A Travellerspoint blog

The AMAZING Lady Elliot Island!

Leaving Airlie beach to head south we needed to catch a Greyhound bus at 11:55pm which wasn't ideal as it meant we would have to hang around Airlie for the whole day. Without a place to go to because we were not checking in anywhere we used the outdoor areas to pass the time, which to be fair weren't bad at all.

A464B93F2219AC681775500617578685.jpg

Most of the morning after returning from Oz sail at about 10am we spent in the shade looking over the bay, whilst reading books and taking the odd nap. The time did fly by and if we needed anything we just would pop over to the shops or bars the other-side of the road. The area offers lockers for your bags and so we didn't need to lug round our big bags which in the heat was a god send. The afternoon started to drag on a bit so we decided to grab dinner at our favourite restaurant Capers, realising then that we weren't your average backpacker because they would go down the street to the 'scummy' bars to grab a meal and a drink for 13 dollars rather than spend more at a restaurant like Capers. That being said we did get a good 2 for 1 pizza deal and spent most of our evening there before swinging by our previous hostel to have a shower. By then it was time to walk to the transit terminal which is newly built 10 mins outside of Airlie centre. On route we stopped at a bar which had hundreds of international beers to chose from and a rather opinionated waiter from Essex, he was good value though.

The bus ride to Bundaberg was uneventful to be honest and the only bonus was that the new buses have Wi-Fi but apart from that it was a bit of a slog of about 11 hours. The reason we went to Bundaberg was that we would be getting a flight from there over to Lady Elliot Island. Wanting to do some diving on the Great Barrier Reef we put a word out to friends and was recommended to go here rather than head to the highly marketed area of Cairns 'the Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef'.

The flight would be the next day and so we decided to get a nicer room to ourselves to chill out and spend time blogging and therefore we didn't to venture around the town which to be honest I wasn't bothered about, as nothing seemed to be open anyway! Upon arriving at the local Hinkler Airport the next day it was a bit dead with I guess limited amount of flights going in and out. Having found a staff member who knew the routine for Lady Elliot passengers we signed in our larger bags for storage and later were walked out by our pilot to the small airplane. It was a first for us to have this kind of personal experience and what's more was that the flight would give us a chance to grab aerial shots of island.

6428242D2219AC6817D2FF690F3E904F.jpg

Check out this...

large_A4785D932219AC68172C791079C3C6C3.jpg

You could even spot mantas swimming along the reef from the sky the water is that clear!

641A7C412219AC6817A85488A3F8CBA2.jpg

When we landed we were met by a young guy who was interning and gave us the orientation around the resort site. It wasn't a lavish site due to it being a Eco tourism development but we warmed to it straight away. The first thing you notice when walking around is the abundance of birdlife, this particular period was nesting season and there were hundreds of sea birds come to the island, and there were a number of young birds hanging around waiting to be fed by their parents. The other season that the island was going through was the Turtle nesting season, and so the promise of seeing either a mother turtle come ashore or hatchlings making their way to the ocean obviously got us excited.

large_A4B80F032219AC6817F9D723E6EAB81B.jpg

What is great about the island is that they set up activities throughout the day for you to join in...

643639E52219AC681727B08686A4E726.jpg

... one of which being reef walks at low tide so we decided we would do this first and set up diving for the next day. There was time in between to take a look at our room which is described as an Eco tent. I was pleasantly surprised because it was a wooden frame that is covered by a tent exterior complete with double bed and a cracking view.

A498B0412219AC6817CE98187F176FDE.jpgA4A2A3CC2219AC68179A44A1CEBBBDE3.jpg

Before the reef walk we headed to the beach to join in the fish feeding demonstration and I got a chance to hold the weird looking sea cucumber! This animal plays a crucial role in the reef as it acts as the vaccum cleaner sucking up the reef floor and recycling nutrients.

61E08F9E2219AC681795DD4ECD6830F4.jpg61E654072219AC6817C97EC8D6DC11E4.jpg

Teaming up with Fabrice, one of the guides at Lady Elliot, we were taken out to the lagoon reef at low tide to take a look at some of the interesting species. Apart from the abundant corals we found two types of starfish which if cut in the middle can actually reform into two new star shapes, clever!

