Fascinating Termite Mounds

Termite mounds, which can be seen very easily along the roads in northern Western Australia and Northern Territory, are quite a spectacular and natural phenomenon that reminds us of the anthills of New South Wales. The bush is filled with hundreds, if not thousands, of what often resembles a new form of Pinnacles. Neither form nor color are regular. These mounds can reach up to two meters high, especially in the Litchfield National Park. Inside, the complexity of the structure of these nests, allowing temperature control is equally fascinating.

Discover Coral Bay On A Quad Bike

Coral Bay activities are mainly ocean oriented, but there is an exception. Coral Bay Ecotours, in addition to its Whale Shark Tour, Marine Eco Tour and Glass Bottom Boat Tours, also offers Quad Bike adventures. It is ideal for exploring the pristine beaches, bush tracks and sand dunes unknown to most tourists. Whether it is to admire the sunset on the horizon or to see turtles from cliff tops feeding in shallow waters just metres from the shore, each tour available offers interaction with nature. From our side, we tried the Snorkel Sunset tour. The quads are automatic, thus very easy to drive. A very pleasant activity that we recommend you try!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Coral Bay Ecotours.

Snorkeling in Coral Bay

Coral Bay is a marine paradise on the Ningaloo Coast. With its coral reefs and underwater species that roam the seabed a few hundred metres away from the coast, it is the ideal place to practice snorkeling. Rather than go blindly, you can join a tour organized by local tour operators such as Coral Bay Ecotours whose Marine Ecotour is an activity not to be missed (and we have not missed it!). Slip into your wetsuit, mask and snorkel and throw yourself into the water once your guides give you the green light. The coral reef is amazing. Approach and see hundreds of fish and turtles that evolve in their natural environment, it is something really magical. But this is nothing compared to the experience that awaits you later on this tour when you come to swim with the largest ray on Earth: the manta ray. Unlike whale sharks, manta rays are present on the reef all year round. Beyond this unique experience, this adventure lasts for a period of five to six hours and also includes the loan of all equipment, a hearty snack and refreshments. You will be blown away!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Coral Bay Ecotours.

Take A Rest In Coral Bay

Located at the southern end of the Ningaloo Coast, Coral Bay and looks like a huge camping ground. This small-scale community is really relaxed. It is also one of Western Australia's premier family holiday destinations. One can walk easily around town and the schedule type of each visitor alternates between lazing on the magnificent pristine white beach of the bay, snorkelling around the coral reef or taking part in the various activities offered by local tour operators. We loved it and we ended up staying two days longer than originally planned.

Ningaloo Coast

Here is a new found love of exceptional beauty! Ningaloo Coast, recognized as one of the last great ocean paradises, stretches 300 kilometers between Shark Bay and Exmouth. From the shore, the banks offer dreamy scenery. Under water, where the colour could not be more perfect (photo), there are a multitude of marine species including barracudas, dolphins, dugongs, manta rays, sharks and turtles. The region is also famous for hosting 300-500 whale sharks each year, the largest fish in the world. Between March and July, visitors from around the world flock to the Ningaloo Coast for the experience of a lifetime: a swim with whale sharks. This is the only place in the world where these giants of the sea are easily accessible and are returning in large numbers near the coast with the precision of a Swiss watch. Unfortunately we missed it because we were in the area out of season. Finally, the Ningaloo Coast is also famous for its world class reef composed of not less than 300 coral species, over 700 species of reef fish (including Nemo), about 650 species of molluscs, nearly 600 species of crustaceans and more than 1000 species of seaweed. A mask and snorkel are enough to observe all this at only a hundred metres away from the shore! For all these reasons, the Ningaloo Coast in 2011 became the 19th Australian site to be inscribed on the World Heritage List of UNESCO.

Steep Point, The Westernmost Point Of Australia

We started the beginning of our travels with a visit to Byron Bay, where the lighthouse is the easternmost point of Australia. Today, we are at Steep Point in Shark Bay. It is the westernmost point of Australia. But the place is also extremely famous because it is one of the world's most successful land based game fishing locations. Spectacular scenery with Zuytdorp Cliffs, almost 200 metres above the ocean, is the icing on the cake. Note that the access to Steep Point is by 4WD only. Unless you prefer to take off for a scenic flight (photo) which might take your breath away.

