Before I type today’s blog I must add a couple of interesting points about Carnarvon which I forgot to put in yesterday’s blog. When we first entered into Carnarvon we noticed most of the banana plantations and many of the other crops had heavy mesh around one side of them. We found out that this mesh is to protect the fruit from the hot, dry easterly winds which blow from the hot inland areas. These are mostly through the summer. The second point was that all the agriculture here is irrigated – from the Gascoyne River, but not the way you would normally expect by being pumped out of the River, but from underground because the Gascoyne River is usually a 300km tongue of sand which rarely flows but acts as a massive storage system extending underground. Amazing.
We left Carnarvon around 9.30 and headed south. This countryside continues to be rather boring with small scrubby bushes and sandy dunes most of the 280kms to Denham on the peninsula at Shark Bay. The only redeeming feature is the colours of the wildflowers which are now appearing more frequently. The most profilic colour is yellow, but there are purples, mauves, blues, pink and white as well. The photo does not do justice to the display of colour.
We had a short stop at the Overlander Roadhouse just to stretch our legs, and then headed west along the Shark Bay Heritage Trail.
Our first stop was Hamelin Pool which had a few touristy sites. There was an old Telegraph Station which was built in 1884. It is now a museum but it was not open. Nearby was a quarry called Shell Block Quarry. This quarry provided compacted shell blocks for use in the building of station homesteads in the early days. It is now a heritage site, but occasionally blocks are cut to repair any existing heritage listed shell block buildings. This area is covered with the remains of billions of tiny cardid cockle shells. Over time small quantities of calcium carbonate within the shells dissolves in rainwater, then dries to become a white crystal which binds the shells together. Hope the photo shows this up well.
Also at Hammelin Pool was a viewing walkway to see the Stromatolites – layered rock built by living microbes which live in the highly saline waters of Hammelin Pool. There was a walkway over the top of these limestock rock formations, with small plaques of explanation all the way along the walkway. It was very interesting. Once again another very well set out tourist venue.
It was another 90kms to Denham so we stopped at the entry to Nango Bay where we had our lunch, but did not drive in to the bay.
We arrived at Denham around 2.30pm and booked into a Park. Bruce and Linda were already booked in here. We have both booked in for 2 nights.
After setting up we went for a walk down to the town and to visit the local Info. Centre to purchase tickets into Monkey Mia which we will visit tomorrow. We need to leave Denham around 7.00am tomorrow to make sure we arrive in time to see the morning feeding of the dolphins (it is a drive of 28kms to Monkey Mia). Ian and I also booked a 3 hour cruise starting around 10.00am which will take us to other tourist venues which cannot be accessed from land. It should be a good day.
We then just walked along the foreshore to look at the boats etc. moored there. It is a pretty spot but the wind had picked up so it was not as pleasant as it could have been. Denham is the administrative centre for the Shark Bay area and has a population of over 600 people. We drove around the town for a look and there was a new suburb opened up with land for 43 new homes. Don’t know what prices they would make, but most had some view of water – some in two directions. There are other typical old holiday type homes here as well – probably built long before tourism took an interest in the area. Fishing seems to be the main activity here.
We then drove out of town for a bit to get to a viewing area which we had been told was worth the short trip. It was lovely. The ocean here is still a lovely blue. This area is famous for dugongs, sharks, dolphins as well as bilbies and small wrens and is a world heritage listed area. There is salt mining also carried out but this is not open to the public.
Shark Bay was discovered on 25 Oct 1616 by the Dutch Explorer, Dirk Hartog, when he stepped ashore on Cape Inscription which is on Dirk Hartog Island nearby. He is recorded as being the first European to set foot on Australian soil. He actually left an engraved pewter plate nailed to a wooden post to record his landing. This plate was removed in 1697 and taken back to Holland, but here in Shark Bay there is a replica of this plate. The Federal Government is negiotating with the Dutch Government to have the original plate returned temporarily, for display in 2016, which of course is the 400th year since discovery. It was interesting to look at it. William Dampier was the first Englishman to explore this area and he was the one who named it Shark Bay. That was in July 1699.The French also had some explorers look over the area 200/250 years ago and quite a few of the bays, and peninisulas have french names. I hope Shark Bay lives up to its name and we get to see some of them swimming around. That will be good.
Love to all, Janese and Ian.