West Coast Day 135 - Shark Bay

Friday, Dec 04, 1998 at 01:00

ExplorOz - David & Michelle

This morning we awoke with a start! Our mobile phone rang at 5am but we let it ring through to voice mail. Most nights we don't have mobile service so it was rare that we were woken by the phone. I feared the worst of course, with my brother overseas and with recent news of David's mother being unwell. However, at 8am when we finally rose, the message revealed good news. My underwater camera strobe had been repaired and was ready to send on to a destination nominated by us. We had to think quickly - where would we be in 5 -7 days? That's too far ahead to plan! We opted for Geraldton since we believe it to be a large town in the scheme of things and the windsurfing is said to be the best in Australia!

Our plan was to leave Monkey Mia today to look further north on the Shark Bay peninsula into the Francois Peron National Park. There's not much there apparently, but a historic homestead and some great viewing of sharks and dolphins out on the Cape.

We had a fantastic day exploring the National Park and wished we had planned to camp there. Instead, we left our trailer part-way along the trail (at the Peron Homestead and Visitor's Centre) and travelled through the sandy tracks out to Cape Peron. The views were spectacular and we felt like the first people to ever have been there. We made the only footsteps in the sandy headland at the Cape and swam in the crystal clear waters. We cooked 2 minute noodles for lunch (same as yesterday) and spotted a set of dolphins feeding close to shore. I captured the largest dolphin snatching a fish and thrashing about as it almost beached itself!

Many sandy tracks led to steep cliff faces with magnificent views to the waters below.

We sat and watched huge schools of rays and giant green turtles frolicking below and wished we had the trailer to set up our camp.

We have bought an annual WA Parks Pass for $45 (we should have bought it a long time ago) which allows us to enter any WA National Park free. Camping is still $8 per night. We came across a rough-looking camp site at the top of a cliff overlooking a large bay and found a young guy fishing. He turned out to be a researcher making a documentary on "TIGER SHARKS"! I'd heard there was a team about and for obvious reasons we wanted to listen to what he had to say. He had set up camp with his boss and team for 2 weeks to catch and study the TIGER SHARKS in the Shark Bay area. They only had a zodiac, which is an inflatable boat (which needed pumping up every hour), basic camping equipment, a box trailer and some VERY expensive camera equipment. The team was fishing for the sharks and then hanging them upside down, which makes them drop unconscious so they can remove the hook. The sharks are then tagged and sometimes a "critter cam" is attached to enable the researchers to obtain shots of them feeding etc. Very little is known about the TIGER SHARK such as where do they go to breed, what do they eat and what are their social behaviors? We left the team on the cliff as they prepared for a night session with the sharks!

After driving back out of the National Park and collected our trailer we obtained permission from the Denham council to free camp at one of the sites we'd visited a few days earlier. We chose Fowlers Camp because it was protected and a storm was brewing.

I bought a newspaper yesterday and was shocked to hear about a diving fatality that occurred in Exmouth a few days ago. Apparently, the Japanese female diver was onboard for an overnight diving trip in 5m swell. The dive operator was not the one we chose to dive with whilst in Exmouth but the one that operated out of the caravan park in which we stayed - Cape Tourist Village Caravan Park. The boat was called Jaws and we'd seen them out on the water every day. The reason we didn't dive with them was one of the dive instructor seemed a bit "simple" and we questioned how some people got jobs in the dive industry!

The strong winds and huge swells were caused by a cyclone just off the coast of Exmouth bringing excellent weather for the next few days to the Shark Bay area (or so we've been told!). But we've just a few drops of rain on our camp and are settling down for one of our first nights "on our own", with no other campers nearby.
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
Always working not enough travelling!
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