Christmas 2013 – Walk round Point Peron

We decided to have another adventure with just the three of us – this time going for a long walk around one of my favourite parts of Rockingham – Point Peron.  Technically it’s actually Cape Peron but who’s counting!

Point Peron is limestone, joined onto the land by a thin strip of sand that one day will erode away and Peron will become another of the many islands that dot the coast.

We walked up to the old WW2 gun emplacement and then down onto the beach, poking around the rockpools for crabs and other goodies. Read More

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Holidays, part 7 – boats, pearls, dolphins and dugongs

On the last day, we went back to Monkey Mia to go on a catamaran, the Aristocat 2, which sails out into Shark Bay in search of dolphins, turtles, dugongs and black pearls.  It was a beautiful day, in contrast to the day before – we really do have the best luck!

The boat sails early, so we got there in plenty of time and had a breakfast coffee at the Monkey Mia restaurant.  Jay and Piper are both travel sick, so they were both dosed up with Kwells, but the sea was millpond smooth so I figured they’d be ok.  Everyone was sat on outside the boat and there was plenty of breeze too.

First up we went to the pearl farm, one of the biggest pearl farms in Western Australia.  Shark Bay was originally popular for pearl farming in the mid 1800s to around 1900 – but the people were greedy and generally not very nice and the industry collapsed due to overfishing and the depression.

The Pearl farm is run by Jamie, who was on the TV series ‘The Farmer Wants A Wife’ – he was pretty cool and explained how they made the cultured pearls – its a long and complex and careful process – each shell produces 4 pearls over 8 years.  Oh, and pearls and nothing to do with sand grains – natural pearls are caused by damage to the shell making organ thingy, apparently.

We sailed off in search of wildlife – there were lots of dolphins around – small pods mostly, but then a bigger one with a juvenile came over to investigate and swam with the boat for a while, which was very cool.

It was a gorgeous day so we pottered around a bit more in search of dugongs.  Dugongs are funny things – they’re mammals that graze on the sea grass meadows in the shallow waters.  Shark Bay has about 20% of the world’s population – something like 15000 of them live here, happily pottering about in the shallow water.  They spend a fair bit of time sleeping, and like dolphins, send 1/2 their brain to sleep at a time, keeping one half awake to deal with breathing and keeping a watch out for sharks.  They sleep just on the surface so we sailed slowly about to try to spot one.  They’re very shy, so we kept on seeing tails pop out of the water and they swam back down out of harms way.

We eventually found one snoozing on the surface – very cool!

We sailed back to Monkey Mia and we sat up front in the sun, enjoying the warmth and the gorgeous blue sky and turquoise water.

In all, a beautiful day really and well worth it.  We had some lunch before heading back to Denham.

On the way back, I took a some pictures of the Monkey Mia bay – its very beautiful set against the red rocks that dominate the landscape here.

Next up – the journey home – some last minute sightseeing and then the loooong drive back.

Holidays, part 5 – shell beach and dolphins

The next day, we had a poke around Denham, stocked up on food and beer ($50 for a carton of Corona – thats really cheap!) and decided that we’d do a little exploring.

There aren’t a great many things to do in Shark Bay that don’t involve some kind of water/fishing/swimming type activity, so we loaded up the car and drove to Shell Beach, which is 1/2 hour from Denham back down the road we came in on.

Shell Beach is, as the name implies, a beach made of shells.  Just shells.  No sand or pebbles or anything else, just trillions of teeny white shells.  There are so many and the beach is so thick with them that they are mined and bricks carved from the deeper harder almost rock like layers.  Amazing.

The girls packed their snorkelling gear as the water looked amazingly clear, but we discovered that the water looks that clear for a good reason.  It’s only kneed deep for 2 or 3 hundred metres or more out out to sea.

Still, thats enough for small children, but even though its a breathtakingly beautiful place, its not very interesting for adults.  Plus the sea floor being made up of, yes, you guessed it, shells, is not exactly comfortable on the feet.  That said, we had a good time, but there isn’t really that much else to do there, so we sat down, had a drink from the cooler and once the girls dried off, we went home again.

The next day, we stocked up with supplies and drove the 1/2 hour to Monkey Mia, where there is a self contained holiday resort (which we didn’t want to stay at, as there is only one restaurant and nothing else to do).  The interesting thing about Monkey Mia is that for 30 years or more, dolphins have been coming in to the beach to be fed.  This got a bit out of hand in the 80’s so the Environment Department guys created a managed feeding program.  3 times a day, in the mornings only, dolphins swim in and get fed a small ration of fish.  The DoE guys pick members of the public to come and feed them – its very cool.

The water was a bit cloudy with sand when we went, but it was still amazing to see the dolphins up close, to watch them swim on their side with one eye out of the water, sizing us all up.

It was a very cool experience and the girls had a lot of fun, even though they didn’t get picked for the feeding.  They swam in the sea for a few hours, playing with some American kids (who were perhaps the most loud bossy children I have ever seen) before we’d kinda had enough sun, so we packed up and went home.

As the ocean in Shark Bay is really calm in good weather, we made a plan to come back and go out on one of the catamarans that sail around the bay looking for dugongs, dolphins, sharks and turtles.