Blog News

  • Swimming with Humpback Whales in Western Australia: in-water interaction success at Ningaloo

    by Suzanne Fisher | Aug 05, 2016

     

    The four month trial of swimming with humpback whales commenced on Monday 1 August 2016 in Coral Bay and Exmouth on Australia's Coral Coast, with immediate interaction success in both locations. Western Australia's Environment Minister Albert Jacob said that 11 tour operators from the Ningaloo region were participating in the trial, with about 200 people booking tours in the first week alone.

    Watch the video - Cindy White (videographer) for Ocean Eco Adventures, Exmouth on the Ningaloo Reef

    The world’s largest humpback whale population, estimated at 30,000, annually migrates south along the Ningaloo Reef. Tourists have the chance to get close to the humpbacks as spectators on-board a boat, or while in the water as they swim past or rest in the temperate Ningaloo waters. To ensure the safety of the swimmers, and the welfare of the whales, only five (5) people will be in the water at any one time

    Unlike the Ningaloo Whale Shark tours that run from March to July, the Humpback Whale tours will be conducted over the entire area of the Ningaloo Marine Park waters, which includes the 300 kilometres of reef between Coral Bay and Exmouth, the North-West Cape, Lighthouse Bay, the Murion Islands, concluding at Bundegi Beach within the Exmouth Gulf.

    Exmouth Dive Centre crew member, Patrick Horgan, noted this of his whale interaction experience “The suspense was continually building as the whales slowly approached us. Time stood still for a moment. I could not believe that I was finally swimming with a humpback whale! We watched for a few moments before the whales slowly roused and swam off at a relaxed pace.”

    Ningaloo’s newest whale shark and humpback licence operator, Live Ningaloo, who has partnered with Luxury Lodges of Australia glamping accommodation Sal Salis, were successful on 4 August. Their marketing manager, Sonia Beckwith, said treating it holistically and offering our guests the very best tour we can muster, based on what the wildlife is doing for the day. It’s an adventure, an expedition of sorts, and we don’t know what we will find, or in this case, if every pod of humpback whales we spot will want to interact. Swimming is included if the opportunity presents itself.”

    Celebrating five years of UNESCO World Heritage status, the Ningaloo Coastline stretches for 300 kilometres and home to whale sharks, 500 fish species, six turtle species, manta rays, and dolphins.

    Exmouth operators are still swimming with whale sharks in addition to humpbacks, when possible. Where else on earth can you swim with whale sharks, humpback whales and mantra rays - all in one day? At Ningaloo, you can!

    The trail will run until 30 November 2016. See the video and learn more about the experience, including operators, tour price inclusions and how to book. For more information visit Australia’s Coral Coast.

    END.

    Media enquiries:
    Suzanne Fisher
    Marketing Manager
    + 61 8 9321 9111
    marketing@australiascoralcoast.com

    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
    Past Media Releases on Humpback Whales
    Tour prices set for Humpback Whale Swim - February 2016
    Swim with Humpback whales at Ningaloo Reef in 2016 - November 2015
    The Ningaloo Reef: Home to Orcas, Whale sharks and Humpbacks – July 2015

    High Resolution Photography:
    Rory Hodgkinson and Prue Wheeler for Coral Bay Eco Tours
    Esther McDonald for Ningaloo Discovery

  • Just a few months away - don't miss Gascoyne in May!

    by Natasha Potter | Mar 17, 2016

     

    A feast of festivals descends on the Gascoyne

    An all-star cast of international festival favourites will team up with Gascoyne talents to tour the remote northwest for Gascoyne in May 2016. This feast of festivals mounts six festivals in six weeks in some of the most remote locations in the world.

    Each festival is set in iconographic land and seascapes - coastal areas include the world Heritage areas of the Ningaloo Reef, Shark and Coral Bay, while the hinterland includes the mesmerising features of the Kennedy Range and Mt Augustus, known by the First Nations People as ‘Burringurrah’ the ‘Biggest Rock’ on the planet - being twice the size of Uluru!

    The festival circuit is 2700km and boast many natural wonders to be explored between the weekend festivities - Festivals include: The Burringurrah Festival of Fire; Shark Bay’s ‘Barefoot Black Tie’ as part of the Denham’s Fishing Fiesta; Gascoyne Junction’s Gascoyne River Music Festival; Coral Bay’s Festival of the Reef; Exmouth’s Ningaloo Whaleshark Festival; and lastly Carnarvon’s TropiCOOL Festival.

