BMW R1200GSA vs Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Exmouth, and a flying visit to the beach.


Grab yourself a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, or a beer, and sit down. Today's blog post is a bumper issue.

Our caravan is out the back of the gym, so we woke this morning listening to all the fit, healthy people grunting and groaning in NRG gym, bashing weights and wearing out treadmills. We decided it was time to do something. It was time to go and have a burger for breakfast.

After filling our bellies with lots of unhealthy food, sorry Dave and Shari, but it tasted sooo goooood, we steered our bikes off on today's tourist trek. 

Leaving breakfast, I stopped at a stop sign and noticed a woman across the road waving madly at me. Puzzled because it's not often women wave at me to get my attention, I looked around, but could see nothing that would cause her to behave like this. Then she started pointing to me. It was then that I turned to find a woman standing next to my bike, puffing and panting, with my mobile phone in her hand. I'd ridden off and had left my phone on the seat of the bike and it had fallen off. She had run me down to give it back. There are still some really nice people in the world. Thank you.

Our first call was at Bundegi Beach, a local favourite for a bit of ocean fun. The wind wasn't in our favour today so it was pretty choppy.

Another pristine beach. They are everywhere in this part of the world. I ignored the temptation to go for a ride on the beach, much to Andrew's relief I'm sure.

Next stop was the Naval Communication Station Harold E Holt (North West Cape). Exmouth was home to the US military for many years during the cold war era and this base is a leftover from that time. It was used to communicate with submarines, and is still in use today by the Australian Navy. The down side to this is that it is a nuclear target because of this.

After riding past the no access signs, Andrew and I were met by this. I guess they didn't want us to visit and say Hi. Not very sociable at all.

One of the huge radio towers. There are thirteen of them.

You can learn more about the base here:

Then it was down the road to the Milyering Discovery Center on the road to Yardie Creek. It's about a 110 kilometer round trip to Yardie Creek, and as we had a lunch date with our hosts, we didn't make it all the way there.

The Milyering Discovery Center was pretty cool, and informative. There is oodles of information on the local sea life, but what caught my eye was this:

A turtle skeleton.

Shell skeleton.

I'd never really thought about turtles having skeletons before, so I found this truly interesting. There are masses of turtles in the area. I'm certainly looking forward to seeing some in the water.

A collection of skulls from the local inhabitants. I'm not sure what the one in the center is.

Local sea creatures.

The Visitors centre is well worth a look if you're in the area. 

Next stop, Turquoise Bay. Another dazzling, pristine beach with sand so white it hurt my eyes to look at it. Can you guess why it's called Turquoise Bay?

It was time to hightail it back to town and meet up with Dave and Shari for our lunch date. On the way we saw a guy hang gliding off a small hill beside the road. Little did we know we'd be meeting the same guy later in the day.

Our hosts, Dave and Shari.

The Novatel Ningaloo Resort was our lunch spot, and was another surprise. It's a really delightful place to sit outside and have a meal of delish food. I can see a weeks holiday there sometime in the future (after I win Lotto).

It was nice to sit down with these guys and get to know then a little better. They are both super fit and work like Trojans from early morning till late in the day, then trot off to various sports activities for themselves and for their kids, so spare time is pretty scarce for them. Dave and Shari are genuinely nice people and I hope we can catch up again soon.

After lunch it was down to the airstrip to test our mettle and take a flight in an...ultralight. Dave had suggested this and both Andrew and I had reservations, to say the least. (Translation: I was terrified). We decided that this sort of opportunity doesn't come along often, so we had to grab the bull by the horns and do it. We chose late in the afternoon because the wind dies right down and makes for a much more enjoyable flight.

We rocked up to the hanger and found Paul, one of the pilots, and Gavin who is the owner, chief pilot, tour guide, and comedian of Bird's Eye View, the company offering the flights to us touristy folk. Guess what? Gavin was the pilot of the hang glider we saw earlier in the day.

We poked around and tried not to look to nervous while the guys did their pre-flight checks. Here's a bit of info about the aircraft:

It's an Airborne XT582.

Powered by a 65 horsepower, 580cc, water-cooled, two-stroke Rotax motor.

Complete with Bing carbies no less.

So basically it's a three wheeled, under powered motorcycle, with a fan in the back, and a bit of nylon stuck on top for a wing. I can't see anything wrong with that.

If you really have to buy one, you'll find the guff here:

After a short briefing two very large chickens donned flight suits (our riding jackets) and our you beaut helmets with communications, and we were away.

Well, almost. There was a slight technical hitch with my aircraft. The big cooling fan on the back wasn't working. Yup, it wouldn't start. I reckon Paul thought I nobbled it to get out of the flight, but I didn't, honest. A bit of fiddling and this time the big fan was spinning. We were off.

All I can say is WOW! I love it. I joked about the aircraft being a motorcycle, but it really is like riding a bike in the sky. It's totally awesome! And totally relaxing.

Taking photos is an issue. Because I was wearing a full face helmet I couldn't use the viewfinder, or see the display on the back of the camera. I reverted to the old point the camera in the general direction, hit the shutter release, and hope. Unfortunately this didn't work very well for me. Luckily the guys have GoPro cameras on the wing taking a photo every 10 seconds, so for a small charge you end up with quite a few hundred photos. With that many photos some of them have to be good.

Paul conducting a pre flight check on the most important piece of equipment on the aircraft. The GoPro camera.

Here's where we went:

We did a flyover town. Small isn't it?

Then flew over Cape Range National Park. This is my favourite photo. I'm in the red bird, and Andrew is in the background.

Then out over the beaches and reef looking for things that swim. We're banking right in this photo, pulling about 1G according to Paul.

Paul tried his hardest to whisper up a whale shark, but had no success.

We flew up and down the coast and saw whales with calves, Tiger sharks, turtles, manta rays, it was all fantastic.

I know it's a stretch, but that white dot in the middle of the photo is a whale.

Back over range.

Before we knew it the sun was setting and it was time to head for home.

Birds Eye View don't just offer a flight, it's a flying lesson as well...

Me at the controls. Yahoo!
You're a brave man Paul.

With Paul's guidance we did a few left and right turns, and a bit of decent stuff. It was a massive amount of fun. After a bike I found the aircraft to be slow to respond, and it needed a lot of input. Not like a bike at all. The other thing I found weird is when you put it into a turn, it doesn't straighten up by itself. You have to make it go straight again.

Just as the sun was setting we had wheels down and we were back in the hangar.

Do we look like we enjoyed ourselves?

Andrew, Me, and Gavin.

Andrew, Paul, and little ol' me.

Bird's Eye View offer an exciting, different way to see Exmouth and a good selection of the marine life that is there. You can find their website here:

Was it a good experience? Let me put it this way, it's one of the best things I've done, and if I happen to enjoy a large Lotto win...Thanks guys.

Tomorrow well probably stick to more sedate Exmouth touristy stuff.

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