Let me begin with the clichéd line “I think I’ve found paradise”. Or rather, a stunningly idyllic yet blisteringly hot beach in North-Western Australia. Turquoise Bay is situated on the east side of the Exmouth peninsula, a forty-minute drive from the actual town of Exmouth (pronounced ExMOUTH rather than like Darmouth- very confusing for us English folk). People have mentioned Exmouth so much I was expecting a properly developed town, flourishing from riches from the mines and teeming with tourists and locals and the like. Rather, Exmouth seems half deserted, filled with caravan sites and signs that direct you to every possible location in the town. They have an Anglican church, a liquor store, a gym…all pretty impressive considering it’s just one tiny road from which minuscule tributary roads branch off.
Apparently, Turquoise Bay is the place to see around here. I’m always dubious when too many people recommend somewhere to go- inevitably it’s overcrowded and underrated. Turquoise Bay was most certainly the former and definitely not the latter. It was however, hideously windy, which was a relief as otherwise I don’t think I’d’ve been able to cope with the heat. We dumped our stuff and rushed to the sea, eager to cool our boiling bodies in the turquoise ocean. I then grew hungry (of course), and went back to eat my staple diet of tuna, sweet corn, and sweet corn juice (surprisingly good) before realising this was impossible. The sand was everywhere, and sand blowing at you at approximately twenty knots is not pleasant. In fact, it rather stings, and I swear I got sand burn as I trudged along the beach in search of shelter. Unfortunately, the rest of the human population had come to the same conclusion, and around the corner it was teeming with tourists and toddlers. It was, however, lovely and sheltered… from the wind that is- sadly not the sun.
The thirty-metre walk around the corner was too much, and I dashed back into the inviting ocean. My god, it was beautiful. It certainly lived up to its name, and the snorkelling was fabulous. I saw a wide range of fish- but sadly only fish and no other marine animal. Apparently, some of my friends saw reef sharks and turtles- very jealous- although it’s probably a good thing as my eyesight is awful and I wouldn’t have seen the bloody thing unless it was a metre in front of me, and at that distance I’d have been scared out of my wits!
The current was awfully strong, and we spent several hours being swept downstream at an alarming rate. It was wonderful, lying there, half submerged, the super saline water keeping you buoyant. I’d look up after a few minutes and be shocked at the distance I’d travelled. I’d then proceed to try and stand up, but the current was so strong that even that proved difficult. My legs would be swept from under my feet, and down into the water I’d go again. We played this game for several hours, as it was too hot to even be in the sun for a few minutes, before I tired of it and my skin needed a rest from the salt. Miraculously, I managed not to get burnt, probably due to my religious applying of my super waterproof sun cream every five minutes. My beloved sun cream is actually true to its word- it’s so waterproof that it doesn’t even wash off in the shower! Probably a good thing, though.
I managed to construct an ingenious shelter from the sun, using my sarong, the fence, and some sticks that I spent about half an hour looking for, much to the amusement of my fellow beach goers. I huddled under my architectural masterpiece for roughly an hour, managing to fall asleep until the sun crept slowly up my body and woke me up. By that time, my sticks were drooping, my sarong was flapping in the wind and I was dying of heat, despite the fact it was 3pm, I was half in the shade, and the wind was still gusting.
I was getting restless, because, yknow, 3 hours on an idyllic beach isn’t good enough for me, so we decided to go for a hike. Considering the fact that I was already half passing out from the heat, this probably wasn’t a great idea. Ah well, since when am I sensible? I drove, and missed the turning (of course). The trail was down a narrow dirt track, and spotted a ton of kangaroos just loitering on the side of the road, ready to jump out in front of our car and irreparably damage our car. The bastard rodents….I mean, the adorable creatures! I do kid, they are ridiculously cute- even the scary, large ones have some sort of appeal.
We embarked on the hike through Mandu Mandu Gorge (I thought it said Mango Mango which would have been much more amusing, and I started singing our gospel choir warm up that goes “Mango, mango, mango, mango…” you get the idea. Very catchy!) The trail was a mere 3km, but around ½ of a km of that was up a supposedly steep rockface, which in thirty degree heat ain’t too fun. Despite the fact that I’m hideously unfit, I scrambled up the rockface like a squirrel (squirrels scramble, right?) and reached the top a wonderful shade of scarlet. My heart rate took the rest of the hike to calm down, during which we got wonderfully lost, and ended up wading through clumps of the infamous spinifex, a godawful creation. It looks harmless- just like marram grass (which actually isn’t quite so harmless), but if you brush your leg against it, you’re rewarded with a searing pain as the spikes dig into you and hold you hostage. I’m exaggerating, but it’s a rather horrible, unnecessary plant.
By the end of the hike I’d gone from wearing a sarong and a bikini to just a bikini, which I think is rather fashionable, no? I drove back in the bikini too, stopping every five seconds as those annoying marsupials would hop across the road ever so slowly, threatening to take both their and our lives from us. I swear those things would see us coming, wait until the perfect opportunity (I.e. one metre from us), and jump out in front of us, gazing at us innocently with their fawny eyes. We had to slam on the brakes a good few time before we made it out of kangaroo central.
We were aiming to get to Vlaming Head Lighthouse for sunset, but in typical style we missed the actual sunset, and pulled up just as the sun had dipped below the horizon, leaving a wonderful pink and yellow tinge in the sky. We took some arty photos and sped off into the twilight. Twenty minutes later we were back, after a much-needed stop at the liquor store, and waited for the others. An hour and a half later, they still weren’t back, and we were getting anxious again. We sound like worried parents!
It turns out that they’d also been plagued by kangaroos, but on a scale about twenty times worse than us. It had taken them two and a half hours to drive a forty-minute drive, and they’d seen around one hundred kangaroos. My friend commented that I’d’ve been able to write a whole blog post on the different varieties of squashed kangaroo…Luckily for you, I wasn’t in that car!
And in case you’re wondering, there was a sign at the campsite saying “don’t feed the emus as they can become aggressive” and my friend accidentally read it as “emos”. Cue more laughter, and a very amusing and odd mental image.