Where are we now?

Where are we now?
Where are we now? Tahmoor, NSW. Updated 7th December 2011

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Day 121. Beasley River Rest Area

BMX Bandit

This morning Scarlett was up bright and early and wanting to go straight outside to ride her bike. For the first time ever; she made her bed, dressed herself, had breakfast and brushed her teeth with no prompting from either Bec or myself. Before we knew it, she was off on her bike and off to see her friends; leaving Bec and myself behind to start the pack-up, and ready to move on to new discoveries.

Plague of Locusts - south of Exmouth

We soon had the van packed and hit the road, heading west towards Karajini National Park. No sooner had we left Exmouth and we ‘hit’ the first plague of locusts. There were millions of them. Each time we hit one it felt like the car shook from the impact, as they certainly packed a wallop. During our travels, we must of ‘hit’ at least another half dozen of these plagues. I’m dreading washing the car at the first opportunity.

Our hitch-hiker...
We stopped at Nanutarra Roadhouse to get some diesel ($1.85 ltr), and the kids had a ball removing all the locusts from the grill of the Pajero. There must have been dozens of the buggers splattered on the front. It certainly was a gruesome job removing all the bugs, but the kids loved it!

The kids 'helping' by cleaning off the grill and 'playing' with the dead locusts

We ended up stopping for the night at the Beasley River Rest Area – a free camp about 420kms from Exmouth. It was a good day’s drive, but it certainly was a long one. We passed through ever changing landscapes; from mallee scrub and rows of outback (red) sand dunes, through to iron ore mountain ranges and dry river beds. Our camp is located adjacent to a dry river bed, and other than the bull dust all over the place, it’s actually quite pretty.

Ashburton River crossing

The sunset through the trees and being surrounded by bush was a magical experience, and with all the Corella’s and Cockatoo’s making such a raucous as they bedded down for the night, it was a great way to be re-introduced back into the Australian outback; away from caravan parks and the town environment.

I love the bush!

Beasley River Rest Area

PS: Here is a beautiful photo of our daughter 'Scarlett'. At the time she was not aware that she had 'ash' on her face, and when she found she was horrified.

We couldn't stop laughing!

posted by Shane

Monday, May 30, 2011

Day 120. Exmouth

One hell of a Canyon

Today we decided to stay local and prepare for the next 2000km leg of our journey to Broome, we are leaving tomorrow. Shane has done 6 x loads of washing in the last two days, and today we are cleaning and purchasing the last of the food we will need. It was a lovely cooked breakfast today, with eggs and beans on toast. I wish we had mushrooms, but at $14.99 a kg it's a bit out of our price range.

Shane luckily noticed the caravan rear tyre was flat this morning. He quickly removed it and found a screw neatly pierced in it's wall. We took it straight into town hoping it would get fixed today, and we were in luck, the local tyre guy was able to get it done by lunchtime. It was $40 we didn't need though...

There was one last tourist thing I was keen to check out today, the 'Shot Hole Canyon' in the national park. It's a 12km dirt road drive into the base of the canyon. We set out knowing the scenery was going to be pretty good; as we have had at least three separate tourist's say it's a must do! We were not disappointed, it was spectacular, and I know the photos wont do it justice, but we will put them in anyway.

The walls were hundreds of feet tall, and amazingly red in colour. We were lucky enough to see a Wedge-Tailed Eagle, and some Port Lincoln parrots. It was a dirt road, but in very good condition, and the drive was a scenic delight. We did a short hike up from the car park to a look out, where we taught Scarlett how to do 'Coo-wee's', the echoes were so good.

On the way back we called into the IGA to grab the last of our groceries, I needed more water and meat mostly, but ended up spending another $100. Our biggest expense so far on the trip has easily been the food; even more so than fuel, which is surprising.