61FCACB92219AC68173954C160B2669C.jpg6202BE242219AC6817BA1197D416CD5C.jpg

Sarah got a chance to hold this massive sea cucumber, she even managed to spot a sea worm which normally comes out at night but as we spotted it the crowds beckoned over it and scared it away and so we couldn't get a photo. It was a good experience and Fabrice was very knowledgable about the marine life which made it more interesting. After the reef walk we had a little waiting to do before going to the island induction that would be presented by the manager of the island.

large_61F959C52219AC6817ED33F615B8F6AA.jpg

We were advised about when possibly you could witness either turtles coming on shore or hatchlings heading out to the ocean and so we decided to do a night walk along the beach to see if we would get lucky. This time we didn't manage to find any but we did get to see some of the other marine life that is active at night.

62262AF32219AC6817103A70908A33A3.jpg622E74072219AC68171F5982698E759B.jpglarge_622A98F12219AC681758A22A73CE3BB1.jpg

Our next day was full with diving, and with an early start we headed out to the western side of the island between the coral gardens and lighthouse bommie divesites. Almost immediately we were met with Manta rays and later we would see a Toadfish, Turtles, Sting Rays, Leopard Shark, Napoleon Wrasse, Big Barracuda as well as your typical reef marine life such as Lionfish, Clownfish, Moray Eel, Angelfish etc.

Here are some of our best bits in video form...Enjoy!

After diving we were pretty spent and the rest of the afternoon was a leisurely one as later in the evening there was going to be a presentation led by Dr Fabrice Jaine (our reef walk guide) who specialised his PhD examining the distribution, movements, habitat use and sighting trends of reef manta rays along the east cost of Australia. The talk he gave was fascinating and a real insight into what a Marine Biologist might get up too.

He first gave us a intro into the physiology of the Manta Ray and explained that each ray has its on identification marks much like our fingerprints that are situated on their belly. If you are a keen diver and have managed to take photos of these marks please send them to this website so they can continue to grow their data collected.

6254FFED2219AC6817D590DB6057540A.jpg

http://www.mantamatcher.org

A disturbing fact that we weren't aware of was that Rays are hunted specifically for their gills as it is used as a component in traditional Chinese medicine. There is no proof that having the gills offer anything in terms of medicinal value. Like most of the Chinese medicine trade it is damaging the ecosystem for no apparent reason and what is more disturbing is that it is not based on supply and demand but a hoarding of ingredients. I hope that the Mega Mauna Foundation succeed in stopping this blatant abuse of marine life.

MMF was set up to focus on the research and conservation of threatened marine megafauna species. ‘Marine Megafauna’ are large marine species such as sharks, rays, marine mammals and turtles". Fabrice explained that not since 2008 had there been research into Rays at such a level that new learnings could be found. Before Fabrice, a American women called Andrea Marshall was the first person in the world to complete a PhD on Manta Rays. It was her team that were based in Mozambique that developed the Marine Mega Fauna Foundation.

http://www.marinemegafauna.org

One of most interesting facts amongst a lot of information was the geographical location of Lady Elliot island. Sitting on the edge of the continental shelf it has a prime position when looking at currents, weather patterns, water temperature and source of food which all play a huge part in the behavioural analysis of the a Manta Ray. Fabrice set out to deploy tags, each costing $5000 dollars on 10 different Manta Rays in order to collect the data to further understand the reasons why they have a particular love for this area around the East Coast.

We found out from Fabrice that MMF have set up 'Ray of Hope' expeditions which offer normal folk the chance to get involved in the conservation and research by committing to help collect data of the different species of Rays around the world, whilst enjoying a unique diving experience. Sarah and I made a little note of that for a future trip.

That evening we decided to go out later in the evening on the beach to see if we could track down a nesting turtle. Not long into it we came upon a distinct shadow making its way down the beach to the ocean.

628101382219AC68172ED64293136AE3.jpg

Thinking we had missed the show we were equally excited when another Turtle turned up on shore. We waited and waited as it slowly headed up the beach to find its nesting ground. We waited again trying not to make a sound or shine a light to disturb her as any sign of danger they would turn around and head back to sea.

