This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2000 Travels November 9

THURSDAY 9 NOVEMBER   DENHAM TO HAMELIN POOL   116kms

I got up at 7am and went for a walk along the shorefront and main street. It was very enjoyable at that time of day.

Then I was hailed by the young guy who’d befriended us, as I went by where they were staying, and spent half an hour chatting with him.

John was up when I got back to the van.

Breakfast, pack up, hitch up were all routine.

We did a few things in the township, on the way out. Some bakery purchases. John talked to a real estate agent who spied him looking in the window. I bought Lotto tickets, because there is a draw coming up on 11/11! Lucky number for us – we hope!

I went to the CALM Office and bought the brilliant aerial view poster of the Shark Bay area. It was not cheap, but I really wanted this memento.

We stopped in at Whalebone Bluff, not far off the main road, where there was a little bluff and an informal camping area. It had great views, but they were not quite as spectacular as those at Eagle Bluff.

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Whalebone Bluff

Then we stopped at Shell Beach, which is as the name suggests, a great expanse of tiny cockle shells, instead of sand.

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Billions of tiny cockle shells at Shell Beach

We noted the vermin proof fence across the Peninsula at that point. Because the Peninsula is so narrow here, and because of the sea surrounds, it was considered a promising place to try to eradicate introduced predators like cats, and foster a recovery in numbers of some of the threatened native animals of the area.

We booked into the Hamelin Pool caravan facility, for $14 a night. We got to choose where to set up. Unfortunately, some of the best i.e. shaded sites, were already occupied. We were annoyed later when these turned out to be day trippers visiting the stromatolites, and who left after doing so.

However, we managed to find a place with a bit of shade, to set up.

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Our camp at Hamelin Pool

The tap water was salty. The power goes off at 10.30pm.

The Telegraph Station precinct looked much better than I’d remembered it, from ’93. The Telegraph Station was built in 1884 and was a major link in the communications chain from Perth to parts north. The Post Office for the Shark Bay area was also here, for years. And it was a cargo landing and loading point in past times. So it is quite an historic place.

I recognized much that V had described in her letters. The two caravans that housed the staff when they worked here, were still there.

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Was the staff accommodation when my daughter worked here

The surrounds were well kept.

The ablutions block was ok – I have been in plenty that were more primitive than this one.

A couple about our age were managing the place. There did not seem to be any other workers there, but we are out of the tourist season.

After setting up and having lunch, John had a sleep.

I wandered over to the tea room shop where I bought a polo shirt and some other touristy oddments.

After John woke up, we walked through the shell quarry to the stromatolites.

The shell quarry is a place where blocks of solidified cockle shells were quarried for building with, both on site here and in Denham. I thought it was similar to the limestone block quarries of the SE of South Australia.

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The shell block quarry

Shell block had been used to mark one lonely grave – a man who drowned in 1911.

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Lonely grave with shell block marker

The stromatolites, although not particularly exciting to look at, are of great significance as living fossils, a truly ancient life form.

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The stromatolites of Shark Bay

All this area has been taken under CALM management and looks good. There were informative and interpretative signs and a board walk over the stromatolites themselves, to prevent damage. I remember, in ’93, just being able to walk all over them!

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The whole area is much more pretty and attractive than I remembered it. I could see why V liked it here so much.

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The tent camping area – and old Post Office signs featured

The sunset, which we glimpsed from the van, looked to be wonderful. I hoped we’d be back tomorrow in time to see it properly.

By late afternoon it had become rather windy, and chilly enough – just – for us to need long trousers and windcheaters.

Tea was assorted salads and tinned fish.

There was no TV here! We listened to the radio and to CD’s – very pleasant.


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2000 Travels November 8

WEDNESDAY 8 NOVEMBER     DENHAM

Today, for a change, we explored in the other direction from Denham, back the way we’d come in. We did not intend to visit Monkey Mia whilst here, which is the main reason tourists come here. We had done that in ’93, and fed dolphins. It was a unique experience to do once, but we feel no compulsion to do it again.

We drove to Eagles Bluff, a promontory from where one looks across the inlet to the distant next peninsula across, and the settlement of Useless Loop. The views from Eagles Bluff are entrancing, because of the different colours of the sea, and for the marine life.

