On Sunday we decided to leave the camp set up and head out for a day trip to Denham and Monkey Mia. First stop was Shell Beach which is an amazing feature with the beach comprising only one type of shell which is the only creature that can survive in the extremely salty water of the bay. The shells are mostly 5 cent or 10 cent coin size and it’s a unique place to see.
At depth, the shells become compacted and cemented together and large blocks have been quarried and cut out for use in construction. We saw one building in Denham that has used these blocks. At one end of the beach, a high, electrified fence has been built running out into the water for maybe 50 metres and then across the peninsular. This has created a barrier to control feral animals and protect some of the native animals that are unique to the Shark Bay area – there’s definitely plenty of ferals inside the protection zone but at least there’s not an unregulated flow of new pests into the area.
We kept driving out towards Denham and entering town we carefully negotiated our way around the resident emu on the main roundabout who was oblivious to traffic as he pecked up all the fallen seeds from the palms lining the road along the foreshore.
We stopped at Little Lagoon just out of town and had a great swim. It’s a beautiful spot with clear water. After cooling off we continued out to Monkey Mia and at the entry point read that our National Parks Pass which we’d purchased for our time in WA was’t valid here. Fortunately the entry booth was closed for a lunch break so we drove in not impressed with their need to charge people extra fees to enter an area just because a handful of dolphins swim in each morning to be fed fish. We didn’t hang around very long. There’s a resort right on the beach – very Byron Bay feel about it all. The jetty is good for looking at the fish, turtles and dolphins. Camels sit idle on the beach waiting for tourists to take a beach ride. There’s a big construction site – presumably more resort accommodation – and it’s a bit messy overall.
Heading back towards Denham we took a drive into Francois Peron National Park and stopped at the Peron Heritage site which is awesome. A sheep station up until 1991, all the buildings and yards and equipment are still intact and there’s great information signs that take you step by step through the shearing sheds and yards and shearers quarters and the cookhouse. Great stuff. The highlight – undoubtedly – was the hot tub – an old tank with hot bore water flowing into it. To start with, it feels too hot to get in but if you gradually ease in it becomes bearable and you can slowly sink in. We all had a good soak and surprisingly we had the place to ourselves.
Back into Denham, the boys had another swim on the beach and played with other kids. The emu continued his obsession with the palm fruits and seeds and attracted a lot of attention from people passing through. Josh and the boys swam out to a pontoon out in the bay and a dolphin came swimming past.
Back to camp after a long day and we settled back in to our quiet campsite happy to not be packed in like sardines in the caravan parks we’d seen in Denham. Stargazing out here gets a big thumbs up – no lights or town or highway for miles and miles so it’s dark and clear.