JOMO in WA’s Southwest

Joy of Missing Out; (JOMO) a rebellion against saying yes to everything, and giving yourself the space to think and experience things without freaking out about what you ‘should’ be doing instead In our busy world, JOMO is an overdue concept. Here’s the … Continue reading

ReTreat Yourself!… Yoga Retreats 2014

Are you ready to retreat from the hustle and bustle? Escaping for a yoga retreat is the perfect way to find yourself, or lose yourself!  Immersing in all things health, relaxation, flexibility and general wellbeing is something I highly recommend. … Continue reading

WA Shark Culling is a Travesty

Since our blog’s three themes includes the category of fulfillment, please allow me to step up on my soapbox as I consider a fulfilling life to include being an ambassador for a good cause.

Following a number of shark attacks in our waters, Western Australia’s Premier, Mr Colin Barnett has come up with a strategy that he argues will reduce the risks to WA beachgoers: set baited drums lines off our coast to ‘target’ sharks greater than 3 metres.

Image courtesy of Western Australians for Shark Conservation, www.wascgroup.com

Image courtesy of Western Australians for Shark Conservation, http://www.wascgroup.com

So why has the Western Australian government’s shark baiting policy made me so deeply outraged?

  • The shark attacks are not statistically significant enough to justify the level of fear in our community, or the government’s knee jerk policies. Just about anything you can think of is more likely to cause you death than a shark – bees, snakes, spiders, being caught in a rip or being hit by a drunk driver. Yet you do not see an outlaw of bees, front page newspaper stories on ‘monster’ redback spiders, surfers retreating from the oceans due to the fact they ‘might’ drown, or drunk drivers being euthanised as a precautionary measure.
  • Why was I not consulted?  I don’t pay much attention to politics on the best of days, but how was I not consulted on this? I believe that targeting a protected species is cause enough for a referendum. If you consult me regarding the clocks being set back or forward an hour, then why not consult me regarding this? After sitting on their hands during the previous term in office, Colin Barnett is happy to rush through a decision that could have long-term repercussions for our marine’s ecosystem yet fail to reduce the risks to beach goers, without fully costing the policy, with no public consultation, no scientific basis, and without even the support of commercial fisherman.
  • I can’t stand the contradiction.  My Facebook wall was abuzz with an outpouring of rage in November of 2013 with this story of Melissa Bachman (a US TV presenter) proudly tweeting the results of her hunt and kill of a lion in South Africa. Nearly every person on Facebook had something to say about it.
US TV Presenter Melissa Bachman, pictured with her kill, which caused international outrage

US TV Presenter Melissa Bachman, pictured with her kill, which caused international outrage

Yet with our sharks, Facebook has been strangely quiet, with a number of passive ‘likes’ of posts and just a few vocal opponents that are starting to appear slightly ‘hippy activist crazy’ for having any empathy for this endangered creature. Why is it that the shark is not deserving of the same respect as a lion?  We are in their waters, we are in their home, and they are eating us by mistake. Why are we not tweeting with equal vehemence that Colin Barnett is ready to butcher a protected species? Perhaps this eloquent article by acclaimed Australian author Tim Winton will have you thinking. Also read Misunderstood Monsters, by Peter Benchley (Author of Jaws).

The mistake we make, then, either in seeking to destroy sharks or in not caring if we even inadvertently destroy them, is one of cosmic stupidity. If I have one hope, it is that we will come to appreciate and protect these wonderful animals before we manage, through ignorance, stupidity and greed, to wipe them out altogether

– Peter Benchley, Author of JAWS.

  • It won’t work.  There is no evidence to support bait drum lines as an effective deterrent for sharks, and the by-catch will include some of the much more cute marine life that you would abhor seeing on the end of the hook. So, Colin Barnett is happy to ignore the independent and educated scientific advice, by dousing our waters with bait that will attract even more sharks to the area. Colin will no doubt be ready to count each shark swimming in the area as evidence that he is doing the right thing, and the televisions and newspapers are ready to scare you with the statistics. It makes for great front page news.

Take a look at this Freediving with Sharks video and see this magnificent creature in a new light.

