Weeks 15 and 16
We went on a glass bottom boat cruise on the Ningaloo Reef. The day was really calm so it was good to be out on the water even if only for an hour. The cruise was really good – we saw lots of coral although not a lot of colours as well as
and a Leopard Shark.
As well as lots of different colourful fish. It was really hard to take photos through the glass asthere were lots of reflections
The coral certainly wasn’t as colourful as we saw on the Great Barrier Reef but then we were probably very spoilt seeing the coral we did when we did our cruise around the Whitsunday Islands.
Phil also had the chance to go fishing two afternoons. The first afternoon he hooked something that took off for Indonesia. We didn’t see what it was but it gave him a thrill for a while. He could stop it and when he tried to reel it in, it just took off again. Eventually it got rid of the hook – at least he didn’t lose any fishing gear. Unfortunately that was the only thing he caught.
We did find some coral close to shore that your could walk around at low tide. The coral was not terribly good but we did see some strange little crabs.
That is a 'hairy' crab in the middle of this picture.
We saw this daddy emu and his chicks (there were actually seven but I couldn't get them all in one picture) just outside the caravan park where we were staying.
Next was Coral Bay. There is not a lot at Coral Bay but it does have a beautiful beach. It even enticed me in for a swim but it was a bit cold. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays they feed the fish (Spangled Emperor) off the beach. A bit like feeding dolphins but everyone is given a few bits to throw in the water. It was great. I was standing about knee deep in the water and these big fish were just swimming casually around and in between my feet and around my legs.
It is so great to have the opportunity to interact with wildlife like that. Unfortunately the Western Australian DEC is trying to stop it. It would be a real shame if they stopped it as it is great education for people as before the parks staff started the feeding people were just feeding the fish bread and whatever. It is a conservation area so just along that beach there is no fishing allowed and the fish are not afraid of people.
We then had a couple of days camping at Point Quobba – another fantastic place.
The Point Quobba Lighthouse - it was under going maintenance when we were there and you could not go up to it.
We could have spent a week or more there. The camps are right on the beach and are controlled by the local council (but you need to be fully self-sufficient as there is no water and the only toilets are at the day use area and are locked at night) who has caretakers onsite during the busy months (and it was only $8 per person per night - a bit different to the prices in the Kimberly district).
Even though the ocean was calm the blow holes were great shooting lots of water and spray way up in the air. Just around the point from the blowholes is an island (it looks like at really low tide you may be able to walk across) which looked to be a real bird haven by the number of birds we could see. The point is quite rocky and at times there are many, many little tropical fish (as well as a few big ones) swimming in close to the rocks. Then south along the beach is a coral garden. At low tide you can walk out around the coral (it was all sandy in between the coral so was easy to walk) and we though the coral here was far better than the coral we saw on Ningaloo Reef. There certainly was much more coloured coral.
A (bright) blue Starfish
We did a day trip up to Red Bluff (a bit of fiction as it is not red at all). We called into the HMAS Sydney monument (it seems like every little place along the coast here now has a memorial or monument for the HMAS Sydney).
We saw lots of goats on the way up to Red Bluff – I am not sure if they were all feral or if some are farmed but I saw some of the biggest goats I have ever seen and the horns on some of the billies were massive.
At one spot where we called into to have a look at the waves breaking on the rocks we saw at least a dozen dolphins surfing in the waves. They would surf in on the wave and one or two of them would do big back flips out the back of the wave. Unfortunately they only rode about three or four waves before disappearing further down the beach but I did manage one photo.
We were able to walk right out to the point (where there were quite a few surfers) and on the way out we saw some whales and this time a couple of them were closer into shore then we had previously seen. I managed to get one photo.
Another goat we saw out at Red Bluff. It was lying down in the shade of a rock and jumped up in front of Phil - I am not sure which one got the biggest fright.
We had an overnight stop at Carnarvon mainly to stock up on food again. We went for a walk out on the jetty. Our original plans were to catch the tram one way, walk the other way and have fish ‘n chips at the café for dinner. When we got to the jetty at about 3.45p.m. we found the tram stopped running and the café closed at 3p.m. We still had an enjoyable walk out and back on the jetty which in places is very badly in need of some repair/rebuilding.
We stayed two nights at the Hamelin Pool Caravan Park not to be confused with the Hamelin Station Camp Grounds. It was a nice little spot – the caravan park was only small but we also got a tour of the old Telegraph Station. It is walking distance to the Stromatolites – they are so interesting.
