Whale Shark Festival

Sometimes when you are traveling you stumble upon a “once a year” or a “once in a lifetime” event.  I just happened to be in Antigua, Guatemala over the Easter holiday and saw the amazing Semana Santa festivities.  Here in Exmouth a few weeks previously I was able to see a real live tornado.  And so, I was quite excited to learn that the annual Exmouth Whale Shark Festival was taking place today.

We had a small party at the hotel where I met some pro and semi-pro surfers from Perth.  We all went to the festival and I found that it was one huge beach party.  Everyone dropped their beers into small pits dug in the sand and ice was poured in making in-ground eskies (coolers).  There was a live band and food and drink vendors.  We mingled around and met travelers from all over Australia and the world.

After partying for some time it was announced that the “fire show” was to begin down on the beach.  All of the festival participants meandered down to watch the fire performer (above).  The guy was dressed in an outfit that looked like a cross between a Buck Rogers outfit and something that you would see someone wearing in a San Francisco gay pride parade.  He was very entertaining and funny and he could throw and juggle flaming objects like I’d never seen before.  A couple of times I thought he was going to catch himself on fire.

His last act was to bring out a pair of bull whips that he dipped in kerosine and then crack them like a lion tamer.  Each time the whip – which was already burning and dripping lit kerosine – was cracked, a flame-thrower like flame would leap from the end with great effect.  The whole audience cheered in exited admiration – it was a fun and exciting show to watch.  He dipped his whips into the kerosine once again and as he spun them, an assistant lit a “Whale Shark Festival” sign on fire (below).

If you’re ever in northwest Australia in near the end of May, slate your calendar to be in Exmouth for the Whale Shark Festival – it was a super time and a fun show!


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