A special story in Just Urbane about my dolphin experience in Rockingham makes the adventure available on both sides of the Indian Ocean in hard copy; Just Urbane magazine in India and Have A Go News Newspaper in Western Australia. Add to this the websites for both of these publications and I’m really excited to get some big reach on this unique experience.
Enjoy the link below to the Just Urbane version of this story and in an earlier post on this website you’ll find the Have A Go News version. Read them both!
And congratulations to Have A Go News for reaching a circulation with the newspaper of 80,000 and to Just Urbane for a circulation of 70,000. Two great reads available every month on both sides of the Indian Ocean.
There’s a little island off the coast that for quite some time now has attracted Western Australians, other Australians and increasingly the international traveller seeking a genuine sand-in-your-toes destination or maybe just an insta-worthy-pic with the worlds cutest animal.
Wadjemup (Rottnest) has just taken a couple of Red Bulls and is revved up for a summer that can still remain laid back or it can put you on your back with exhaustion.
Skydiving, fishing tours for kids, water parks, walking tours and new facilities like refreshment vans on the west end of the island now mean you don’t need to carry litres of water on your bike (plus, always remember that the various tour sites with volunteer guides carry lots of water that you can use to top up your water bottle ….. for free).
Tom and I began our day a bit differently for a trip to Wadjemup. Rather than Barrack Street, Freo or Hillarys, we head to the South Perth foreshore. Within minutes of our arrival, the Cessna Caravan from Swan River Seaplanes comes diving out of the morning sun and lands smoothly on the water in front of us.
Above: From South Perth to Wadjemup
The take off was more graceful than my graceless body surfing at City Beach. The aircrafts pontoons lift off the water in the direction of Crown Casino and the Optus Stadium before banking to the west.
There was time to take in the view of the city, the coast, the ocean and then Wajemup came in sight.
I was scheduled to go live on air, in the air, with 6PR radio to describe the experience but the flight was so fast we’d landed at Wadjemup before they could cross to me. Even with two laps of the island to take in the view the flight was only 20 minutes.
Above: Wadjemup from the air with Swan River Seaplanes
Meeting us on the island is the Rottnest Island Authority Executive Director, Michelle Reynolds, who has very generously accepted the challenge of showing us around the island. For the next few hours we are regaled with historical stories, modern day plans and have the opportunity to learn and experience the island like I have never done before.
A climb of the Wadjemup Lighthouse is 155 steps and because I’m a father I’m allowed to generate the odd dad joke or two so I asked Tom how many steps it was coming down. Easy. Remember he’s only ten.
Above: Wadjemup Lighthouse and one of the new refreshment vans
We visit the bays, inspect the beaches, salt lakes and tuart groves and watch as ospreys nest and seals bask and loll. We buy refreshments from the new vans and felt a bit guilty, as we entered Michelle’s airconditioned car, that we were possibly depriving a thirsty cyclist of a much needed peach iced tea.
Above: Refreshments from the van at Fish Hook Bay
When we parted ways with Michelle it was with a new appreciation for the work that is going into making Wadjemup better but also for acknowledging what people love most about the island experience, a laid back lifestyle where even sunburn and grazed knees just don’t seem to hurt as much as they do on the mainland.
Tom and I headed to the bakery to get a well deserved cream bun and a choc milk before making the ten minute walk to The Basin for a well anticipated swim. Along the way Tom met his spirit quokka. We didn’t attempt a selfie but first contact was made as Tom got down to eyelevel with a quokka and his outstretched finger was sniffed and touched by this amazing little animals nose.
At The Basin, a Christmas choir was singing from the waters edge and even the fish were joining in. As carols reverberated off the limestone cliffs Tom and I swam along the reef edge and spotted all sorts of fish that were bigger than my foot, in fact both feet put together! Bream, Trevally, Snapper and even a couple of retired old cods, just hanging out by a weed bank discussing the latest flotsam, jetsam and tidal trends.
The fast and comfortable journey back to Perth by SeaLink ferry was made even better by the opportunity for Tom to take the captains chair on the bridge and monitor the compass as we made our way into Fremantle Harbour. He was in his element, scanning from river bank to river bank and warning pelicans to get out of the way.
Above: Tom gets instructions from the SeaLink Skipper
On the ABC Perth Radio Breakfast Show we recently discussed the continued popularity of dark tourism.
It doesn’t have to be morbid but it does have to involve death in wars, disasters, murders, terrorism or assassinations.
The darker side of history has meat on the bone and the gristle as well. We try to put ourselves in the shoes of the fallen and maybe sometimes in the shoes of those responsible.
It’s about confirming our fears, confronting the reality of the history books we grew up with and perhaps providing closure on those images we’ve seen on tv’s in our own lounge room, like that Paris tunnel in 1997 or the New York City skyline in 2001.
The rise in tourist numbers at destinations such as Chernobyl, Fukushima, the concentration camps of World War II, prisoner of war camps in Sandakan and Ranau and the killing fields of Cambodia are all examples of a phenomenon that is attracting those seeking a broader understanding of the events that took place at those sites.
