After a long hiatus and major change in lifestyle, we're travelling again. This time we're staying in Australia but we've found somewhere interesting enough to write home about.
Our trip started with a visit to Luisa's family in Perth, where Jeremy enjoyed a couple of days being entertained by his grandparents and aunt Julia. A highlight was the local Lake Claremont, otherwise known as Butler's Swamp, recently converted from a golf course into public park, with lots of interesting bird life.
|Black swan and cygnets in Butler's Swamp|
|Perth to Christmas Island to Cocos Islands and return|
|Are we there yet?|
|Lockheed P-3 Orion interrupting play|
We started our first evening with happy hour at Australia's westernmost pub. We met locals, tourists, fly in-fly out workers, and the Virgin flight crew we'd flown in with. With only three flights a week, the flight crew have a forced three night layover between flights, with $108 a day spending money. Presumably, it's cheaper to pay the crew a few grand to lie on a beach than it is to redirect a plane to pick them up.
We asked for a weather forecast for the next few days. "24-29 degrees, with the chance of a shower. That's what it is every day."
Home Island now has a population of 500 mostly ethnic Malays. Some of the extended Clunies-Ross family, and other Anglo Australians, form the 100-strong population of West Island. The Malays rediscovered their Muslim religion in the 1970s when travel to and from Malaysia became easier. They no longer harvest coconuts and fishing seems to be their only primary industry. The CentreLink office on the island implies that people aren't as well employed as they were during the Clunies-Ross era. However, they still manage enough income to buy quad bikes in large numbers. We walked the perimeter of Home Island in an hour but there seems to be a quad bike for every person. We saw four parked outside one house. What's the speed limit? "If you can kill a land crab, you're driving too fast."
|On the bus to the jetty|
|Personalised quad bike|
|Jeremy's first coconut|
|Sunset on Turtle Beach|
|Swimming off Direction Island|
|Lazing on the beach|
|Southward at speed|
|Am I cute or what?|
|Refugee boats. We also have a photo of refugees sitting in lines on the jetty but decided not to publish it.|
|Federal police winding down after a day on a customs patrol boat|
Apart from the detention centre, Christmas Island is known for its red crab migration, around November each year, when the island is inundated by wandering crabs. We were a little early for that but did see red crabs, blue crabs, and robber crabs, also known as coconut crabs. These impressive creatures grow larger than a football and come in colours ranging from blue to red. Unlike sea crabs, none of these land crabs are edible because they feed on rotting vegetation and taste like it too. The island also has a selection of unique birds, including boobies, an emerald pigeon, frigate birds, and bosun. We walked to a beach known for nesting turtles but didn't see any.
|Blue crab climbing tree|
|Red footed booby|
|Where's my lunch?|
|Not all grasshoppers are green, young grasshopper|
|Captain's Last Resort, formerly the island morgue|