    Gascoyne in May is made possible by support from Department of Culture and the Arts - Regional and Remote Touring Fund; The Gascoyne Development Commission, Lotterywest, Country Arts WA and the Shires of Upper Gascoyne, Shark Bay, Exmouth and Carnarvon.

    In 2016, festivals include:

    Where

    What

    Date in 2016

    Focus

    Coral Bay

    Festival of the Reef

    Saturday 30 April to Sun 1 May

    Independent film festival and photography lessons

    Shark Bay

    Barefoot Black Tie

    Friday 6 May

    Beach, food, music and light installation

    Gascoyne Junction

    River Music

    Friday 13 to Sunday 15 May

    Indigenous, music

    Exmouth

    Whaleshark Festival

    Thursday 24 to Sunday 29 May

    Whaleshark, art exhibitions, fire display,music concert

    Carnarvon

    TropiCOOL

    Friday 10 June to Sunday 12 June

    Family,food, aerial circus, outdoor music concert

    For more information on the Gascoyne in May festival, see the event website - www.gascoyneinmay.com.au

  • An Australian Legacy: 400 Year Celebration In 2016

    by Suzanne Fisher | Jan 22, 2016

     

    January 23, 2016 marks 400 years to the day since Dutch explorer Dirk Hartog left the Netherlands on his epic journey during which he famously stumbled on the island, now known as Dirk Hartog Island, off the coast of Shark Bay in Western Australia on 25 October 1616.

     

    Learn more about the 2016 events and the island.


     

    Long before Captain James Cook landed on the east coast of Australia in 1770, Hartog had left a pewter plate as a mark of his discovery in Western Australia. Hartog’s journey would see him play a major part in the world’s cartography as the first recorded European to leave evidence of contact with Australian soil. As a by-product of spice and commodity trade in the Indonesian islands lying above Australia, a chief cartographer was put in place by Dutch East Indian Trading to create a secret atlas of maps which included Australia or “New Holland” as it was known for 150 years. Although Australia wasn’t seen as a trading opportunity, the Dutch mapped two-thirds of the mysterious continent known as “Terra Australis Incognita”, later renamed Australia by the British.

     

    Today the area is known as the Shark Bay World Heritage Area – a wonderland of world-class natural marine and land-based attractions married with a rich indigenous culture. Land forms include the 100km Shell Beach, the extraordinary Stromatolites (found only in three places globally) and the Zuytdorp Cliffs stretching from Kalbarri to Shark Bay. Marine encounters include the Monkey Mia dolphins, the second largest population of dugongs in the world, migrating humpback whale, rare loggerhead turtles and the occasional whale shark.

     

    Dirk Hartog Island is Western Australia’s largest island and offers a peaceful retreat of beautiful scenery, ideal for four-wheel driving with its white sandy beaches perfect for snorkelling or fishing. The Island has significant biodiversity conservation values with more than 250 native plant species, 81 species of birds and 27 species of reptiles, many of which were on the brink of extinction. It is also a major nesting area for loggerhead turtles with about 400 breeding annually with hatchlings expected in March.

     

    To celebrate the 400 year anniversary of the landing on the island, a four-day festival – the Dirk Hartog Voyage of Discovery: Shark Bay 1616, will held in Shark Bay from Friday October 21 to Tuesday October 25, 2016. The 1606 replica Dutch ship, the Duyfken, will depart Western Australia’s Fremantle Harbour on August 28, 2016 and visit the Coral Coast towns of Jurien Bay, Dongara and Geraldton along the way to Denham, and will be available for public tours at each port of call. Additionally, history and sailing enthusiasts can cruise to the festivities on board the tall-ship Leeuwin II departing Fremantle on Friday 14 October, arriving in Shark Bay Friday October 21, 2016. 

     

     

    Plan your holiday to Shark Bay in 2016

    Learn more about the region and history of Dirk Hartog Island  with our comprehensive holiday planning guide of accommodation, tours and itineraries.

     

    Sail to Dirk Hartog Island on board the Leeuwin: 14 to 21 October 2016

    Experience the celebrations on board the tall ship Leeuwin II. History and sailing enthusiasts can enjoy the unique opportunity to experience life on board a traditional style vessel. Sail in Dirk's Steps will depart from Fremantle on 14  October, arriving in Shark Bay on 21 October 2016. Only 40 berths are available - contact the Leeuwin Foundation for booking information. 