In truth, I’ve never considered myself an activist by any measure. However for some reason, this particular topic has struck such a chord with me.  It is perhaps the influence of my husband, Damien Trinder. Damien is a Marine Biologist, who has worked on shark research and fisheries monitoring programs for the WA Department of Fisheries, and now works developing marine environmental management programs in the resource sector.

Damien’s view is “the increase in shark attacks, whilst tragic for the families affected, is not a result of increased shark numbers. Rather, it is the increased opportunity for interactions which has been primarily driven by the huge increases in population size, which has affected the numbers of people swimming and undertaking water sports along the coastlines. 

“While the safety of humans is important, the pre-emptive killing of sharks which are of an ecologically important size (mature breeding adults) will not only fail to reduce the potential risks to beachgoers (especially as the greater risk is driving to the beach and drowning), but could severely undermine the efforts made to protect and promote the recovery of these species. 

“This means that the policy will not only waste the $10-20 million (which it is conservatively anticipated to cost over the next decade) because the policy will fail to protect beachgoers; but will also result in the waste of the tens of millions of dollars spent over the preceding 3 decades trying to assist these species to recover through shark conservation programs, fisheries by-catch reduction and closures.”

This issue is also important to my blogging partner, Naomi Hill, who has competed internationally as a high level freediver and has shared the oceans with sharks on many occasions.  Naomi’s view is:

I consider myself fortunate to have had multiple large shark encounters, including shark species that will be targeted under the proposed shark cull, whilst freediving and spearfishing. Although I have felt threatened at times, I found their movements to be majestic and behaviour curious which has had a profound impact on me. I am now less fearful of sharks and have a greater understanding of their behaviours and characteristics. I believe that the proposed shark culling is a knee jerk response based on political point scoring not scientific research. It is unfortunate that this ill-considered approach may have unknown negative consequences to our marine ecosystem yet will not reduce the already very low risk of shark attack to beach goers.Naomi Hill, Freediver, Environmental Scientist and Burn & Learn blogger.

Either way, I have been influenced to pay attention. I hope this article encourages you to pay attention also.  This video is also worth your time, featuring William Winram: Freediving with great whites on WA Today.

So what can you do?

Please share this post and encourage your friends, followers and co-workers to educate themselves on this issue and show their support by taking action in the following ways:

….a very boho beach breakfast

There’s a few things I love in this world…. and when they mesh together, its perfection! This morning’s journey to Scarborough married up some of my great loves: exercise, beach time and a beautiful breakfast.

A 45 minute walk along Scarborough Beach is such an awesome way to start your morning. Walking is amazingly good exercise…. and with the right diet it’s just about all you need to do exercise-wise unless you have a desire to look like Miss (or Mr) Universe.

45 minute beach walk followed by stillness with a view

45 minute beach walk followed by stillness with a view

Beach Kit: lulu shorts, haviana thongs, towel, sunscreen & water..... beachtime mandatories

Beach Kit: lulu shorts, haviana thongs, towel, sunscreen & water….. beachtime mandatories

After my walk, I usually try to find a cafe where I feel completely comfortable in my gym or beach clothes, with sand stuck to my feet and hair a mess. I stopped caring long ago about how I look in a cafe. I’m not completely sure if I ever did care! In any event, Boho Espresso fits the bill.  You will be surrounded by equally shabby and happy diners.

I spoke with the owner Donny Collins who told me he fitted out the restaurant himself, making a lot of the furniture by hand and commissioning other custom made pieces. The result is a stylized beach shack, with quirky bohemian theme.

Boho Espresso is a great place to chill after a morning at the beach.  The Carribbean music had me jiving into my coffee

Boho Espresso is a great place to chill after a morning at the beach. The Carribbean music had me jiving into my coffee

Boho Espresso juices & smoothies are first class.  Try the Scarlet Pimp or the 'Ranga' (an ode to all things orange!)

Boho Espresso juices & smoothies are first class. Try the Scarlet Pimp or the ‘Ranga’ (an ode to all things orange!)