In Australia, many events and sites may be seen as dark tourism. Off the Western Australian coast on the Abrolhos Islands in 1629 the Dutch East India Company ship Batavia ran aground and the ensuing mutiny saw 125 men, women and children brutally slaughtered. The islands can be visited for an understanding of these events and there are also museum exhibitions in Geraldton and Fremantle, displaying grisly skulls marked with the slashes of the mutineers swords.
In Snowtown, South Australia, the little bank where the bodies in the barrels were discovered in the late 1990’s is a popular stop for people wanting to take a quick pic.
Most issues in our lives have a line that we decide we will or won’t cross. Dark tourism has many lines that cross in different directions, challenging our sense of morbidity, appropriateness and thresholds of respect.
It’s a great topic for publication and radio and sure to get you thinking about your own dark tourism bucket list.
Spend some time on a Sunday afternoon listening to Chrissy and ‘The Gentleman Traveller’ on 6PR 882, Perth’s only commercial talkback radio station.
Recently, we spoke about my week long adventure to Malaysia, spending some time in one of my favourite cities, Kuala Lumpur, before heading to the Malaysian state of Sabah on the island of Borneo.
ABOVE: THE SEA GYPSIES ARE ONE OF THE WORLDS TRULY NOMADIC COMMUNITIES THAT LIVE ON THE SEA IN THE CORAL TRIANGLE BETWEEN INDONESIA, MALAYSIA AND THE PHILLIPINES.
I travelled to the small island of Mabul and from there took daily boat trips to other islands in the area to experience pristine snorkelling, intriguing sea gypsies and awesome views after trekking the peaks of small but tall islands.
ABOVE AND BELOW: SIPADAN-MABUL RESORT LOCATED ON MABUL ISLAND. USE THE RESORT AS YOUR HOLIDAY DESTINATION OR A BASE FOR EXPLORING OTHER ISLANDS IN THE NATIONAL PARK, INCLUDING WORLD RENOWNED SIPADAN ISLAND.
Sabah is easily accessible from Perth with direct flights to Kota Kinabalu with Malaysia Airlines. Boat travel to the islands is well monitored and accredited by Malaysian park authorities.
Come to Borneo. Come to Sabah.
We also spent a few minutes offering some tips to travellers to Melbourne who are attending footy finals. Some of the ideas we suggested were to form a collective group of other supporters to get some bargaining power when booking flights and accommodation or considering flying to other destinations and making your way to Melbourne from there, including flying to Hobart and catching the ferry across Bass Strait to Melbourne or flying to Canberra or Sydney and driving down in a hire car. It’s too late to expect a cheap fare but you can avoid the most expensive fares if you think about what options work for you.
Have A Go News newspaper recently published my list of the Top Ten No Tech Travel Accessories that you should have on every trip. They’re also all lightweight and easy to store.
Aquatabs are as close as I get to panic prep packing but because they are easy to tuck in your toiletries bag with other medications they’re worth having if you ever doubt the safety of the water you’re drinking.
Have a Go News is distributed throughout Western Australia to nearly 2000 community centres, recreation centres, supermarkets and more.
So, my Top 10, in no particular order but I must admit the first thing in any of my bags is a pen . . .
Are you a tourist? Are you a local? Are you interested, curious, amazed or attracted to learning more about the oldest living culture on Earth?
Here are my Top 10 Aboriginal Tours and Experiences in Western Australia, a state that stretches across a land that is over 2.5 million square kilometres with the worlds most beautiful beaches, remote deserts and ancient forests:
Six Seasons Tour at Pullman Bunker Bay Resort (see featured image with local Elder Nina Webb showing Tom Parry how to use the guidebook while Pullman Bunker Bay Resort General Manager Leighton Yates watches on).
Camping With Custodians (Pilbara and Kimberley Regions)
Bindjareb Park (Pinjarra, South West Region)
Black Tracks (Kununurra)
Wuddi Cultural Tours and Centre (Dumbleyung, Wheatbelt Region)
Laverton Art Gallery (Laverton, Northern Goldfields)
Nyungar Tours (Perth)
Yamaji Art Gallery (Geraldton, Mid West Region)
Mandjoogoordap Dreaming (Mandurah)
Jacks Story Telling Kojonup (Don’t let Jack tell you the tea is made from bush plants. He gets it from the local supermarket up the road.)
These are experiences for the world to be proud of.
I recently spent a brilliant evening on Radio Melayu chatting about my recent adventures and how we all need to find a way to get packing and escape winter by getting overseas or embracing winter and snuggling into a gorgeous resort down south.
The link below features descriptions for a few of my new favourite things, including Bali’s spectacular new resort the Apurva Kempinski Bali, Hong Kong Star Ferries and markets, Hong Kong Disneyland, Pullman Bunker Bay Resort and amazing airlines for travelling with children, including Malindo Air, Batik Air and Cathay Pacific.
Some of those golden rules about travel are still gold standard today. The featured image for this story comes courtesy of my son Tom who took the photo while I was trying antigravity yoga at Four Seasons Jimbaran, a very safe and very luxurious resort in Bali.
Travel should increase your sense of daring but not heighten your sense of stupidity. When we travel we should do things outside our comfort zone but not at the risk of needing a helicopter medical evacuation.