    4WD Voyage of Discovery: 23 to 27 October 2016

    Have an exclusive experience on the Island in October on a special four-wheel driving expedition. Catering for only 20 people be part of this once in a lifetime opportunity. Bring your own 4WD vehicle, camper trailer and camp at the Homestead Camp Grounds. Join in on nightly celebrations and activities. Including live music, camp fires, damper cook ups, gourmet BBQ’s and sunset drinks.

    Learn more via the flyer or book online here.

     


    Four-wheel Driving at Dirk Hartog island

    Four-wheel Driving at Dirk Hartog Island

     

    Dolphins surfing at Urchin Point  

    Dolphins surfing at Urchin Point

     

    Turtle hatching at Dirk Hartog Island

    Turtle breeding has occurred and we expect hatchlings in March 2016 

     

    Boatshed Villa

  • Turtle Time! Hatchlings are out and about on the Coral Coast

    by Suzanne Fisher | Jan 13, 2016

     

    First sightings of loggerhead hatchlings from Gnarloo Bay as they emerge from their nest after 65 days of incubation!

    Green turtles, loggerhead turtles and hawksbill turtles, three of the world’s seven species of marine turtles, nest on mainland beaches adjacent to World Heritage Areas of Shark Bay and Ningaloo Reef during the summer months between November and April annually.

    Approximately six weeks after the turtle nesting season (usually February and March), the hatching season commences with hatchlings quickly skuttling down the beach sand into the warm water.

    Loggerhead turtles are a very special endangered species in Australia's Coral Coast. They make up 95% of the turtles migrating to Gnaraloo (the rest being green or hawksbill turtles). Only 1/200 hatchlings survive to nest themselves and continue the species.

    To learn more and catch a glimpse of these incredible creatures the Gnaraloo Turtle Conservation Program invites participation in its coastal conservation work (December - January). Small groups can accompany the sunrise and night scientific surveys with marine researchers to observe their data collection and learn about the turtles.The strictly managed interactions ensure that there are no disturbance at all to the nesting turtles and hatchlings. The program’s work will ensure that this endangered species and their habitat are protected for years to come.


    What to do if you see a turtle hatching

    • View the turtles with the assistance of DPaW or Gnarloo controlled and guided visits

    No Glow, Move Slow, Stay Low - don't use a flash camera, move slowly and stay low to the ground which will help to not scare them
    • Stand a considerable distance away from the turtles so as to not not disclose their location to predators
    Don’t touch and don’t pick them up (for their health) and imprinting (they get lost and won’t return to Ningaloo to nest)

     

    Top spots to see turtles now to March

    • Shark Bay - expected March 2016 - Dirk Hartog Island
    • Carnarvon - out January 2016

    - Point Quobba (the Nursery) and Gnarloo
    • Coral Bay - expected 1st & 2nd week of February
    2016
    - Maud’s Landing
    • Exmouth - expected 1st & 2nd week of February 2016
    - Jurabi Turtle Centre
    - Five Mile Beach
    - Wobiri Beach (see access track sign for the beach)

    Loggerhead turtle Gnarloo Ningaloo Reef

    Photo Credit: Gnaraloo Turtle Conservation Program
  • Be part of Australian history - 400 years in the making!

    by Suzanne Fisher | Dec 09, 2015

    2016 will mark 400 years since Dutch explorer Dirk Hartog made landfall on an Island off the coast of Western Australia, known now as Dirk Hartog Island.

    Long before British Captain James Cook found Australia, the Dutch explorer left a pewter plate as a mark of his discovery, which is the earliest known evidence left of a European in Australia.

    To commemorate this significant anniversary, be part of the Dirk Hartog Voyage Of Discovery: Shark Bay 1616 Festival.

    Sail there on board the Leeuwin 

    Experience the celebrations on board the tall ship Leeuwin II. History and sailing enthusiasts can enjoy the unique opportunity to experience life on board a traditional style vessel. Sail in Dirk's Steps will depart from Fremantle on 14  October, arriving in Shark Bay on 21 October 2016. Only 40 berths are available - contact the Leeuwin Foundation for booking information. 

    Events Program

    In October 2016, Shark Bay will play host to a week of unique cultural celebrations that will take place in honour of this anniversary including arts, food and historical events.