The one we focused on took a while to get settled and waited listening to her digging her egg chamber flinging coral in all directions. We were with her for over an hour when she decided she wasn't happy with her chosen spot and moved to find another area which is not uncommon. During this time we had spied another turtle had come to the beach and was behind us making digging noises. We decided to get closer to see how the other turtle was doing and hit the jackpot as she was already laying her eggs and because they go into a trance like state at this point we were able to get up close and take a few photos without disturbing her.

large_628B1CEA2219AC6817D18C3E83788860.jpg

The nesting cycle is quite incredible really as where she has laid her eggs will be almost exactly where she was born. They have this innate ability to find their way back to the birthplace in order to lay their own eggs. Apparently when the hatchlings make their first journey down to the shore they use a magnetic organ in their head to pinpoint their location so they know where to come back to!

With that witnessed we were ready to hit the hay, but what a great day it had been!

The next morning we lead one of the team to the nesting site so it could be marked, ours was number 36 of nests recorded during the season.

62B5A6E62219AC681729A23F171BB72C.jpg

We had set up our glass bottom boat snorkelling trip which came complimentary from the island resort. We met up with Fabrice again who was today going to be our snorkel guide and made our way over to the western side.

62A637592219AC68170C43BA05AC3247.jpg

The snorkelling was really good as the visibility was fantastic. We saw a white tip reef shark as well as turtles and plenty of small reef fish. It was one of the better snorkelling experiences I've had as normally I'm not much of a fan of it.

Inspired by the mornings experience we headed straight for the lagoon on the other side of the island to see what we could find there. This is only open at certain times of the day when the tide is high enough to be able to snorkel over the corals. We had a fantastic experience with one turtle who was just hanging out drifting over the coral who didn't mind us joining him for a bit. With the sunlight and being in shallow water we could really make out the amazing colours of its shell and at moments it would look at you right in the eye. Amazing. Such a shame we didn't have a camera with us that day.

The rest of the day we chilled by the beach getting some much desired sun and after dinner we participated in a game of island bingo using a Lady Elliot theme instead of numbers.

62D117A62219AC681732362F316AC335.jpg

The whole experience of LEI was incredible and we were so pleased that we made the decision to come here. We had ticked off one of our to do's having dived The Great Barrier Reef had been able to see Turtle nesting which we had missed back in Borneo. This will definitely be somewhere to remember for the future.

Stay tuned for more tales.

Dan

Posted by doyledan 21:19 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Sailing the Whitsundays

Avatar Oz Sail

Wow what a way to start 2014, if this is anything to go by the rest of this year is going to be awesome!

First off a big thank you to Sam and Sophie who we met in China. They were unable to go on their Whitsunday's trip and so transferred it to us as an early wedding present, so we only had to pay a fraction of the cost. You guys are legends :) XieXie! :)

We left Perth behind on New Year's Eve to start our second journey from one side of Australia to the other, but this time we would be flying and not driving!

C2B652472219AC6817F86FF3C59BBCFF.jpgC2C79EAC2219AC681706FAF13549A8F4.jpg

Our destination was Proserpine which was the nearest airport to Airlie Beach, otherwise known as the gateway to the Whitsundays, and where we would be starting our sailing adventure from. We were excited to be on the road again and had already got into the New Years spirit with a 'few' cheeky drinks. We were flying with Virgin who embraced welcoming in the new year by decking out the plane with new year bunting and the air hostesses wore glow stick head bands, all adding to the fun!

C2F5E0102219AC6817975F364EE3741D.jpgC2FFC28C2219AC6817FA90B2B745C9C0.jpg

I think she was a bit shocked by Dans shenanigans!

C32F5BF52219AC6817EC26DBD2C2C820.jpg

Here is our first glimpse of 2014...

C34AEE242219AC6817168D900D0AD030.jpg

When we arrived at Prosperpine the next morning we were immediately hit by how humid it was compared to the West coast and it was hot! As we drove to Airlie Beach we definitely could tell we were in the more tropical part of Australia and the scenery reminded us of places we had been in Asia.

D061224D2219AC6817D57142802AE11D.jpg

We were too early to check into our hostel so after dropping off our bags and having a quick shower we headed out to find some breakfast and explore Airlie beach.

D0DF74272219AC681785203F532B3C85.jpgD0ED4B642219AC6817B607A3443BD981.jpg

Not a bad place to have to hang out!

large_D1166E5B2219AC68179AC2F94469C5A5.jpg

No one was in the water though due to the risk of stingers aka jelly fish! There are two types of jellyfish that are of concern here, one is the box jelly fish which can cause death in as little as 3 minutes and can have tentacles that are 4m long. The other is the Irukandji which are small and transparent which makes them impossible to see in the water and their sting can make you very ill. For this reason you will see signs warning about stingers and recommending the use of stinger suits if you go in the water.