A Day In Paradise On Penguin Island

Penguin Island is nestled in a paradise location in the southern suburbs of Perth, 45 minutes away from the central business district and just five minutes off the coast of Rockingham (where we swam with wild dolphins). As its name suggests, the local star is the little penguin. It is the same species we came across on Philip Island. Other than that Penguin Island is also the ideal place to enjoy wildlife, activities and breathtaking scenery of the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park. We also took part in a very popular cruise that sails the bay for 45 minutes. This is a unique opportunity to approach sea lions. During our cruise we even witnessed a rare spectacle when these mammals amused themselves by jumping in the waves with dolphins. On the way back, the boat drops the passengers off at Penguin Island where it is very easy to spend a full day as it is so beautiful and pleasant. Laze the day away in paradise!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Rockingham Wild Encounters.

Shark Bay From The Sky

We have been sharing with you the most spectacular corners of Shark Bay that we have discovered lately. Today we take off and gain altitude with Shark Bay Air Charter to admire these from the sky. We feel privileged to fly over this breathtaking scenery, part of UNESCO World Heritage. The company based at Denham Airport offers eight different flights, lasting from 15 minutes to a full day. The overview of the birridas of François Peron National Park is particularly impressive. In the bay, the ocean is so clear and shallow that it is also possible to see sharks and other marine species which frequent the turquoise waters. Enough to blow you away! Flights are available 7 days a week, subject to weather conditions.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Shark Bay Air Charter.

The Birridas Of Francois Peron National Park

Found inside the Francois Peron National Park many traces of gypsum claypans, better known as the birridas which were landlocked saline lakes when sea levels were much higher than at present. In some places, such as Big Lagoon (photo), the rise in sea level has however allowed the formation of shallow inland bays. The turquoise water makes the place beautiful. The best way to explore the area is probably a kayak ride. With a little more budget, you can also take to the air, and opt for a scenic flight over the park and Shark Bay departing from Denham Airport.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Department of Environment and Conservation (Western Australia).

Francois Peron National Park's Dramatic Landscapes

Francois Peron National Park is located on the road to Monkey Mia, four kilometres after Denham. Renowned for its dramatic landscapes, certainly the most stunning scenery you will see in Shark Bay, the park is accessible by 4WD only. If you do not have your own personal vehicle, do not hesitate to join a tour departing from Denham to be sure not to miss this natural show. Allow at least a day, if not two, for the visit. Actually you will find a few designated basic campsites in the park. After driving across the park, you will arrive at Cape Peron (photo), where striking rust red sand dunes give way to pristine white beaches and a crystal blue ocean. The place reminds us of this incredible beach located on Kangaroo Island. As in Eagle Bluff, it is also possible to view Shark Bay's abundant marine life from the top of the cliffs. During our visit, we attended a manta rays ballet. Truly a must see for nature lovers!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Department of Environment and Conservation (Western Australia).

The Dolphins Of Monkey Mia

Two Indigenous Australians fishermen took the habit of throwing fish to the dolphins on their way back to the shore. Later, in the 60s, a visitor started to feed the dolphins from the beach, strengthening a little more the connection between dolphins and humans. Nowadays, the dolphins seem tame and swim to shore to interact with humans on a daily basis in Monkey Mia (30 kilometres North East of Denham). This daily ritual, which it is possible to attend and take part in, gives Monkey Mia its worldwide fame. As these bottlenose dolphins are wild, the time of their visit varies. However, they usually visit the shore two to three times per day between 7:30 and 12:00. There is a small fee to enter the reserve, but the activity itself is free. This is the only place in Australia where this phenomenon happens and it is with no doubt one of the most popular experiences in Shark Bay!

