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Saturday 4 Oct 2003
Coral Coast, Australia

Getting stuff for free (mostly!)

After spending lots of cash on the car and getting new wheels n all its nice to get something back FOR FREE now and then... not "officially free" of course

What am I rambling on aboot? Well for one I found a nice place to park overnight in an old Navy base which, as I discovered last night, is right in view of an outdoor cinema screen! Free movies every night this week and at 13 dollars a pop Im makin some major saving there!! Daddy Daycare was on last night.. Anger Management is on tonight I think...

What else? Well I found a public shower and toilet in good nick nearby in a nice quiet seaside place called Bundegi Bay. I also cook my meals here in view of the 13 major radio masts that dominate the skyline like the Eiffel Tower. Quite pretty to watch them lit up at night.

Other free stuff? Oh yes, there is a dive off the Navy Pier just at the end of Bundegi Beach that costs 100 dollars but I found a way to go out and swim under the pier for free: just simply walk down Bundegi Beach for 1km to the pier.. make sure noones around and jump in with a mask and snorkle. Voila more major savings there! Its also one of the top ten dives in Australia! Ill take a snorkle there tommorrow or the next...

Last, but certainly not least, is Ningaloo Reef. Not necesarily free - there is a 9 dollar entry fee per day - but you can avoid paying the fee by simply arriving into the park before 8am! Not a problem for me in my early-to-bed early-to-rise lifestyle I have goin these days...

Well, as with Broome, once again Im stunned! This place is true paradise! I drove down to Turquoise Beach early today and splashed into the cool waters at around 7am... and in the first few minutes I saw 2 octopus and a turtle blissfully ending their overnight swims. Lucky I had my camera on hand once again!

Ningaloo Reef is at its closest point to the coast at this beach where the unspoilt coral begins literally 10-15 metres off shore.. no more expensive dive trips required to see this beautiful coral reef which easily rivals that of the Great Barrier Reef. The main difference with this coral compared to the GBR obviously is the depth.. the water rarely exceeds 3 metres depth in this beach lagoon. The coolest thing about this reef is the consistent current which can actually "carry you" over the coral without you having to move your arms. Its fun to watch this world go by without making a single body movement - the problem with this though, as I found out today, is trying to take photographs of fish/coral. Its quite difficult to stay in a stationary position without struggling a lot and scaring the fish away.

There was a brisk wind today all day which drove a large current and also made the air quite cold. Certainly a major difference from Broome, but also quite unpleasant when you get out of the water. My fingers actually went purple with the cold!!

Despite this, I revelled in the beauty of this beach, both above and below the water. The turqoise effect of the water, coral and white sand-banks blend to produce that true "paradise" effect. All we need now is some palm trees and this could easily be somewhere in the Cook Islands!.. but for free

Yesterday I got my mask and snorkle made by Cressi-Sub called "Big Eyes" for 120 dollars! A remarkable feat of engineering, this mask is the best I have used yet for diving/snorkling since it is enlarged to accommodate peripheral vision both horizontally and vertically while still looking like a "normal" mask.

Generally, Exmouth is a small township. Not much night-life and pretty quiet day-life, the town was set up in 1967 as part of a US Navy Base. Now its mainly used as a base for visiting the Cape Range National Park (which manages Ningaloo Reef). Thankfully daily temperature here doesnt exceed 35 degrees in the day.. I still have to keep an eye on that Western Australia sun though.

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