We spent the rest of the afternoon, packing and cleaning ready for tomorrow. Scarlett has fully mastered riding her bike today without any training wheels. She was riding lap, after lap, around the park with the other kids all afternoon. She is finally addicted to her bike; there was even a small argument this evening when she wanted to ride up to the outdoor movie. We had to explain the whole 'no riding after dark' concept; reluctantly she finally saw reason. So she and Shane have gone with popcorn, blankets and sour worms up to watch 'Marmaduke' at the caravan parks outdoor cinema. Hopfully she will be tired and sleep most of the ride in the car tomorrow.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Day 119. Exmouth

Up the creek...

This morning was another beautiful day on the Cape. We woke to a glorious morning, and got hard to work nice and early. 3 x loads of washing were hung out to dry before we headed off to the west side of the Cape into the National Park to explore more of this amazing country.

Yardie Creek

Western Black Footed Rock Wallaby

We headed straight down to Yardie Creek, where we had booked onto a gorge cruise. While waiting for the tour to begin, Scarlett spotted a Sting ray sitting next to the bank of the creek, and enjoyed watching all the schools of 'hardy heads' and 'mullet' continually leap out of the water as something much larger hunted them from the depths of the creek.

Scarlett looking for wild life with the binoculars

The tour 'up the creek' was a really enjoyable experience. We spied at least 3 x Western Black Footed Rock Wallabies hiding in the cliff faces on the southern edge of Yardie Creek, and then came face to face with a female Osprey that has made a nest on the northern cliff face of the creek.

Scarlett has become a great little 'twitcher', or as Bec would say a 'bird nerd'. She had the binoculars out looking for birds and wildlife along the gorge, and she was the first to spot quite a number of them.

Other wildlife we saw included a family of Nankeen (Australian) Kestrels, soaring and playing at the top of the gorge; Tropical and Cattle Egret; Short Billed Corella's; and Scarlett found a number of crabs on the rocky edges.

The colours of the gorge were breathtaking, and just being able to sit back and relax while enjoying the views and listing to our guide explain what we were looking at was a great way to start our day of exploration.

2 x Short-Billed Corella's
We then headed north about 25km to a spot called Turquoise Bay, and 'the drift'. We had it on good authority that these were great snorkeling destinations and better than Coral Bay; however both Bec and I agreed that Coral Bay was a much more beautiful place to swim and enjoy the coral and fish life.

Loggerhead Turtle

But I must admit that Scarlett surprised us both today, as she went snorkeling without flippers or her Wahoo vest and spent two good sessions of at least 30 minutes each; swimming in the open ocean without any assistance. She has turned into such a strong swimmer, and she absolutely loves snorkeling. Scarlett also spotted another turtle swimming in the water, and was soon in hot pursuit once again. This little guy was very friendly and let us swim with him for ages. He even surfaced for air a number of times as we swam beside him. Again, Scarlett absolutely loved the interaction.

Australian Bustard
We climbed into the Pajero for our drive home and came across a pair of Australian Bustards walking along the side of the road; so we turned around and took a photo or two to remember the occasion. Bec wasn't sure what they were at first, and thought they were a cross between a Night Curlew and an Emu.

On the way back into town we decided to stop in and start some more grocery shopping, as tomorrow is our last day in Exmouth before 'going bush' for two weeks before we arrive in Broome. We plan on cutting across to Tom Price and Karajini National Park to check out this amazing part of Australia; before heading north to Port Hedland and then across to Broome.

I doubt we'll have very little (if any) internet access during this next two weeks, so please don't panic if you don't hear from us in a while, or if the blog hasn't been updated. We'll continue to do our daily blog in a word document, and as soon as we get coverage again, we'll do a massive upload of the missing days.

Not only will the internet be hard to access, but so will accessing food and water, so we need to do a big shop here to get us through to the next major town (Broome) - that just happens to be over 2000km's away from here at Exmouth (well that's the distance it'll be by the time we visit the places we want to see on our way there).

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Day 118. Exmouth

The Whale Shark Festival

This morning Shane rose bright and early to go fishing with Jace and Tim (from another family we keep running into on the road). Shane was given a heap of bait from a fellow traveller who was no longer going to be able to use it, and it was just the excuse Tim needed to get the boat off the roof and back into the water.