The juices at Boho are definitely worth a try. Try the ‘Scarlet Pimp‘ ($7.80) – apple, celery & beetroot; or the ‘Ranga‘ – orange, carrot & lemon; or maybe the ‘American Psycho‘ will quell your hangover – tomato, lemon, celery & tobasco.

I have not tried the smoothies yet, but with names such as ‘Ooh La La‘, the ‘Fuzzy Nut‘ and ‘The Poet‘, I’ll certainly give them a go next visit.

Sometimes it's the simple things in life!  Poached eggs, greens & toast

Sometimes it’s the simple things in life! Poached eggs, greens & toast

I avoid grain all week.... so  weekends are a special time reserved for dietary cheats

I avoid grain all week…. so weekends are a special time reserved for dietary cheats

Breakfast options are plentiful. Bircher muesli ($15.50) includes poached pears, rhubarb, blueberries, toasted coconut, honey and homemade yoghurt.  Interesting dishes such as the ‘Cha Cha Boom‘, compiled of poached eggs, hummus, smashed avocado, dukka spices, caramelised ham & watercress ($20) tickle my fancy also.

I usually avoid bread all week (as I do not believe grains should be a staple in the diet). However weekends – they were designed for cheating!  I spoilt myself with the ‘Boho Avo‘ – crispy ciabatta toast, avocado, house made labneh, lemon and black salt ($16.50) and my friend kept things simple with poached eggs on toast.

There’s all manner of temptations at Boho, and its always great to see dietary sensitive options such as gluten free on the menu. Knowing as I do that gluten free means very little healthwise for the average person (although very important for the gluten-sensitive or coeliac), I managed to avoid this delectable dessert this time. I’m not sure if I will be so strong the next time.

Just one of the many temptations at Boho Espresso, Scarborough Beach

Just one of the many temptations at Boho Espresso, Scarborough Beach

You can find Boho Espresso at 241 West Coast Hwy, Scarborough Beach in Perth, Western Australia.

Yogi in the City

Being new to yoga, I find myself regularly experiencing the wonder of ‘discovery’ that might get lost on a more seasoned yoga lover. 

Discovery for example, of how my body moves (or more to the point – why it refuses to move like most other bodies).  

Discovery of how, after a little time and attention to my yoga practice, I can execute unbelievable, incredible and marvellous physical accomplishments such as touching my toes, or bending without pain (something I cannot seem to recall doing for more than 10 years). 

Discovery that yoga holds unquantifiable benefits for my mental state, more than I could have ever have imagined (the most obvious of which is relaxation, but the most surprising of which is the unleashing of a more creative mind). 

One of the yoga centres that has really impressed me on this journey has been Yoga Alchemy in Northbridge.  I caught up with Amanda Noga, the founder and resident yogi of Yoga Alchemy, to find out more about all things yoga.

Amanda, what is it about yoga that has made it such a central theme for your life?

The practice of yoga has really given me a framework through which to understand and navigate the world.  Not only has it affected the way I eat, sleep and feel about my body – it has influenced the way I interact and relate to the people in my life and the world in general. I now firmly believe in the interconnection of all beings.

You have opened a beautiful studio in Northbridge – a place many of us would consider an unlikely place to relax.  Why did you choose this space and what makes it so special?

For me, it felt very natural to be in Northbridge.  The area has changed so much and I love the dichotomy of being amongst busy city life and finding balance. It allows the practice of mindfulness, patience and presence, regardless of what is going on externally. That can be so valuable.

You have a number of yoga instructors at your studio.  Do they each offer something different for your clients?  What styles of yoga are on offer?

All of our instructors are very passionate and we relish having a designated yoga space where we can share what we love and be creative. There are several class styles, as we all have different specialties and interests. There is a Beginners Class (and courses), gentle, slow styles of yoga (such as Yin and Restorative) and dynamic Vinyasa Flow. We also love incorporating live music so we run a creative Vinyasa class on the last Friday of each month, where we practice as musician’s jam out some beautiful tunes for us.

The next Yoga-Jam Session (and last session for 2013), is at Yoga Alchemy on Sunday, 22 December. See the Yoga Alchemy website for more details.