Wildlife Watching In Shark Bay

We continue our discovery of Shark Bay's wonders part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. After leaving Shell Beach, we head closer to Denham. On the way, we stop at Eagle Bluff. A very short walk takes you on top of a cliff, where you have access to a quite extraordinary coastal scenery. The bay directly under your feet is so shallow and the water so clear that you can actually view all the marine life of the area. It is one of the best places in Shark Bay for this kind of viewing. Thus in a few minutes, no need to wait for too long, we saw rays, turtles and sharks.

Shell Beach

Shell Beach is an extraordinary place, halfway between Denham and Hamelin Pool. This beach stretches for over 120 kilometers. At first glance, one would think it is made ​​of pristine white sand. In reality, it is a beach made up entirely of billions of tiny cockle shells which have been drifting in for about 4,000 years. There are so many of them that this rather unusual surface can reach up to ten meters deep. In the past shells were used to construct some buildings which has become historical in Denham. Being located in the heart of Shark Bay, part of the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1991, it is now forbidden to remove any of these shells. On a still day, the water at Shell Beach transforms into a palette of the most intense greens and blues. A must see!

Stromatolites Of Shark Bay

Shark Bay is located in Western Australia approximately 800 kilometers north of Perth. The region, part of UNESCO World Heritage List, is home to many many protected areas and conservation reserves. At the southern part of the bay, 90 kilometers from Denham, is Hamelin Pool. This site is well known around the world for hosting stromatolites (photo), colonies of micro-organisms that resemble the oldest and simplest forms of life found on earth around 3.5 billion years ago. A boardwalk allows you to get really close to the best show of its kind on the planet. Note that it is not possible to touch the stromatolites or swim in this environment. Swimming is possible at Shell Beach, an incredible beach which is only 50 kilometers north.

Running Sydney Marathon

Running a marathon is a huge personal achievement. On this occasion some people, like Sarah, even run it as a part of a humanitarian project. Running a marathon among one of the most scenic urban landscape on the planet is a unique opportunity. Like the world's largest marathons, from New York City to Paris, via London, Sydney Marathon is a sporting event taking in some of the city's most spectacular and historic landmarks. Part of the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival, the event has three others distances to chose from so there is a run to suit all fitness levels (and they all go over the Harbour Bridge): Half Marathon (21 km), Bridge Run (9 km) or Family Fun Run (3.5 km). After going over the Harbour Bridge, the Marathon course continues into the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney. The runners then head to Moore Park and Centennial Parklands where they run along the Allianz Stadium, Alessandro Del Piero's new playground since he has recently joined the Sydney FC. The second half of the race takes place in Sydney's central business district, close to Darling Harbour before finishing on a high note in the idyllic setting of Circular Quay. Approaching the finish line, on the ramp onto Sydney Opera House Forecourt, the crowd is so close and noisy that one could feel like being at the Olympics. Absolutely magic! Taking part in such a huge event is also an opportunity to "visit" a city as large as Sydney without the hassle of traffic. The 2013 Blackmores Sydney Running Festival will be held on Sunday 22 September!
For the record, on this occasion, Loïc set a new personal best in the marathon.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Blackmores Sydney Running Festival.

Pinocchio By West Australian Ballet At His Majesty's Theatre

His Majesty's Theatre is a beautiful Edwardian-style building located in the heart of Perth central business district. It sits on Hay Street not far from the famous international brand designers. When it opened in the early twentieth century, it was the largest theatre in Australia. It could accommodate over 2,500 people seated (1,200 today). In all likelihood, it would be the first reinforced concrete building constructed in Perth. The theatre has always played a very important role in Western Australia's cultural landscape. It continues to host many events such as musicals, operas and plays. During our stay, we had the opportunity to attend a performance of Pinocchio presented by West Australian Ballet. What an experience! Whether for a tour or to attend a show (see event calendar), do not miss the opportunity to discover this cultural institution of the city.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of His Majesty's Theatre.