Similar to the choices we make when we travel, we need to consider what we travel with. These days it’s the SIM cards, power banks, cables and chords to provide the life support systems for your phone which carries the apps, emails and photos of everything you need. Or does it?
Back in the day, but still for me today, I have a standard list of ten things ready to go in my favourite bag. I know they’re there if I need them and none of them need charging.
Pen – Even if it’s just to complete the arrival card while you’re flying, it’s worth it.
Alcohol swab – not to suck on if the bar prices are too high but for any scratch you get, particularly if you’re doing a bit of trekking. Light to carry and easy to store in a pocket or wallet, just a quick wipe and you know that you’ve cleaned your little wound. Also handy if you really need to touch a dodgy tap or door handle.
Bags – Little zip lock bags and scrunched up shopping bags may be frowned upon these days but they have endless valuable uses when you travel. They’re a quick and easy sick bag, storage for a phone if you’re heading near water, you can store wet clothes and unexpected things you’ve bought and you can safely store those stolen buffet breakfast items.
Aquatabs – This is as close as I get to doomsday prepping when I travel but given they are light and easy to store it’s not like I’m stocking up on cartons of tomato soup for a nuclear winter. If you get caught without a safe water supply these little tablets can save you and whoever you are travelling with. In not much more time than it takes to dissolve, they turn a dodgy water source into a lifesaver.
Safety Pin – This will make you look more presentable if you bust a button or zip and you can use it to carefully scratch at a splinter.
Hard copy – Yes you’ve got all your passport copies, itineraries and bookings in your phone but what happens if the phone can’t save you because it’s broken or stolen? Save yourself by having copies (in a zip lock bag of course) and put them in the bottom of your bag hopefully never to be needed but they won’t take up any weight or space. Countries like South Africa will want to see hard copies of travel documents, particularly if you’re travelling with a child.
Tissues – Remember Elaine in Seinfeld being caught in a toilet with no paper and the lady in the next cubicle saying, “I haven’t got a square to spare.” Last year in Italy I found myself in a cubicle with no paper and lets just say it was too late to back out of that situation. Thankfully I remembered that in my little day bag I have a couple of tissues (in a zip lock bag of course) for that unexpected sneeze …. or worse.
Spare glasses – If you need glasses you need to take a spare pair. Why travel to see the sights if you can’t see the sights?
Cut up photos in envelopes – This isn’t a dad joke bit it is the dad traveller in me. When tech fails and there’s a flight delay or other unexpected period of boredom, a few envelopes that have got cut up photocopies of photos make great jigsaw puzzles and keep young minds occupied for precious minutes. Again, they’re light and easy to store.
Repack – Not an item but a travel procedure. Make time in your travels to repack and refamiliarize yourself with your belongings and where they are located in your bags. Work out what you need for the next day and whether you need to keep the bundle of receipts from the days shopping. Is there anything you now realize you don’t need that you can donate to a local charity or post back home?
That’s my ten. I like to think I’m a good traveller and that I cover bases for myself and those I travel with. Remember it’s not just about what you’re prepared for but what those you’re with are prepared for.
The picture below is an example of where I possibly didn’t consider the wants of my travelling companion.
In a recent Friday night conversation with Chris Ilsley on 6PR Perth Tonight we had a great conversation about undiscovered lands in well discovered countries, particularly Puglia in Italy and Kerala in India. If you’d like to listen, the link below should take you to the 6PR website.
Discover these regions before everyone else does. In Puglia do a walking tour with Exodus Travels through olive groves and ancient towns. In Kerala, explore the quiet streets of Fort Kochi and be surrounded not by the crush of congestion like India’s north but by the scent of spices being harvested and dried in the laneways of this peaceful and beautiful region known throughout India as ‘God’s own country’.
Pic above: Matera in Puglia is one of Europes most ancient cities and is the 2019 European City of Culture.
Pic above: As busy as traffic gets in Fort Kochi, Kerala. Visit the spice traders of Fort Kochi, watch the Chinese Fishing Nets be raised at sunset, recline in the gondolas of the Allepey Backwater canals and walk through the tea plantations of the Munnar Highlands.
What a great chat on Saturday morning ABC Breakfast with Christine Layton, discussing the Australia Day events from Broome to Albany to keep you entertained and then a few suggestions for daytrips and overnighters throughout Western Australia. Get out there and find new adventures even on the most well trodden path.
Below are some pics to help you pick your next regional day trip or overnighter. Have you been to Bridgetown or Rockingham recently?
Above: Go down The Rabbit Hole on the main street of Bridgetown for an amazing range of local artist workshops and galleries.
Above: There’s no way you will leave the lolly shop in Bridgetown without a smile on a face and a bag full of sweet treats.
Above: Get to Rockingham which has the best range of aquatic activities in Western Australia. Kite surf in Safety Bay, visit the penguins and dolphins on Penguin Island and in Shoalwater Bay, swim with dolphins off Palm Beach, hire jet skis, jet packs, stand up paddle boards, kayaks or cast a line on the beach and flick in some whiting and flathead.