From the beginning of life on Earth to Dolphins frolicking in the shallows
25.05.2016 - 29.05.2016
Another short drive from Coral Bay, led us down the coast towards another peninsular on the west, Shark Bay. On the way down we stopped at Carnarvon to get supplies, go shopping, make some phone calls and get some internet. We then drove to the beginning of Shark Bay, Hamelin Pool. There is a small caravan park here which we decided to spend the night at. It was extremely cheap and friendly, run by an elderly lady with an old cat walking around and chickens following you around, pecking around your tent. It was really cute, the camp kitchen looked like someone's kitchen from 100 years ago and everyone was super helpful and friendly.
After a very cold and wet night we were up and ready for some new sights. Our fist stop was Hamelin Pool and the stromolites. This is one of only 2 places on earth where you can see these prehistoric forms of life. They are over 3,500 Million years old and are significant in the evolution of life on Earth as the first organisms that put oxygen into our atmosphere. They are basically bits of rock that get colonised by different forms of bacteria that grow on them, producing oxygen. The sea here gets extremely warm and is very very salty but these organisms still thrive like they have for millions and millions of years. There is a boardwalk over the sea so you can view them and signs explaining there significance to the planet. This is one of the reasons that Shark Bay is classified as a world heritage site but also because of its sea grass. It has a huge area of sea grass that supports an eight of the worlds dugongs.
From here we drove in and up the peninsular and we stopped for a break at Shell Beach. Here the salty sea is perfect for cockles to inhabit and therefore is a huge surplus of cockle shells, a beach full. The entire beach is made of tiny, perfectly formed, beautiful shells. As you walk they crunch under your feet and glisten in the sunshine. The white shells against the totally calm, bright blue sea was pristine and gorgeous and we enjoyed a cold paddle and a walk along the shore, playing with the shells and looking in awe at just how many there was. It was like nothing we have seen before and absolutely stunning.
There were a few more stops up to the main town Denam for views especially at eagle bluff, as well as several stops we decided on to look at the wildlife. There is an abundance of emus in the area and we saw lots in the meadows by the roads, often stopping to admire there bushy feathered bodies. At one point we also stopped to usher an echidna across the road. We will never get tired of how cute there little shouted faces are.
After arriving at Dennam we were very underwhelmed by the town and were not sure what to do so decided to drive to Monkey Mia. Monkey Mia has its own conservation area, and a fee to enter. Inside is one place to stay, the Monkey Mia Resort which has all different accommodation options. We decided to camp up for three nights as its in a stunning location, right on the beach and the hole camp site is crawling with emus, some more menacing than others.
The main reason people come here is to see the Dolphins. There is a lot of Dolphins that inhabit the bay year round and as soon as we stepped foot on the sand we could see and hear them swimming in the shallows. They come right up to the shallow water so you can see them up close, pushing fish up onto the shore to trap and catch them and we stood and watched them for most of the afternoon. There is a jetty which gives good views of the sea life below and we spotted a big loggerhead turtle relaxing in the shallows under the jetty.
Monkey Mia and its dolphin conservation also does a dolphin experience four times each morning which we stumbled upon late one morning, around 11.45am. This we found a bit weird, unnatural and unnecessary. Basically a volunteer edges people up to the water, knee deep and a dolphin comes into the shallows. They then talk to you about them and pick two people out of the crowd to feed it a fish each. After talking to a volunteer we found out more about it. It stems from the days when fishermen threw in their catch and the Dolphins would come into the shallows to get an easy meal, then people started to feed them and it became unregulated so the conservation was set up. They are only allowed to feed the same four Dolphins so they don't effect the whole pod and they only get two fish each. This is meant to encourage the whole of the dolphin community to fish for themselves and doesn't impact on their natural behaviours. We found it a little bit unnecessary. This is because you can see the Dolphins up close in the bay all the time, they naturally use the sand as a barrier to catch fish and so we didn't think there was any need to feed them to get up close to them. It was much better to watch them doing there natural thing than to watch it stay still in the shallow water until it takes a fish out of a chosen ones hand for us. It seems a little like a tourist attraction which is obviously very beneficial for them to carry on as it brings in a lot of money to the government. We didn't go to any more of the dolphin experiences but just enjoyed watching them throughout the day, swim in and out of the bay, sometimes playing and jumping out, other times right at the shore line, fishing.
We have spent lazy days walking on the beach, spotting the turtles, Dolphins and birds and had one beautiful day of sunshine which we enjoyed laying in the warm sun on the sand. The resort is lovely, there is a nice cafe and a bar where the sunset viewing is gorgeous and the happy hour drinks are cheap so have watched the sun set every night over the still, pancake flat Ocean.