Apart from the obvious reason, there were a couple of other reasons that Exmouth felt like the right spot to break the journey for a bit. For one, it was the first place where we truly seemed to leave winter behind us- the nights were still cool but the daytime temperatures were constantly in the mid to high twenties and it hardly ever rained- maybe twice in the six weeks we were there. The other thing is that it's about as far from Sydney as it's possible to get- if you showed someone a map of Australia and asked them to draw a line from Sydney to the opposite point, chances are it'd end up about at Exmouth.
Not too many photos, as I wasn't meant to take a camera on the course, but with the help of Shandos I still managed to get a few beauties. The scenery around Exmouth itself is pretty interesting too- the Cape Range national park contains a number of spectacular gorges, and we managed to spend a couple of afternoons hiking through it's arid scenery when I wasn't diving.
Exmouth itself is a funny place- it's over 1000km from Perth and hundreds of kms from any other town of any size and 200km from the main highway, so it exists in a strange little bubble. Everything you really need for a reasonably civilised existence is there, but there's no large supermarkets, fast food chains (even Chicken Treat, the dirty bird of WA is absent, let alone McDonalds etc) and only a few cafes/restraunts/pubs (the Potshot hotel is the epicentre of social life there, and the level of sophistication on the drinks list extends about as far as pre-made frozen daiquiris... still I had fun there). The town was only established in the 60s as a service town for the local Naval communications base and massive low frequency repeater (the southern hemisphere's second tallest structure!) and there's still a weird ghost town of facilities near the base that were originally set up to cater to the now departed American personnel stationed there- a baseball diamond, bowling alley, bar and grill etc, now sitting there all shut up and slowly crumbling.
Nonetheless I had a blast in Exmouth- did a lot of fantastic diving, made some new friends and got my certification done, albeit in a bit of a rush (I wish I could have taken longer, and owe the instructors who I worked with big time for helping me get through things so quickly- Carl, Micheal and Jemima, thanx if you're reading this!). I'd definitely like to return some day and dive some more of the sites that I didn't get to do.
I've also decided that I'm not returning to the IT industry when I come back to civilisation- I've decided to enrol in a 2 month commercial diving certification programme (ADAS levels 1 & 2 for those who're into that kind of stuff), and will be flying over to NZ to do it when I return. It'll be a big challenge, but I've really decided that I don't want to go back to 9-5 work working in cities and dealing with office politics anymore- no doubt I'll regret that decision at some point when I'm under 30 metres of freezing murky water though!! The long term goal of course will be to eventually get into the offshore industry (where the pay scales would make more than a few lawyers jealous!) but that's a long, expensive road, so I'll be trying to obtain the certification to do inshore construction diving and similar work first- which certainly enough to earn a solid wage anyway.