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Perth is an extremely modern and tidy city, located alongside the peaceful waters of the Swan River about 20 kilometres inland from the Indian Ocean.

The City was located here for its safe inland position during colonial times, while the river provided an excellent means for transporting supplies from the coastal port to the fledgling colony. Much of Perth was originally built using convict labour and this can still be seen today in some of Perth's remaining historic buildings which are now very much dwarfed amongst the new tower blocks that dominate the skyline. Perth is the gateway to Western Australia and easily accessed with direct flights from Auckland on Air New Zealand and with the new Virgin Australia alliance, regional Western Australia has opened up.

Broome in the north west region is a town with a fascinating history. It is perhaps little known that during WW2, not only Darwin but Broome was attacked by Japanese planes and 70 lost their lives. It is best known for its pearling industry which in the 1800’s used Aboriginal slaves as divers, many who disturbingly were chained by the neck and forced to walk long distances out of their own lands only to die as a result of drowning or of 'The Bends". Later Japanese divers made up most of the work-force but suffered initially as a result of the White Australia policy and then later during WW2 were driven out altogether. The Chinese have a long history here too. After the introduction of the White Australia Policy, the white Pearling Masters fought for an exemption to allow the Chinese divers to continue working as the Asian divers were proven to be far less likely to drown or die from The Bends than European divers (although not sure why). Cable Beach is famous for its sunset camel trains which saunter along the beach. Have a sunset picnic there and view the "Staircase to the Moon" where, on a full moon when the low-tide is low enough, the full moon rises and casts light upon the mud-flats and wet sand creating an optical illusion of a staircase reaching for the moon. The staircase occurs three nights each month from March to October. The best viewing point is at Roebuck Bay in Broome and the Staircase Markets are held at Town Beach, Broome during Staircase dates.

The Ningaloo Reef is on the Coral Coast near Exmouth. The biggest benefit Ningaloo has over the Great Barrier Reef is that it’s right in front of the shore. You can literally walk down the beach, put your gear on and swim out on the reef. Damselfish, clownfish, parrotfish, butterfly fish, snapper, nanigay, surgeonfish, whiting, stingray, white-tip reef shark, black-tip reef shark, grey reef shark, trumpet fish, flute-mouth fish and dozens of other species all float, glide and swim above a great variety of coral. Most of the snorkeling at Ningaloo is best done on the high tide as the reef is very shallow, to the point where you can stick your hand out and touch it below you while you’re on the surface.

continued on in Part 2....

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