Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean was the first stop for our all-YL DXpedition in 2003. The island is the peak of an ancient volcano rising from the edge of the Java Trench 360 km south of Indonesia and 1400 km n-w of mainland Australia. It is an island born 60 million years ago from a volcanic eruption, is shaped like a Scotty Terrier and is approx. 135 sq. kilometres in area. The interior is covered by rainforest which has been designated a National Park while phosphate mining operation is carried out in other parts of the island.
Christmas Island is known as the "Kingdom of the Crabs" and is famous for the annual migration of millions of red land crabs which march from the rainforested slopes down to the ocean to breed then return to their burrows for the rest of the year. This migration takes place at the beginning of the wet season, generally late November, and I am very sorry I did not see it. I believe it is very difficult to walk anywhere without stepping on a crab, let alone drive on the roads or play golf. On some roads special tunnels have been constructed so crabs can cross safely from one side to the other. Luckily we managed to see quite a few red crabs in the forest plus the larger robber crabs and the pretty blue fresh water crabs.
There was also lots of bird life on the island including the gorgeous Golden Bosun, the red-footed Booby and the Frigatebirds. The only thing the island lacked for us 3 YLs was good propagation to other parts of the world! I'm not sure why it is that whenever we 3 go on a DXpedition we either break the local drought or cause propagation to dive into a black hole! Elizabeth, VE7YL came out from Vancouver, June, VK4SJ from Caloundra (Queensland) and I headed west from Melbourne to a place which I hoped would be warmer than home. It certain was - thank goodness for air-conditioned rooms, shops and cars.
Thanks to Lisa of C.I Travel who arranged our trip, we stayed 2 weeks at The Sunset where our "Ocean View" rooms provided glorious views of the setting sun. The owners, Gary & Dennis, were very receptive to amateurs and did all they could to help us. The Australian Navy in the form of HMAS Stuart, an Anzac Class Frigate, hovered off shore watching over us like a mother hen, and a couple of cargo vessels loaded phosphate from special gantries. Small fishing boats came back to shore each night with their day's catch (mainly the prized wahoo) and we even saw a large pod of dolphins swim past. We met up with quite a few divers, mainly overseas guys who had come to the island to enjoy the world-famous reef and cave diving.
Christmas Island has been a popular spot for radio DXpeditions during 2003 and at one stage I counted 8 amateurs on the island at once, but luckily only for a couple of days! We didn't make as many contacts as we'd hoped for (only 4,400), particularly into North America and Europe but I think we must have worked half the number of licensed JAs. After 2 weeks we packed up our gear and headed off to Cocos (Keeling) Islands with high hopes for better propagation - however, Murphy travelled with us!!!