Alternatively you can cool off in the water of Airlie Beach Lagoon which is stinger free, and also free for your wallet as well. Of course we chose to hang out here under the palm trees, although it was a bit hard to find a spot in the shade amongst all the visitors that had flocked here on a days rip from their cruise ship out in the bay.

D411A7692219AC68175508D40F649DAC.jpg

This statue is another sign of what can be found in the waters around here. This is a Dugong (sea cow) but unfortunately we didn't see one.

D440F7772219AC6817E042D01F78D198.jpg

We headed back to check into the hostel at around 5pm and hadn't realised that there would be a pool party in full swing right outside our door. Sleep was definitely out of the question!

The next morning we packed up to make sure we made it to the Oz Sail office to check in at 8am. The boat didn't actually leave for 3 hours so we had a bit of waiting around. We headed down to the Marina where we would be getting on board The Avatar, which would be our home for the next couple of days. The group started to gather and we were all fitted with our stingers suits that we would need to wear when snorkelling.

D4AC15BA2219AC6817AA2EDAAE8543EC.jpg

The girls we had shared our dorm with had advised us to take plenty of sunscreen and make sure you had a hat as there is hardly any shade when out on the boat. Taking this onboard I got a new hat but the wide brim meant that I didn't see the pole going across above me that I was meant to duck under when getting on the boat. Instead I smacked my face right into it! Ouch!

Once on board we were assigned places to sleep, now just a warning to anyone considering this trip, it's not luxury and you basically sleep in a hole. This didn't bother us though :)

D4E955582219AC6817210548141741C8.jpg

There were 25 of us on the boat and as we left the Marina everyone introduced themselves, we were a group from all over the globe including Italy, America, Canada, Germany, Korea, New Zealand, Germany and Sweden. We were introduced to the crew and Sammy took us through the safety of the boat.

D55544422219AC681744F6BEA4869390.jpgD562F0762219AC6817BF5A0ACABA1A5D.jpg

We got to know each other a bit better when we all took to the ropes to hoist the sail, sitting in a row one behind the other we had to work as a team to get it all the way up to the top.

67F8B7412219AC68177DC43FA23A0F27.jpg

With sails in place we were soon racing for our Whitsunday adventure!

D59F26AD2219AC68177E3CC2A6AEBA65.jpgD5B141EC2219AC6817BE625C33264664.jpg

The Whitsundays is made up of 74 islands and is so called because Captain Cook discovered them on Whitsunday. However those who have worked out the timings say that he didn't actually arrive on a Sunday at all but the Monday! This used to be part of mainland Australia but as the water levels rose they became the islands that we see today. As they used to be part of the mainland all the normal Austrlian animals used to live on them, however over the years all the mammals have been hunted to extinction on these islands as groups of hunters came here to catch the isolated wildlife. One form of hunting was to start a fire at one end of the island which would drive the animals into the path of the rest of the hunting party. Today the islands mainly have birds, insects and reptiles on them. We were more excited though about what we might be able to see under the water as the islands are located in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef.

Our first stop would be a a bush walk up to a lookout point over the islands.

D61ABF162219AC681793C704554ED363.jpgD642E7EF2219AC68170B25774F8493BC.jpglarge_D656E5DA2219AC6817B441DF1605DBB2.jpg
6808EBC92219AC6817D4F2EECDAAECB6.jpg

Back on the boat we doned out stinger suits headed to the first snorkelling stop of the trip.

F3F404762219AC681758E0A5EFA950DA.jpgF3FD98582219AC6817794FA0E471179D.jpg
68109EF42219AC6817342439EC9AA90E.jpg

This snorkelling site was a bit disappointing as there wasn't a lot to see and visibility wasn't great but we all enjoyed cooling off in the water. The captain found a spot for us to anchor for the night and we had a great dinner under the most incredible starry sky.

F42909332219AC6817F081A0B5AB9AB0.jpgF435236E2219AC6817B0D49A95F8FAE5.jpg

Fish were attracted to the lights on the boat after the sun went down and we soon had some large shadows looming underneath. Enticed in with some bread we could see that they were huge Bat Fish and we spent ages watching them swim near the surface. Some people tried to catch squid but no one had any luck. Most of us chose to sleep out under the stars on deck.

