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January 06, 2023

Hey SunButter Fam, recently I got to go back to Expedition guiding and what a treat it was. 

As you may know, Sacha and I spent several years working as Expedition Wildlife Guides before we started SunButter and also in the businesses' early days. In late November last year I jumped back on a small ship (Le Laperouse) to work as the Dive Master and a Wildlife guide with a team of 17 amazing experts and only 70 guests.

We were sailing from Bali to Cairns island hopping through remote eastern Indonesia stopping in incredible spots like Komodo and finding amazing gems like Pulau Ngaf. We were able to visit culturally diverse communities in the Asmat and learn about colonial history in Banda Neira - the centre of the spice trade and origin of nutmeg and cloves. 


The trip started with a couple of days in Bali staying in a beautifuul hotel with stunning views over Jimbaran bay. It was so good to reconnect here with some of my best mates. We’ve worked together on expedition trips for about 7 years, but being spread around the world, we rarely get to see each other unless on a ship - so it was pretty special to be reunited.

The ship expedition started with a beautiful sunset sail out of Bali heading east towards Komodo National Park. The Komodo dragons are the exceptional icon and “must see” of the region, but the diving and snorkelling was pretty inspiring too. In fact, one thing that stood out on this trip was how healthy the coral reefs were. We were sailing through the Coral Triangle, the epicentre of the globes coral biodiversity and everywhere we went the coral looked healthy and flourishing, with a great densities of reef fish.

From Komodo we kept heading east towards Alor, Banda Neira, The Moluccas and then Western Papua before heading south into Australian waters with brief stops on Thursday island, Bligh Reef and Lizard island.


A couple of the things that most stood out for me during this amazing trip:

  • How warmly we were welcomed to the most remote spots. With tourism slowly creeping back in, it was a delight to visit some of these remoter corners of the world and the delight felt genuinely mutual from the communities we visited too.
  • We had some stunning diving, incredible healthy coral reefs buzzing with reef fish and I found 2 Pygmy seahorses - I can’t describe how big a deal this is! Think seahorse, but only about 7mm long. I’ve spent hundreds of hours underwater solely searching for them, so to finally spot two was a huge life moment for me.

  • Whilst the coral and reef fish were wonderful to see, it did make me sad to not see any big fish or sharks during our whole time diving and snorkelling through Indonesia. A stark reminder of the state of the fisheries in some of these areas and an important prompt to support the amazing work of organisations like Project Hiu.
  • Finally, it was so good to experience cultures and ways of life so far removed from my own, and be reminded of how huge the world is and how incredibly diverse its ecosystems and peoples are. After no international travel for a couple of years, flying out of Australia, getting a different currency, speaking different languages and enjoying a significantly warmer climate than Melbourne was a pretty epic experience. 


Did I mention the Pygmy sea horses?

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