    • Opening Ceremony – 21 October 
    • Discovery Hub – 21 to 25th October
    • Outdoor Music Concert – 22 October 
    • Indian Ocean Classic Yacht Race – 22 October 
    • The Golden Age 1616 Ball – 23 October
    • Official commemorative ceremony – 25 October

    Additionally, Shark Bay will play host to the dutch replica Dufyken who will visit and be on display during the week long celebrations. Tourists can also enjoy the ND5 Exhibition, an art exhibition of aerial photography exploration of Shark Bay from 21 - 25 October.

    For more information on the event series see www.sharkbay1616.com.au

    Dirk Hartog 1616 Western Australia 


  • Get festive at the Gascoyne in May

    by Suzanne Fisher | Dec 09, 2015


    Gascoyne in May is five arts festivals, of over fifteen events held in five towns over four weeks, across two World Heritage areas or a return-journey of 2700km. 

    The Gascoyne is a sub-region within Australia's Coral Coast which includes Shark Bay (Denham/Monkey MIa) in the south, Carnarvon in the east and Exmouth in the north. 

    Gascoyne in May is a coordinated circuit of festivals, mostly free to attend. Each festival is themed to reflect its diverse spirit and individual locations, each celebrating and sharing local culture in their own Gascoyne style.

    In 2016, festivals include:

    Where

    What

    Date in 2016

    Focus

    Coral Bay

    Festival of the Reef

    Saturday 30 April to Sun 1 May

    Independent film festival and photography lessons

    Shark Bay

    Barefoot Black Tie

    Friday 6 May

    Beach, food, music and light installation

    Gascoyne Junction

    River Music

    Friday 13 to Sunday 15 May

    Indigenous, music

    Exmouth

    Whaleshark Festival

    Thursday 24 to Sunday 29 May

    Whaleshark, art exhibitions, fire display, music concert

    Carnarvon

    TropiCOOL 

    Friday 10 June to Sunday 12 June

    Family, food, aerial circus, outdoor music concert

     
    For more information on the Gascoyne in May festival, see the event website - www.gascoyneinmay.com.au - which should be updated with all individual event information in January 2016. 

    Videos from 2015

  • Celebrate the Festive Season, New Years Eve and Australia Day with Eco Abrolhos

    by Suzanne Fisher | Dec 09, 2015

    Looking for a unique way to start 2016? Why not spend it at the Abrolhos Islands!

    Eco Abrolhos has developed a fly/cruise package for up to 38 people to spend New Years’ Eve at the Abrolhos Islands for a 2 day/2 night cruise at the Wallaby group of islands.

    At $998 per person, your package includes all flights, accommodation, meals, activities & tours included.

    Additionally there will be a live band entertainment on the boat’s Top Deck so you can party the night away on New Years Eve!

    Activities include:

    • Snorkel, kayak or dive on the wreck site of the Batavia.
    • Visit the island of angry ghosts (Beacon Island) where 126 men, women and children were massacred by the blood thirsty mutineers over 400 years ago.
    • Visit the forts built by Wiebbe Hayes and his band of solders on West Wallaby Island. The forts are said to be the first European buildings in Australian history
    • Spot wallabies, lizards and thousands of birds inhabit Wallaby islands
    • Snorkel or dive the Long Island Dive Trail, erected by the Fisheries Department. Which is a series of plaques on the sea bed that you read and follow, also picturing and naming the different species of fish and corals in the area.
    • Snorkel easy to access large brain corals
    • Anchor at Turtle Bay off East Wallaby Island to enjoy spectacular long sandy beaches with crystal clear water
    • Turtle Bay is also a great for a snorkel and on the eastern point shuck oysters off the rocks and take a walk to the top of the cliffs, possibly catching a glimpse of the local wallabies and osprey.
    • Dolphins frequent these waters at night and in the mornings, chasing fish!

    Got plans for New Years already? What about a Christmas Sunset Cruise of Geraldton Marina!

    Eco Abrolhos will also be operating sunset cruises around the Geraldton Marina in the lead up to Christmas.

    Places are booking fast; at $55 per person which includes your meal, live band and the cruise (licenced bar, drinks available for purchase) - what a way to enjoy the festive season!

    Christmas sunset cruise in Geraldton

    Finally, one of most important days of the year - AUSTRALIA DAY!

    Get on board the Eco for a great Aussie Barbie to celebrate Australia Day on Tuesday 26 January 2016.

    Boarding at 5.00pm, depart at 5.30pm, the fireworks in the Geraldton are due to commence at 8pm with a return time to the Marina at 8.30pm.

