Kalbarri National Park

Two hours north of Geraldton in Western Australia is the spectacular Kalbarri National Park. Stretching from the coast about 50km inland the park encompasses a pretty amazing range of ecosystems from the inland reach that really made me feel as though I was back in Alice Springs with bush tomatos and low scrub the most noticable species (except for a small native pine which I’ll have to read up on). The coastline is stark and dramatic with cliffs and sea stacks that could rival the Great Ocean Road down in Victoria.

A day out in Geraldton

So this weekend I am in Geraldton, Western Australia exploring the town for things of interest while work keeps me here for a while. Luckily there seems to be plenty on this weekend which means that I’ve had a busy day of coffee, washing, viewing a church, the Valley View Airshow, sunset at the beach and putting together a quick video from some canyons I did recently.

Some photos to corroborate my very brief words (oh and open up the photos).

And then there was the sunset!

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A few weeks of “normal life”

In the two weeks since P and I got back to Sydney after bring in Fiji life has been pretty close to normal. I have been in the office (yay!), been for a bush walk, spent some time at site and dropped through Canberra, Cowra, Orange and the Blue Mtns. I suppose that makes life pretty good really!

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Jeusalem Bay walking with Mike

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Mike on Brooklyn Dam wall

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Cowra Japanese gardens

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Cowra Japanese gardens. I love the contrast of native and japanese plantings

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Orange, or blue

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Mum and Dad on our little walk

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Bungendore hills. I want to go to Wales!

Fiji’s Yasawa Islands

So we’ve just spent an exciting week and a bit in Fiji where we’ve had the opportunity. To snorkel, sleep, hang out in hammocks, get to know the locals while waiting out a cyclone.

The plan was hatched less than two weeks ago, and thursday last week saw us booking a travel package through Awesome Adventures, a Fijian tour organiser who seem to have a bit of a monopoly on the Yasawa Islands that were to be our destination. The next day we were on a plane to Fiji and I can honestly say we had no idea what we were in for during the trip.

As it turned out what we could expect was sheer bloody luxury, with Mantaray Resort and Barefoot Resorts both offering the kind of accomodation that you see in brochures but assume doesn’t actually exist. To top it off each of those resorts had spectacular snorkeling opportunities with multiple reefs to snorkel and crystal clear waters.

Among the numerous sea creatures we’ve seen we can mention a few highlights that included sharks, sea horses, sting rays, cuttlefish, sea snakes and oh so many types of fishes. I took a good hour of video so keep an eye out for coming posts.

The highlight of the trip though has to have been Safe Landings resort. My initial feelings about the place were that it was a little daggy as the accomodation is pretty basic compared the the other resorts, and the generator doesn’t run at night so there are no fans to keep you cool during the hot tropical wet seasons nights! That said though, the people have been absolutely amazing. As we arrived at the resort it was announced that the boat back to the main land wouldn’t be running for a few days due to the cyclone that very very slow cut a swathe through the ocean in between Fiji and Vanuatu.  For us this meant no boats or seaplanes as the seas were way too rough, and that we’ve spent 4 nights chilling out here with ran and coolish breezes instead of the two nights we’d planned.
We’ve been incredibly luck to have been stuck with some absolutely people from around the world to keep us company. From coconut bowling to hiking to volleyball to snorkeling to village visits to rea and cake with the locals each afternoon we’ve been kept busy despite the winds and rough seas putting a stop to some other adventures.

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If you’d like to check out some videos of our snorkelling adventures have a look at my Mantaray Island post, or use the navigation menu at the top of the page.

It is not often that I start a weekend without plans, but this weekend was a great example of just how fun a weekend in Sydney can actually be. From a picnic at Black Wattle Bay watching the city lights reflect on the water on Friday night, through to snorkeling at Malabar (formerly Long Bay) on Sunday we had a most excellent weekend!

For anyone who hasn’t been snorkelling in Sydney let this be an inspiration to you, because the beaches, bays and harbours around Sydney are absolutely packed with fish, stingrays, octopus and a whole range of other exciting things.  If you’d like a little more inspiration here is a video of some of the cool stuff we saw!

Malabar Snorkeling

Wollangambe 2 Canyon

Sometimes you whimp out of adventures, sometimes you take risks you shouldn’t, but sometimes you make the right call and get that combination of factors that makes for an amazing day out. Yesterday was one such day as five friends and I headed down into the Wollangambe for the second of the two main lilo sections (Wollangambe 2), having down Wollangambe 1 late last year.

Friday had seen heavy rain through parts of the Blue Mountains and although not dramatic the river level was probably about 4cm higher than normal. 4cm doesn’t sound like much, but it was enough to speed up the flow of the river and submerge just a few extra rocks so that many of the rapids could be (somewhat) comfortably run without getting off our lilos. So after a rather late start we reached the Wollangambe, suited up and started making out way down the canyon with plenty of excitement.

Three of our party had never cannoned before and had bought some less than durable lilos for the trip so as we floated, scrambled, jumped and swam our way down the canyon, not only was the the usual excitement of falling off, trying to stay warm and wondering if that ominous rumbling from the sky was coming your way, but we kept tabs as lilos became 5 and then 4. Kudos to the guys for sharing lilos and then swimming the last section of with their rather disposable lilos!

Anyway we reached the canyon just as the rain and thunder became more than just a slight concern and made our way up, and up, and up towards the cars!

Thanks everyone for joining me!

 

Geronimo and Horseshoe Canyons

On Sunday I had the pleasure of joining Tom and a troop of six other SBW members on a pleasant and most enjoyable 11hr canyoning trip through Geronimo and Horseshoe Canyons in the Blue Mountains.

It was a rough start to get to the canyon on time after a last minute discovery that the gate to Euroka Campground doesn’t open until after 7:30am. Arriving at the canyon meeting point 20 minutes late prompted a very brisk walk down to meet the rest of the group at the Pagoda before Wollangambe 1 entrance. After joining the group we all continued down to the Wollangambe River and back up the other side towards the canyon entrance. Tom’s expert navigation meant that could just enjoy the walk and lament the lack of coffee that morning.

Anyway we were soon in the creek and preparing for our adventure by donning our wetsuits and harnesses. Given the warm weather, and my intentions to experiment with canyoning I had chosen to wear my exciting multicoloured thermals and a thin weskit top instead of the heavy weight wetsuits I normally wear. At the start of the day this was a a great idea as the canyon was relatively dry and the sun was out, but as the day cooled down the clouds came out I started to fill the chill and by the end of the day in Horseshoe Canyon I was well and truly cold. Anyone who notice how grumpy I was I apologise!

Anyway here is a selection of photos. I had actually taken my nice new helmet cam through the canyon but the outcome and photos were rather disappointing so here is the limited selection that seemed to work. For more photos see Tom’s Post on OzUltimate