Friday, November 11, 2011

World Heritage Listed Shark Bay

Travelling south along the coastline of Western Australia has been simply amazing! There are so many places you just have to go see. World Heritage Listed Shark Bay is definitely one of those places! It’s pretty much a long way from anywhere, but is well worth the visit! We decided to set up camp at Hamelin Station Stay on the way in. This was an incredible campsite. Their facilities were absolutely wonderful! In fact it was so lovely there that we decided to leave our trailer set up and drive into Monkey Mia and Denham for the day rather than relocate. This worked for us. Although there are numerous campsites along the way in and out….we were just happy to be there. We do crazy things like that.


One of the places that has been on everybody’s “wish List” since we began this a-dventure was Monkey Mia! We just wanted to get up close to wild Dolphins and experience them! Well Monkey Mia is the place for that! There were quite a few Dolphins there. Even a little calf! Sooooo cute! The baby was doing laps around it’s Mum. Awwww. Our family had already fed wild Dolphins in our home state (QLD) at the beautiful Tin Can Bay, so we were curious to see whether Tin Can Bay was as good as Monkey Mia. Well, let me put it this way….whilst there are numerous Dolphins swimming very close to shore they only feed 5 of the females 3 fish each. Which means you have to be pretty lucky to get picked out of the crowd to feed a Dolphin. We were present at each of the 3 Feeds, and thankfully Rosa and Leisl were chosen to feed a Dolphin together in the last possible session. These 2 girls had been looking forward to Monkey Mia for pretty much our whole trip so this was special for them. At least in Tin Can Bay earlier this year we all got feed a Dolphin! But I was relieved that they were chosen. It was a special experience nonetheless. Have you ever looked into the eye of a Dolphin???

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After the obligatory Dolphin feeding we decided to explore Denham, Australia’s Western most town! It’s a nice little place. The kids were terrified they were going to get gobbled up by sharks having watched several films at the Information Centre. So we decided to cut our losses and eat lunch overlooking the water and letting them run off steam along the Beach front and playground. It’s a very picturesque place. The other thing you can do here is get right up close to a Wind Generator! Very cool!

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We decided that since we were in Shark Bay we should really see some sharks so we trotted off to Ocean Park to do just that. It’s an interesting little place. The guide does a continuous loop throughout the displays providing good quality information about each of the Marine animals they have. We found it all really interesting! Especially watching the way the sharks interact! I have to say though, my Husband was very distracting for the duration of the tour he was pointing out with great delight the various delicious tasting fish they had there. From Dhufish, 75cm Barramundi, Red Emperor, Golden Trevally, Various Cods, Spanish Mackerel, Mangrove Jack, Tusk fish, Pink Snapper, Painted Crayfish and Western Australian Rock Lobster. At one point the guide pointed out the place is monitored securely overnight so that he wouldn’t get any ideas of sneaking in for an easy catch!!! Smile There is a great coffee shop and you can relax sipping good quality coffee, whilst your kids slurp on their icy poles on the Deck with terrific ocean views of the western Gulf!

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The other thing you must do here is sink your toes into Shell Beach, literally! This place consists of thousands of tiny shells! I know it looks like sand but those are shells! Very cool! This is an unusual renewable resource. Shell Beach is unique because the super saline water only allows the shells to grow for about 18 months, before they are washed ashore, dead. 10's of millions of these shells make the beach, rather than sand. The shells are harvested as lime for the concrete industry, they are also used in blocks as construction. A lot of the houses and old telegraph station were made of these large shell blocks! We did a little brainstorming of what would be the best way to photograph these shells for you, our BLOG followers, and the children decided to do Shell Angels… What fun!

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The water in these parts is very salty. Not a lot can grow or tolerate this kind of Habitat. Although we discovered that Stromatolites in Hamelin Pool were not only in residence but in abundance! These are interesting phenomena. Stromatolites are arguably the oldest life form on earth. Although read this interesting link to Creation Science.... Hmmm.

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We decided on Day 2 to once again leave the camper at Hamelin Station Stay and drive out to the western most point of Mainland Australia; Steep Point! It was about 160kms of dirt road from the station, the first 100kms were a bit like a Highway, smooth as. We figured that was because of the salt mine out this way at Useless Loop! Once we got to the locked gate, we had to lock in our 4WD hubs and lower our tyre pressure to about 25psi. There was sand ahead! Understatement of the year! The rest of the drive was pretty straight forward I guess, although extremely windy. We lost the horizon a few times and saw lots of sky as we negotiated sand hill after sand hill after sand hill! The Rangers were the loveliest people, living in an absolutely incredible spot with back yard views of Dirk Hartog Island! Unbelievable location for a home. After checking in with them we made our way all the way out to Steep Point for the obligatory snap, and amazingly we had enough phone signal to broadcast our location to a few of those near and dear to us. The Rangers had encouraged us to pull in to one of the campsites dotted along Shelter Bay to have some lunch before heading out again. We were so surprised to find these amazing campsites right on the Beach! What a spot! We found ourselves wishing we had brought the trailer! Never mind, we didn’t know about the camping spots then, but we do now! It was a beautiful day for a picnic on such a glorious untouched part of the world!

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We ducked out to check out the Blowholes at Thunder Bay before leaving. Now that was quite a drive! Only 6km off the track but the last part was over pure sand dune….a soft track over a steep dune and subsequent slide down the other side, think desert sand dune…. Ay yi yi! I’m sorry we don’t have photos or footage to share of that….but I was freaked! The blowholes just added to my state of mind….unfortunately. Gaping crevasses that fell away at least 100m to the gurgling angry ocean below. We were walking around the cliffs looking for them before we stumbled upon them! Oh my goodness they were so very deep and so very freaky and so very dangerous! I herded Leisl and Rosa back to the car, and watched with my heart in my throat as Daniel, Josie and Connor nonchalantly picked their way from Blowhole to Blowhole. The Blowholes here were unique, it was as if the very earth was breathing. The sound, the expulsion of air… can listen to this by clicking here! The trip out was worse than the trip in, by that stage I was a mess!

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We finished up our Day trip with a quick peek at the surf Beach called False Entrance! A beautiful beach nestled between some serious cliffs! Amazing shells, surf, sun and sand. It was a great way to end the day, before making our way back to camp.

Sometimes this journey is surprising. You never know exactly what lies around the corner, how you’re going to react or where exactly you will be from one day to the next. But days like today make you realise….life is precious, your family are so important and there is so much to see and do together as you explore this beautiful creation. I encourage you to grab those near and dear and get out there…you won’t be disappointed!

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