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Contrasting sea colours

We watched sharks and mantas and stingrays and schools of fish below us. There were lots of cruising sharks. It was a fascinating display, enhanced by the different water colours – due to weed and rocks?

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Schoold of fish in the water below us

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We ate lunch in that area, at one of the informal camping spots, overlooking the sea. It certainly would have its attractions as a camp spot, if one needed no facilities and could cope with the wind that often blows.

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Eagles Bluff area

The young couple we’d encountered yesterday, at Big Lagoon, turned up here, and we got chatting – again! They’d gotten bogged yesterday, out near Bottle Bay. He said it was his fault – he didn’t have his tyres deflated enough. (I’d thought so!)

When we told him our plans, he proposed joining us on a drive out to Steep Point, on Friday. He wants to do it, but with the baby he wants the security of another vehicle, I think. Getting bogged must have given him a fright. He had been to Steep Point before, with some mates, but wanted to show it to his wife. We told them we would be camping at Hamelin Pool, and they could meet us there at 7.30 to 8 am on Friday morning.

After our fill of Eagles Bluff, we headed back towards  Denham, detouring down a couple of short tracks to the sea, to take in the varying views.

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Then decided to drive out to look at the wind turbines, and then on to the creek outlet from Little Lagoon to the sea. Little Lagoon is just north of the town.

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Back in town, at the Post Office, picked up the letter with John’s new Celebrex script, from our doctor.

Refuelled Truck – $1.23cpl.

By nightfall, it was windy again.

Tea was a bit of a mish mash. We had the last of the gazpacho. John had leftover savoury mince and pasta. I had a packet curried pasta.

A couple of days ago, a man swimming at Cottesloe Beach, Perth, was killed by a shark. This event has generated some of the most ridiculous talk-back radio I have ever heard! An appalling number of callers were asking for the systematic eradication of all sharks! Have they never heard of concepts like the food chain, ecological systems and the like? A hunt was mounted for this white pointer, but it has not been found. No doubt it has resumed its normal diet of non-human marine creatures. How many sharks are killed by man, every day?

Up in the Kimberley, a croc jumped out of the water at a man fishing in a boat, and bit his shoulder. Rather un-croc-like behavior. Most anti-social, so it has been captured and taken to a croc farm. With the early onset of the wet season up there, the croc mating and nesting season would be early too.

I will be sorry to leave Denham – another wonderful spot where we could have stayed considerably longer. I could gaze on these sea views for a long time! The whole Shark Bay heritage area is truly special. John really liked it too and reckons he could live here!

My daughter was really fortunate to live in this area for several months, in ’98.


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2000 Travels November 7

TUESDAY 7 NOVEMBER     DENHAM

After breakfast, refuelled Truck. $1.23cpl.

Went out to Big Lagoon again, because John was keen to try some more fishing.

I did some bird watching for a while, then tried the fishing.

We caught some whiting.

A younger couple, with a baby, turned up and stayed a while. He tried fishing, briefly – and was very chatty. They then headed off to go to Cape Peron. He said he knew all about sand driving, and had let his tyres down “a bit”. Hmmm…..

Ate lunch out there.

There was a build up of cloud through the afternoon.

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Still life in sand

We stopped fishing and both walked around the lagoon shore, because I’d convinced John it was quite special. Walked around the corner that we could see from our fishing point and found there was an even bigger continuation of the lagoon around there. It really is big!

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We were intrigued to see emus wading out in the water. Didn’t know if the water was actually drinkable for them, or if they were cooling their feet, or just doing so because they could!

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Emus paddling

Eventually, we drove back to the old homestead, with an idea of looking for birds around that watering point, but it was a bit late, so we didn’t try that for long.

For tea, John had flathead, I had a Greek salad.

The night was very windy, and then it RAINED! I couldn’t remember the last time we’d had rain – think it was back in Qld a few months ago?


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2000 Travels November 6

MONDAY 6 NOVEMBER     DENHAM

Packed lunch again and drove back out to the Peron National Park.

Followed the same tyre routine as yesterday.

