Exploring Our New Surrounds.
Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
403Trip End Dec 31, 2018
How fitting that the new chapter of our lives should be to live and work in an Australian UNESCO World Heritage area!
Shark Bay is truly an astoundingly beautiful area.
It was recognised by UNESCO way back in 1991. It is only one of the few places in the world that gained its listing by satisfying all four natural criteria of 1) major stages of the world's evolutionary history, 2) geological and biological processes, 3) natural beauty and 4) threatened species.
Home is at Denham, the main town in the area and work is at the "Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery and Visitors Centre" right on the beach in Denham
We have visited this area quite a few times before, including going to the isolated Steep Point in 2004, the most westerly point of Australia. Over the years we 've visited the dolphins at Monkey Mia several times and camped and fished at Tamala station, visited Denham, Shell Beach and the Stomatolites at Hamelin Pool, but had never been to the Francois Peron National Park. This became our first excursion after settling in to our home and work.
The iconic images of the Francois Peron National Park show the contrast of colours between the red earth, white sand, blue water and blue sky.Sometimes when travelling we find the iconic image does not deliver but it certainly does in this park! It delivers much more too.
Gazing at the red cliffs meeting the sea, I wondered what Francois Peron, after who the peninsula, point and park is named, would have thought when he arrived in 1801. How different the terrain from his native France! He was a naturalist aboard Nicholas Baudin's expeditions who made meticulous descriptions of the plant and wildlife. What did he make of the beautiful but inhospitable coastline? Some background reading coming up for us I think
The bird life is stunning, with kilomteres of beach that have commorants lined up in an orderly fashion, several deep, right where small waves are breaking.
A 3 kilometre round trip cliff top walk right at the point of Cape Peron had excellent views to the clear water below. At two viewing platforms located at Skipjack point on the walk, we clearly saw manta rays, eagle ray, sharks and turtles and amazing bird life dipping, skimming and soaring.
We visited all the spots marked on the DEC map, but found Big Lagoon, Cape Peron, Skipjack Point and Herald Bight to be our favourites. We'll be back, probably to camp next time as there are excellent camp sites with toilet facilities.
The Francois Peron National Park requires a good 4 wheel drive and it is a requirement that tyres be deflated to at least 20 PSI before heading into the park. DEC (Department of Environment and Conservation) provide a handy air compressor at the Peron homestead for this purpose. Our trusty "troopy" did us well as usual, but we did see a late model 4 wheel drive hopelessly bogged at one stage and could see that it does require some sand driving skills
After a full day sightseeing and hiking in the park, there remained one more amazing thing to do - indulge in a "hot tub" experience at the Peron homestead. Yes, good old hot artesian bore water in a large tub. Previously a sheep station, the irony is that now it is a national park, the fences keep sheep out rather than in! A massive conservation project called "Eden" is working to reintroduce endangered species to the park. Nearby, while we wallow in the soothing water, some of the smallest birds we have ever seen, fairy wrens, hop about avoiding our attempts to click the shutter at the right moment.
As we prepare to reluctantly leave the hot tub and the peace and solitude at Peron Homestead, we reflect that our move to Shark Bay has opened up a wonderful chance to explore in depth more of this part of Australia. Living in a house and a town again we may be, but the stories will continue - stay tuned!