Roads that run forever

The roads are quite amazing here in Western Australia, they go on forever, red dirt and brush bordering either side further north and south, wheat fields and mesas closer to Geraldton. Sometimes we will see a kangaroo or emu alongside or crossing in front. 

I spend a lot of time wondering about those brave pioneers that headed west back home, and here the ones that crossed this inhospitable landscape. At least we have signs and directions, even in the vastness.

It’s incredibly beautiful in a dangerous way. The other day, when we headed north, Scott filled the vehicle with diesel whenever he had the opportunity, simply because it can be hundreds of miles in between gas stations. A road sign ahead becomes a great source of excitement for the traveler, a town even more so! 

How did they do it, these men that crossed on camels and foot? 

I suppose most of us don’t think of it now, when we travel our highways and interstates.  Here’s some photos of roads we’ve traveled on. Most of what we’ve traveled on has been blacktop, but I’m sure in this part of the country, there’s almost as many unfinished roads, tracks and stock routes. 

   
   

Fishing Trip in Shark Bay

Yesterday morning, before we broke camp and came home, we took a fishing trip with MacAttack, a charter boat out of Denham. We were on the hunt for Pink Snapper, which had to be between 50 and 70cm to keep – about 20-30 inches. 

We did great! Well, some of us. I caught two (which weren’t quite big enough) but unfortunately spent most of my time providing “musical entertainment” over the side of the boat. It was choppy. Scott and the skipper kindly fished for me, and we brought home nine large pink snapper. Addie and Frankie also caught some, Will occasionally raised a very green head from the seat. Poor kid. 

We were way out in Shark Bay, this is an amazing part of the world. It’s so hard to explain how big it is.

   
                                     

Our first camping trip

The last three days we took off north to the Shark Bay area. Shark Bay was named by one of the original Dutch explorers who, of course, spotted a shark. Not that that’s anything unusual for this coastline.

The Shark Bay area is now what is known as a World Heritage Area which I s a dedication given by UNESCO when an area meets certain criterion. For example, it has to contain threatened species, unique or rare natural phenomenon etc. There’s some other, theologically dodgy criteria, but it gives you the general idea that somebody thought there was some neat stuff to see here.

Anyway, we stayed at what was formerly a sheep station, and is now managed as a campground and nature reserve. This is the first time we’ve ever camped with the kids, and it was sort of a trial to see how mom and dad, and kids all fared, but it was great fun. We hired a pop-up camper which we towed behind our vehicle, set up at a spot close to the fire pit, and met lots of interesting (some were even unique and rare, lol) individuals each evening around the fire. The stars were vivid and countless, and the Milky Way incredibly clear, and it was fun having the Australians around us point out their constellations, which are, of course, completely different to our own.

We visited the stromatolites. These are layers of a multitude and variety of bacteria that form pads that trap particles and eventually create rocks. So, essentially, they are living rocks. There’s a nice boardwalk to look down onto the stromatolites, and it was fascinating to think of the diversity of our Creation, right there in a rock, of all things. Also, you could see bubbles, so it was enjoyable to think of a rock “breathing”.

Here’s some pictures Addie took of us walking on the boardwalk and one of the rare rocks, which just sort of look like regular rocks.

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The next morning we left the campground early, after a late-night around the fire learning Australian songs from a gentleman that entertained everyone with his guitar. We headed north to Monkey Mia, which is famous for its families of dolphins that come to the shoreline to be fed. The rangers feed them about three times every morning, with a small amount of fish. Apparently in the 1970’s tourists began buying fish to feed the dolphins and they quickly lost the desire to feed themselves, which of course created problems, so they are now very stringent with how much they fed, They are close enough to touch (although you aren’t allowed to) but it was awesome to see them come up and take food from a human. Just a few individuals get picked to do this, so we just watched. There was also a hilarious pelican.

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Afterward, we stopped by Shell Beach, which is actually featured on our cover page for the blog (the hand throwing the shells in the air). This area of seawater, including the stromatolite area, has hypersalinity, and therefore only certain creatures survive, such as the aforementioned bacteriae and also a particular kind of cockle. Because of the lack of predators, the cockle shells now form a beach a kilometer wide, 10 meters deep and over 100 kilometers long (roughly 60 miles).They used the compacted shells as building material, due to the fact that deep under the surface of the beach, the shells have concreted together, and can be cut out as bricks. In Denham, the only town in this area, there is still an Anglican church and also a restaurant constructed of this material. Here’s some photos of the beach, including our own attempt at a cover photo 🙂

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I have a few more of the shells on my phone and will add those.

Kalbarri

Yesterday, we drove north up the coast to explore Kalbarri National Park. It’s a 450,000 acre park consisting of incredible scenery in the form of river gorges and coastal cliffs. The geology consists of deep, horizontal bands of multicolored sands deposited in layers. The colors range from a variety of reds, oranges, all the way to yellow and white. 

Australia is a dangerous, but beautiful place, and they are very good about reminding you of this. Various warning signs were at each car park when we began a trail, the most common one reading :

“Hikers have died on this trail. Please take water and only attempt if you have a moderate to high level of fitness”

Anyway, we thought we’d give it a try. It was a Level 4 trail which means there was rock climbing, ladder climbing and loose, sandy rock to deal with on the rock climbing, but it was great fun. 

   
                         

We are all a little sore this morning.
We also went to the coastal cliffs. There are some slightly less scary hikes along this coastline, that we agreed would be better to take visitors to. We had the blessing of witnessing a pod of dolphins swimming along as we were eating our sandwiches.

   
        

   

We finished off the day with a visit to Natures Window, one of Western Australia’s most iconic natural attractions, forming a frame for photographers of the Murchison River Gorge.

   
         

It was a day filled with great beauty. We feel very blessed that God showed off his Creation to us today, and we are eager to see more. 

Next week we are heading up to Shark Bay to camp, so more then. 

Did you know that Zane Grey, the author of American western stories, was a huge fishing fan and fished in Shark Bay?

Dolphins…we hope….

A couple of days ago, the kids and I were out for our morning run. Don’t be impressed. We are working on a Couch-to-5k thing. But it’s nice, running together along the seafront.

On the way back home, the following conversation ensued:

Frankie: “ummm…I just saw a fin….”

Silence.

Addie: “No, you didn’t, Frankie, it was a bird. I definitely saw a bird flying by the water”

Silence, except for padding feet and breathlessness.

Me: “I just saw a fin too”

We all stop and see a fin. 

Silence. The fin is 10 feet from the shoreline, if that.

Me: ” I think it’s a friendly fin. It looks too friendly a shape to be a shark…”

Silence. Followed by resounding agreement. 

Addie: “Don’t they swim in pods, like together?”

Silence. More observation.

Me, and everyone else:

“I just saw 2 fins! ”

Phew. 

We even stopped a lady on her daily walk to confirm.

Me: “Do Dolphins swim around here?”

Her: “I’ve heard that, but I’ve never seen one. Sharks do though…”

Silence. Two fins. Friendly fins.

Her: “Well, that looks like a friendly fin, playing with another friendly fin. Let’s just call them Dolphins…”

Resounding agreement. Again.

We have no pictures. But great memories. They really did look friendly. 😄