    Perfect way to experience this important day with friends or family; at $55pp for cruise, BBQ, various salads and dessert - the crew from Eco A will be awarding a prize for best dressed Aussie with live entertainment by band, Songbird. 

    Licenced bar, drinks available for purchase. 

    Cruise Geraldton Australia Day 2016

     

  • Coral Coast is home to Western Australia's top dish

    by Suzanne Fisher | Nov 24, 2015

    Culinary tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of the tourism industry. It came as little surprise that mother-of-two, Jerolina Rankin of Carnarvon on Australia’s Coral Coast, took out Western Australia’s Signature Dish competition with her grilled Shark Bay wild chilli Prawns and Mackerel mousse in a zucchini noodle seafood broth.

    The annual competition, run by the WA Department of Agriculture and Food, aims to showcase the best of WA food by bringing together talented home cooks from the Gascoyne, Kimberley, Swan Valley and Peel regions with popular professional chefs from Perth as regional mentors. The Gascoyne produces 80% of Western Australia’s annual fruit and vegetable supplies and was represented in the competition by Carnarvon.

    Peter Manifis of InContro was once again selected as regional judge for the Gascoyne entries and remarked that “[Jerolina] has been a finalist two years running; she’s just kept going at it, like the little engine that could. And today it’s all paid off”. Manifis selected Rankin’s dish as a finalist due to its significant regional provenance with over ten ingredients from the Gascoyne including Shark Bay’s wild prawns, mackerel and blue-swimmer crab accompanied by vegetables, chillies and herbs from Carnarvon.

    Western Australia has an excellent international reputation for sustainable fisheries management with both Shark Bay [Wild] and Exmouth Gulf recently receiving the international independent Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for their prawns. "When it comes to food, our incredibly diverse region really has it all - the pristine world heritage areas of Exmouth and Shark Bay where the wild prawns are managed in an incredible sustainable fishery, to the Carnarvon River Delta, an oasis of tropical fruits, vegetables, herbs and everything in between.” according to Doriana Mangili, Executive Officer of the Gascoyne Food Council.

    From a young age Rankin’s grandmother instilled in her a deep respect for food; this was exemplified by her winning seafood broth, which minimised wastage using crab and prawn shells with fish bones. Rankin notes, “I really became a foodie when I had children, sharing my passion to explore food and expressing that food for my family”. Between May and October you’ll find Rankin at the Saturday morning Growers Market in Carnarvon’s town square.

    Four regional finalists faced off for the WA Signature Dish (state finals), held as part of the 2015 Margaret River Gourmet Escape. The festival is a key event for Tourism Western Australia’s Taste2020 food and wine tourism strategy.

     

    END.

     

    Media enquiries:

    Suzanne Fisher

    Marketing Manager
    + 61 8 9321 9111
    marketing@australiascoralcoast.com

     

    Image - Jerolina Rankin's Shark Bay wild chilli Prawns and Mackerel mousse in a zucchini noodle seafood broth
    With thanks from:
    Buy West Eat Best

    Shark Bay wild chilli Prawns and Mackerel mousse in a Carnarvon zucchini noodle seafood broth.

  • Visit Australia's first artificial snorkelling trail

    by Suzanne Fisher | Nov 19, 2015

    Families are encouraged to visit Australia’s Coral Coast to experience an artificial reef created to showcase the underwater wonders of the Jurien Bay. Through the use of man-made Reef Balls, designed and created by the Jurien Bay Men's Shed volunteers with the assistance of Reef Ball Australia, the trail's location makes it accessible for children and novice snorkelers to enjoy.

    See the trail on TV's Today Tonight 

    Watch the making of the reef documentary 

     
    Located just off the beach’s sandy shore, 78 concrete Reef Balls in a mix of three different sizes were cast and placed. The Reef Balls ensure diversity for the underwater habitat, encouraging different types of marine life to make their home in the Jurien Bay Marine Park.

    A diverse number of fish have found a home in the reef trail with new sources of food, sponges and coral continually growing on and around the Reef Balls. This in turn ensuring new fish ‘visit the reef’ in addition to the core residents, making every snorkelling experience in the Jurien Bay Marine Park a unique one. The waters are shallow at first, sloping off to six metres where seaweed lines the ocean floor and crabs can be found.

    Entry to the snorkel trail is free, however visitors can support its maintenance by purchasing handy swim cards which will help identify the fish and coral likely to be on show as part of the trail.

