After such a busy day yesterday we certainly slept well. We woke around 6.00 and got ready to leave Denham. Bruce and Linda went on ahead as they plan to go to a free site just before Kalbarri National Park turnoff. We do not intend to go to Kalbarri so we drove the 404 kms to Geraldton.
Before leaving the Shark Bay area we drove to a place called Shell Beach.
This beach was amazing. The beach itself is over 60km long and is made entirely of billions of shells of the candiid cockle variety. It is one of only 2 beaches in the world made entirely of shells. The depth of these shells can be from 7 to 10 metres. Unreal. It is something to do with the high salinity of the waters nearby in which these shells survive very well. The beach itself is the dead shell of the species – the tide and storms deposit these shells on the beach. This has been happening for thousands of years.
There is a shell grit factory nearby. As the shell desposits are a constant renewable resource there is no danger of exploiting this area and so this factory supplies shell grit to the poultry industry (hen’s egg shells are much harder if shell grit is added to their diet), and also is used somehow in the making of cement.
The second photo shows just how small these billions and billions and billions of shells are. It was absolutely unreal walking on this beach as the shells just cracked under our feet. Some people used the hardened beach as a new form of graffitti – they had engraved their names, dates etc. in the shell surface, but of course this would disappear when it rained or there was a very high tide. Some had dug holes and they had gone down half a metre or so, but all you could see was shell and more shell. Amazing.
We then drove out on to the North West Coastal Highway and re-fuelled at a stop called Overlander Roadhouse. The diesel was 168.5 c a litre. We then headed for Geraldton. The wildflowers were much more prolific today. Most of the colours were pale mauves and yellow, although we sometimes saw lots of white flowers. Most of the wildflowers are ground covers so they look quite pretty covering all the soil, but once again it is very hard to capture the scene and colours with a camera.
Wattles are now out in force too, so the countryside was looking more and more attractive as we headed south. We were about 100kms out of Geraldton when we came upon cultivated paddocks. The last time we saw paddocks with crop in them was when we drove to Port Pirie way back in S.A. In fact we really have not seen any paddocks of grassland from that time either. It was so lovely to see green everywhere. The crops were canola which was flowering; lupins, and other cereal crops of wheat and barley – probably a bit of both. We passed through a small town called Northampton which had a very large grain storage facility.
We arrived at Geraldton around 1.30pm and booked into a Park off the main road. We have been quite surprised to learn that Geraldton has a population of 40,000! Unfortunately the weather has turned against us. We drove into a very strong wind all day and the cloud cover made the day look even more miserable – especially because we have had nothing but blue skies since Port Augusta!
However, being the intrepid adventurers we are, we took a drive along the SCENIC TOURIST DRIVE which basically follows the foreshore here in the town. The wind was blowing a gale and the waves looked fantastic – remember there is no reef to slow down the wind or the sea here like I am used to in Townsville – so naturally we saw no swimmers, surfers, or boats on the water. There are a good dozen or so large grain tankers sitting way out on the horizon though, but this weather probably does not bother them. When we got back to the Van we checked the weather forecast and found out that gale force winds, hail and possible thunderstorms are predicted for the next couple of days, and from our assessment of most of the crops we saw, this rain would be most welcome. Shortly after 5.00 it started to rain – the last time we had rain was when we were in Broken Hill. The wind is continuing to blow in gale force, with occasional heavy showers, and we are so grateful we are in a sturdy caravan and not tenting it like many people are here in this Park.
We rang friends who are a week or so behind us and are at Exmouth today and they said the boat trips have all been cancelled until the weather picks up, so we think we have been lucky to get to do all we did before the weather turned sour. Mind you, this really poor weather is predicted for just for a few more days, but it is still difficult when travelling, especially when you only have a day or two to do the different tours. Anyway, we are warm and snug which is good. We have booked the Landcruiser in for a service on Thursday so will be in Geraldton until after that so this is a good time to just have a break from travelling. So far we have travelled just over 12600 kms.
Love to all, Janese and Ian