The Coral Coast

Last week, we were extremely blessed to have friends visit from Adelaide with their twin boys, and together we travelled a good ways up the coast. Our base was Carnarvon, a former port close to the Tropic of Capricorn. It’s more of a tourist destination now, and there are many banana and mango plantations in the area, as well as a one mile jetty that used to be used to load cattle and other livestock. It now makes a happy spot for fishermen.

The following pictures are of the Blowholes, about an hour or so north of Carnarvon, where the sea is forced  through holes in the rocks along the coastline into huge sprays and fountains that resemble Old Faithful. It’s an incredible sight, and reminds us of the power of our Creator. You definitely needed to be aware of each your steps here, very rough coastline.

   
                 

Many fishermen choose to balloon fish for enormous fish along this coastline, using helium balloons to carry the line over the reefs and rocks out to where the bait floats on top of the water. Apparently, it is quite the adrenalin rush to see a 50kg tuna or cod jump out of the water to get hooked. Many times shark get the catch before the fisherman hauls it in. 

We also did our first real snorkeling at Coral Bay, another 3 hours north of the Blowholes. It’s a tiny seaside community on the Ningaloo Reef. We were all amazed at the variety and color of fish and coral. It was Scott’s first time snorkeling and he was fascinated by the world below the water.

The Ningaloo Reef is apparently the largest fringing reef in the world, stretching for 260 km along the Western Australian coastline. It hugs close to the shoreline, and is close enough to walk out to.

Unfortunately because we were underwater the whole time, I have no pictures but we will don the Go-Pro next time!

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School of the Air

We had such an interesting morning! About 5 minutes down the road along the seafront (by bike) is the Meekatharra School of the Air. There are about 5 Schools of the Air in Western Australia and they serve students in outlying sheep, cattle and mining stations. I’ve heard people talk about their students long bus rides at home, well, these kids, if they attended a physical school, would be looking at a 20 hour bus drive! 

Yeah.

The Meekatharra School of the Air has been in operation since the early 1960’s. It originally was facilitated through radio, and in the last ten years has graduated to satellite internet.

We were invited to take a tour this morning. We were able to sit in with a teacher (Mrs. Jeffrey) who was introducing reading to her pre-k class. She is the English/language teacher and each age group is slotted a different time during the day. Children of the same grade are able to communicate with the teacher and with each other over the Internet, using both voice and visual. This morning the teacher was turning virtual pages of “I am Sam” and the children were reading to her and answering questions. It was just like school but over a thousand miles of air. The students seemed incredibly bright, Harry wanted to know if he could read backwards to make it more challenging. He was 4.

As well as teaching all core areas (including PE) over the air, the school runs camps several times of year that allow the families to come into Geraldton and get together. Sometimes this takes place at a ranch also. The parents use this time to stock up on groceries! 

The school also provides daily mailings of lessons, sports equipment, requested books (the School of the Air has its own library). Depending on the time of year and how bad the roads are during wet season (a problem in the tropics) the mail can occasionally be delayed.

It appeared to be a seamless system, however. The teachers have a close relationship with their children and the parents. The School of the Air is almost entirely funded by the Western Australian government, with a very small contribution from the families. This provides all necessary computer equipment, sports equipment and mailings. The children even have a uniform they don in the morning! 

During muster season, there is usually a break from lessons to allow the families to work together on farming. Mom is usually the teachers aide, but some families hire a live-in tutor or governess. 

  
   
 

Mrs Jeffrey

 
The mailing prep table. 

  

 The library and teachers resource room.

All students have a combined assembly over the air on Fridays. This is their school spirit song, their motto is Wisdom by Wireless, which, ironically, describes their way of schooling now, just as well as it did 50 years ago. 😊

  

Wildflower Wonderland

Western Australia, and particularly the Coral Coast area, where we are living, is renown  for its amazing wildflowers. Botanists apparently come from all over the world this time of year when they are in bloom. It is of course, the beginning of spring here, and although I have seen flowers everywhere since we arrived in the “depths” of winter, the wildflowers in our photographs only bloom from June in the north to November in the south. There are more than 12,000 species of wildflowers in WA, making it the world’s largest collection. 60 percent of the Western Australia wildflowers are found nowhere else on earth.

I wish I could tell you the names of all the flowers in the photos. I am planning on making a book and figuring out what they all are. Last week we went to an area where the white, pink and yellow Everlastings were in bloom, this week we are headed to see the unusual Wreath Leschenaultia closer to Mullewa.

Enjoy. Bear in mind, I know nothing about flowers, so some of these could be complete and total weeds.

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