Monday, March 2, 2009

Climbing, Cliff Jumping and Rottnest Island...all in one week

G’day  I figured it was once again time to write a little something about what I have been up to.  This past week was filled with adventures, good times, and even a little school work.  I have finally gotten into a routine here which has allowed me to settle in even further and get the sense that I am actually in school and not on a continuous vacation.  Classes have been actually fun, engaging and so far relatively easy; although the amount of reading is quite a bit more than I am used to in the US of A.  The only disappointment so far in terms of classes has been the Aboriginal culture class where the prof essentially uses the time to preach to us about racism and feeds us nothing but his opinions and papers he has written.  To make up for it though are my other two classes which are very interesting, well taught and stimulating subjects.  The tourism class is pretty relevant as well considering what I am doing here in the first place…traveling.

Throughout this past week I went on a few adventures.  The most notable was a trip to Rottnest Island.  This past Sunday all of us IFSA students took a trip to the Island via ferry (the rotto express), rented a bike and a set of snorkel gear and spent the day.  Rotto is a surfing, snorkeling, and cycling “destination” only 30 min away from Freo.  One of the cool aspects of Rotto is that there are no cars on the island so the only way around is by bike or walking…there are some unfortunate “tourist” buses that run every hour or so but the island is mainly for biking.  The island itself is quite small which allowed us to bike nearly around the entire island in the time we were there.  Every so often, pretty much once we couldn’t handle the heat any longer, we would seek out a stretch of reef that looked interesting and snorkel around for a few hours or so.  The reef was pretty spectacular, filled with the usual coral and exotic fish that go along with reefs.  The water was crystal clear to the point that you could see the bottom even if you were more than 100 yards from the shore.  We did encounter quite a few snakes, about three, and many many large spiders…think 2 inch bodies on the spiders.  At one point while we were sitting on a beach a 4-5 ft snake kept slithering out and moving toward our spot on the beach…given the coloration of the snake and our fellow Aussie friend Leon’s guess it was either the very poisonous western brown or the not so poisonous “other” snake haha…regardless it cause a good spike in the ole’ blood pressure.  Rotto was absolutely beautiful.  By far some of the best beach I have seen and snorkeling for the first time was really fun as well…not a bad way to spend a Sunday.

Earlier in the week, I felt the itch to find some rock climbing, especially after missing the bus to do so last week so once again, I set out with Mike in search of Blackwall Reach…a public park that is along the Swan River.  To get there we had to catch the bus into freo and then snag another bus into Bicton, a suburb just outside of Freo. This time we managed to catch the bus and after a decent walk from the bus stop (about 20min) we found our climbing area.  Blackwall is essentially a large natural park that sits on a cliff face overlooking the river.  It took us a while to figure out how to get down to the level of the water and to find a place that was suitable for my first outdoor climb in over 3 months.  We found a really nice overhand about 3 meters in height that protruded right over the water.  We were a little indecisive if the water would be deep enough of offer proper protection but after a short debate we pretty much decided that we did not travel all that way to not climb.  The style of climbing we were doing is “deep water soloing” which allows a climber to climb without the traditional protection of a rope and anchors;  the climber uses the water as protection, which is considered to be “safe” up to 50ft.  We did have a little trouble with jellyfish floating into our “fall zone,” where we would have to wait until they cleared up before proceeding.  About 5-6 climbs into it we decided that jellyfish were too many in numbers and not leaving so we packed up and left.  On our way out we ran into 3 locals who were cliff jumping close to where we were climbing…and they were jumping right into the jellyfish swarms with no apparent fear or worry about it.  We soon found out, after one of the fella put one of the jellyfish on his head, that the jellys we had been all sketched out about all day were not poisonous and did not sting…good to know now I guess haha…crazy locals.  We decided to have a go at a few more climbs after the new found knowledge.  We found another good 30ft climb or so…it was pretty easy but really fun and it was cool to climb in such a free and uncluttered way.  It’s fun to be exposed to a good size fall, with the safety of the water below…hard to describe until you do it.  Anyways…there are many good climbs of various height and difficulty that I will be exploring in the near future.

The last major adventure of the week entailed a trip back to blackwall reach with the sole intentions of cliff jumping.  I woke up Saturday, a little tired from a good Friday night, to a clear blue day and high 90 temps. I figured what a better way to spend warm day than to huck myself off of a good size cliff with a couple mates.  I gathered a crew of 2 and we set off again toward blackwall.  Because it was a Saturday, the bus that Mike and I had taken earlier in the week was only running every 3 hours, so we had to catch a different bus.  This resulted in making the 20min walk from the bus drop a 30-40 min walk…not overly fun in 90 degree heat…but well worth it.  We eventually made it to the spot and discovered that it is infact quite a popular place on a hot weekend day.  20 or so people were there cliff jumping and or watching the jumping.  There are 3 different jump locations.  The first, where we started, is roughly a 20-25 ft jump that is really easy i.e. no reef to jump over.  The water is really deep – we deducted this by the people who were diving off the cliff.  The second jump, that we did later after our confidence was up, is roughly 35-40 ft.  it’s a little hard to judge height from on top of a cliff but look at the pictures in the link and you can get the right idea about size of the jump…it was quite large.  It was fun to watch the crazy shenanigans that the other people there were doing…imagine people doing running gainers and backflips off of the smallest slippery platforms 40 ft above water.  Not much else to say about the experience other than by the time we got back all three of us were drained after a day filled with high levels of adrenaline.  It is definitely something we will all be back to do again here in the near future.

The remaining days of the week and such were filled with class, lecture, and reading early in the week along with a trip to the beach.  Needless to say it was a great week filled with many adventures and new experiences.

Well, it’s the beginning of the third week of classes here so I got 3-4 days of class work, lectures and readings until the adventures and fun start up again.  Have a good one until then.



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