What is the meaning behind the name ‘Yoga Alchemy’

I like the metaphor of your yoga practice being a place where you can experiment and explore, to see what unfolds, without expectation.  In science (and yoga is an ancient science) Alchemy is the process of transformation, and essentially so is yoga.

Amanda Noga, Yoga Alchemy's founder, at her studio in Northbridge

Amanda Noga, Yoga Alchemy’s founder, at her studio in Northbridge

Some of the benefits I have noticed (in addition to the physical) have been greater mental clarity and an enhanced ability to manage stress in my life.  What other benefits does yoga have in store for me (or Burn & Learn readers who might like to try yoga)? 

Yes, obviously there is the physical changes which is what we notice first, such as increased flexibility, strength and balance. This balance also extends into the way we can maintain our cool, even when things get stressful. Over time, we tend to make better lifestyle choices in diet and the other substances we put into (and onto) our bodies. You will find quality of sleep improved, increased energy and vitality and a greater sense of ‘who you are’, along with a connection to yourself and to others and a capacity to be more compassionate, loving and patient to others (and to ourselves!).

Tell me about the meaning of ‘mindfulness’ and how it can be applied in one’s life

The thing I love most about mindfullness is that its so intergrated and applicable to daily life. Mindfullness (in short) is moment to moment awareness, ‘being present’ (with whatever is going on) whether its good or bad, and holding it ALL with awareness. Experiencing the fullness of life. The wholeness.

We can apply it when we are communicating with loved ones (and not-so-loved ones), when we are eating, walking, sitting in mediation or in yoga – every moment is an opportunity to practice mindfulness!

Are there any misconceptions out there about yoga that you would like to clear up?

Probably just that yoga is much more than just a physical exercise routine (although the physical benefits are vast).  When done with intention and attention, yoga can be a powerful tool for changing our lives in every way conceivable!

Burn & Learn’s central themes are food, fitness and fulfilment.  Please give us three of your favourite tips for each of our themes

Food: Smoothies!!  get a super dense hit of nutrients in a quick, easy to digest, portable drink!!

Fitness: yoga, dance, walking,…whatever makes your heart sing!!

Fulfilment: daily gratitude and living what you LOVE!!

Thanks Amanda for your tips!  Note to our readers:  Classes are held in a beautiful studio with whitewashed walls, hardwood floors and windows that open, just a short walk from Perth CBD.  See more at www.yogaalchemy.com.au

Thanks to Suzy Lou Photography for the beautiful images.

Rott Up Dog – lululemon

I fell in love with Rottnest Island as a child… all the children holidaying would instantly form BMX bandit style gangs and roam freely exploring the unique island with its cute rat like quokkas. For me, a visit to Rottnest Island encompassed the essence of summer and freedom and still does to this day. So when I heard about the yoga and fitness day being conducted by athletic clothing brand lululemon on Rotto, the inaugural Rott Up Dog, I didn’t hesitate to register.

Fulfilled fitness at Rott Up Dog, 2013

Fulfilled fitness at Rott Up Dog, 2013

Our day started at gentlemen’s hour with a 45 minute ferry trip. Once on the island we took advantage of the subsidised bicycle rental on offer (Rotto is a car free zone) and enjoyed a leisurely beachside lunch at Hotel Rottnest. Suitably energised, we then joined the masses of people cycling between events and activities. Some of the events of interest included multiple styles and variations of yoga, acrobalance (reminiscent Cirque du Soleil) and beach fit.

A highlight for me was definitely the chance to experience stand-up paddle boarding for the first time. I was expecting a core workout but the aspect that surprised and thrilled me most was the view. Not only did it strengthen my core – the elevated view was like staring straight into a tropical aquarium.

My blogging buddy Melinda, with the lululemon guests trying some Stand-Up Paddle Boarding at Parker Point, Rottnest

My blogging buddy Melinda, with the lululemon guests trying some Stand-Up Paddle Boarding at Parker Point, Rottnest

The crew at lululemon managed to capture the local’s love of the surf, sun, socialising and fitness by creating Rott Up Dog. The diversity of classes and inspirational instructors provided a great introduction to these activities and a really fun day. For those of you that would have liked to have participated but couldn’t make it, here is list of the instructors that kindly hosted the classes.