    Jurien Bay Marine Park
    Beach access via Dobbyn Park
    1 Roberts Street
    Jurien Bay, Western Australia

    Type: Snorkel Trail
    Experience: Coastal, Family Friendly
    Time: 1-3 hours
    Length: 0.1 km (Loop)
    Difficulty: Easy

     

  • Swim with Humpback Whales at Ningaloo Reef in 2016

    by Suzanne Fisher | Nov 16, 2015

    Swimming with humpback whales will become a reality from mid-2016 in Exmouth and Coral Bay on Australia’s Coral Coast in Western Australia. Several countries, including Mexico and Tonga, already have the tours in place with Queensland becoming the first Australian tour location in July 2014.

     

    Existing holders of whale shark licenses will be offered the opportunity to operate the whale swimming tours which will allow them to extend this season into the humpback migration. Already a popular pursuit, 20,670 people visited the Ningaloo Reef between March and July 2015, specifically to swim with the world’s largest fish – the whale shark.

     

    Ocean Eco Adventures owner, James Small, conducted whale watching tours with 3,000 passengers experiencing the humpback migration on board and he hopes to continue this [whale watching tour] as well as building a successful and sustainable whale swimming experience”.

     

    Whale shark operators’ have vast in-water interaction experience with large marine animals and will receive additional training and guidelines from WA’s Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) in advance of the season opening. Whales have unique movement patterns and for this reason a tour participant will only be allowed to interact with single whales, not accompanied by calves. Tour operator Roger Bailye of Coral Bay Ecotours anticipates that to fully participate,  tourists will require a high swimming capability as whales, in general, are more agile and faster moving than whale sharks. People will continue to have the option to stay on board as a viewer at a reduced rate”.

     

    Tourism industry members in Ningaloo have said that news of the trial period has already captured the imagination of people looking for unique and exciting experiences. The new tours will extend the whale shark season, which traditionally finishes around July. They will offer a significant boost to the Ningaloo area’s economy, as well as the wider Coral Coast region and the state of Western Australia. CEO of Australia’s Coral Coast, David O’Malley, said "I am keen to see the [humpback swim] trial result in this tour product being developed as a major, permanent attraction of the Coral Coast."

     

    Tour price and bookings will be set in the first quarter of 2016 between DPaW and the 11 whale shark operators. Operators have already started considering what be included as part of their swimming tour. Sarah Ellis, owner of Charter 1, has already committed their 53ft sailing catamaran for the humpback swimming tour with operators considering the inclusion of complimentary underwater photography and spotter planes as part of the ticket price.

     

    Visit www.australiascoralcoast.com to help plan your next Coral Coast adventure.

                                                                   
                                                               

    END.

    Media enquiries:

    Suzanne Fisher

    Marketing Manager
    + 61 8 9321 9111
    marketing@australiascoralcoast.com

      

    Image courtesy of Ocean Eco Adventures

    humpback whale ningaloo august 2015

  • Ningaloo celebrates International Whale Shark Day

    by Suzanne Fisher | Aug 28, 2015

    International Whale Shark Day, held on 30 August, has been initiated to raise global awareness of the enormous yet gentle giants of the sea. Swimming with the world’s largest fish is considered to be a bucket list experience.

    This year saw 20,670 people visit the Ningaloo Reef on Australia's Coral Coast, Western Australia specifically for this experience. Whale shark operators in Exmouth and Coral Bay are taking bookings for the 2016 season, so get in early and plan your Coral Coast escape.

    Australia’s Coral Coast Chief Executive Officer, David O’Malley said “after a spectacular season in 2015 boasting a 92% sighting rate with whale shark tours extending into August and the addition of Orca sightings, the Ningaloo community have a lot to celebrate!”

    In Australia, the Ningaloo Reef is the only place you can swim with whale sharks and notes the world’s highest reliability rate of whale shark numbers and accessibility of interaction. Growing up to 15 metres in length, whale sharks congregate in the nutrient rich waters of Ningaloo Marine Park, following the mass coral spawning in late March to early April.

    Whale Sharks are listed as ‘vulnerable to extinction’ and are protected in Western Australia. The Ningaloo Reef, declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2011, stretches for 260 kilometres and is home to over 500 fish species, including the whale shark when in season.

