There’s something about dolphins in the wild ….. Monkey Mia is a 25 km northeast of the town of Denham in the Shark Bay Marine Park and World Heritage Site. The main attraction are the bottlenose dolphins that have been coming close to shore for more than fifty years. Rangers from the Department of Parks and Wildlife (Western Australia) carefully supervise the Monkey Mia Dolphin Experience.
Eagle Bluff features a spectacularly high cliff that overlooks the Denham Sound and is located 18-20 km south from Denham. The boardwalk provides breathtaking views out across the water. Take a look at the amazingly lifelike Elephant Rock.
Denham is on the western coast of the Peron Peninsula 831 Kms (516 mi) north of Perth. It is the westernmost town in Australia, and is named in honour of Captain Henry Mangles Denham of the Royal Navy, who charted Shark Bay in 1858. Today Denham survives as the gateway for the tourists who come to see the dolphins at Monkey Mia. The Denham region was the second area of the Australian mainland discovered by European sailors, after the western coast of Cape York Peninsula.
Shell Beach is just 45 Kms south east of Denham. The beach is covered with shells for a 60 km (37 mi) stretch to a depth of 7–10 m (23–33 ft). It is one of only two beaches in the world made entirely from shells (the other is Sanibel Island in Florida). The shells have formed a limestone that is known as coquina. Before Shark Bay became a World Heritage Site, the coquina was mined and used for the construction of a number of buildings in Denham.
Next stop – Wooramel Station, a working cattle property 120 Kms south of Carnarvon. It is on the banks of the Wooramel River which only flows twice a year for a couple of weeks or so. We relax in the naturally heated therapeutic artesian bore baths from the Birdrong aquifer. A really quirky place.
Carnarvon lies at the mouth of the Gascoyne River which only flows for an average of 6 weeks per year. It is positioned between Shark Bay to the south and Ningaloo Reef to the north. The area is one of the largest market gardening areas in WA. Unfortunately we were a little early in the year for most of the locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables. But we did sample some of the local seafood which was very fresh.
We visit the Carnarvon Space Tracking Station which was built to support NASA’s Gemini, Apollo and Skylab programs. It was commissioned in 1964 and operated for 11 years. It was the last station to communicate with the space capsules leaving the earth orbit, and the first to make contact before splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. At the height of the operation it had a staff of 220 people.
One of our objectives this trip is to see as many of the famous Western Australia wildflowers as we can. Even though the season has not really got under way yet, Point Quobba gave us a taste of what is hopefully to come.
Point Quobba is 75 Kms north of Carnarvon on the west coast of WA. It is well known for the impressive blow holes which seem to be active all the time as the wind and waves are constantly battering the coast. No longer is the Ningaloo Reef in the way to temper the effect of the waves. This is the area where the wreck of the HMAS Sydney was found. The ship was sunk by a German raider in 1941 with the total loss of its complete crew of 645.