Wildlife interaction on Australia’s North West Coast – 2 Shark Bay

Wildlife interaction on Australia’s North West Coast – 2 Shark Bay

It was the May eclipse of the moon that I was on the eastern most point point of Australia and Shark Bay is at the western extreme.

And Denham is the most westerly township in Australia. Steep Point is the the western most point but very difficult to access.

The east and west extremities of Australia are like chalk and cheese. While Cape Byron in the east sits amongst moist rain forest covered mountains but in the west at Shark Bay its where the desert meets the sea.

So desert means lack of water and sparse population.

I wonder if fewer people means more wildlife.

The pelicans,

The turtles,

The old man Emu caring for his chicks.

And the beautiful wild dolphins at Monkey Mia that interact with such trust with visitors to their world.

The beaches in this special place are stunning and unique.

To create this national park now world heritage area. The Western Australian Government bought back a number of farming leases.

Sheep had been grazed on the fragile lands.

At the old Peron Station the remains of the old shearing shed still remain.

It was a bit of a trek to get to the old station along a sandy trail

But made all worthwhile by the the thermal spring hot tub at the old station.

So what else could I do.

Wildlife interaction on Australia’s North West Coast -1 Coral Bay

Wildlife interaction on Australia’s North West Coast -1 Coral Bay

My last day in Coral Bay was spent in and on the Indian Ocean and the Ningaloo Reef.

This was close interaction in the marine environment.

With:

Eels,

Stingrays;

Turtles;

Reef sharks sleeping in coral caves; and

Myriads of little reef fish.

The coral with its colours and shapes is just beautiful.

But the big interaction with whales.

Interaction with whales is carefully prescribed to protect the whale and the humans.

We were lucky enough to get to swim with these beautiful creatures.

The skill of the skipper was excellent. We motored along side the whales as they swam. Then we told to get ready as the boat sped forward.

Suddenly the boat slowed and we slipped off the back of the boat as this gentle giant of the sea swam past below us.

We also swam with Manta Rays.

Sorry friends no photos of these encounters as the piecemeal adventurer turned part time frogman was too busy manoeuvring himself and remembering to breath while in a state of high excitement to work a camera.

So sorry you will just have to go to Ningaloo Reef and do it.

Running south across the Wide open spaces of Western Australia

Running south across the Wide open spaces of Western Australia

Departing Broome my next major destination was Coral Bay and the beautiful Ningaloo Reef. A distance of nearly 1,400km

Western Australia is a vast State covering around 1/3 of the Australian Continent.

In the north towns and settlements are few and far between and the roads long and straight.

Mining is prevalent in this part of Australia and relics of mining are many.

This part of Australia has had significant land returned to aboriginal control under Native Title which commenced in Australia in 1993.

Native Title aims to give back to Australian Aborigines land where there has been continuous connection since colonisation.

When I rode through Roebourne 43 years ago it was a town one didn’t stop in. It was the wild west rough and dangerous.

The Victoria Hotel was a bloodhouse that you entered at great risk. Now it’s a beautiful art gallery.

That I would recommend any and everyone to stop at.

The importance and connection to country that aboriginal people have can not be underestimated or understood by us from a colonial heritage.

At the Welcome Lookout overlooking there are silhouettes of aboriginal men from the local tribes looking out on country. Emblematic of the connection.

The indiginous culture has reclaimed and so has the name Leramugadu.

From Leramugadu I headed to the coast to Point Samson and the Indian Ocean.

The coastal land offering some wonderful views and a taste of the wildflowers to come now spring is emerging.

And the lovely coastal birds

But my aim was Coral Bay and the amazing Ningaloo Reef and Marine Sanctuary.

Have had a first little swim on the edge of the reef and look forward to exploring more.

I’m here for a few days and will explore and share some more of this remote and beautiful place.

Broome – the wildlife

Broome – the wildlife

A mother Osprey guards her chicks in the nest built on the Pont Grantheaume

Broome on the shores of Roebuck Bay is a haven for birds and sea animals. In particular its home to the rare and threatened Snubfin Dolphin

Netting in the Bay had led to these dolphins coming under threat. Many of the dolphins I saw had scars on their skin or pieces out of their fins due to being caught in nets.

Since native title has been established netting has been banned and the area is now a Marine National Park. With all marine animals re establishing in the Bay.

The National Park is also home to various turtles this Flat Back Turtle an example.

Manta Rays and an amazing diversity of local and migratory birds.

Such as terns

And my favourite the majestic White Bellied Sea Eagle.

I did the cruise with Broome Whale Watching. Additional to these beautiful animals we say Dugong, other species of turtle and a Humpback Whale breaching.

Recreational fishing still part in the Bay and the local aborigines fish traditionally with spears.

Such a beautiful place.

Back heading west on the Savannah Way and a stop at Keep River National Park

Back heading west on the Savannah Way and a stop at Keep River National Park

The savannah woodlands stretched out to the horizon.

Crossing the big rivers I didn’t need a sign to say I was back on the Savannah Way.

Just before the Northern Territory/ Western Australia border there is the Keep River National Park.

About 18 km in from the Rangers station is the main camping ground.

A special part of North Western Australia is the amazing rock formations.

There are a number of walks through the rock canyons at Keep River. I will give you a taste of these beautiful rock formations.

From the lookout the rocky range stretches out through the savannah

The stunning colours of the rock and landscape.

And there is the beautiful Rainbow Bee Eater, flitting around the forest.

As the sun sets the rocks turn red reflecting the setting sun’s fire.