We were up with the sun the next day to make our way to the famous Whitehaven beach, know to be one of the best beaches in the world! One of the reasons for this is that its sand is made from silica and so is very fine and white.

F4673AB32219AC681731617E90633E6F.jpgF474090A2219AC681718A853BF6CA5FB.jpg

The view from the lookout point was spectacular...

large_F48DBEEB2219AC68172C473CADFD4C77.jpg

You could even make out the shapes of stingrays in the shallow water from the lookout point...and we couldn't wait to get down on the white sand

6838E69C2219AC68176F0827CEE878C2.jpg68B38AF72219AC6817A83FDFCCF8C46C.jpg

For the next 3 hours we did a lot of this...

684108382219AC681758C5BFB642E7D6.jpg6844E6E32219AC681730EA9F41E0F804.jpg

As well as making the most of the exfoliating properties of the silica sand, with the warm water in the shallows it was like being at a spa. I don't think anyone tried cleaning their teeth with it though, apparently its good for that but don't rub too hard or it will take the enamel off!

687840D82219AC68175D4D2BED2E812A.jpg
6870BDB92219AC6817DB48A3B3D85011.jpg
685B0FCF2219AC6817F3292709165830.jpg

One thing to note about Whitehaven beach is that the tide comes in very quickly, every so often you ll witness the bag dash as people realise that the beach they left their bag on is disappearing! Funny to watch, think we did it ourselves about 3 times!

68E0259A2219AC6817597A0D99E77714.jpg

Needless to say after all that sun naps were needed before our next snorkelling stop.

690DA8EE2219AC6817C84256E4556D90.jpg

We did two snorkelling stops that afternoon and they were much better than the one the day before with colourful fish. We even got to snorkel with some huge giant travely and wrasse fish which was cool.

Another great day! It had been an awesome bonus to our adventures :)

693545F22219AC68176E7B10E53C1E0A.jpg694585282219AC68170D820B79532C35.jpg

Sxxx

Posted by doyledan 00:52 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Xmas and the last days in Perth

The days leading up to Xmas were taken at a leisurely pace. With us not wanting to over spend we tried to spread out the activities, but we knew we would have 2 days work at the Seafresh fishmongers on 23rd and 24th which really helped ease our minds about the time spent financially. The job was working as part of customer service dishing out different types of fish to keen locals who were preparing for their Xmas meals. This concept seemed odd to Sarah and I as we have been used to the butchers being the busiest around Xmas. It was a tough 11 hour labour on your feet all day keeping up with what the customer wanted and dealing with random seafood questions. But at the same time is was quite fun dealing with the madness. Sarah and I certainly know more about fish than we did before and the pay was quite substantial for a temp job.

Xmas day we were ready for a good time spending it with the Broomfields. Having had last Xmas in Cambodia on our own we were glad to be part of a family gathering. Before making our way to Fran and MJ's we decided to head to the beach with our elf hats to soak up the traditional Aussie Xmas day.

970DDDC12219AC6817457DE96C6030D7.jpg9728F9862219AC68176F044C32753D1D.jpg

It was great to have that experience especially when at home it would normally be a completely different type of weather. We did feel sad for home as the weather was particularly bad this time with freak floods and people loosing water and power, so I'm not sure the Facebook post of us on the beach would have gone down as well.

Sadly time was not on our side and so we left the beach but it wasn't all bad as the by the time we got back to the house the spread for lunch looked incredible. When we arrived we were introduced to some MJ's family who were going to be joining us and it wasn't long before the rest of the gang turned up and we were sitting round the table having drinks and enjoying the feast.

9A08E8022219AC68177F9504255C66C4.jpg9A1495FE2219AC681772184C90C50286.jpg

The tradition of opening of the Christmas cracker with crappy joke and kings hats was kept which was great to see.

9A1FB7752219AC681757A1BB91E7888E.jpg

After the feast Santa joined us and helped us to dish out our secret Santa presents, whilst providing us with our very own elf names.

9A2FC90E2219AC6817B9FF926DDCFD75.jpg9A3913252219AC681786E3CA0C13F649.jpg9A6AAE1B2219AC6817A0E23916495F8D.jpg9A789E8D2219AC68174E6948C67A25D0.jpg

The idea of the game is that you get to pick your present however the twist is that the person after you can choose to steal yours or try for a new one. The game went down a treat and it was odd to find out just how much a Velcro ball and glove game was so popular as it changed hands three or four times!