    A percentage of each whale shark tour ticket sold goes towards important whale shark research and conservation. This benefits not only the Ningaloo Reef but the world to understand more about the species. Additionally, a Ningaloo whale shark experience includes on-board education from instructors, many of whom have completed a Masters or PhD in Marine Biology or Marine Conservation.

    A significant drawcard of a Ningaloo experience over other global locations is the number of passengers on each tour (maximum 20) and the number who can swim with a whale shark each ‘jump’ (maximum 10). This is not the case in other parts of the world where sustainable conservation practices are not in place.

    All Ningaloo whale shark operators have an underwater videographer on board who can provide a lasting memento of the day’s swim. Tours provide a “no sighting” policy, offering guests the next available tour day free of charge. Tourists are encouraged to book a whale shark tour in advance and at the beginning of a holiday.

    For information on whale shark swims and to see the latest holiday deals to help plan your next West Australian Coral Coast adventure.   

     

  • Plan your Wildflower Escape

    by Suzanne Fisher | Jul 28, 2015

    Australia’s Coral Coast is wild with travel experiences this Spring

    The Wildflower season has officially begun on Western Australia's Coral Coast, home to over 12,000 species, 50% of which cannot be seen anywhere else on earth. Now is the time to take a road trip or join a tour for the day, the weekend or even a week.

    Australia’s Coral Coast - a place like none other and wild with experiences. Escape the cool of winter to discover secluded beaches, untouched coral reefs, breathtaking gorges, distinctive marine life in crystal clear oceans, amazing wildlife and endless species of stunning wildflowers.

    Australia's Coral Coast Chief Executive Officer, David O'Malley said, "Where else in the world can you, in the one winter holiday, enjoy an average of 26C degrees, swim with Manta rays, meet rare Black Footed Wallabies, explore deep canyons and spot the striking Sturt Desert Pea, which is endemic only to Cape Range National Park near Exmouth”.

    Enjoy the pristine waters of Shark Bay by catamaran, spotting Dugongs (10% of the world’s entire population, considered globally vulnerable to extinction) and also spy the Tamala Rose, local to the World Heritage Shark Bay region.

    Bush walk or hike the gorges of Kalbarri National Park and view the numerous native orchids including the Banded Green Hood, Snail, Spider and Cowslip in addition to 150 bird species including Australia's largest bird of prey, the endangered Wedge-tailed Eagle.

    Mr O'Malley says, "Inland is just as spectacular as the coastal offering. People flock to the region to see thousands of everlastings carpeting the landscape, turning fields into spectacular colours of pink, yellow or snow white."

    Make Geraldton or Dongara-Denison your base to explore the wide-spanning carpets of Coalseam Conservation Park and Mingenew.

    Just two hours north of Perth, there’s a charming blend of wildflowers and historical treasures around Jurien Bay (Lesueur National Park), Coorow (Alexander Morrison National Park) and Badgingarra (Western Flora Wildflower Farm).

    "I encourage families and wildflower enthusiasts to make the short trip out of Perth to see this unique spectacle for themselves. We’ve experienced good rains for the wildflower carpets and individual varieties are already on display” said Mr O’Malley. For those wanting some company “Travel in convoy on Global Gypsies and RAC’s wildflower safari, join an Australian Pinnacles wildflower tour or make use of our self-drive itinerary options” he said.

    Hashtag #wildflowerwatch on Instagram to have your pictures shared by Australia’s Coral Coast or visit www.wildflowerwatch.com.au to find regular updates on wildflowers in bloom throughout the region and to help you create your perfect wildflower itinerary.

     Plan your WA Wildflower Escape

  • Is there life out there? A Hadron Collider is being built in Geraldton

    by Suzanne Fisher | Apr 07, 2015

    Are we alone in space? How were black holes formed? What is dark energy?

    ASKAP dishes will be located in Western Australia. The mid frequency aperture array stations (bottom left), SKA-mid dishes and precursor MeerKAT dishes will be located in South Africa, with some remote stations in other African partner countries. SKA Organisation

    One of the biggest and most complex scientific experiments ever dreamed up - comparable in scale to the Large Hadron Collider - aims to find the answers to these and many more of the most challenging questions facing scientists.

    And it’s already underway in the desert 800 kilometres north of Perth in Western Australia, in North-East Geraldton to be specific.

    While its acronym, SKA, may sound cool, it’s a little less catchy when spelt out  - Square Kilometre Array. Nevertheless, in scientific terms it will be as cool as it gets when it is completed. This radio telescope, made up of thousands of antennas in a collecting area of one square kilometre, is designed to capture images of deep space never seen before.