Scarlett and I decided to go into town and explore the Whale Shark Festival on all this weekend. Jo and her kids, and Naomi (Tim's wife) and her three girls, all decided to tag along. We were in town by 9:30am, and the kids were straight into the stalls. They all held baby orphaned kangaroos at the animal rescue stand, played with the field equipment at the ARMY reservists stand, and climbed all over their land rover scout vehicle. They all entered into a colouring competition at one of the whale shark dive stands, and made wonderful creations with craft and play dough at the playgroup stand.

Jai, Scarlett and Grace at the ARMY reservist stand

We all got a sausage sandwich for lunch, and watched a very funny circus/acrobatic show. Afterwards the kids all danced to a local musician playing music on the main stage. They then had more musical fun with the very colourful, and eclectic, Junkadelic Band. There were craft markets, food stalls, whale shark conservation displays, and much, much more. We spent over four hours there, and spent next to nothing, but had the best time.

Shane and the guys returned at lunch time with excitement and stories of all the wildlife they had seen from the boat. They saw two sea snakes, heaps of turtles, a pod of dolphins, a dolphin fish leaping out of the water, and so many fish, the place was teaming with wildlife. Overall they caught about 40 fish, and kept about 6, being a mix of black snapper, Spanish flag and a small spangled emperor. They even saw a poor guy, who's car got caught by the rising tide.

When we returned back to the caravan park, I took Scarlett to the pool for the afternoon to play with all the kids. I was able to read some of my gossip mag in the deck chair, while lazing in the sun. Shane was doing some jobs around the caravan when we got a phone call from the festival people letting us know Maya (Jo's eldest girl) had won the colouring competition . Shane popped into town and picked up her prize; a new set of snorkel and goggles. A fitting prize as Maya has become quite the snorkeler of late. She was stoked with her prize, and I might say it was rightfully deserving, her colouring in was great.

Tim and Naomi filleted and crumbed the fish the boys caught, for everyones dinner and Jace did a cod fish in chili he had been given by a fisherman back in Coral Bay. We all enjoyed a joint BBQ meal of the fish at the communal kitchen, while the kids ran around playing hide and go seek all evening. It was a lovely meal, the guys did well today, and now the bar has been set.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Day 117. Exmouth

Bye bye Wendy, we'll miss you...

This morning we woke with heavy hearts. Scarlett was the first up (nothing unusual there) and woke Wendy, followed by Bec and myself. Our routine wasn't the same at all, as Wendy was leaving us today, and everyone knew it.

Bec gave her mum a diary of photo's as a parting gift; so that she could look back on the last 4 weeks travelling with us up the west coast of Australia. We were all surprised by how many photo's and videos were taken over the last month, and Bec was left with a big job trying to condense and save all these photos into a manageable package for Wendy. Somehow she did it, and I think Wendy was very happy with the outcome.

After all Wendy's bags were packed and everything was checked, double checked, and finally triple checked; we packed everything in the back of the pajero, and went into town for some last minute tourist shopping before then heading off to the airport.

After a short wait at the departure lounge, we finally said our heartfelt farewells; and there were hugs and kisses all round. Wendy slowly made her way out onto the tarmac, and after about a dozen turn 'rounds and waves, she finally boarded the plane; but not before one last big wave as she entered the door of the aircraft.

Wendy's freedom bird
Wendy will be sorely missed. It was great sharing our experiences with her on this leg of our journey, and I know for a fact that both Bec and Scarlett will both miss her - not to say I won't; but after we all said our good byes, Scarlett had a little cry in the car as we left the airport. She was already missing her Nana. (I think Bec had some sand in her eyes though, as they seemed a little red and wet too!)

I took us around to the other side of the airfield to visit some of the guys at RAAF Base Learmonth. This is a 'bare base', and is only activated during exercises, emergencies, or during a time of war. While I talked to the current caretaker and electrician, Bec and Scarlett waved a final good bye as the QANTAS plane took off and headed south towards Perth.

