Denham (Shark Bay) WA

Thursday, May 18, 2006 at 00:00

Mick O

Thursday 18th May
Denham (Shark Bay) WA

It rained on and off during the night and it was still overcast and raining intermittently when we got out of bed. Earplugs dealt with the generator for most of the night but I must confess to being a bit tired this morning. Because of the gloomy weather, we tarped the bed and packed up immediately having a cooked breakfast at the homestead store/café/office. From there it was a short drive to the stromatolites viewing area and its board work out into Hamelin Pool. Sand banks and ocean grass beds severely affect the tidal flows into Hamelin Pool making it hyper saline (twice normal sea water) and this in turn provides a rare and uniquely protected environment for the stromatolites to grow. These slow growing cyanobacteria ruled the earth for over a billion years and are believed to be responsible for increasing the oxygen levels on the young earth from 3% to 20% over that time. This colony is the second of the only colonies left on the planet (the other was at Cervantes down the coast a bit).

After leaving Hamelin bay, we drove the 70 km to Denham through rain until miraculously, the skies cleared as we entered Denham. Keen not to make the same mistake as we did at Kalbarri, we scouted the three caravan parks on offer and made the right choice. Our site is on the beach overlooking Shark Bay. I can see across the water to Useless Loop and it’s mountains of salt and then further north, Dirk Hartog Island. It ended up being bloody hot in the sun as we set up camp so I was soon in the water for a swim. It was great and a good deal warmer than the ocean down south at Esperance. The sand is largely fine shell grit and so is pristine white. Several hundred metres off shore the sea grass beds commence turning the water a deep blue as if extremely deep. The seagrass supports a 10,000 strong population of dugong in Shark Bay.

We spent the rest of the day exploring town, calling at the local C.A.L.M. office and making enquiries about gaining access to Dirk Hartog Island. At $600 per vehicle and $220 a night for homestead accommodation, it may have to wait until tattslotto comes through!

John and Julie set up camp later in the afternoon and we had more than a few wines over a lovely evening. The wind came up and made it a bit chilly but we persevered (also positioned the car as a windbreak. That helped).
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903
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