    The telescope will be the world’s largest and most powerful, with its myriad of antennas - linked by high bandwidth optical fibre - capable of imaging objects in space … all the way back to the Big Bang

    It will be 50 times as sensitive as and 10,000 times faster than anything that exists at the moment. In terms of educating us about space, dark energy, black holes, and extra-terrestrial life, there has never been anything like it.

    The project, conceived in the 1990s and due for completion in 2023, has three precursor telescopes - two in Western Australia and one in South Africa. The two in WA - called the Murchison Widefield Array - have been operational for two years. The SKA will be about 100 times bigger than the MWA and will be built on the same site in the WA desert.

    To do their job they need phenomenal computer power and very fast connections. That’s because radio waves produce digital data that have to be converted by computer into images. And for that, the MWA has a special relationship with the National Broadband Network.

    “The NBN plays a central role in what we do,” says Professor Steven Tingay, director of the MWA. 

    Not only is our service over the NBN critical to carry the raw material that, after analysis, will take our knowledge of the universe to the next level, but it is also is at the forefront of the next big challenge for big businesses - crunching big data.

    In two years the MWA project has produced a colossal four petabytes of data - that’s one million gigabytes or the equivalent of over 5,700 hours of full HD video, and 50 scientific papers. 

    “It’s a massive amount of data and we need to get that out of the middle of the desert to somewhere where we can process it in a timely fashion,” says Professor Tingay.

    With at least 11 countries behind the project - Australia, New Zealand, Britain, China, South Africa, Sweden, Italy, Canada, India, Germany, and The Netherlands - there’s a great deal of data to share and analyse on the way to SKA’s target completion date.The CSIRO has built a dedicated fibre optic line to deliver data at a blistering speed from Murchison to Geraldton, some 300 kilometres to the south. But NBN Co took over from there, laying more than 400 kilometres of fibre optics to deliver the mass of data to the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Perth.

    The quest to find the answers to dark energy. SKA Organisation Swinburne Astronomy Productions

    “Without the NBN we would not get our data out,” says Professor Tingay.

    The antennae and “tiles” that make up the MWA are scattered over 1.5 kilometres under clear desert skies, peering into deep space and “seeing”, for the first time, astonishing events.

    “The MWA is leading the way. It’s early days but we are fully operational and we’re starting to see things we’ve never seen before,” says Professor Tingay. “We’ve seen galaxies in the process of being born; we’ve seen galaxies in the process of dying, so we are seeing the full life cycle of galaxies for the first time.”

    The MWA telescopes are also able to probe in great detail the immediate environment of Earth. Its radio signals produce huge amounts of data which is then converted by computer to images.

    At the moment physics doesn’t have an understanding of what makes up 95 percent of the universe, says Professor Tingay. But SKA will aim to solve, among other things, the mysteries of dark energy and “the cradle of life”, including whether there’s extra-terrestrial intelligence out there.

    So, even though it’s early days in this multi-billion-dollar global quest to crack some of the toughest nuts in science, does he think we will be able to answer the question of whether we are alone in the universe?

    “Life can exist anywhere energy can be transferred,” he says. “There are billions upon billions of stars, and billions and billions of galaxies. It would be ridiculous to think we are the only self-replicating conscious life force.

    “I suspect that life is probably pretty common in the universe.”

    Did you know?

    ● SKA central computer will have the processing power of 100 million PCs

    ● It’s so sensitive it can detect airport radar on planets tens of light years away

    ● Data collected in a day would take nearly 2 million years to play back on an iPod

    ● SKA dishes will produce 10 times the world’s internet traffic

    ● SKA uses enough optical fibre to wrap twice around the Earth

    ● SKA radio telescope will be 10,000 times faster than any existing radio telescopes  

    ● It will be 50 times as sensitive as the best existing radio telescopes

    ● It “sees” through gas, dust and clouds

     ● It will ‘see’ back to the Big Bang

    ● It can see thousands of galaxies in one image

     

    Source: SKA
    Pictures:

    ASKAP dishes (background right) will be located in Western Australia. The mid frequency aperture array stations (bottom left), SKA-mid dishes and precursor MeerKAT dishes (background left) will be located in South Africa, with some remote stations in other African partner countries. Credit: SKA Organisation

    The quest to find the answers to dark energy. Credit - SKA Organisation/Swinburne Astronomy Productions

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