Just a little way beyond the homestead area, took the track to the left and went to Big Lagoon. This is, as the name suggests, a large shallow, almost land surrounded inlet on the western side of the peninsula.

Fishing was allowed here, so John set up for that – he’d bought bait in Denham this morning.

Whilst John fished, I went for a long walk on the beach to the left. The colours, contrasts and wildflowers were superb.

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Big Lagoon

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I walked back to John and found him happy, because he was catching flathead.

So I walked the other way along the beach and took yet more photos. It was such a brilliant place for photography. I saw sharks and stingrays close to shore – and close to each other!

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Stingray and shark

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Ate lunch at Big Lagoon.

It was such a beautiful spot that I think, has it not been for the 4WD sandy nature of the tracks, we’d have been very tempted to bring the van out here to stay – regardless of time!

 

After John had enough of fishing, we drove back to the main Cape track, north to the birridas area – which look to be kind of continuous with the top  of Big Lagoon – then took the track east to Herald Bight. We’d not had time to see this yesterday.

We came to a place on the Bight track where there was a Disco, apparently bogged. There was no one there. They had laid long lines of dead scrub and branches in the wheel tracks – which could be a way to wreck their tyres too, because that stuff is sharp. Idiots! It did not appear that the tyre pressure had been reduced at all on that Disco, either.

We found a way around the stuck vehicle – and the section of track he’d messed up – and continued on to the Bight.

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Herald Bight

There, we walked on the beach – very pleasant.

By the time we headed back, the Disco was gone. We caught up to him at the junction of the Herald Bight track with the main one. Being towed! It was a young guy. He told us he wasn’t bogged, but the  transmission pipe had split and he was overheating?? That did not ring true – it did not account for all the branch laying stuff we’d seen, which had clearly been him. Hmmm….

Another long but brilliant day. We drove 112kms.

Tea was gazpacho again, followed by savoury mince and noodles.

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2000 Travels November 5

SUNDAY 5 NOVEMBER      DENHAM

I was able to walk down the street and buy the Weekend Australian.

The day was sunny but not hot.

Got ourselves organized with a packed lunch and drove a short way out the road towards Monkey Mia, then turned north to go to the Peron National Park.

The Francois Peron National Park, to give it the full title, extends across the top part of the peninsula. It was a sheep property until 1990, and became a National Park in 1993.

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The road went to the old homestead. Beyond that point, the tracks through the Park are very much 4WD, so we let air out of the tyres before going any further.

Today’s mission was to explore more of the Park than we’d had the chance to do in ’93. So we followed the track towards the tip of the peninsula. It was varied going that Truck handled well. In parts, we churned through sand. The only part that we had any concern about was where the track skirts the edges of birridas – salt pans that look dry but have major mud bogs under them – the sort that bury vehicles! They are to be treated with great caution and the tracks are not to be deviated from. We hoped the tracks of others, that edged these, were on reliable ground.

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Birrida – claypan. The track skirted this.

Towards the end of the Cape, we deviated to the left on a track that took us to Bottle Bay. Had our lunch there and walked around, exploring and admiring the place.

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Bottle Bay

The landscapes at Bottle Bay were typical of those out on the Cape. Red sand dunes and cliffs, in places contrasting with yellow sandy beaches. Brilliant aqua coloured sea. Greens and greys of bushes and wildflowers against the red sands. Really beautiful.

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Then we continued on to Cape Peron itself.

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The contrasts of Cape Peron

Walked around the beach, on the Shark Bay side, for a little way, and found a colony of several hundred cormorants. We did not go too close, not wanting to disturb them, but enjoyed looking at them from a distance. Have never seen so many in one place.

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Cormorants

The contrasting sea colours, off the Cape, were interesting, changing from the light aqua to dark blue, really abruptly. There was also great contrast between the yellow sand of the beaches and the red cliffs abutting them.

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The contrast between the eroding cliffs and the white beach sand

Visited the light structure on the Cape, part of which hosted an osprey’s nest.

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Cape Peron light, with osprey’s nest

There was very much more vegetation on the Cape than in ’93, when it was only three years on from having sheep grazing. It looked wonderful now.

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The wildflowers were quite special.

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We saw very few other people out there.

