Gra Nomad Wanderings

Friday, May 02, 2008


Just a few of the sea lions we swam with (below you donkey!)

Along the Nullarbor

Some beautiful trees in WA

Yep, it's Wave Rock again! Near Hyden.

A bush camp.

Just some of the thousands of gnomes at Gnomesville!

We’ve just completed a most successful crossing of our continent from east to west in April. Our first visit to the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia was a highlight of this trip. Here’s what I wrote about our time at Baird Bay on the Eyre Peninsula:
Wow! Swimming with Australian sea lions and Bottle nose dolphins was an opportunity not to be missed. Actually we only swam with the seas lions. Why didn’t we also have a swim with the dolphins? Water was quite deep, we’d already had a swim with the sea lions and were a bit cool, they only wanted “good” swimmers to do the dolphin bit, but the slight possibility that there could be sharks in the area was definitely a contributing factor! Would you have swum with them?
The sea lions were great! There was an old bull (big bloke), several pregnant cows (who didn’t want to be too active) and a bunch of others…. all up about a dozen or fourteen. All sea lions were in the water where we swam. We certainly got up close and personal. They have big mouths and sharp teeth. We were each provided with mask, snorkel and half wetsuit. The sea lions just wanted to romp around and interact with us. Water was about 6’-8’ deep and the temp was 17! The sea lions are in their natural habitat. They do not get fed by humans (like they do at Monkey Mia I believe). One came head to head with me and then bumped right into my mask gently like a young child sometimes does. Talk about up close and personal! Our guides (Alan and Trish Payne and Troy) were very efficient and effective while watching over us during the swim. Sea lions are very fast in the water and extremely streamlined. The biggest ones were about 6’ long. A mature adult can weigh 250-350 kg. Having them swimming all around us was just so cool. We were instructed not to touch them but the sea lions were always able to touch us.
Only half of the group of 12 of us actually swam with the dolphins, which turned out to be dolphin singular. She was quite cute though quite a size also. She loved to swim in front of the boat as we circled the small group of swimmers. Fay and I watched from the boat. She didn’t stick around for too long.
Thanks Trish, Alan and Troy for the opportunity.
As we travelled across through Sth Aust and into Western Aust we saw quit a bit of wildlife including quite a few emus, a few roos, various parrots, a number of eagles (though some of these could’ve been kites), two dingoes and no camels. There were of course heaps of dead roos due to the people who drive across this country at night. We stayed at some free camp spots here and there and were quite careful where we purchased our fuel. We did see bowsers with diesel prices in excess of $2 a Litre, but we managed to stay under $1.80/Litre. Other stats for our rip were:
v 4,051 km from Dubbo to Busselton
v 13 travelling days (though the last 2 were short days of 76 km and 50 km)
v 558 Litres of fuel used
v $1.67 Average cost per Litre -
v $930.80 total cost of fuel used
v 5 campgrounds we stayed in
v 8 free camps where we stayed overnight
v 2 rest days (Broken Hill and Coffin Bay)
v 312 km average km travelled on each travelling day
v $148 cost of campground accommodation for the trip
So, we’ve made it through to Busselton which is about 230 km south of Perth (capital of WA). We’re here for the annual Avan gathering. This is the 9th rally. Our 4th. There are 222 Avans spread amongst 4 van parks here. All up 430 Avanners including a few folk from USA, Italy and Holland. We’re here till next Wednesday, then we’ll head to Perth to catch up with a bunch of friends there. Good cycling opportunities here so we’ve got Banana Split out and mobile.

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