OH MY- MONKEY MIA AT SHARK BAY HAS IT ALL
Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
323Trip End Oct 31, 2013
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JOURNEY: Pt Quobba, Carnarvon, Overlander Roadhouse, Denham- 400kms
MILEAGE: 27720 KMS
WEATHER: Windy, sunny, 20 degrees @ 7.30am. 35 degrees @ 2pm
ACCOMMODATION: Denham Seaside Tourist Village $ 28
Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort $25
We left Pt Quobba early and stopped in Carnarvon to top up supplies and have breakfast; it was still very windy as we parked by the waters edge! Why do the roads seem so long and monotonous we asked ourselves. We both felt sleepy so stopped to take pictures of roadside flowers and at the 2 roadhouses that we encountered although both did not have much to get excited about. At the Overlander we turned off the North West Coast Road onto Shark Bay Road which ends at Monkey Mia, famous world wide for the dolphins that come to shore each morning.
We were happy to reach Denham, 25kms east of Monkey Mia around 4pm but the Visitors Centre told us that the Resort was full and that our van would not be allowed to take an unpowered site – this turned out to be untrue but still a night in Denham was quite pleasant and our site at the Denham Seaside Village was ocean front and a little sheltered from the still strong winds. We heard that WA stands for "windy Always" – we hope not!
Next morning at 6.45am we were about to walk the beach when we realised that we could reach Monkey Mia for the 8am dolphin feeding, so we packed up quickly and drove the picturesque road to our destination. The Dolphin Resort Reception was opened after we paid our $8 pp entry fee at the gate and the receptionist assured us we could indeed take an unpowered site; nose in around the edge of the camping lawn but being this early perhaps last night campers may not have departed. We found a good flat spot for the van and hurried down to the gorgeous beach to join the crowd witnessing the dolphins up close and personal.
Two rangers manage the crowd to ensure the contact with the dolphins is minimal and everyone takes notice. The females and their young come in so close and seem to be checking us out; they have names and the rangers greet them as they come closer and they definitely make eye contact as they examine the crowd. The bottlenose dolphins have been coming ashore every day at Monkey Mia for 40 years and are carefully fed just a few fish to keep them interested but still wild!
We are highly amused at the pelican who poses for dolphin watchers as if to say -“well here I am take my picture” and the incredible pied cormorant that Sheila is able to pat as he waits fro the fishermen to catch a fish and he grabs the fish as they reel it in- amazing!
The beach at Monkey Mia is pure white sand and an intense aqua blue lagoon precedes the deep dark blue ocean. We are wading out to the deeper edge when we remember that this is called Shark Bay because there are sharks in the water so we go back closer to shore and enjoy the shallows!
A walk along the shore at low tide takes us by the large groups of cormorants, ducks and pelicans and striking white, red and mango coloured sand dunes. Another impressive WA coastal paradise!!.
I suppose we had expected the beach and resort to be playing a second to the dolphin experience but both exceed our expectations and we enjoy our time here. Temperatures are in the mid 30's and the sun is burning hot so we try to find shady places to shelter away from the camp ground which has very little shade. We are happy that there is no wind here and the pesky flies are not too intrusive. We have full phone and internet coverage!!
On our way along Shark Bay Road we did not explore the lovely little inlets and bays just off the road so we decided to leave early Sunday morning to do so and take it easy with an over night stop at Hamelin Pool 150 kms south.
Shark Bay was named by William Dampier who spent a week in the area in 1699 due to the huge shark population. It is a World Heritage area with protected dolphins, dugongs, manta rays, whales and turtles and the famous ancient stromatolites and special sea grass gardens. A truly magnificent area!
Our first stop was Little Lagoon where we prepared breakfast and enjoyed the blue circular water hole and intensely white sandy beach- apparently a natural nursery for whiting. The water was extremely salty and we noticed a couple of cars driving around the lagoon with a dog running behind and saw that one side of the lagoon was signed “dog exercise area”; pity about lack of exercise for the driver.
The day was already very hot as we drove into Eagle Bluff where a spectacular boardwalk high above the shallow waters below gives magnificent views of the area. We could see a lot of birds on the little islands but did not see any of the creatures of the sea in the waters below. After persisting for 20 minutes the heat of the sun sent us back to the coolness of the van.
Shell Beach was nothing short of amazing!!!! Millions of tiny white Coquina shells have accumulated on the beach and may be 10 meters deep in some places. Coquina limestone forms here and is still mined in blocks to repair old buildings originally made of this product and for chicken feed to ensure strong egg shells!. On this hot sunny day the stark white beach against the blue sea is incredible and there is just one group of young overseas travellers with us here who are sunbaking on the beach and enjoying the very calm and salty water.
Then it is full speed ahead to Hamelin Pool Caravan Park and the very famous and rare “stromatolites”. If you have never heard of stromatolites nor have many people! We had heard snippets of information but really had not much of an idea what they were until we reached Shark Bay. They are colonies of micro-organisms that resemble the oldest and simplest form of life around 3.5 billion years ago; this lot are only 3000 years old and grow in Hamelin Pool because of the extreme salinity, presence of calcium bicarbonate and the stillness of the water. Apparently they are very rare with this only the second of two places in the world where they still exist and this is a good example of them!!! The story goes that in ancient times the oxygen that they emit created an atmosphere suitable for the formation of our world! That’s enough of the science!
The area is pretty and the boardwalk enables you to see the very ordinary looking clumps without contact. We noticed lots of traffic coming in to the car park to have a look at the spectacle. We were allocated a great camping spot with our own shady shelter and made use of the camp kitchen and the barbeque to prepare lunch and dinner. We enjoyed a quiet night in this ancient part of the world.