Shane at the 'Z Force' memorial

We then checked out the 'Z Force' memorial. This is the exact departure point that the MV Krait left Australian shores bound for Singapore on 'Operation Jaywick' on September 2, 1943. The MV Krait returned from the Operation on October 19, 1943, having sunk 37,000 tons of enemy shipping.

It was then into the Cape National Park, where we followed a ridge line with huge gorges either side of us. Some of the views were spectacular, and they reminded of us of 'the Grand Canyon' in America, or even landscapes that you might find in Arizona. We weren't expecting to find these huge mountain ranges  up here on the peninsular, as our journey north has been on relatively flat country so far.

Rebecca; 'on top of the world'

Bec; 'living on the edge'

We couldn't help notice the MG Kailis Group seafood processing facility that advertises fresh prawn and seafood located just off the main road before you enter Exmouth, so we stopped and had a look. We soon discovered that his Group has a fleet of trawlers operating in the crystal clean ocean waters of the Exmouth Gulf in Western Australia. Over 90% of the catching vessels in this fishery are under this Group's control. With leading processing technology and uniquely controlled same day catch operations. This enables the daily production of fresh wild caught Tiger, King, Endeavour and Banana Prawns to be packed fresh to suit a diverse range of requirements. We ended up buying a 1kg of King Prawns, and enjoyed them with some fresh bread rolls for dinner. I must say that they would have to be the freshest and tastiest prawns I have ever had. Even Bec, who isn't really keen on prawns , loved them!

We returned back to the caravan park, where Scarlett and I disappeared for a play in the 'cold' swimming pool for an hour or so, while Bec got stuck into yesterdays blog that needed doing.

The day was finished by attending the free outdoor movie here at the caravan park. They played 'Bedtime Stories', and the kids absolutely loved it. they had a great time eating popcorn and wearing glow stick bands. The night was getting cooler by the minute, and just before the movie ended, a very large falling star was seen behind the outdoor movie screen. It was that bright that some people thought it was a flare, but it certainly was something burning up in the atmosphere; more than likely some space junk.

I just want to finish today's post by thanking Wendy for flying all the way to Perth from Sydney to see Scarlett, and spending 4 weeks travelling the 1300km's north to Exmouth with us; in our caravan! We certainly enjoyed having you with us, and it meant a lot to all of us, that you shared your 'bucket list' dream of swimming with the whale sharks. We enjoyed some great sunsets together overlooking the Indian Ocean while sipping on a Margaret River wine or two; and we experienced some wonderful scenery (both on land and underwater) together.

In Scarlett's own words; "We're family".

Safe travels Wendy, and give our love to all our family and friends back home when you get there. We miss you already!

We love you! xxx

Wendy;  aka "Nana"

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Day 116. Coral Bay to Exmouth

Sore muscles...

We all woke very sore today, from yesterday's shark swim. I had really sore arms from pulling/pushing Scarlett through the water, and trying to keep up with the whale shark. Shane had sore legs from kicking so much, and poor mum had sore stomach muscles. We were a very sad and sorry bunch. We struggled getting out of bed today; not only from all being so sore, but because we are moving on today from this very beautiful, and now very special place.

We packed up,and mum said goodbye to the Piggott clan (She will have flown out of Exmouth by the time they arrive there), and we were off again on the road. It was a leisurely 150km's to Exmouth with our travel mugs and snacks, and Scarlett watching 'Spiderman' in the car. There wasn't much to see on the way, except an increasing amount of termite mounds, wild horses running free, and the occasional sheep that had broken through the boundary fences.

We made good time into Exmouth , so we called into the tourist information centre before setting up in the caravan park. There isn't a lot to do in Exmouth (other than the huge experience of swimming with whale sharks) as most of the good stuff is around the peninsula and into the Cape National Park some 80km's away. We do plan on visiting there in the next day or so.