Explore The Secrets Of Sydney Harbour

Sydney Harbour is undoubtedly one of Australia's most beautiful urban settings. From the bay you get a beautiful view of Sydney's central business district including famous Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Not only that, Sydney Harbour is also made of twenty kilometres of coves, beaches, bays and curiosities such as Fort Denison (photo) that you may not even been aware of their existence. There are many tour operators offering cruises into the bay. We already participated as crew on a real America's Cup yacht. This time we joined Sydney Harbour Boat Tours which is Sydney's only full day guided harbour boat tour. From celebrity homes and million dollar mansions (yes, now we know where Russell Crowe's loft is) to the harbour's most secluded beaches, Andrew will make sure you do not miss a thing. Enjoy hopping on and off the boat so you can actually explore the surroundings. The tour includes a fresh seafood lunch from the famous Sydney Fish Market that you can enjoy among fishing boats and million dollar yachts. Wait until you see the platter! Later in the afternoon, you can walk around Manly's shops and beach. Weather permitting, why not jumping in the water for a swim in one of the most private beaches of the area? The tour concludes with a cold beverage at one of the most picturesque terraces in town. All the information you need is available on the website. Note that a courtesy bus is available to pick you up and drop you off at your hotel. Sydney Harbour Boat Tours is a gem of the harbour and a day that goes definitely too fast! We loved it.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Sydney Harbour Boat Tours.

Powerhouse Museum, Science + Design In Sydney

The Powerhouse Museum is an amazing museum located in Ultimo, on the edge of Sydney's central business district and near Darling Harbour (where Sydney Aquarium, Wild Life Sydney and Sailing Sydney are). It occupies the premises of the former power station built to power the city's electric tram system. Its permanent collection covers areas as diverse as history, science, technology, design, industry, decorative arts, music, transport and space exploration. In total, it has more than 500,000 items, using contemporary technologies to showcase them. We were particularly impressed (and shaken) by the Zero Gravity Space Lab. Using special effects, this replica space lab creates the illusion of weightlessness associated with microgravity. There is something to suit every taste. The Powerhouse Museum is also famous for its numerous and varied temporary exhibitions. During our two visits, we stepped through the wardrobe of Harry Potter and discovered the world of Narnia (we have been told that Wallace and Gromit are moving in this summer). This cultural outing, which allows you to discover the ideas and technologies that have changed the world, is a pure delight for little ones and their elders (not to mention the machine that explains how chocolate is made and lets you taste some)!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Powerhouse Museum.

Sydney Olympic Stadium Tour

Sydney, Stadium Australia. September 2000. Cathy Freeman, Australian athlete of indigenous origin, lights the Olympic flame. A few days later, in the same stadium and in her famous swift-suit (exposed at the National Sports Museum in Melbourne), she wins a gold medal for the women's 400 metres and becomes the first athlete who lit the Olympic flame to win a gold medal at the same games. These are two of many unforgettable moments of some of the greatest sporting events in Australian history which has occured at ANZ Stadium (formerly known as Stadium Australia). The venue located in the heart of Sydney Olympic Park is the only stadium in the world to host five professional sports on a regular basis (rugby, rugby league, Australian football, football and cricket), in addition to large entertainment events. Guided tours of what is known as one of the world's finest and most technologically-advanced stadiums are also organized several times a day. Experiencing the thrill of running through the players' tunnel (with original Sydney 2000 Olympics cheering crowd sound) and standing on a genuine Sydney 2000 medal dais (photo), just like Cathy Freeman did 12 years ago, is quite an exciting experience for sports enthusiasts. A must see during a stay in Sydney!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of ANZ Stadium.

Kalbarri, On The Land Side

Kalbarri National Park, located about 500 kilometers north of Perth, occupies an area of ​​183,000 hectares a few kilometers away from impressive coastal cliffs. This is one of the most spectacular parks in Western Australia. Nature has carved breathtaking landscapes including Murchison River Gorge which is over 400 million years old. Short walks provide easy access to lookouts overlooking the wilderness. There are also many longer trails available for hiking enthusiasts. One of the park's main attractions is probably Nature's Window (photo), a natural arch with a beautiful view over the valley. Be careful, as often in the outback, there is no drinking water in the park. So do not forget to always carry your own, especially here, where summer temperatures frequently exceed 40 degrees Celsius.