9AA045CD2219AC6817B4891B018E059A.jpg9B1F4CD72219AC6817A50EE505A4857D.jpg

After the dessert options , which was almost a big as the main meal the Broomfield's handed out their Xmas presents and we all relaxed taking in some drinks and playing with new presents!

A11D24732219AC68179AD311B2C01D8E.jpg

Later that evening a few of us played charades which was quite funny, especially my attempt to explain exotic! For those involved you have that memory now.

It was a really fun day and we just want to say a big thanks to all the Broomfield's for making us feel so welcome. :-)

After Xmas we had 6 days to fill before flying over to the east coast which was mixed with amongst other things, going to the beach of course!

A2699A9E2219AC681711C65458D4541A.jpg

On one of the days we went to the beach we heard our first shark siren warning and a Sarah witnessed the announcement and everyone coming out of the water. It was a sobering thought but it didn't stop people getting back in the water.

Sarah was determined to get a job application out to an opening back home and so I joined Broomy with his family up to the Perth Hills to visit another family connection. The house they lived in was pretty cool, surrounded by woodland. The only downside to the area was that they would be prone to the bush fires that can be devastating to areas like this, luckily nothing like that has happened but it did make me think about the families in NSW who suffered with the fires earlier in the year. Later that day we met up with some of Broomy's friends to have a go at wake boarding. It was so much fun and something I want to look into more when I get home. Broomy aced it on his first go and so was left to try and get it together and to my surprise I managed to get up on my feet. Such a rush!

A25BB8372219AC6817928C658B5C8C86.jpg

One of the other afternoons we arranged to meet up with some Perth people for a BBQ by the river. Sadly, not all could make it but we did get a chance to say farewell to Dushsyan who we had met in Melbourne through Broomy.

A25266E32219AC68170A874FCC3FE90F.jpg

MJ and Fran offered us to go and check out some tennis which was being played at the new Perth arena.

9B5DF2092219AC68178C66189CFC59C2.jpg9B30A1E62219AC6817338D166F18C11C.jpg9B37BBF42219AC6817A70F2E45026468.jpg9A9127382219AC6817656579CB256F18.jpg

The competition was called the Hopman Cup and it would be France versus Czech Republic which meant that Jo Wilfried Tsonga, a top 5 player in the world, was representing France which sweetened the deal.

9B888FC12219AC6817EE8D136CFD82FD.jpg

The games were well contested, especially the women's singles match and so the round had to be settled with a mixed doubles match which France won with great ease. This ball boy stole the show though with his unique technique.

Our last outing was to the bowling alley. We went with Broomy and Aggie as they were taking Jasmine and Jake, Broomy's niece and nephew. The games were free which was a bonus and we had a good time knocking down them pins.

9AB00B852219AC681796CC6AD09EBC51.jpg9AC39BCD2219AC681703404FAD5731B9.jpg9AD67BD42219AC6817304EA143965FF3.jpg

We really enjoyed our time with the Broomfield's and it was sad that we had to move on. Leaving on New Years Eve meant we needed to do goodbyes early as everyone was heading off to the city for the New Years parties but in way it made it a little easy as we got to see everyone before we left.

A big thank you in particular to Aggie, Fran and MJ for giving us homes to stay in during this period in Perth and a huge thank you again to everyone for making us feel welcome. As soon as we have somewhere you are more than welcome to stay with us :)

large_A27733B72219AC681711B923EFFA14D7.jpg

We will certainly be keeping in touch with this family for sure. Love em!

Happy New Year Everyone!!

9ACB1CE52219AC6817753BA1B50CDF51.jpg

Stay tuned for more tales

Dan

Posted by doyledan 03:12 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

The Pinnacles

We'd heard mixed reviews about The Pinnacles and whether they are worth going to or not, with the majority of people we know saying that they weren't. But when would we be in the area again... So we hopped in the car one morning to go see it for ourselves. It is a couple of hours drive north of Perth to the Nambung National Park where the Pinnacles can be found. These are limestone formations which appear to have sprung up out of the sand and there are hundreds of them!

large_F99FA0072219AC6817C55DEEC446E075.jpg

There is a small national park fee of $12 per vehicle which helps to maintain the area and their great visitors centre. Its definately worth going in there first before checking out the Pinnacles as there's lots of information on the area, wildlife and the Pinnacles themselves.

