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Page 83





Still in Exmouth

A Sunset Whale Watching Cruise

One fine evening we embarked on a whale watching cruise. A bus transported us from the caravan park to the boat which was moored at the marina near the new Novotel Ningaloo Resort. Before they even allowed us on their boat we all had to take off our shoes. We were given the usual safety spiel and assured that the life vests could not be put on back to front. Pam, who accidentally donned a life vest backwards at the Horizontal Falls, informed me in a stage whisper that they jolly well could!

The crew members looked like children to me but perhaps that reflects more on my age than theirs. They addressed us all as "guys" throughout the cruise.

If you are expecting startling and dramatic pictures of whales leaping clear of the water before crashing back, let me disillusion you now. We did see very many hump back whales but the main reason they came to the surface was to breathe. Photographing a whale 'blowing' was usually a matter of luck as the water spout was the first indication that it had come to the surface and by the time I'd aimed the camera it was over.

Just Blown

This whale is moving to the right. You can just see the patch of mist just behind it where it had blown.

Often, however, the whales would surface in twos and threes so the first water spout was a 'heads up' and we were in with a fair chance of catching the next whale to blow. I took about 350 pictures of which 300 were similar to the one above. That was because the best technique was to focus on the first sign of a whale surfacing and hold down the shutter button, taking a rapid succession of photos, until the whale(s) submerged again. It was very wasteful in terms of memory usage but tended to guarantee some decent exposures.

Blowing

This time the whales were swimming to the left.
I was too late to catch the exposed whale blowing but caught the other.

Sometimes we caught a glimpse of the whale's huge tail dripping water as it dived back below the surface.

Tail

And down he or she goes again. I noticed that people referred to them all as 'he'.

Photographing the whales' heads was difficult as we rarely saw them or they were too far away. As I sorted the pictures later, however, I realised there were a few showing an animal's head.

Head

The knobbly head of one whale appears behind the smooth back of another.

Gull

Even the gulls came along to watch these incredible creatures . . .

At Play

. . . as they frolicked

As the sun set below the horizon in the west, a full moon rose in the east and we turned for home.

Moon

On the boat Pam and I were drinking red wine but I kept putting down my glass to dash off when whales surfaced nearby. Then I'd remember it and make my way back to 'base' where Pam sat near a table. Grabbing half a glass of red I raised it to my lips and was about to drink when Pam snapped "Peter!!" in the voice she reserves for when I've really overstepped the mark and must come to heel. "What?" I asked, the glass hovering near my mouth. "Put that down," she hissed, "that's not yours." And it wasn't. But if she'd let me accidentally drink it I could have had mine afterwards.
A Man Called Stan

The first few times we visited Grace's Tavern we noticed an elderly man (Elderly, adjective. /'elduhlee/ Anybody older than I am.) sitting alone at one end of the bar. It soon became apparent that that position was 'his place'. It also became apparent that the bar staff were quite deferential towards him. One afternoon I found myself next to him at the bar and we got to talking. Stanley James Dellar was a very interesting man; he had been the Exmouth Council C.E.O. - or Town Clerk as it used to be before everyone needed a grand title - for many years. He had also been a member of the Western Australian Upper House of Parliament for six years. Stan would enter the bar at 17:00 every afternoon except Wednesday and depart at 18:00. On Wednesday he played golf and so did not arrive until 17:30. If his game had not gone well it was better not to go near him. Stan disliked the air conditioning in the bar and at 17:00 it would be quietly switched off by the bar manager. He also disliked loud music so the volume was kept low between 17:00 and 18:00. Indeed, a very interesting man.
A Drive In The Cape Range.

We'd just about covered all the tourist sights when we drove south to visit the Cape Mountain Range with its views and gorges. Unfortunately one of the two unsealed roads into the mountains was closed. It had been closed for months, apparently, since the road was washed out by heavy rain. The other road gave us many dramatic views into gorges and out over the Exmouth Gulf.

Gorge

The creeks in all the gorges were dry

We also visited other 'tourist destinations' which were memorials to World War II structures but consisted of plaques which told us almost nothing. I have to say that we were very disappointed by the way Exmouth handled its main income source, tourism.

There was a memorial to a wooden fishing boat, a Japanese coastal vessel originally called Kofuku Maru which was captured in 1941 and later renamed the Krait.

The story of the Krait sounded absolutely fascinating but the plaque told us very little. We fell back upon the Tourist Information Office which provided us with a single page of text - the follow up was missing. We therefore took it upon ourselves to research the story and we have presented it here in our Additional Items menu. It's a ripping yarn and if you'd like to read it, click M.V. KRAIT. There's a navigation aid at the bottom of that page which will return you to this page.

On the way home from our drive we called at the Kaillis fishery to purchase some beautiful prawns and red emperor. The dozen or so Kaillis trawlers operating out of the Exmouth Marina bring in from 800 to 1,000 tonnes of prawns each season.

Prawn

A giant prawn stands guard at the entrance to the Kaillis Fishery which,
incidentally, is not connected to the Kaillis Brothers fish outlets in Perth.

Just for fun, let's round off page 83 with one of my favourite quotations of all time:-

There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know.
There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know.
But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don't know.


United States Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, February 2002.

Footnote: This re-working of Page 83 was completed on 4 October 2013. It conforms to HTML5 and CSS level 3.