An update on my plans

Many of you will have heard me talking about my itinerary for this trip, and so many of you will be expecting me to head east pretty soon. But I’ve had a change of plan.

I felt that 2 beautiful coasts, plus a week in Alice Springs was too much to tackle in just 2 and a half months. When I leave Alice Springs I’ll have only three weeks before my flight home, and the last thing I want to do is rush any part of this experience. So, I’ve decided to come back West after Alice, and experience more of what WA has to offer. Even in the 5 weeks I’ve already been here, I know I haven’t seen even half of it!

As mentioned in my previous post, changes of arrangements during a big trip can be a little anxiety-inducing, but this is one decision that I’m 100% confident is the right one!

You Live and You Learn

That’s the phrase that keeps going through my head as I’m travelling around WA.

Not everything can go exactly according to plan when you’re travelling, and unfortunately for me, anxiety makes it even harder to let go and just let things happen!

Yesterday I left Monkey Mia and travelled South to a town called Geraldton. Due to a bad experience with the shuttle driver who took me to Monkey, I wasn’t going to get the shuttle back, and hitching a lift with two other volunteers who were heading back to Perth was the most cost effective and sensible seeming way to move forward.

When I got here, I checked in to my AirBnB, sat down on the bed and burst into tears. Going from the beautiful beaches, blissful remoteness, and friendly faces of Monkey Mia to the utterly juxtaposing overcast skies and small city that reminds me painfully of Salisbury was too much for my sleep-deprived head to cope with.

Fortunately a quick FaceTime chat with Beth helped me to calm down and rationalise; leaving Monkey was hard, but I’ve done that bit, it was amazing, and now it’s time to keep moving. And I can always go back!

As for my next steps, I have to stop feeling like I’m wasting days. Today I slept almost all day, which sounds like the ultimate waste of a day, but truthfully, after a spate of late nights and early mornings, I needed the catch up.

Tomorrow I’ll go out and see what the town of Geraldton has to offer – I’ve done some research and I know I can fill a day. Tomorrow evening I get back on the bus to Exmouth, where I’ve made the decision to hire a car for the rest of my trip. The logic there is to make things easier, and allow myself the freedom to go where I want, when I want, rather than relying on buses that only run twice a week!

I’ve learned three things:

1) You’re allowed to have a rest day – we’re all human and we all need to sleep!

2) Sometimes you have to take what feels like a step back, before you can keep moving forwards.

3) You can’t control everything. Even the best laid plans don’t always work out, but there’s a solution to every mishap.

It’s all part of the experience, and now I know for the future. I’m living and learning.

And I’ll tell you one more thing – I bet people didn’t expect to read a post like this on my blog about the epic experience of travelling around Oz, but not every second of every day is filled with joy and excitement. That’s part of the travel experience too, and it wouldn’t be an honest account of my travels if I didn’t mention the shit parts.

Tomorrow’s a new day – wish me luck!

I think I’ve fallen in love…

On Wednesday 31st January, I arrived in a beautiful part of the world known as Monkey Mia…it’s now Thursday 8th February and I’m still here. I’ve fallen completely in love with this place.

I thought I’d only be here for a couple of days but on my first day here I discovered the opportunity to volunteer at the Monkey Mia Dolphin Experience centre. The lack of volunteers (it’s the quietest month of the year now) meant I could start the very next day and I’m so glad I did!My hours are from 7:30am to 12 midday, so I still have plenty of time in the afternoon to go off and do other things here, it’s the perfect balance. Though it has to be said, the first two days I slept all afternoon AND still managed a full night’s sleep both nights. Turns out travelling is tiresome work!Volunteering involves recording dolphin data: which dolphins have come into shore at what time; how many fish they’re taking from us and the weight of those fish; what they’re up to behaviour-wise in the water. And the best bit of all, is the feeding! Each morning up to three times a day before midday, we run a ‘dolphin experience’ where the public are invited down to the shore, told a bit about the dolphins by one of the rangers, and then us volunteers bring the fish down and pick out random members of the crowd to come out and feed them a fish. We have 5 dolphins on the feeding programme and each of those is allowed no more than 10% of their daily requirement. This is to encourage them to forage for the rest of their food and carry on with normal dolphin behaviours. Nobody is allowed to touch the dolphins, not even the rangers, and there’s a law preventing people from swimming with 30m of them. If a dolphin approaches you in the water you’re asked to just remain still and let them do their thing. It’s a perfect way to get to see wild dolphins close up without effecting their natural lifestyles.When I was a child, dolphins were my favourite animals, mostly just cause they seemed cool. Now having got up close and personal with them, that view has been reinforced and I have a newfound appreciation for these beautiful beautiful animals!

I’m leaving Monkey tomorrow but I already know I’ll be back – I’ve even been asking around about jobs here..! Definitely got a new favourite place in the world.

Francois Peron National Park with the Vollie fam!

Some photos from the 4-wheel-drive trip that I took on Wednesday afternoon with Georgia, Ryan, Alex and Ben; 4 other volunteers who I met at Monkey Mia!

Splashing around at Herald Bight, photo creds to Georgia

Stunning sand tracks through the National Park


Beautiful Rottnest Island

Beth had hyped this place up so much, and it certainly lived up to its reputation.

Rottnest Island is a beautiful little island off the coast of Perth. We got the ferry over there at 8:30am on Sunday 21st Jan, leaving plenty of time to explore the island during the day. We picked up the bikes that Beth’s Aunt had kindly left on the Island for us to borrow (Thank you Sally!), and set off to find our accommodation. Having not ridden a bike myself in about five years and having to take all our bags and whatnot with us, this was an interesting ride! But I got the hang of it eventually and actually kind of fell in love with cycling..! Rottnest is so small and protected that the only vehicles are essential delivery vans and tour buses. It’s too big to walk everywhere though, so everyone cycles. It sort of felt like being in Amsterdam!

We spent a fair bit of time at the beach and mooching about the island, but these were my two highlights…

Highlight #1: The 22km bike ride! On the Monday, we cycled all the way around Rottnest, stopping off at most of the beaches along the way. This was hard work but I can honestly say, one of my favourite days so far. I always feel really good after a great workout, but what made this even better was the stunning scenery, the bright sunshine, and the breeze blowing on my face to cool me down.

We both decided we didn’t have the energy left to cook dinner when we returned to our hostel, so we went to a restaurant on the Island and had dinner there, which for me meant fish and chips – fresh, locally caught, grilled fish. Delicious! And full of protein after the exercise so that was a bonus.

Highlight #2: On Tuesday morning I decided to jump out of an aeroplane, because why not?! I discovered the service on the ferry ride over and as soon as I saw the poster, I knew I had to do it. I jumped from 14,000 feet over the island, and the views were beyond incredible.

The last time I did a skydive was about two years and while I’d sort of forgotten what it felt like, when people kept asking me if I was nervous this second time round, I wasn’t because I knew I’d done it before. That is of course, right up until the moment when I was just about to leave the plane and then my brain sort of went “fuuuuu*k, what am I about to do?!”

As soon as I was freefalling though, that all went away and all I could focus on was the exhilaration and adrenaline coursing through me! Cruising down over the Island after the canopy opened and taking in the views of Rottnest below, Perth in the distance and the vast expanse of Indian Ocean all around was something I will never forget.

Below is a collection of photos from our time on Rottnest.

Quick rest from the bike ride, stopping at the lookout at the West End of Rottnest Island
The most beautiful spot to eat lunch
Turned my back for a second and this cheeky guy started trying to nibble away at my bike!
This one speaks for itself…
Freefalling over this magnificent island
We made a friend on the beach