After leaving Kalbarri we headed north for Denham on the Shark Bay peninsula. We tried to get sites at Monkey Mia but that was almost impossible so we settled for Denham. Actual it was a blessing in disguise. While the Dolphins seem to be the main attraction at Monkey Mia, there is a whole lot more to see and Denham makes easy access to Francois Peron National Park.
Chris and I were last in Monkey Mia way back in 1984. Back then there was virtually no infrastructure and no rangers. Now it has a very large camp ground with restaurant and large National Parks discovery centre. You need to buy tickets to view the dolphins. Back in 1984 you simply went into the water and the dolphins would approach you and interact with you. Of course, as it became more popular there had to be some rules put in place, but gee, we are certainly glad we had that visit and fabulous experience so many years ago.
On one occasion in 84 we took our dinghy out for some fishing. Once we were a little way out from shore, blow me down if we didn’t have a dolphin stick it’s nose over the side of the boat looking for a free feed of fish.
On another occasion, our young nephew (his family were travelling with us) who had a broken arm and could not enter the water beyond the shallows, was spotted by a dolphin that then beached itself so our nephew could get close and give the dolphin a tickle under the chin, (You cannot pat them as the have a soft head). Once complete the dolphin wiggled it’s way back into the deeper water. AMAZING!
On the 30th May we packed up after an excellent few days and headed for a couple of nights at Hamelin Station. We were keen to visit the Hamelin Pool to see what is apparently the most diverse and abundant stromatolites in the world which has resulted int the area being regarded as a world heritage site, as is virtually all of Shark Bay. Unfortunately a recent Tropical Cyclone has all but destroyed the board walk and viewing area for the stromatolites. Bugger!
After a day chilling out and hanging around camp we left Hamelin Station and headed for Carnarvon. I needed a car service (Just the second major service for the new Prado.) The produce that is grown in Carnarvon is quite simply amazing. We had no idea that Carnarvon was such a huge food bowl. We certainly took advantage of the situation and bought up plenty of healthy fresh produce both grown and fresh out of the sea.
With a good stock of food we made our way to Cape Range National Park that is situated on North West Cape Peninsula. We had booked ahead into the Yardie Creek Station Campground. We were luckily able to extend our stay and spent 4 days sightseeing and snorkelling on Ningaloo Reef and visiting the Ningaloo Aquarium and Discovery Centre in Exmouth which is excellent.
We had been wised up regarding a Station Stay and had booked ourselves into Bullara Station for a 3 night stay. So after leaving cape range we headed for the bottom of the Exmouth Gulf and Bullara. What a fabulous experience that was. Fabulous Hospitality, Great Coffee and plenty to keep us amused. Not that we did much, basically hung around camp, relaxed and read.
Cape range was the furthest north that we intended to travel, so once we left Bullara we headed south to Coral Bay. We had been fortunate in getting a couple of unpowered sites for a couple of nights in a town that is basically a couple of large caravan parks/campgrounds and a few houses. Tourism is virtually the whole reason for it’s existence.
Our main intention in Coral Bay was to swim with the Whale Sharks . Arriving early in the morning at the operators establishment to get outfitted in our wet suites then onto the bus with 16 other eager customers we were taken to the launch and with little ado headed out into the ocean for a full day at sea.
Initially we did some snorkelling on the Ningaloo reef which was fabulous then we headed out to see through a gap in the reef in search of the Whale Sharks. The operator was well prepared and had a spotter aircraft in the air searching for the monsters (general about 15m long but can be as large as 17m).
I unfortunately do not have underwater cases for my camera gear, but the operators photographer does a fabulous job of capturing the experience.
Wow what an experience that was. An absolutely must addition to the bucket list. We arrived back at shore around 4pm completely exhausted after a full day at sea.
After Coral Bay we needed to return to Carnarvon to replenish stocks of food and wine etc, and especially the fresh fruit and veges direct from the growers, before heading inland with the Kennedy Ranges foremost in our sights.
It was now the 17th of June and after a lunch on the banks of the Gascoyne river in Gascoyne Junction we arrived at the Kennedy Ranges campground mid afternoon. Chris and I had been to the Kennedy ranges in 2014 and remembered it as a great experience. Interestingly, the Kennedy Ranges are hardly known in the eastern states but rank with some of the best scenery that you will see anywhere in Australia. The walks and gorges are astonishing with fabulous views from the top of the escarpment.
I will let the Photos do the talking.
Next Episode, Mt Augustus, Lake Bollard, Goongarie, Outback Way and home.