F9D1EA682219AC68174308BBF0B0A982.jpg

Theories on how they formed can't be agreed upon but the one I liked most was that this used to be a living forest, and each Pinnacle would be a fossilised tree!

F9E913BA2219AC6817FC9FDEA92C04D1.jpg

The indigenous people of the area were afraid of going to this place due to the sinking sand. Elders warned not to go into the desert but some young men didn't heed these warnings and disappeared in the dunes. Legend has it that the Pinnacles are their fingerstips desperately grasping for something to pull them out of the sand. When you know this story it becomes more of a spooky place.

FA0F36AA2219AC6817BAF168A1C24905.jpg

After walking around for a bit we decided to move on before it got too hot. I definately would say they are worth seeing, we've not seen anything like it our trip so it was quite a novelty to see.

We drove on to the nearest town called Cervantes, stopping off along the way when we saw a tourist sign pointing to Lake Thetris which is one of the few places that you can see Stromomites and Blister mats which are microbial communities, essentially bacteria in the sediment which releases oxygen. This is a living fossil which gives a view into what the Earth would have been like before other living organisms evolved. Not gonna lie, there wasn't much to look at but we can check it off the list as something we ve seen.

FAD25D712219AC6817DB0F1CBFC89849.jpg

Cervantes was a lovely little place to hang out, with a practically deserted beach and only a scattering of houses of the main strip with a cafe it was a perfect places to laze around for the afternoon.

FB05496D2219AC6817F3F670D2AB4301.jpg

A great day trip out of the city.

Sxx

Posted by doyledan 20:41 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Great Escapes!

Fremantle Prison

Built in the 1850s and used as a prison up until 1991, Fremantle Prison is one of Western Australia's most significant heritage sites, so we had to go take a look.

8BEA83F62219AC681761CFA1EFD5A165.jpg8BF4C83B2219AC68174718E7DBE2734E.jpg

We decided to go for the Great Escapes Tour where we would hear tales of convicts escapes whilst going around the prison.

First we were taken up to one of the guard towers. It was already baking hot in there with the sun shining through the glass so we didn't want to stay up there for long, I can't imagine what it would have been like to have had to sit up there when it was over 40 degrees! As we looked out over the prison we were told how one guy tried to make a dash for it when a ladder had been left unattended against the outer wall by a maintenance worker. As he scaled the ladder the guard in the tower sounded the alarm and fired a warning shot in the air. This didn't stop the convict who continued to climb so the guard shot at him, he wasn't the best aim though and missed. You can still make out where the bullet smashed into the wall.

8C517F0C2219AC68177507E32459C73F.jpg8CBA851D2219AC6817BA7AEE26E6BA3D.jpg

Our guide told us that most escapees were picked up within a few days nearby. One of the guards that now tours the prison remembers when a colleague went into the pub for after work drinks. He was surprised when the barman gave him a drink with compliments from a gentleman in the corner of the pub. It was a convict who had escaped just days before, needless to say he ended up in a different kind of lock in! What a muppet!

8D1B18732219AC6817374D706A90807C.jpg

One man had worked out a possible escape point after a lawyer showed a map of the prison during his trial! He managed to get work duty making prison uniforms. When the wardens weren't looking he could make fake guards uniforms and civilian clothes undetected. On the day of his escape him and another prisoner scrambled over the roof and in the second of hesitation where the guard on patrol was not sure if they were fellow guardsman or not, they had got over the wall, discarded the guard clothes and disappeared wearing the civilian clothes they had concealed underneath.

Check out this jailbird! A kestral, one of a mating pair that have chosen the prison as their home.

large_8D748F7A2219AC6817906FE4DD937A30.jpg

We were taken into the exercise yard which is overlooked by small cell windows and surrounded by razor wire.

8D9F31072219AC6817E4AFA18E07B67E.jpg

You can still see scraps of prison uniform tangled up in the wire from where prisoners made their desperate attempt to get out. The walls even had shards of glass sticking out of them to deter escapes. Ouch!

8DA6E3902219AC68170EFCA7CC564776.jpg

It is hard to imagine how you would escape out of here but one man managed to with the aid of dieting and a lot of butter. Now these two things don't normally go hand in hand but it all comes together as his story unfolds. His girlfriend had smuggled in some diamond wire in her shoe laces, wearing similar boots to those worn by prisoners they managed to do a shoe swap under the table so now he had wire to cut through the bars of his cell window.

