NOW: CARNARVON TO KALBARRI
With the wind up, the blowholes at Quobba Point just out of Carnarvon were spraying and drifting high into the air. A few brave young men were fishing from the cliffs but the warning sign recommends anchoring yourself to the cliff, so we were happy to just watch the waves crashing into the coastline.
The old Carnarvon jetty stands where the Gascoyne River enters the sea. Most of the river bed is actually dry sand for much of the year and the water for irrigation is pumped from below the sand. Lots of crops are grown here and irrigated from the Gascoyne River. We were surprised to find that most of Western Australia’s winter vegetables are grown in Carnarvon as well as mangoes and bananas.
From our base in Denham we visited Hamelin Pool, Monkey Mia and Cape Peron. At Hamelin Pool micro-organisms turn the sand, shell grit and sea grass into rock formations called stromatilites. The ocean is clear and very blue making it easy to see these interesting formations even when the tide comes in.
The township of Denham sits right on the coast and is having a facelift with lots of interesting structures in the parkland along the beach. They also offer babysitting for husbands at the ocean front pub while wives go for coffee!
We set the alarm to be up and away early to arrive at Monkey Mia by 7.30am. The dolphins often arrive then and swim close to the shore looking for a free fish. The Dolphin Experience starts at 7.45am and 5 dolphins came in for a look at us on the day we visited. They are wild and free so there are no guarantees that any dolphins will come in on any particular day. After each visiting dolphin is identified (they all have names) they receive just 2 small fish each to ensure they continue their natural habits. We felt pretty lucky! We’d also been told the buffet breakfast at the resort was pretty good and that was true too.
After brekkie we sailed out to the floating pearl farm, saw 2 dugong feeding on the sea grass beds and had a circus of dolphins follow us as we sailed back to the jetty! We’d never seen dugong in the wild before. This was a great day out.
Fresh bread rolls ready for a picnic and we aired down to head up the sandy track to Cape Peron in Francois Peron National Park. David often wants to take a barbeque lunch on these sorts of trips but we’ve been caught out a few times and been unable to find a barbie to cook on. That wasn’t the case on this trip as there were lots of gas barbies and they worked. Next time we’ll go prepared to barbie!
The beaches at Gregories and Bottle Bay had impressive looking campgrounds but the wind was pretty fierce so we were glad we’d camped in Denham amongst some trees. Wildflowers were out everywhere to complete the scene – white sand, blue water, red cliffs.
A stop at Peron Homestead on our way back down the track warmed us up after a chilly and windy day. WA National Parks even provide airing-up bays to reinflate your tyres. A soak in the artesian hot tub was a warming end to another great day out.
On our way down to Dongara we stopped at Shell Beach where millions of thumbnail size cockles lie in the extremely salty, shallow water. The adjacent beach is all shells! We made a lunch stop at Kalbarri where the Murchison River meets the Indian Ocean. The wildflowers were in bloom all around here and in the nearby Kalbarri National Park – red, purple, pink, white and yellow.
The wildflowers in Coalseam Nature Reserve were all yellow. Everlasting daisies and 2 other yellow flowers covered the hills. They actually found coal here in 1927 but the seam was only narrow making mining unviable and the mine was abandoned. Relics of that time including mine shafts are still evident amongst the wildflowers.
Thousands of people visit this area in Spring to see the fields of flowers so we joined them for a look too!
NEXT: CERVANTES TO FREMANTLE
See you on the Emu Track
Cheryl and David