Look out from Vlaming Head Lighthouse

After setting up camp we decided to go for a drive around the cape, to try and give Nana a small taste of the area before she leaves tomorrow. First stop was the 'Vlaming Head Lighthouse', and from here we could see right over the whole peninsula, including the The Harold E. Holt Naval Communications Station. These aerials send out and receive radio signals to US Navy, and Royal Australian Navy ships and submarines in the western Pacific Ocean and the eastern Indian Ocean. It's the most powerful transmission station in the Southern Hemisphere. There was also a restored WWII RAAF air warning radar station relic here. It was used in it's day for the defence of the USN Navel base at Exmouth, until it was destroyed by a cyclone in February  1945.

The Harold E. Holt Naval Communications Station's Aerial's

We also called into the 'Jurabi Turtle Centre' where there are interpretive boards depicting the turtles cycle of life. This is the main area where the turtles return every year to lay their eggs, and there are holes everywhere in the sand dunes where past clutches have hatched and made their mad dash out to the ocean. We found some goanna tracks at one of the holes where he had tried to dig up a meal a little too late. Although a little rough for swimming, Scarlett found some great shells along the foreshore for her collection.

Last season turtle nest

On the way back we stopped into town and check out the shops, I'll need to do another big food shop here to get me though to Broome. It's the strangest thing, there is only IGA here and there are two independent IGA stores one across from the other in the heart of town, this should create good competition hopefully and the prices wont be too bad.

We grabbed a small box of ice-creams, a BBQ chook, and rolls and checked out some of the other speciality shops. There isn't much choice here, and I wonder where the RAAF personnel (as we may be posted here one day) do all their major shopping?

With Nana's last afternoon slowly slipping away, we headed back to the van for a nice dinner and a wine or two. This evening we are trying to decide how much we can squeeze into her bag for the trip back, and start looking at burning a disc of photo's from her time with us she, so she can take it home and show everybody. It was a lovely evening of reminiscing over the past 4 weeks, and how they have flown by, and it's with sad hearts we all retreat to bed knowing tomorrow she will leave us.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day 115. Coral Bay

"This is the best day of my life"

These are the words that best describe how we all felt after our adventure today! Scarlett said them after her amazing swim with the Whale Sharks at Coral Bay, and never has a truer statement been said.

Back to the start of our day. We woke to a grey sky; but there was no wind and the seas were relatively smooth. It looked like it was going to be a day for special things to come, as we were all excited about what the day might bring.

On the way out
We headed across the road to 'Ningaloo Reef Dive"; the company who were taking us out today on our encounter with Whale Sharks, and they fitted us out in wetsuits and snorkeling gear before taking us down to the boat that would soon fulfil our wildest dreams!

After the safety brief, we headed out to a part of the inner reef to practice our snorkeling skills, and to learn the hand signals that the swimming guide would be doing while leading us with later in the day for our special meeting with a gentle giant of the deep.

During this swim, we were spellbound by the natural beauty of the reef, but we soon found two sea turtles that totally captivated Scarlett (and us). She loved the water, and she loved the sea life (to both Bec and my relief - as we were soon heading out to the open ocean to search for whale sharks; and we were still very apprehensive about taking Scarlett swimming with the whale sharks. We still had no idea how she would react to being 'out there').

A Dugong surfacing to take a breath of fresh air
Before we knew it we were heading off in search of 'bigger fish'. While waiting for the 'spotter plane' to find our whale shark, we found a family of four Dugongs that were busy feeding on the local sea grasses. This was a special moment for all of us, as we missed seeing the Dugongs back in Shark Bay, so to see them here was a bonus that we weren't expecting. Although they spent most of their time underwater, we witnessed them breaking the surface for air on a number of occasions, and they even came so close that they practically swam under the boat. It was a rare treat that we all enjoyed thoroughly.

Wendy and Rebecca

During this encounter, morning tea was served by the crew on the boat. We had hot tea and coffee, as well as biscuits and savoury chips. Yummy! Just what we needed after our earlier swim. It certainly warmed us up from the inside out.

