

Shark nursery

Coral Bay is a great place. There's a 'nursery' for reef sharks where hundreds of them hang out until they're older. They get to about 5ft long before they leave and play on the reef. They have big teeth but are scared of people so dont bite (apparently!). It's still scary when they come real close.

Me in with the sharks


Day 53 - Coral bay - Baby turtles

Up at 4:30am to jump on quad bikes to drive to a remote beach where baby loggerhead turtles were hatching. It was a most fantastic and emotional time. These tiny chaps only have a 1 in a 1000 chance of making it to adult. They have to dig up through the sand for two days, then cross 50m of beach where foxes, crabs and seagulls are waiting to eat them. Even if they make it to the sea, everything in there considers them a delicacy. The nest that was hatching when we were there had been part covered by seaweed so they were trapped and were all dying from exhaustion. There were about 10 survivors, but when it was obvious they too were beaten, we helped them by carrying them to the waters edge, which increased their chances from zero to, well, zero.

A poor exhausted baby turtle


Day 54 - Coral bay - Manta ray
Big highlight. Manta rays are ginormous. Our one was 5m wide and we got to swim along wthin touching distance. An unbelievable experience which defys my literary abilities to describe.

Taking steroids and pumping iron have paid off

It's like encountering an underwater mother-ship. A spotter plane was used to find it and direct the boat to it, then strong swimmers jumped in and swam with it.

How many points for wrestling a giant manta ray?


On the way back we stopped to snorkel with sharks and turtles to end a sensational day on Ningaloo reef.

Michelle going in for the wrestle

 

Day 55 - Dent the car & drive a long way back south

It's important to test how hard the trees are in car parks. Luckily the local shop sold dent repair tools. I fixed it so well you couldn't see it with your eyes closed. However if you looked at it, you could see quite clearly that someone had reversed into a tree then made it worse by thumping it back with a hammer. I'm expecting Hertz to remove £20,000 from my credit card...

 

An Australian dent repair tool

Limestone pillars all over the desert

Day 56 & 57- The Pinnacles Desert

A wierd place where there's thousands of stalagmites without a cave for a home. Good for a few scenic photos but it would have been better if you could climb on them, race them or eat them.


Day 58 - Fly off to New zealand

The first two weeks are with our friends Neil and Sian. I suspect our simple life of jam sandwiches and orange squash may change slightly. Which is a bit worrying, as so far this year we've already managed to spend more than NASA...

Quite ironic as we havn't had a drink in weeks!

 

Next country - NZ South