Sunday, 12 September 2010

Exmouth - Ouch!

Our visit to Exmouth sure did get off to a strange start!

We spent the previous night at a free campsite, pictured below. I'm including the photo for my sister Audrey's benefit as she expressed concern about the safety of free camping. See Audge, lots of other people (and cows) there too. Don't worry, we wouldn't stay somewhere that looked dodgy at any price.

Anyway, being tired from the day's drive we had an early night and were up and on the road bright and early the next morning.  We hadn't eaten and it was too early to check in to the caravan park so we decided to stop in at the visitor's center and have breakfast at a cafe in town.

As we sat on the cafe veranda finishing our breakfast a bird landed on the back of a chair at the empty table next to us.   I had broken off a piece of toast which I was holding in my hand.  The bird looked at me and flew straight for my head!  It flew at me from the right and sort of scrambled at the right side of my head for a split second and flew off.  It didn't bite me, but it's wing or something must have hit my eye.  There was a group of 20-somethings sitting a couple of tables away from us.  One of them yelled out "That bird flew right at that lady's eye!"  He came over to see if I was okay, and said that the same thing had happened to a friend of his at that cafe a few days earlier.

It happened so fast that I hadn't covered my face or done anything to protect myself.  I was stunned - it was so unexpected.  We left right after that and I spent the rest of the day with a red and sore eye which was better the next day and today feels back to normal.

It was really frightening to have a bird attack me like that!  We've been spending a fair amount of time in the bush on this trip, and of all the creatures in Australia that can kill you, I get attacked by a little bird!

Mike had originally thought that perhaps people had been feeding the bird and when he saw my toast  which I didn't offer to him he became aggressive (see, carbs really are evil!).  I have since found out that the bird was a peewee (magpie-lark) which has a habit of aggressively defending it's nest.  I don't know why I was singled out, but I feel fortunate considering what happened to this poor child, and the situation that these people find themselves in.

My Alfred Hitchcock moment aside, we've spent the last couple of days enjoying Exmouth.  Unfortunately we missed whale shark season, but we did go up to the lighthouse where we spotted humpback whales swimming in the ocean.

A view of one of many beaches with the lighthouse at the end of the cape in the distance.

Our first wildflowers spotted!  It's wildflower season and we're looking forward to seeing more.

Sturt Desert Pea
We also took a ride to see Shotgun Gorge which we drove through via a dirt road at the bottom of the dry gorge,  and  a climb to see the views.  Charles Knife Gorge was accessed via a dirt road across the top of the gorge with spectacular views.

Shotgun Gorge and the dirt road snaking along the botom.
Our car looks tiny down there!

The road across the top of Charles Knife Gorge

A much friendlier bird strolling through the caravan park.
Tomorrow we are heading for Cape Range National Park.  Snorkel gear? check!  Fishing gear?  Check!  Underwater camera?  Check!  Camp site?  Not quite...

There are several camping areas in the park with about 100 campsites which go very fast.  It's a case of the early bird gets the worm (keeping with the bird theme!), so our plan is to head out early and get in the queue at the Ranger's station to be allocated a campsite.  We're told that the important thing is to get in wherever you can, and once you're in you have priority and can move to the area of your choice.  If we're successful, we'll be out of range for a week or so depending on how long we decide to stay.

Should we be unsuccessful tomorrow plan B is to camp at a caravan park just outside the park and head over in the car early the next morning to secure a site before packing up the camper and bringing it along. 

Wish us luck!


Joe Larosa said...

Hi Mike & Cheryl,

I just found out you guys are on another aussie adventure (since Mike declined the ex-Diebold dinner invitation) and look forward to a virtual tour of your adventure.

Cheryl, you should consider wearing your snorkel gear when you go to any outdoor cafes to outsmart those pesky birds!

Joe L

Sheryl said...

Hi Joe,

Welcome aboard! You may have a point about the snorkel. I've been wearing the gear quite a bit during the last week or so and not a single bird attack. Hmmmm... coincidence? I think not! :)

Audrey Shmuel said...

Thanks for the photo for me! I'm enjoying this album SO much. C'mon, you are a Jackson Heights native, you should have been able to kick that bird to the curb!

: )

I love you Crocodile Blondee!