We’d never really planned on doing Western Australia but as we’d already spent two months working and saving money in the state, we thought it would be rude not to! The west coast is definitely the road less traveled compared to its rival – the east coast – and for that reason it’s not the easiest or cheapest to travel! There’s loads of cute towns, beautiful beaches and stunning national parks to be seen on the journey from Kununurra to Perth, but without having our own wheels it’s very difficult. Unlike the East Coast where you are spoilt for options on how best to travel, the West only has one hop on hop off bus and it only goes twice a week making it impossible to stop for a day or two, and we didn’t have the time or money to spend four nights in every town. Hiring a car or camper was also not an option as the cost was extortionate. Instead, after lots of deliberation we opted for the bus and only a few key stops on our mini WA adventure. There’s lots of scenery and national parks that are beautiful, but having spent two months working in the surrounds of the bungles, we were national park’ed out so focused on which beaches we fancied!
We said an emotional goodbye to the Bungles and Kununurra and boarded a 13 hour overnight bus to Broome. No point hanging around as we’d previously spent a long weekend here, so after a few hours spent at the town market having a massage we were back on an overnight bus for 16 hours. Previously we’d done all our bus travel with Greyhound which is pretty luxury, but as there services only go as far as broome we were to continue our journey with Integrity coachlines – not even vaguely luxury. Think old school coaches full of smelly adults for 16 hours!
After a ridiculous amount of time trying to sleep on buses we arrived in Exmouth, 2500km further down the west coast then when we left Kununurra. It was clear we were much further south as we reached straight for our jumpers in the cold, grey seaside town despite being in our bikinis just the day before. Due to the bus schedule we had five days in Exmouth, despite not needing them especially as the weather was so poor. But we came here for one major reason, to swim with whale sharks! After reading about this just a few months ago, it suddenly became a lifelong dream, even if I’d never even heard of such animals before this trip! We spent our day with Three Islands, on their lovely boat in the hope of swimming alongside a big whale shark. The company was brilliant and although it was a slow start to the day due to poor visibility in the ocean, we were incredibly fortunate as the spotter plane managed to track down some young 5metre whale sharks for us to swim with.
The plan is you get in the water ahead of the shark and then it slowly glides past you in a straight line and you swim behind it. We seemed to get some very cheeky little sharks hat didn’t fancy playing by the rules and decided to swim in random directions at a fair pace! I had an absolute moment of panic while waiting to spot the shark, I looked up to see that it had changed course and was coming directly towards me. That is one big mouth! Luckily they’re vegetarians…
During my third dip in the water with Whale Shark number two, I swallowed a large amount of water in the choppy water and couldn’t keep up with the group. Being alone in the middle of the ocean, when you’re scared of the ocean and well aware of all the sharks nearby is not ideal! After launching into a slight panic attack and racing back to the boat, they dragged me on board and finally I could breathe again. Steph went in a further two times with the whale shark but I wasn’t exactly feeling up to it still so I watched from the comfort of the boat with a hot chocolate and biscuits.
It was such an amazing day and one I will never forget. Not many people can say they’ve swum with whale sharks. Despite technically being sharks, they have the beauty and grace of a whale and my only wish was that we could have seen a bigger one! The two we swam with were 4 and 5 metres, but they can grow as big as 14 metres! We were also lucky enough to see a humpback whale whilst on the boat and a hammerhead shark that swam by just as we were about to jump in (eek!)
For the rest of our time in Exmouth we didn’t get up to much, but on the one sunny day we did have we rented a car for the day to go exploring some of the nearby beaches and do sme snorkeling off the coast. We spent most the day at Turquoise bay which was so beautiful, and again managed to spot a couple of whales on the horizon.