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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...


COCOS (KEELING) ISLANDS | Wednesday, 17 November 2021 | Views [161]

Australia's most far-flung inhabited outpost I arrived yesterday. Welcome to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Discovered by Capt. William Keeling in 1609, these flat islands are more than 2,000 kilometres from the nearest point on the mainland. Everything ran on "island time" at the airport yesterday. I was hopeful that I could check in using the self-checkin kiosk and then go for a walk but I had to stand in line. Whilst they said checkin would open at 9:30 AM (with a 12:30 PM departure time), it wasn't really open until after 10 AM, and passengers were bringing huge containers of stuff with them. I would have thought since there are so few international flights that it would have been a quick process but it was anything but. Regardless if you're vaxxed or not, face masks must be worn at the airport and throughout the flight unless you're seated and eating or drinking. It was dark by the time we landed, even though I assumed that Cocos Airport would operate under visual flight rules (meaning they couldn't fly at night). I've stayed with many awesome people on my journeys, so in Cocos I'm staying with a couple named Kaylene and Mark. They're here on a job contract managing the Cocos Village Bungalows. 

This morning I woke up to the sound of rain. Whilst it'd be easy to baulk at bad weather when you only have three days in a place, I enjoyed the pitter patter of rain as I had my morning cuppa on the verandah. It said on my phone it was going to rain all day, which wasn't a good sign. Last night I was told I can get a Cocos passport stamp at the police station so I made my way there first, only to find they weren't open. The airport runway has to be one of the very few in the world that isn't fenced off, but if you walk on it, it's a whopping $5,000 fine! The population of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands is around 600, but most people live on Home Island, across the lagoon. Geographically closer to Shanghai than to Sydney, these magnificent islands have a distinctly Asian feel. However, it's easy to see that you're still in Australia when you send your postcards via Australia Post and the police station is operated by the Australian Federal Police (AFP). These two places I wanted to stop first for two different kinds of stamps, but at the police station I was told to come back later, and the post office was closed due to a shortage of staff. After one of the best croissants I've ever had, we went up to the "barge" to have a coffee.

Meaning "to be safe on your journey" in Malay, the Biar Selamat is the old ferry that operated between West Island and Home Island. We all sat and had a coffee, even though we had to move in and out of the barge a few times due to rain. What intrigued me here is a near-horizontal palm tree. 

Palm trees are like sleeping children; they can be in some of the weirdest positions. After a coffee we'd all sit for lunch at Tropika Cafe. Lamb chops were on special for $10 but they were out of them, so I opted for satay and chips. With the Asian influence, I knew the food would be a step up compared to other remote locales. 

Kaylene and Mark really enjoy interacting with their guests, so they took Allison and her teenaged daughter, Bianca out fishing. They swam off and fished but I swam with dozens of turtles around me. I've never seen so many turtles in one area. It was high tide, and the tide is so great that it floods some of the roads. 

One thing I must invest in is a GoPro. I couldn't get any pictures with the turtles because I don't have a device that I use in water. Once I have a GoPro, I'll have the full gamut of photographic media. The water all around is electric blue! 

Everyone fished diligently but they ended up not catching anything. Mark said it's likely because there are so many turtles around. Fishing is one activity that I've never been particularly interested in because it requires a lot of patience and I don't have that. The rain cleared but the skies were grey much of the day. Kaylene would cook up some lasagne and then I'd go to the Club, which is the only place in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands that serves alcohol. I hoped to meet a few locals but it was mostly visitors at the Club tonight. Travel restrictions in Australia have eased somewhat, but places like the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Norfolk Island, King Island, and elsewhere have seen a surge in popularity due to Aussies having not been able to travel elsewhere. 

As far as Australian outposts, the only ones remaining are Heard & McDonald Islands, and Macquairie Island. Those will be either extremely expensive or extremely difficult to reach. They will be freezing cold, so for now I'm enjoying the balmy climate of these islands as I swim with turtles and listen to the rain. 


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