We drove back the way we’d come this morning – no choice! Stopped at the old homestead to pump up the tyres again – the joys of having the inbuilt air compressor!

It had turned out to be a long day, but a great one. Drove 122kms.

Tea was gazpacho – very nice, then Greek salad with avocado.


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2000 Travels November 4

SATURDAY 4  NOVEMBER   CARNARVON TO DENHAM   340kms

Got away ok about 10am.

Topped up the fuel before leaving town – at $1.17cpl. John only put in 15 litres because he was hoping to find fuel cheaper further south.

The drive south today was marginally more interesting than that of the other day. There was a bit more vegetation and the scrub was slightly higher!

Had to fully refuel at Wooramel Roadhouse – $1.16cpl.

We ate lunch while driving along.

Turned off the highway onto the road to Denham and Shark Bay. The way became much more interesting, with vistas of aqua bays, low red sand dunes and undulating country, and then some coastal scenery. It was actually really scenic in parts. We were travelling up a long, quite narrow peninsula. It is quite an unusual landform, seeming like past rising sea levels extended up  two valleys, thus creating two of these long fingers of land. We were on the middle one.

The Shark Bay area was designated a World Heritage Area, about a decade ago, because of its marine life and the stromatolites at Hamelin.

As we approached Denham, saw that, since we were last here, the town has acquired some wind turbines that rather dominate the rise behind the township. Alternative energy is very topical in WA at the moment; there has been considerable debate about the feasibility of harnessing the massive tidal range at Derby to generate power.

Drove straight through the small town of Denham, heading for the Seaside Caravan Park, on its far side. There, we booked in for five nights. We were conscious that we did have to ration time now, and could not “afford” the week or two that we would have preferred to stay here for.

We got a very nice site, overlooking the ocean, for $15.85 a night.

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A site with a wonderful view…..

After setting up, we went walking, along the main street, which fronted the ocean. Visited a shop selling shells and sandalwood products. Went to the tourist centre, where I bought a few souvenirs.

Denham is much prettier than I remember it being, from ’93. The aqua coloured bay is just wonderful. The township does not appear to have changed much, since we were here, though the caravan park was much improved. It did appear that the past town development/growth had been rather random.

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Denham Sound

In the late afternoon, a strong wind came up and started sand blasting us. That would explain the wind turbines! As would be expected in these dry parts, the ground surface of the park is gravel and sand. John put up shadecloth to give some protection to the area under the awning.

I made gazpacho with some of the flavoursome Carnarvon tomatoes.

Tea was snapper and fries – very good.

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Sunset at Denham


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2000 Travels November 3

FRIDAY 3 NOVEMBER     CARNARVON

In the morning drove into town and through to the One Mile Jetty, that is one of the main features of the town.

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The One Mile Jetty at Carnarvon

The jetty was built in the late 1800’s for the usual reasons of transport of local produce outwards, and needed goods inwards. It was built this long to get from the solid ground of the town area, across the marshy, tidal flats and out to deep enough water. A rail line runs down the centre of the jetty, and in the hey day of the port, engines were used to haul cargo back and forth.

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Railway line down the centre of the One Mile Jetty

We walked right out to the end of the jetty. There was an area in the wider section at the end  that was closed off due to fire damage, seemingly when someone fishing wanted to keep warm.  What moron lights a fire on a wooden jetty? Restoration work was being done.

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Enter at your risk – area under restoration at the end of the Jetty

We watched people fishing. There was a big turtle swimming around beneath the jetty and putting its head up to breathe.

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Turtle off the jetty

There was a sign board at the jetty, with pictures that identified fish – presumably ones that could possibly be caught here. The daily catch limit given for each, was an indication of the relative adundance or scarcity of each species. Clearly, there was no shortage of ones like Dart!

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We did some more grocery shopping. Collected my processed film. Got some scripts filled at the chemist.

Went to NorWest Seafoods, at the marina area through the town, and bought prawns and snapper, both in frozen packs. There are a few fishing boats operate out of here.

Did a basic pack up. We have only really been here long enough to do necessary shopping and cleaning, not enough to strew things around and make packing up a chore. We can’t afford the time to stay longer  here and explore the surrounding area.

Tea was curried prawns and rice.