Rott Up Dog Instructors

Classes

Ash Lau and Trevor Aung Than

Acro Balance

Phoebe Jones

Vinyasa Yoga

Jo Harvey

Bikram-Style Yoga

Sandy Duxbury

Beach Fit

Laura Carroll

Rolling Yoga

Amanda Noga

Balancing & Binding Vinyasa Yoga

Carolina Obara

Core Yoga

Ceinwen Roberts

Beach Fit

I spoke to Dusty Allen, Community Connector for lululemon, who kindly provided some feedback on the event.

How did the Rott Up Dog concept originate? What were your goals of the day?

The intention for the lululemon athletica event ‘Rott Up Dog’ was to provide an escape from the everyday and an opportunity to bring together the entire community in celebration of yoga, sun, surf, music and being active – all things that we love about Perth.

Community Spirit at Rott Up Dog

Community Spirit at Rott Up Dog

The name is very quirky. How the name was created?

We wanted to give our event a name that would stand out, whilst encompassing everything the event was about – bringing yoga to the community in the form of a one-day yoga getaway on Rottnest Island.

We combined the location name, Rottnest Island, with the yoga pose ‘Upward Facing Dog’ and the popular term ‘What Up Dog’ to create a cheeky play on words which captured the fun nature of the event.

Practicing Cirque du Soleil moves during the Acrobalance (www.circusconditioning.com)

Practicing Cirque du Soleil moves during the Acrobalance (www.circusconditioning.com)

Can you explain how you selected the events and instructors? I also noticed that some of the instructors were also lululemon Ambassadors.

We chose to offer a variety of activities that encapsulated our event goal of creating a one-day yoga festival celebrating yoga, sun, surf, music and being.

We wanted to highlight the inspiring ambassadors and instructors from each of our four store communities of Applecross, Cottesloe, Perth City and Karrinyup.

Our ambassadors are leaders in the community that attract, inspire and guide our communities on their path to yoga and fitness. Rott Up Dog provided the perfect opportunity for us to share our ambassadors with the entire Perth community by having them lead the day’s yoga and fitness classes.

Amanda Noga leading "Balancing & Binding Vinyasa"

Amanda Noga leading “Balancing & Binding Vinyasa”

Will lululemon support this event in future?  If so, when should we expect the next event to be held and will there be any new activities to try?

We are passionate about opening doors to yoga through our community events and in-store yoga classes, and being a hub for yoga and health in our communities. While I don’t know if we will be hosting Rott Up Dog again next year, I can confidently say that we will definitely continue hosting community events in our stores and communities.

Perfect way to end the day, live music at Rott Up Dog

Perfect way to end the day, live music at Rott Up Dog

Check out the weekly complimentary in-store lululemon events at the following West Australian stores:

Cottesloe

Applecross 

Perth City

Karrinyup

For more information on lululemon events Australia wide, visit the local store pages on lululemon.com.au.

All photos courtesy of lululemon.

Bali In-Villa Yoga with Bali Yoga Canti

Interview with Tomoko Kubota, Yoga instructor with Bali Yoga Canti 

Twice now I have been to Bali and organised my own private in-villa yoga retreat.  It goes something like this – rise and shine with early morning walk on the beach, have Tomoko visit for private in villa yoga, eat healthy breakfast, shop or relax by day, then at 5 pm get dressed to attend a gorgeous Bali restaurant, eat too much, drink too much, sleep, repeat repeat repeat.

Tomoko Kubota teaches hatha yoga, however she "likes all types of yoga"

Tomoko Kubota teaches hatha yoga, however she “likes all types of yoga”

One day I would like to go to Bali and just stick with the first half – early morning walks on the beach, yoga, meditation, healthy fresh and organic foods and early to bed.  Perhaps next trip this will eventuate as I’m sure I am stopping short of an incredible experience. So while I do not put into practice all that Tomoko could teach me, I have been fascinated not only by her beautiful approach to yoga, but her peaceful energy and wonderful lifestyle.  I knew she had to be one of the first posts on our blog and I hope to interview her more in the future.  She clearly has so much she can teach us.  Read on…..

What was it about yoga that attracted you to pursue it for yourself and as a career?

