This is the old North Room blog – the new one is at www.north-room.com/blog

Last of the WTUs: Western Oz & Japan

Posted in Australia, Landscapes, Travel, Wildlife by Mike on June 16, 2009
This is Alan.  Wife's called Sue.  (Had it stenciled on the back of his caravan)

This is Alan. Wife's called Susan. (Said so in stencil on the back of his caravan)

Had some stick lately for not posting any shots from Western Australia.  Truth be known, we didn’t stop to take that many – we were doing so much danged driving (and trying to shoe-horn in as many last ditch activities as possible before we came home) that by the end of each day all we could think about was Bundaberg Red and a dip in an ancient rock pool.  But, in the interests of completeness…

We started our epic final leg in this unfathomably massive place by picking up a converted Toyota Hiace in Fremantle and headed for the Great Western Highway.  Mile-for-mile, this is the single-most boring stretch of tarmac on Earth.  Passing Cervantes, Pinnacles, Geraldstown and Monkey Mia, we eventually arrived in Exmouth, 1500 kms later, where the unending road was temporarily relieved by turquoise waters and the Ningaloo Reef.

The reef is a National Heritage Marine Park in which the Aussie government has licensed a small number of operators to run tours and give tourists the small chance of swimming with the world’s largest fish – whale sharks.  And by sheer fluke (you can pay top dollar for puns like that…) we had scheduled this leg during the six-week period when they gather here in droves to feast after the annual coral spawn.

We got to swim with a 5m long beauty called Chompy, a 20-year old male who’d earned his nickname thanks to some Great White savagery, and Claire and I agreed that this was the most privileged thing we’ve ever done.  It was like swimming alongside a slow-moving limo.  We did get some video from it but, as I’ve not had time to cut it yet, you’ll have to make do with some stills for now…

 

This is like finding a signpost for Southport - in Frankfurt.

This is like finding a signpost for Frankfurt - in Southport.

 

 

Which meant we had to carefully plan our toilet stops.  (It's the fly on my nose that makes this shot, IMHO)

Which meant we had to plan our toilet stops. (It's the fly on my nose that makes this for me)

 

 

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Got down in the mud for this one

Got down and dirty for this one

 

 

I loved the way the light was hitting here

Mine?

 

Claire feeding a wild dolphin.  The biologists at Monkey Mia have formed a relationship with 5 wild females who come here each morning for a feed.

Claire feeding a *wild* dolphin by hand.

 

 

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The biologists at Monkey Mia have formed bonds with 5 females who come here each day - from the ocean - for brekkie.

 

 

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Sunsets here were ridiculous.

Sunsets were ridiculous.

 

 

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Skippy's nut-job cousin outside the amenities block on our campsite.  Immediately after this, he sprang off to a random point about 150 meters away, turned about-face and then belted straight back towards me. Until that moment, I had never consciously accepted - and then awaited - death.

Skippy's nut-job cousin outside the amenities block on our campsite. Immediately after this, he sprang off to a random point about 150 meters away (took him about 6 seconds) turned about-face and then belted straight back towards me. Until that moment, I had never consciously accepted - and then awaited - death.

 

 

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Claris in Wonderland...

Claris in Wonderland... (snooted SB800 to camera left)

 

 

Kookaburra lives in the old gum tree...

Kookaburra was cool

 

 

Moving on, this was a small section of Tokyo's Imperial Palace wall.

Moving on... a small section of Tokyo's Imperial Palace wall.

 

 

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Bill Murray had the same view from the bar in Lost in Translation.  We ran out of cash trying to get drunk here.

This is the view Bill Murray had from the bar in Lost in Translation. We ran out of cash trying to get drunk here.

 

 

Worked up a thirst?

So we switched to this stuff which you could pore (!) yourself!

 

 

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Islabot!

Posted in Australia, Friends & family, On Assignment, Portraits, Travel by Mike on April 11, 2009
No joke, the last time I saw emotion on the face of a puppet like this, Jim Henson had just passed away.

I love you, Islabot!

 

I had the esteemed job of keeping Isla amused during our car trips around Sydders.  She couldn't wait to hear me telling her about Nikon's new 50mm f1.4 AFS.

(And I'll protect you.)

(I had the privilege of keeping Isla amused during our car trips around Sydders. She seemed genuinely taken by my news of Nikon’s new 50mm f1.4 AFS.)

A quick hello from a scorching Western Oz!  We’re 1300kms up from Perth (or Fremantle, rather – I think it might be twinned with Hove, actually) and are hoping to spend some time swimming with Whale Sharks tomorrow (Easter Sunday, don’t hate us too much).  It’s about 500 degrees centigrade here in Exmouth and Claire is nearing such an extreme shade of red that I’m now wearing Night Vision goggles so I don’t lose her.

This is just a quick segway for anyone who knows Lou & Ru (who kindly put us up, entertained and looked after us during our brief interlude in Sydney – thanks a million guys, was really nice to meet you properly) – and also to show you what their daughter Isla now looks like.  This psuedo-photoshoot now holds the record for shortest amount of advance warning (~6 minutes) as well as shortest window to do it (~12 minutes) – despite which we actually managed two wardrobe changes, and that was just for Ru! ;O)  Hope you like them L&R, see you when you get back across the pond.

M&C x

 

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Safe.

Safe.

 

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After a killer press-up sess, Isla hit me with back-to-back sets of ab-crunches and squats.

After a killer press-up set, Isla hit me with back-to-back ab-crunches and squats. ("Try boring me again with camera-talk, mate!")

 

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Claire outside the SOH.  About 4 seconds later the heavens opened.

Claire outside the SOH.

 

I honestly couldn't get the hang of Sydney's helter skelters.

Sydney's helter skelter is absolutely pants. Dead slow and REALLY painful.

 

Strawberries & cream!

Strawberries & cream?

 

Last recorded attack in Bondi: 3 weeks ago.

Was gutted I'd left my speedos on the, ermm, bus.

More to come…

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