Day 111: Public Service Health and Safety Announcement On Safe Swimming In Shark Infested Waters

6 November 2010

Esperance to Kalgoorlie

In life you can’t wrap yourself in cotton wool and worry about the if’s and maybe’s. You would be safer if you never left the house but that is crazy as life is for living. In fact the health and safety brigade have pushed things so far the other way that I’m sure you could sue if it rained and you got wet. I’m not a great fan of flying but it would never stop me from flying to get somewhere. The chances of something happening are less than getting into a car. It would be irrational not to get onto a plane as it would be not to drive Martha through central Australia for the very real threat of being ambushed by a gang of knife wielding delinquent Kangaroos. No for me there remains one last bastion of anarchy that flies in the face of health and safety and that is the ocean or to be more specific the shark. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-shark. There are magnificent majestic creatures, natural born killers, top of the food chain and I respect them. They own the ocean and the coastal waters that surround the incredible Australia and I deem putting myself at their mercy to be an unacceptable risk. It would be like playing frisbee in a minefield or playing Russian roulette and I won’t be Russian to do either of those. If they got me they wouldn’t need to eat for a month. It is my problem not the shark’s .

For this very reason I have taken what I deem rational precautions to counter the very real threat of getting eaten. When I arrived in Perth there was no question of not getting into the water so I rationally only went in up to my chest ensuring there was other swimmers deeper than me. Yes even women, children and expedition leader Steve Moore. It is their choice and they are foolish and brave in equal measure.

However on reading the local press which reported a shark “incident” I looked into shark attacks and found that the last person to be “taken” on the very beach I was swimming was only waist deep. I couldn’t believe it. How could I have been so laissez faire with my existence. The sly old sharks. Time to reassess.

I now have what I think is a fail safe method of not getting eaten. If swimming front crawl and my hands don’t touch the bottom I am too deep. However if there is either a whiff of shark in the air which I think I have developed a sixth sense at detecting (namely I know you’re always there watching me) or my rotund, they’ve had a good Christmas point guards namely Steve and Fuad aren’t swimming further out than me then I immediately switch to breaststroke where my torso is only mm’s off the bottom. In addition I also stand at regular intervals scanning the waters.

This tactic has 100% success rate to date so I recommend it. If this should change you’ll be first to know as it can only be good for FTFE PR…as Steve keeps telling me.

Today we had a quick dip in the ocean at the beautiful Esperance, had a interview with the local paper and drove the 450km to Kalgoorlie, arriving after dark. En route we meant the incredible Chris Easton who is 18 months into his challenge of cycling the globe. Legend! The scenery was incredible with the the blue sky, red earth and green shrubbery combining beautifully. Kalgoorlie is a frontier mining town and has all the thrills and spills that a you would expect a town of this ilk to contain. We had visions of the Wild Wild West but on arrival found a modern town whose survival and fortunes depend on the mining industry. We are now deep into central Australia and the wilderness awaits us……….

Paul Barham

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2 Responses to “Day 111: Public Service Health and Safety Announcement On Safe Swimming In Shark Infested Waters”

  1. Sure you mean KalGOOLIE? Have seen your swimmers mate!

  2. Only about three of the hundreds of types of shark will even consider taking a nip out of human flesh. Granted, I think all three of them exist off the south of Australia, but I still think you’re a wimp Barham!!