8DF289472219AC68170291B5B56EE927.jpg

It was only on returning to his cell that he realised that he was too fat to make his escape so he went on a 5 month diet, and at the same time started to hoard small packets of butter. When he reached his target weight he smothered himself in the now gone off butter and mangaged to squeeze himself through the tiny window and climb up on to the roof. Here he made a leap to the outside wall! Now that's some motivation for losing weight.

8DF9A8002219AC6817D1500599262E20.jpg

Inside the prison it was interesting to see that the cells were now being used for small businesses. Today you can come to the prison to learn guitar or even have a massage. Although I'm not sure how relaxing that would be in an old prison cell!

8E1560D22219AC6817EE7691EB0B07FA.jpg

We were taken through to a section of the prison which had held one of the most notorious escapees, Moondyne Joe, an Englishman who found himself sent to Australia in 1853 as part of a sentence he was serving for burglary. He was given a pardon in 1855 where he then lived in the Darling Ranges as a bushranger earning money from catching and returning escaped livestock. For over 10 years he lived free until he made the mistake of branding an unmarked horse as his own which was considered as horse stealing and so he was locked up. This is where he made his first of many escapes breaking out of his cell and stealing the horse back along with the magistrates saddle and bridle which are very expensive items. He was caught the next day and sent back to prison.

C580E58A2219AC68178F0F7E573B35CF.jpg

He had 3 years to serve but due to good behaviour he was released early and started to work on a farm. During this time he was accused of a crime he denied committing and found himself back in prison. Outraged at this he decided he no longer was going to play by the rules. He escaped from a work detail and was on the run for a month, he attempted to cut the lock from his cell, when he managed to escape for a third time he made a gang with some other escapees who carried out robberies around Perth but eventually they were all caught again!

C58F85942219AC6817AF6BAE125C9A3C.jpg

Given his reputation Moondyne Joe was put in an escape-proof cell at Fremantle Prison that had been built especially for him. It was tiny and was made out of stone with railway sleepers nailed onto the walls to prevent him from getting out. He was also sentanced to hard labour breaking stones. The authorities didn't trust him to do the job outside the prison so piles of rock were brought into the yard where he would be supervised breaking it up. How ever the pile of stones that he made was not moved regularly and soon he had built up a pile that prevented the guard from seeing him from the waist down. He used this to mask the fact that every other strike of his pick axe was actually into the prison wall! And you guessed it he escaped again, though a hole in the wall! He evaded capture for 2 years and was only caught again due to his love of wine when he was found stealing wine from a cellar!

Check out this amazing artwork which was discovered during restoration. Drawing and writing was banned in the prison but James Walsh, the prisoner that had lived in this cell, had managed to take advantage of the fact that every few weeks they would be given whitewash to paint their walls to help keep their cells clean. So he would draw and then cover up his creations without getting caught! They were undiscovered for nearly 100 years, you can tell that he would have been a good forger which is what he had been imprisoned for.

C5B57B4E2219AC6817D384F35C703398.jpgC5BE70892219AC6817DE9350689A9E65.jpg

We were also shown the women's section of the prison which was separate to the mens. They would be tasked with doing all the laundry and other jobs deemed for women. No men were allowed in this section so only female guards worked here.

C5E12D332219AC68177C773C519CD387.jpg

After exploring the prison we decided to check out some more of Fremantle which would become a favourite place for us to go wander around and grab lunch, I think because it reminds us a bit of the quirky areas of Melbourne with similar architecture and cafes on the street.

CE9456B52219AC681792D9221020F481.jpg

Freo is home to the Dockers, who had made it into the AFL final this year so it was good to see where they train.

CE7E39432219AC6817C822B982E3BE44.jpgCE89684D2219AC6817412B29A1D0EB35.jpg

We continued on the historic theme and headed to check out the Round House which had been the early place to hold prisoners before the prison was built.

CEAA0CCF2219AC681742E039AB4352C0.jpgCEB2F59F2219AC68170914BD332C668F.jpg
large_CEE286722219AC6817570E8B64090F57.jpg

Dan felt at home on here...

CEF397FD2219AC6817C95455849400F1.jpg

Sxx

Posted by doyledan 20:03 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

(Entries 26 - 30 of 196) « Page 1 2 3 4 5 [6] 7 8 9 10 .. »