Well I’m a week into my Australian adventure and I have done a lot of awesome things. Reading that sentence back to myself it seems utterly inadequate at capturing just how incredible my journey has been. Western Australia is a beautiful, beautiful place and I have managed to see just a fraction of that beauty.
So where have I been, what have I done? After a long drive up from Perth to Jurien Bay, I met up with my friend and made a few new friends. A quick swim in the bay’s crystal clear water, a chilled out barbecue, and then I grabbed some well deserved sleep. But the next day… Oh the next day…
The next day was packed full of unforgettable experiences. First thing I did was get harnessed up, sat in a plane as it ascended to 14,000 feet… and then jumped out.
The experience of skydiving is completely surreal. You can see the ground below you but it just looks like scenery (and what incredible scenery it was), like a painted backdrop. It’s very gradually getting closer, but it’s almost unnoticeable. The air is cold and the wind is loud, which almost creates a sense of sensory deprivation, driving all your instincts to focus on visuals – even your sense of balance is completely different to normal. I’m sure experienced skydivers have honed these senses in order to pull of their synchronised displays.
And on the subject of synchronised displays, we pulled one off ourselves. My friends in Jurien are all experienced skydivers, and they wanted to try something special on this jump. So the four of us linked up in order to perform a head down exit – literally our heads pointing down at the ground as we hit freefall. I’m told this was a very difficult thing to maintain, but maintain it we did, which meant the jump was special not just for me, but for my friends too.
Having (sort of) mastered the air, I decided it was time to walk on water. Not literally of course. We took some paddle boards (like big unwieldy surfboards which you stand up on and propel yourself forward with a paddle) and headed down the coast. It was around this point that my sun block failed me and I got burnt pretty bad on my shoulders. But hey ho.
After lunch we went out on a friend’s boat. My friends were scuba diving, but me having no training or gear decided to stay on the boat and just appreciate the view. After half an hour the guys decided that the swell was too big and the diving was abandoned, but we took the boat out to a small island with a sea lion colony.
To my amazement, the sea lions were inquisitive, friendly and playful, and two of them swam it to meet us. It was an amazing experience, the sea lions racing and dancing around us, almost as if they were egging us on. They copied what we did but with infinitely more grace. I did a flip, they did a flip. I did a barrel roll, they did a barrel roll. Once I swam to the bottom and my snorkel released a few bubbles… So of course, the sea lions swam to the bottom and started blowing their own bubbles. They were some of the most adorable animals I’ve ever seen, and being welcomed into their environment by them was an honour I can’t describe.
So here I was, king of the sky, king of the sea… All that was left to conquer was the land. The next day we took a 4×4 out across some pretty rough tracks in order to find a cave system. We loaded up with head torches and descended into the bowels of the earth.
This was a cave system entirely dissimilar to the ones I’ve seen back home in the UK. The climate is much more arid here, so the huge stalagmites and stalactites you might expect to see formed by water deposits over thousands of years were absent. We did see an owl though! And a very hungry looking frog.
Some way into the cave, we reached a large cavern, but noticed a very tight crawlspace leading deeper in. Throwing caution to the wind, we headed along it, scraping our shins in the process, but we arrived in a larger chamber which led even deeper into the earth. Eventually we reached a point beyond which we couldn’t continue, so turned out torches off and sat in the utter darkness for a while.
After spending Christmas in Jurien Bay, I bid my friends goodbye and headed to the airport. I’m currently sat in a hostel in Alice Springs, waiting for the 4×4 which will take me into the desert for my 3 day hike to explore Uluru.
Begin phase two…