Published: June 7th 2011May 15th 2011
Luckily for me (and her), Frankie had a week off before she started her new job so she took me on a tour up the west coast of Australia from Perth to Coral Bay. The tour was on a bright yellow bus driven by a fun Aussie man called Greg, who became my new best friend because he liked to take me to lots of adventurous places for photographs! There were six passengers on the bus, plus me, and we had lots of fun seeing some of the sights of Western Australia.
On the first day of the tour we visited the Pinnacles Desert. This is an area of sandy desert with big limestone rocks sticking up out of the sand. There are several stories about how the stones came to be there. Some people say they are fossils of trees that grew there millions of years ago. The Aboriginal people that live in this area think that this is a bad place and do not go there. They believe that the stones are the fingers of boys that got lost and buried by the sand. I don't like the sound of this story much and was glad to not
be buried there myself, I think I'll pretend they're old trees instead! Some of the stones were funny shapes and we had fun taking pictures with them all.
While we were driving up the coast road we saw some strange sights. We stopped by the side of the road to see a leaning tree. It was leaning so much its top nearly touched the ground! Lots of trees grow like this in this area because they are trying to grow away from the wind, which usually blows from the sea. The wind blows salty sea water at the trees and this stops them growing properly, so the trees grow flat to protect their leaves from the salty wind. As well as strange trees we saw strange birds called emus. Emus look a bit like ostriches, if you have ever seen one of those? They are really big - as tall as a person - and they have a long neck and long legs that let them run very fast.
At the end of our first day we stopped at the Pink Lakes to watch the sunset. The lake is a soft pink colour because it has beta carotene
in it, the same red pigment that makes carrots orange! The Pink Lakes are salt lakes and often dry up to reveal a hard crust of salt, the same salt that you put on your food. One of the lakes was dried up so we walked on it and the salt looked just like snow and ice on a frozen lake. We left footprints and I kept expecting to fall through into icy water even though it was hard ground!
The next day we drove around Kalbarri National Park. This is a very beautiful area where the Murchison River cuts through a massive gorge. The rocks here are bright reds, oranges and yellows. The area is very, very old – about 500 million years old in fact - and we saw fossils of footprints and tracks of ancient animals in the rocks. One of the markings was the track of a scorpion that was the size of a dog, imagine how scary that would be if it stilled lived today!
We hiked down into the gorge and some of us swam in the river at the bottom, which was freezing cold. Greg even took me for a swim and
Going for a swim with Greg
In the gorge at Kalbarri National Park
then I sunbathed on a rock to warm up. We then walked back up to the top of the gorge and took photos at Natures Window, a strange but natural rock formation that has left a window shape overlooking a bend in the river.
We stayed at Shark Bay for a couple of days. The rest of the group went snorkelling and saw lots of colourful fish and an octopus and an eel. I couldn't go because I would have gone soggy, so I stayed and looked after the bus. I did get to go for a walk out to a viewpoint on the cliffs where we looked down into the clear water and saw sharks, dolphins and rays (big, flat fish) swimming past, which was so amazing we forgot to take pictures! We also visited an aquarium where we saw sharks being fed their breakfast, which was really cool.
One afternoon we went to see a colony of some of the oldest living creatures in the world,
stromatolites. These organisms evolved 3.5 billion years ago and still survive today. The stromatolites are colonies of blue-green bacteria that live in shallow water and clump together in lumps that
look like rocks but are actually alive! They look quite boring but if they didn't live then neither would we because they produce oxygen for us to breathe. They are also our very, very, very, very, very, very distant cousins because all plants and animals evolved from them, amazing hey?
At Shark Bay we watched the sunset at Shell Beach. Most beaches are made of sand with a few shells scattered around, but this beach is made up completely of small white shells, piled up metres deep. Local people have discovered that if you squash the shells in a mould with water then they stick together to form bricks that they have used to build walls and even houses!
The only problem with Shark Bay was all the flies. They are only small, but incredibly annoying as they like to buzz all round your face and try to crawl into your ears and eyes – gross! It got so bad we had to hide under towels and sarongs to eat our picnic. Australians are used to the flies and have invented a special way to cope with them – they have hats with a net that you pull
down over your face to stop the flies landing on you. It's a shame we didn't get told about this earlier so we could have bought ourselves these hats!
Before we left Shark Bay we visited Monkey Mia. This place doesn't have any monkeys but it is famous for dolphins which swim into the beach every morning to get free fish for their breakfast. We got there at 8am and already there were about 100 people waiting to see the dolphins, so unfortunately none of our group got picked to feed them. However we did get to see them swimming and playing in the shallows just a couple of metres from our feet! This is as close as I'll probably ever get to a dolphin seeing as I can't go swimming, so I was excited to see them.
For the rest of the trip we drove to Coral Bay and stayed there for a couple of days. The weather was really cold and raining so we couldn't do much there. The rest of the group went quad biking and had a big party but I couldn't go as you had to be over 18 years old. I still
had a really fun trip though.
Frankie is now working at a pub half way up the west coast of Australia so she can't take me out much at the moment, but she's promised to take me travelling again in a month or two when she heads up the coast to the north of Australia. In the mean time hopefully some other friends will take me with them on their holidays.
There are more photos below