As we enjoyed our morning tea and Dugong spotting, there was a flurry of activity up on the bridge as the spotter plane had located a Whale Shark! A cheer went up from all of us, as we gunned the engines and sped off to the location that the plane had sent to us! It was time to see what we had all come here to see - our very first Whale Shark!

Scarlett, Bec and Shane in the water and looking for our first ever Whale Shark

Jo, Jace, and Maya
15 minutes later, and the first group of ten swimmers (which included our friends Jace, Jo and Maya) were in the water. Wendy, Bec, Scarlett and myself were in the 2nd group of ten swimmers, and we soon followed! Up to this stage we were worried about Scarlett, but she was the first in the water and Bec and I were soon in hot pursuit. Wendy was already off and chasing 'our' group.

Unfortunately Grace and Jai (Jace, and Jo's other two children), didn't go swimming with the Whale Sharks today, as Grace didn't feel comfortable swimming in the open water, and Jai was to young (not to mention not a very strong swimmer yet). However, they did watch all the action from the comfort of the boat.

First look at 'our' whale shark

there he goes...
Within seconds we had our first encounter with what could only be described as the most amazing animal we have ever had the good fortune of meeting. Approximately 7 metres below the surface was a 7 to 8 metre male Whale Shark. He seemed to swim with no effort at all, however we were soon all swimming like crazy to catch up to it.

Before we knew it he had disappeared into the deep blue; and the boat was coming back around to pick us up and take us up ahead of it so that we could jump in again and repeat this magical experience.

Rebecca and Wendy. Thumbs up!

I must say that the water was a bit choppy at this stage, and the swell certainly made swimming difficult. Even I found it difficult to swim as my snorkel kept filling with water and my mask felt as though it was being torn from my face. I think even Bec and Wendy struggled a little bit with this first encounter. However, Scarlett never complained and was amazed at what she had just seen. All she kept asking when she finally got back on the boat was 'why did we have to get back on board so quickly for? Why?'

The seas did take its toll on her though as she didn't want to go straight back in, so I stayed with her on the boat as Bec and Wendy soon disappeared over the back of the boat to meet this gentle giant again!

They soon returned, and Bec was 'buzzing'. She was in total awe of this denizen of the deep, and couldn't wait to get back in the water again. Wendy however had had enough. She had swallowed enough seawater that it started to make her feel sick, so she opted to stay on board while I readied myself to return to the water with Rebecca.

Our best photo of 'our' whale shark 

A Gentle Giant
My next encounter was much more surreal. The shark seemed to of slowed down its swimming pace a little, and the seas had started to ease. This time it swam straight towards me, so I quickly got out of its way and followed at its side for what seemed like forever; however in reality it was probably only a minute or two. I felt like nothing else mattered as I swam beside it, like it was just the Whale Shark and me out there. However I soon came back to reality as it quietly swam away again and left me behind on the open seas.

When we were back on the boat, I took another break from re-entering the water, but Bec was off again. She was in her element, and was savouring every minute of it. This was a once in a life time experience, and she was not wasting anytime out of the water.

I again joined Bec back in the water at the next opportunity, and we were both loving it. We enjoyed this encounter even more this time, as the seas were not as rough.

The deckie soon announced that this would be our last chance to swim as our time with the shark was up, so Bec, Scarlett and I slipped into the water for the last time. This time the whale shark was just below the waters surface, and cruising along at a nice easy pace. We really got to enjoy this last time in the water, as it was a magical moment spent as a family. The shark was absolutely beautiful, and being able to swim with it in its own domain was something very special indeed.

Jace, Jo and Maya were waiting for us as we returned to the boat, and as
That's my girl!
we climbed out of the water we all cheered and did high fives! We all felt a bond as we had experienced something very unique that I'm sure will live with us for the rest of our lives.

