Arriving into the north of England, country hills suddenly appear like the wrong frame in a film, and the scene keeps rolling to Manchester.
For 30,000 years the Yamatji people called it Ningaloo, which means ‘deepwater’ or ‘high land jutting out into the sea’. Pretty appropriate for Australia’s biggest fringing reef. Ningaloo sits way out on the western edge of Western Australia, just near the coastal town of Exmouth (aka the Gateway to Ningaloo).
A lot of places are spruiked as ‘remote’ or ‘un-mapped’, and it’s easy to get a little cynical. Yeah, yeah, we think, there’s probably a McDonalds on every corner and a herd of selfie snapping tourists beating a well-worn path to the gift shop.
Picking the world’s best beach is a bit like arguing why your favourite colour should dominate the rainbow.
No one quite knows why, but there’s a twist in the Australian psyche that has made countless Aussies dedicate their lives to the construction of Big Things. These aren’t big important things like skyscrapers, or big beautiful things like bridges or sculptures, they’re just everyday objects magnified to about 200 times their actual size.
People don’t have a lot of time for ugly when they travel. Markets that are more crowded than ‘bustling’, run down temples that aren’t as ‘glowing’ as they were described online, and waters that could never pass for ‘azure’ in a million years: these things exist, we just don’t want to look at them.
American comedian Arj Barker once came up with an experiment to put the Australian vernacular to the test. Suspicious of what he was sure were just made-up words sprinkled into Aussie conversation for his benefit, he thought he’d try it himself. A store assistant came up to him one day and asked if he needed any help. Arj turned to him, looked him right in the eye and said, ‘No thanks, I’m just having a little squidjerididge’. To which the salesman replied, ‘No problem mate, let me know if you need anything.’
Far to the north of Melbourne’s laneway cafés and Sydney’s glittering waterfront, you’ll find Australia’s Wet Tropics World Heritage Area – 450 kilometres of steamy rainforest canopy, babbling creeks and lush mountain ridges.