When the light is gone the Milky Way fills the sky.

There is nothing like the stars in the outback.

So I’m now sitting in Kununurra, in the State of Western Australia. Supplies have been purchased ready for the next outback leg of my journey.

Nitmiluk National Park 4 -some final observations

Nitmiluk National Park 4 -some final observations

The Cutta Cutta caves limestone caves may not the most colourful but are an amazing insight to the forming of the artesian springs in the Northern Territory.

In the wet season this cave and others like it act as funnels collecting the monsoonal rains to flow through the limestone and into the artesian basin.

The water heats up and flows out at thermal springs at Mataranka and Katherine.

The sunset over the Katherine with the bats taking off into the night ( look closely at the photo just above)

The birdlife is abundant but at Edith Falls there was something special.

This Great Bower Bird singing his full repertoire of songs. (The Great Bower Birds are amazing at mimicking sounds which they include in the songs. Other birds calls, engines starting, towels fluttering are all included.)

His singing was successful as he seduced this female into his carefully constructed Bower.

How wondrous is nature.

The Gregory River, water from the ground in the harsh outback of North West Queensland

The Gregory River, water from the ground in the harsh outback of North West Queensland

I was sitting savouring my exquisite long black coffee with cinnamon and apple muffin.

As often happens the conversation started with the words ‘ Nice bike’. This one finished with direction to a local camping spot beside the Gregory River.

An oasis in the harsh dry country

Spring fed flowing crystal clear water.

Water so clear you can see the little fish in the water

A place so quiet and peaceful

The little finches, honey eaters and willie wag tails would fly down and pose nonchalantly for the camera

Water is life

This water in the Gregory River that fell in monsoons thousands of years ago, on mountains thousands of kilometres away percolates underground coming forth as a spring to bring life to the desert.

Off the Tableland and onto the Savannah Way

Off the Tableland and onto the Savannah Way

Waterfalls, like the Millstream Falls are are true feature of the Atherton Tableland.

The falls lay between Ranenshoe

Queensland’s highest town and

Innot Hot Spring there are thermal waters in the creek or spa centre to ease an adventurers tired bones.

Past the Springs the land opens out to the savannah at 40 mile scrub.

Not for on I found a spring fed water hole for a cooling dip.

Before stopping at the little town of Mount Surprise.

An old gem stone fossicking town close by the Undara Volcanic National Park and its amazing Lava Tubes.

This is my second visit to the Lava Tubes. Back in 2015 returning from Cooktown I stayed at the Undara Resort. This time I chose the Bedrock Village at Mount Surprise.

The lava tubes are remnants from volcanic eruptions 190,000 years ago.

And are inhabited by little micro bats about the size of your thumb

The scale of the tubes can be seen here. Look for the guide in the bottom left hand corner.

The National Park is home to hundreds of extinct volcanoes.

The Kalkani Crater is accessible for walking.

With informative interpretation signs.

If you walk quietly you may see pretty faced wallabies

The beautiful Wonga Vine

And amazing views over the savannah.

As I write a new covid 19 outbreak has emerged in Australia and who knows how that will effect my travel plans across the continent.

One has to be flexible while travelling in the time of Covid 19.

The road north into Queensland

The road north into Queensland

It was a well worn path along the Lions Road over the Border Ranges back into Queensland.

Back into the Sunshine State on the first day of winter in Australia

It’s amazing that no matter how often a route is travelled there is something new to find.

The first find was Goomeri on the western side of the Great Divide.

The pear danish would rival any patisserie in the world and the Goomeri emporium and saddlery a blast from the past.

But my aim was the sea again.

To 1770, named after the year of Cooks landing, was where I came back to the Pacific.

Back at the long sandy beaches and the fisherman casting into the sea after Australian Salmon

Sunrise heralded the dawn of a glorious day.

Perfect for some sight seeing on the estuary

Or a walk in the coastal forest

And good weather even for a swim.

Ah nice to be in warm water.

And heading north in winter

Lockdown reflections 10 – The big cats of the Masai Mara, Kenya

Lockdown reflections 10 – The big cats of the Masai Mara, Kenya

Of the big cats of the Masai mara the Cheetah is the at the smaller end and hard to find

And we were lucky to find this one resting under a tree.

In contrast the lions, the Kings of the Jungle were out in the open and unafraid

Such photogenic beasts and totally unafraid in their domain

Even when courting

And mating

The Leopard is more illusive and its young are vulnerable

So the they are kept safely up a tree

But like all young, juvenile leopards don’t always stay put when told to

and decided to climb down our of the tree and take a walk

All of a sudden out of the bushes dashed the mother too fast for me and my camera.

She grabbed up the escaping cub and was gone back into the scrub

But all the action revealed

A second cub hiding in the tree.

On leaving the area we came upon a hyena clan out hunting

Hyena are major predators for leopard cubs and will camp out under a tree waiting for an opportunity to get a cub if the find a tree.

These hyena have tracing collars attached as part of a research project that is being undertaken into the social structures of these amazing animals.

In Ethiopia, in the city of Harrar, I learnt a new respect for the hyena.

This city has a special relationship with hyena that goes back centuries.

Which in more recent times has led to the hand feeding of the hyena and many many mill around

And if you are game

You may feed them yourself

I guess you are wondering if the hyena found the leopard cubs?

When we went back the next day – Both cubs were in the tree!

This brings to an end my reflections on journeys to Ethiopia and Kenya.

I has planned to travel to Morocco this year but Covid 19 put an end to that, but I look forward to visiting some more the diverse countries of the amazing African continent.