Even Bec said it was the best thing she had ever done! I questioned this as surely swimming with the Great White Sharks off Port Lincoln would have to be better; but she explained it was a completely different experience that doesn't compare. In Bec's words; "Today was made more special as I got to experience it with my family. To be able to share such an amazing encounter with the ones you love just doesn't compare". I can understand what she means, as although the Great White Sharks in South Australia was a life changing encounter for her; to not have someone their you love to share it with would certainly make one feel as though something was missing.

A special mention must go to Wendy. She has now ticked off another thing that was on her bucket list, and she did it with a smile on her face! To fly all the way over to Perth and endure 4 weeks with us on the road 'just' to swim with Whale Sharks is a great achievement. Bec is so proud of her mum! Go girl!

Wendy enjoying our cruise on the inside of Ningaloo Reef

I must point out at this point that by law, once an operator has made contact with a whale shark, they have a 1 hour time limit to swim with the animal. And depending on the state of the sea, the speed at which the whale shark is swimming, and the fitness of the people in the water trying to keep up with the shark; depends on how long you get to swim with the shark. All up we did a total of 6 swims with the shark and each encounter lasted for at least 5 minutes. So all up we had the chance to swim in the open ocean with this gentle giant for about 30 minutes in total (give or take). Considering Bec was the only one who went in every time, she did an amazing job! Well done honey! I went in 4 times, Scarlett and Wendy twice each.

This wasn't the end of our day by no means. After this amazing encounter, we headed back inside the reef to have a fantastic lunch that was put on by the crew. There was a platter of cold meats, a myriad of salads, a fruit platter and bread and drinks. It was a great meal and we all digged in! Yum Yum. During lunch we encountered more Dugongs and I took the chance to take a few photos. They are called the 'cows of the sea', and its hard to see how any 'sane man' could ever get these wonderful creatures confused with beautiful mermaids of myth and legend.

After lunch it was back in the water to explore the reef by ourselves. We were moored out in the middle of the reef and it was amazing. Just after entering the water, we followed a white tip reef shark for a short time, before Scarlett found her first of many sea turtles. There are Loggerheads, Hawksbills and Green Sea Turtles in this area, and I'm sure we must of seen all three species. Again the fish life and reef was amazing - I still think Ningaloo Reef in WA beats the Great Barrier Reef; there is no comparison.

Our 1st Turtle after lunch

Scarlett and 'her' turtle

On returning to the boat for the final time, we were greeted by a crew member handing us a free beer and stubby holder - you bewdy! We also had a bit of afternoon tea, before heading back to shore. We used this time to dry ourselves off, get changed into some dry clothes, and shared our experiences with other 'tourists' like us who ventured into the unknown today. It was a great feeling. We were all 'on a high' and you could feel the electricity and energy within the group. I think not one person left with any regrets.

Enjoying a beer after a great day of amazing experiences

On returning to shore, we were all awarded a certificate as a memento of our encounter; and the crew were very impressed with Scarlett as I was later informed that she is the youngest person to ever of swam with a whale shark! That's my girl!

Scarlett receiving her certificate

Before I go, I just want to say a big thank you to 'Ningaloo Reef Dive" who operate out of Coral Bay. Bec contacted them by email a few weeks ago to ask what type of a deal they could do for us and our friends as we wanted to swim with the whale sharks. Since then, they have been in constant contact with Bec and have done an amazing discount for all of us. Their professionalism is second to none, and they certainly made us feel welcome. They were only to eager to help if asked. Even the food and the little things like a beer at the end of the day with a free stubby holder was a nice gesture. We were all very happy with the service this company provided and would highly recommend them to anyone.

Wendy, Scarlett, Bec and Shane onboard "Encounter II'

It certainly has been the 'best day of my life'. (Thanks for that line Scarlett).

Tomorrow we leave Coral Bay for Exmouth, as we continue our journey around this great big land of ours. We'll be sorry to leave, as I think I can vouch for everyone in saying that this place has certainly been the highlight of our travels so far, and it will leave an everlasting impression on all of us.

And thats a big call as we have seen some amazing places...