Yoga is my life. Yoga allows me to connect to my inner self by living in the present moment. We live in this world and experience various things every day and every moment….. joyfulness, sadness, pain and greatness.  Yoga has taught me how to notice these moments, accept them for what they are and ‘let go’ as an observer.  I can then expand my inner self.

What styles of yoga do you teach?  Which is your favourite?

Meditative Hatha flow, however I like all styles of yoga!

What is your faith or spiritual philosophy?  Do you believe yoga has something to offer people of any faith?

We are all servants of the universe, and we each have a special purpose for living in this world. By following the heart, you may follow the amazing universal plan by connecting to inner self (through Yoga and meditation). Yoga was created for human beings to make life better, happier and more peaceful – it goes beyond religion, culture and the colour of one’s skin. Yoga leads us to make our body, mind and spirit unite as one, and reach to our inner self.

You continually tell us to breath and relax throughout yoga.  Tell me how important breath is to yoga practice.

Humans can live several days without water or food. However, it leads to death in a few minutes if you do not breath.  Proper breathing is called pranayama, which is a Sanskrit word that means Prana or “life energy”, Yama means “control”.  To control breathing is the same thing as to control the body and mind. Thus it is so important to flow the energy to connect the body, mind and soul.

Tomoko, I come from the hectic business world in Australia and when I visit Bali and do yoga with you, I see you as very peaceful and calm soul, doing something you love each day and helping people better themselves.  How true is my perspective?  Tell me about your lifestyle.

My life is slow and flowing! I meditate every early morning before sunrise and do regular yoga practice at home.  I teach private yoga in the mornings and may have lunch with friends at a beachside cafe or Japanese restaurant. At sunset, I go to the beach to ‘reset’ with my son and husband. Sometimes I go to a fullmoon or newmoon workshop at a resort near Seminyak. I really feel blessed to share yoga with people and to connect with beautiful people all over the world.

Tomoko Kubota, Yoga Instructor, Seminyak Bali

You have such a wonderful energy about you.  Were you born like this or have you become this way over time? 

… thank you. I feel more cleansed and purified with my energy after years of yoga practice. I believe everyone has a wonderful soul, what is needed is polish! Yoga is one of the ways to polish one’s soul.

Tell me about the potential for Bali as a place where health and happiness can be pursued.  What does it offer that a Western lifestyle does not?

Balinese have an amazing and beautiful concept for their basic life, called ‘TRIHITAKARANA’ – which means ‘only after harmony and respect between humans, between God and man, and between man and nature, are we are able to obtain the wellbeing of human’.  Bali reminds us we are not the only human beings in this world.  It reminds us that we should appreciate without words.

What is your general health and wellbeing philosophy?

What you eat and how you eat is what you are. So pick the freshest and most energized foods and eat full of appreciation, without any other thought! Our thoughts become words, our words become actions, our actions become habit. Habits become character, character creates ourselves. Always use positive thinking! All is well!

Burn & Learn’s themes are “food, fitness and fulfillment .  Please share with our reader’s your 3 best Bali tips for these themes.

Food:

  • coconut water : amazing taste, natural and full of nutrition
  • ‘jamu’ : traditional spice blend healthy juice
  • tropical fruits

Fitness:

  • Yoga!
  • Nature rice field walking

Fulfillment:

  • spa, balinese massage
  • healing: Balinese healing, karma purification, crystal stone chakra healing.

If there was one thing you could recommend people do to improve themselves, what would it be?

Practice yoga and meditation. It will allow you to live in a present moment and give you more strength and flexibility.

Who has been the most significant or influential mentor in your life?

My husband…! he is my life partner who allowed me to dive into yoga, showing me how amazing it is to connect to our inner self.  He is the most influential mentor for me.

If you had one wish that could come true, what would it be ?……

To share yoga to all over the world, and become a ‘bridge’ to introduce yoga in Bali! Tomoko owns Bali Yoga Canti with her husband Putu, and is available for private villa or beach yoga. Contact Tomoko through  www.baliyogacanti.com

Unassisted Kayak Adventure at Ningaloo

In 2006, my girlfriend (Lauren) and I would begin our mornings kayaking on the Swan River.  It was my favourite activity to do before starting work and always enjoyed being on the water whilst the sun rose and seeing the dolphins playing.   In these mornings, I would also imagine possibilities that kayaking could bring… kayaking in remote areas where you wouldn’t see a single soul except of course the marine animals that may show themselves along the way.