Kalbarri, On The Ocean Side

Kalbarri is seven hours drive north of Perth, where the outback meets with the Indian Ocean. With its warm and sunny days, its incredible scenery and its tranquility, the region is a popular destination for the people of Western Australia. Make sure to venture along spectacular coastal cliffs a few kilometers south of the city. These rock formations are also reminiscent of the Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road. If possible, visit this part of the Coral Coast between July and October. Not only you can watch the colorful show offered by more than 1,000 varieties of blooming wildflowers, but you will certainly be lucky enough to see humpback whales migrating with their calves.

A Pink Salt Lake

We love going off the beaten track during our road trip around Australia. You should consider it as well during your travels. Tourist guides are ok but they do not tell you everything. And between you and us, we have seen the Sydney Opera House at great length. Luckily, iPhoneography Oz is here for you to discover places unknown to the general public. Do you remember the colorful cliffs of Red Banks on Kangaroo Island? Well after the Blue Lake in Mount Gambier, here is another coloured lake that has caught our attention. Hutt Lagoon is a salt lake that lies north of the Pinnacles, near the coast between Geraldton and Kalbarri, more than 500 kilometers north of Perth. Its pink colour is striking. It is mainly due to the significant presence in the water of... carotene. Which is reassuring! We almost thought it was due to pollution after coming across a gate, on our way there, signed with the logo of a major international chemical group.

The Pinnacles

Hidden around Australia are some surprises that are just as unusual as they are beautiful. The Pinnacles are one of those wonders of nature which really pose the question of how they got there. It is located in the Nambung National Park, easily accessible, two hours drive north of Perth. Standing there is like being on the moon in front of a fascinating natural show, perhaps one of the most impressive in Australia. There are thousands of limestone formations, like natural standing stones made from seashells forming needles like structures from a few centimeters to five meters in height. Their age is estimated to be over 30,000 years. Photographers will appreciate the light at sunrise or sunset.

Free Camping In Australia

Australia is the country of travel par excellence. If you are a regular reader of iPhoneography Oz, you will have been able to grasp the diversity of this continent. Many, like us, choose to take their time to visit this country. If some choose to travel by plane, others (let's say the majority) travel by road. The accommodation can quickly become a big part of your budget, even when choosing to camp. Unless we are talking about free camping. But this does not mean camping anywhere. The police (in cities) or the rangers (in national parks) make sure you respect the rules and fines can be really expensive if you camp in prohibited areas. However, there are free camping areas available along the roads. You should think about getting a guide which tells you where they are. The main advantage is the cost: free. But at this price, the facilities are primitive. Often it only has picnic tables and garbage bins, toilets sometimes. But not always. Choosing this kind of travel is also going to make you an expert on knowing where the hot showers are! Forget the comforts of home or a luxury bed & breakfast. But after all, is this not the essence of a successful road trip that will be remembered for a lifetime?

Emergency Airstrip

We are used to having shoulders on the side of highways in the western world. This lane is normally used as an emergency lane in the case of a breakdown or by emergency vehicles in the case of road congestion. They exist in Australia too. But in the most remote areas of the Outback, the emergency lane can sometimes occupy the entire width of the road... and become an emergency airstrip! It has not happened to us yet, but we can only imagine the surprise at suddenly being overtaken by an aircraft that lands in front of you.

Running The Sydney Marathon In A School Dress

iPhoneography Oz gives a try to Guest Blogging! We are going to regularly invite a blogger to cover a topic about Australian society. Today, Sarah gets the ball rolling. Just like us, she is about to run the Sydney Marathon (Blackmores Sydney Running Festival) on September 16. Except that she is going to run in a dress!

This is a guest post by Sarah Forsterling of Social 4 Social

Lots of my friends are freaked out about turning 30. That it means they should be well on their way to wherever they had decided they wanted to get to when they were 21. But for some reason that is not me. Not sure if it is because I look young, have ringlets and don't wear much makeup or just because I see 30 as an opportunity to mark where you want to go. You are old enough to have an idea of the sort of person you want to be and the sort of attitude and energy you want to encourage in those around you. So I am pumped about turning 30 in two weeks time.

