Saturday, April 14, 2018

Perth to Darwin - Days 11 to 13 - Monkey Mia and those Dolphins!

We departed Kalbarri late morning and began our 400 km drive north the Shark Bay.  We wound through the national park for a bit before meeting up with the main highway...and then it was nothing but bush, shrub, and red sand for the next four hours.  We stopped at the a roadhouse near the turnout to Shark Bay and it was busy.  Considering it was one of very few gas stations along this stretch of highway, everyone was stopping to top off their tanks...and so did we.

Our destination today was the Monkey Mia (pronounced My-ah) Nature Reserve where tomorrow we will interact with wild dolphins.  We are staying in Denham on the Francois Peron Peninsula.  Shark Bay is an interesting land formation.  The bay is actually two inlets separated from the mainland by two peninsulas.  We are 120 kms from the main road so it took us a while to get out here.

Along the way we stopped at two sites.  The first being Hamlin Pool, the southern end of the inside bay, were we once again found bacteria colony stromolites.  This time there was plenty of water, but because the is limited backflow in this inlet, the water is really salty, like 15%...and the bacteria colonies love it.  We walked out onto the boardwalk and took a few photos.  Once again the flies were relentless...they are becoming really unbearable without the head nets.

Next stop was Shell Beach...a section of the coastline were the beach is entirely made up of shells.  Like 35 feet deep in some sections.  Becuase of the high salt content the mollusks have no predators and have multiplied over ions in numbers so large that compressed section of the beach at one time were cut into blocks to build homes and other buildings back in the late 1800s and up until about 1960.  Now the beach is a protected World Heritage site.

We are at the westernmost spot of Australia.  Our hotel claims to be the most western as well since its front door is three feet closer to the water than the one next door...LOL. Also the original building is built with those block.  Once again we are enjoyed free nights this time thanks to Expedia points.  Our room is nice and clean and we will be cooking in the camper for dinner.  Breakfast is included and will be the first for us since Korea.  We will be here for two nights.

We are right on the beach so tonight our sunset will include looking at some lovely boats moored in the harbor in front of us.  Because we are in an inlet, there are no waves...interesting for a change.  And BTW it is REALLY 40C or over 100F.  Thankfully our room has a nice shaddy porch and air-con.

To get a guaranteed dolphin experience we had to get up at 6:00 and be at the nature reserve at 7:30AM.  No issue for us...apparently even though the dolphins are wild, the rangers feed them a few fish each morning to keep them coming back.  The crowd was big but manageable.  The dolphins showed up on cue and were to open to inspecting the people.  You were allowed to go into the water up to your knees, only with attendants, and NO ONE touches the animals.  After about twenty minutes of the animals swimming in for a closer look the attendants each gave out three fish...that's all...and the animals took them.  There were schools of fish all over and the animals were actively fishing so I didn't feel so bad about the human interaction.  Lots of scars from shark attacks on the critters gave pause for thoughts of swimming.

 This guy was hanging around waiting for a handout.  He never got one.

 Here they come.
 Checking out the people.
 Getting one fish.
 Wilderness park formerly a sheep range from the early 1900's until 1960.
 Our first really rough to handle road...we made it through all that sand.
 Small aboriginal display of an ancient desert hut.
 Local critters...

 The ranch...

 A dip in the artesian hot tub...the water was a refreshing 104F
 The rest of the road was for 4WD only and this is where you were instructed to deflate your tires and then re-inflate them upon your return.  We passed.

 And then on the way back to the hotel...

 And for a bit of humor, we have been spotting this interesting campervan rentals all over.  This one is our favorite to the pot smoking Santa...hands down.

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