After a couple of trips to Ningaloo reef in my late teens, a love of NW Western Australia was born. Despite trips to some of the most sought after dive areas in the world, from the Great Barrier Reef to the Red Sea, I still craved the unique sea life, corals and desert that define Ningaloo reef. The idea of exploring through an unassisted multiday kayaking expedition from Coral Bay to Exmouth, Australia developed slowly until it dominated my aspiration bucket list.  This unique region of Australia definitely meets the criteria of being remote. Exmouth is located 1260km north of the world’s most isolated city, Perth.  The Region is dry and harsh with temperatures that can exceed 47 C in summer and there is no access to fresh drinking water except in the town of Exmouth. After initial planning I realised that for this trip to be successful, a whole lot more work and planning would be required. The initial investigation also revealed that a trip would need to occur between April to July:

  1. to mitigate the heat and exposure risks, and
  2. to coincide with Whale Shark session.

Sounds easy right?? For years, this limited period presented issues due to conflicting work commitments for both my partner and I. Finally, we decided that this year we would finally do it! Planning the trip was relatively easy compared to finding the time to do adequate training together. Working long hours, renovating our house and attending necessary social commitments made finding a full day to train difficult. Although we hadn’t trained as much as we should have, we decided that our combined experience and knowledge would see us through.

However, some things never travel smoothly and two weeks before we were to leave for our expedition, my husband degloved his finger. The surgeon strongly recommended that we cancel the trip due to the risk of infection and further injury.  Luckily, after negotiations with our respective employers, we were able to reschedule for what was literally the last week of the whale shark session. We ended up re-scheduling, just before the whale session finished.

The final piece de resistance occurred when two weeks prior to departing, when we thought nothing else could possibly complicate this adventure further, we were surprised to find that we were expecting our first child!! After considerable soul searching and Google research combined with an increased emphasis on safety and contingency planning we departed on the adventure.

Swimming with the Whale Sharks

kayak-wThe day before we started our expedition, we went swimming with a whale shark in the waters of the outer reef of Ningaloo. Waiting in the deep blue water, my heart started to race from the moment I saw the murky grey object in the far distance. As the object glided towards us, I noticed the ever bigger object approaching with its distinctive markings and big open mouth. It was a whale shark! The whale shark moved at a constant pace and looked so tranquil and majestic. Once it had passed us, we began swimming slightly behind it. This approach prevents the whale shark from becoming stressed and also allowed me to watch the whale shark move through the water. For me it was a truly memorable day and from the first glimpse I couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day!!  If you haven’t had an opportunity to swim with the whale sharks I would highly recommend adding it to your “bucket list”.

www.whalesharkdive.com

Unassisted Multiday Kayaking Expedition

234kayak

As we drove from Exmouth to Coral Bay through the Cape Range National Park, I couldn’t help but marvel at the spectacular place we were travelling through with its rugged limestone ranges, breathtaking deep canyons and bouncing rock wallabies and kangaroos. My excitement subdued and was replaced with doubt and worry.  Although this place is spectacular, it was also remote, arid, unforgiving and the vast distance that we had just traveled will soon need to be done via human effort on a kayak. This doubt was negated by the contingency equipment and procedures we had in place.

We finally arrived at our start point, we unpacked our car and waved our support driver goodbye. Other than two locations along the way that were necessary to replenish our water supplies (we dropped them off on the way down), we would not see a single person for the next 6 days.

Kayaking in the inner reef of Ningaloo was like sitting on top of an aquarium. It is a protected sanctuary from the wild Indian Ocean winds and swell.  You could see through the beautiful turquoise waters to the white sands and coral reef formations. Turtle heads began popping their heads up for air occurred every few minutes, after grasping for air they would then swim down and dart away. Ningaloo Reef is an incredible aquatic environment filled with an amazing variety of marine life and we were luckily enough to see several species of dolphins, turtles and sharks as well as humpback whales, manta rays, and lots of tropical fish.