Stromatolites- the oldest form of life on earth.
There is also a quarry from where the shell bricks have been cut for some of the early buildings in the district - now apparently they can only cut bricks for restoration work.
From Hamelin Pool we also did a day (a very long day) trip out to Steep Point – the most westerly point of mainland Australia.
It was very windy.
The wildflowers were absolutely amazing. We stopped so many times to look at new flowers (well ones we hadn’t seen before) and to take photographs we did not get back to the caravan park until about 7.30p.m. that night.
Sand dunes on the way to Steep Point
We went to see the blow holes at False Entrance which were quite hard to find before continuing on through the sand dunes, down past the Rangers Station to Steep Point.
Not a wise move to stand between two blow holes.
Steep Point Lighthouse
From Steep Point we continued up the eastern/southern side to the Thunder Cave Blowholes.
What a scary experience – you walk out to see the blowholes and when a wave comes in all you can hear is – well, thunder, underneath you and then air hissing out of the rocks all around before the water/spray comes up out of the blowhole.
The Zuytdorp Cliffs
The road, from basically when you entered the National Park, was horrendous. The road consisted of corrugations and dugout holes (caused by idiot people who don’t let their tyres down and don’t know how to drive on sandy tracks) where the track was sandy and the remainder was over rocks (limestone rocks which have very sharp edges so you really had to stick to the track –if you could see the track) and in parts the track was only a few metres off a cliff with a drop of about 200 to 300 feet to rocks and ocean below.
The sun setting over the sand dunes.
On the way into Denham
Our next move was to Denham – what a great little town.
I found a terrific little shop. It is the newsagent, clothing store, gift shop, post office, chemist and jeweller all in the one small shop and was staffed by three delightfully friendly women and the chemist who was equally as friendly. They were rebuilding the jetty while we were there but the town had a very clean, neat and tidy appearance and the people were friendly.
We went to the Aquarium which we found very interesting. They had some of the fish in aquariums and others just in large tanks which you could stand beside and look in. They continually had a Marine Biologist going from tank to tank explaining about the fish in each tank. You went on a tour but just joined in or dropped out whenever it suited you.
We had a day out in the Francois Peron National Park. There were no where nearly as many wildflowers there as there was along the road to Steep Point but the scenery, especially from Skipjack Point was very impressive.
Skipjack Point Lighthouse - They do seem to have strange lighthouses over here – they look like they are missing their tops.
From the lookout at Skipjack Point we watched a dolphin just causally swimming around
We also saw a large sting ray and Phil says he saw a shark (but no one else saw it). On the return trip to Denham we called into the Peron Homestead for a quick walk around the heritage walk.
The road to Cape Peron
Next morning we got up early and went across to Money Mia for the dolphin feeding. Only one dolphin came in while we were there –
we could see quite a few off shore feeding. From all comments we heard, there is ever only one or two dolphins come in to be fed and the morning we were there the one that came in did not come in until about 8.30a.m. I think Monkey Mia is very, very overrated and people who go there especially for a wild dolphin experience must come away very disappointed.
The most interesting part of the morning was watching the dolphin and the pelican/s arguing over who was going to get fed,
and the staff trying to persuade the pelican/s to leave the beach.....
So continuing south – we are now at Kalbarri. It is getting colder, especially at night and early morning as we get further south.
We stopped at the Nerren Nerren Rest Area overnight and it was like camping in a (native) botanical garden.
What a change a day makes. We had a shower of rain last night and it was very overcast all day today – haven’t had that kind of weather for months. Driving south today we came over a hill and left what looked more like desert country with no (large) trees into wheat fields that stretched for miles and trees!! Some people have said the drive south from the Kimberly is a very boring drive but we have found it to be interesting, I think, due to the many wildflowers that are now blooming.
The wildflowers on the drive into Kalbarri today had to be seen to believed. We are starting to see a whole lot of new ones again. Everywhere you looked was wildflowers. I took too many photos (as usual) but a few of my favourites are:
Murchinson Rose (I will have to learn the names of the rest)
We drove down along all the coastal lookouts this afternoon and again saw lots of whales travelling south but quite a way out to sea. The scenery was quite spectacular again.
Tomorrow we are off to do the gorges and lookouts in the National Park before heading south again on Monday.