I love to do lots of things. I love reading, writing and running. I love spending time with my family and friends. And I love being empowered to make the decisions that affect my life. So I thought why not mark my 30 milestone by doing something that encourages all of these things - health, fitness, appreciation for the outdoors and education.

For my birthday I am not asking for presents or champagne. Instead, I am running the Sydney Marathon in a school dress, asking my family to join me and asking my mates to donate $10 to help send girls to school in Sierra Leone.

Not your typical 30th birthday celebration, but one which I will remember and one which I hope encourages me, and those around me, to continue to be positive, motivated and realise you can always have an impact.

I am going to turn 30, being hot, sweaty and healthy. Surrounded by motivated people, taking in some of Australia's best sites and being proud of helping share the joy of education with deserving girls. Hard to beat that.

If you feel like supporting Sarah you can do that over here, she would love it. Or you can find her on twitter or pop over to see her blog.

Photo captured by @sarfos. If you would like to guest post for iPhoneography Oz, send us a message and we will give you the details about how YOU can allow the iOz community to experience a preview of Australian society.

The Best Beach In Perth

The City of Stirling is located in the heart of the Sunset Coast, only 20 minutes away from Perth central business district. There, Scarborough Beach is probably one of the best beaches around Perth. It offers all the advantages of the perfect beach. It is equipped with changing rooms including showers and toilets. There are also picnic areas with barbecues and children's playgrounds (caution snakes!). Once you are done with sunbathing and surfing, you can visit one of the many bars and cafes overlooking the ocean. Ideal to enjoy the sunsets! Scarborough is also known to have a wide range of accommodation. From a room in a hostel to five-star apartments, you will find the right option to suit your budget. Finally, during the warmest months of the year, you can enjoy live performances and events at the only amphitheatre on the beach in Western Australia.

The Sunset Coast

The Sunset Coast is the ultimate destination for Perth's inhabitants looking for a trip to the beach. This coastal strip extends about fifty kilometres from Cottesloe, north of Fremantle, up to Joondalup. You have a very wide choice. The beaches are clean and are generally not crowded. Most of them have children's playgrounds and barbecues. A bike path runs along the coastline. A must for a bike ride or a jog with magnificent views of the Indian Ocean. By late afternoon, locals swap their work clothes for their wetsuit and go for a surf. The coast also offers excellent views to admire the sunset. Did you have any doubt about the Australian lifestyle?

Blue Tongue Lizard

Australia is a country where one will find the largest number of venomous animals, among the most venomous species in the world. But not only. There are also charming (depending on perspective) harmless creatures that could be likened to something out of the imagination of Jurassic Park's creators. This is the case of blue tongued skinks, better known as blue tongued lizards or simply blue tongues in Australia. As its name suggests it has a blue tongue which is mainly used as... a bluff-warning to potential enemies. While it may look scary, do not worry, this "monster" moves at the speed of a sprinting snail and will not attack you. You can even hold it in your hands!

Swim With Wild Dolphins

Rockingham is located only 45 minutes south of Perth. With its long sheltered beaches, water sports and parks, it is a popular tourist destination. The city is located opposite the beautiful waters of the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park, famous for its underwater wildlife. If in Mandurah, you can see dolphins, here you can just get into the water and swim with wild dolphins! Early in the morning Rockingham Wild Encounters takes you to the heart of their territory. When the mammals are approaching, it is time to put your wetsuit on and slip into the water with an experienced guide. You literally plunge into another world, quickly surrounded by dozens of dolphins, both curious and playful. We can just recommend you to keep your eyes wide open - and ears as well - not to miss the show. It is an amazing experience to live once in your life! For us, it is now done. The crew are adorable, which makes it a really enjoyable cruise. Please note, even if it is completely anecdotal after such an experience, the lunch is served on board before returning to the mainland.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Rockingham Wild Encounters.