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One day, we decided to venture into the outer reef in the hope to see more humpback whales and to do some ocean kayaking.  This journey is definitely not for the faint hearted or non-prepared kayaker.  It is essential to understand the winds, tides, currents and also have a GPS as there are only a few access points along the reef and you kayak out some 10 nautical miles from the shoreline. Our trip was worth it as we saw humpback whales emerge on their migration north and also heard their “songs” throughout the day. We also saw the research vessel which was studying orcas attacks on humpback whale calves.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/science-wins-as-orcas-opt-to-linger/story-e6frg6nf-1226713588633

After a fabulous day of offshore kayaking, we had arrived at our planned entry location (break in the reef where you can re-enter). Unfortunately the winds had changed from the original weather forecast. We had to make the decision to head back to where we had started the day or brave the barrelling waves that were crushing over the reef. As the first option meant kayaking for at least another 8 hours, we decided on watching the waves for sets then to perfectly time our dash to correlate with a break.  Within moments, we both started kayaking at considerable pace and determination.  We both caught a large wave which took my husband to safety but I was still above the reef system, some 50cm beneath me. He turned around to find me, only to see me in my kayak parallel to the next set of imminent barrelling waves. I heard him loud encouragements at me to paddle hard. I promptly rotated my kayak and paddled with every bit of energy I had left in my body and mentally prepared to be crushed under the waves. Fortunately, I ended up getting passed the reef and caught the white wash to the sanctuary of the inner reef area. It was an exhilarating experience.

Eating and Sleeping

One of my favourite foods is fresh fish and nothing beats fish that you personally catch and eat within minutes. We took a fishing hand reel each and in the recreational fishing zones, we would throw out of line and lure. If we caught a fish we would kayak back to shore and then cook and eat it on the beach.  Even the best seafood restaurants wouldn’t be able to compare with views, freshness or value for money ; )

Other than fish, we survived on dehydrated meals, fresh fruit, tinned fruit, fruit and nuts and juice.  By this stage I was six weeks pregnant and was experiencing nausea and exhaustion (something I never considered that I would get… mainly as I never imagined getting pregnant). I was very thankful that my husband had not listened to me, I had tried to convince him that all we needed was coffee/tea/nuts/fruit and condiments for my fresh fish – tamari sauce/salt& pepper/coconut oil/pickled ginger.  Having biscuits, vegemite and lollies greatly reduced the impact of morning sickness that was becoming my constant daily companion.  The other pregnancy observation was that I could no longer defeat exhaustion… at lunch times I would arrive on shore and after eating I would need a 30 minute sleep and on the last days of the expedition I found myself closing my eyes and having to ask my husband for assistance (towing me along). This concept of not being able to work through exhaustion is still abnormal to me, I have previously done 24 hour adventure races, endurance swimming and half iron man competitions. I was forced from a person who hated bed and stopping to a person who would and could sleep at any given moment, whether I liked it or not!

That brings me to one of my favourite things to do… getting ready for bed.  Everyday we would plan our journey and then closer to the each days destination, we would start scouting the coastline for protected areas from wind and places we could safely dismount from our kayaks. Then we would cook our dinner (with any luck a fresh reef fish!). Then we would pack everything away and savour the speculator sun set whilst sipping a mug of tea. It really was an experience that I can never see myself boring of.

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We slept in a bivvy bag with our sleeping bag inside on the beach sand. Just in case you are wondering, a bivvy bag is a waterproof fabric shell that is designed to slip over a sleeping bag and provides a barrier against wind and rain. The bivvy bag was vital for us as the winds would become very strong each morning from 2:30am. We used our buoyancy vest as a pillow (though not very comfortable). So far I am probably not selling our sleeping conditions, but there is something that makes up for it a thousand times over. After dark the night sky was simply spectacular, and with no roof to hinder the view we would find ourselves waking each other up to share the spectacle above. There have only been a handful of locations that I have been where the Milky Way is revealed as an amazing band of light across the sky through the brightest constellations.

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