Holidays, part 4 – Kalbarri Gorge to Denham via Hamelin Pool

It was a long drive between the gorge and Hamelin Pool, long, hot and boring with most of looking like the road below.  For hours and hours.

We stopped at the Billabong Roadhouse for lunch – this place is really in the middle of nowhere and offers an oasis of fuel, food and erm, a place for a much needed ‘comfort break’  They did a good range of gluten free food too, which meant Anja could at least eat well, rather than having to live on just chips (not that she would really have cared too much, she’s a starch machine)

We turned off the highway and onto the road to Denham – there’s still an hour or so of solid driving to go from that point, but we were making good time so we stopped off at Hamelin Pool, a tiny homestead and former telegraph station at the bottom of Shark Bay.  It’s famous for its Stromatolites, which are rock like structures, formed from the actions of tiny cyanobacteria that grow in the hyper-saline waters, slowly trapping sand and mud which forms new layers, growing only few mm a year.

These creatures are some of the earliest life forms on the planet and and form a major constituent of the fossil record for about the first 3.5 billion years of life on earth.  Using sunlight, they synthesise carbon dioxide to produce oxygen.  In fact, it is thought that during those billions of years, they were pretty much solely responsible for creating the oxygen rich atmosphere we enjoy today.

It is also totally unspoiled here, being a protected world heritage zone – the place is gorgeous!

We drove the hour or so down the only road to Denham, undulating its way though the scrub like bush, before the first signs of human habitation appear and we pulled into town.  Denham is a lovely little place, a few restaurants, caravan parks, a hotel or two, some supermarkets and petrol stations.  Its really the only town in Shark Bay, so it has everything you could want.

Our self catering apartment was nice – basic but clean and with lots of space and only 30 seconds walk from the beach and gorgeous sunsets every night.

Next up, Shell Beach, Monkey Mia, Dolphins and adventures off road.

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Holidays, part 3 – Kalbarri Gorges

Day 3, we set off from Kalbarri early as we had a long drive (again) to Denham in Shark Bay.

Stopping briefly for petrol and a quick walk along the beach (we arrived in the dark the night before so we thought we’d at least have a 5 minute poke around), we quickly decided that Kalbarri is a place we’d come back to.  Clean, pretty, lots of variety of food (for vegetarians, vegans and gluten and dairy free) and enough to keep children occupied for a week.

We drove up the Ajana Kalbarri road towards the Kalbarri National Park so we could have a gawp at the amazing Murchison River Gorge.  This was a little way off road – 20km or so along well made dirt tracks – through the vast open bush.

It was a pleasure to see to no evidence of mankind (the road excepted) as far as the eye could see in all directions.  We even saw emus wandering through a thin patch of bush just off the road.

We parked up at a little car park and walked out into the heat – it was really warm compared to Perth – and took a walk down a little rocky track to a lookout over the Murchison River.

Wow – it was an awesome view.  Not very many folks about either, just a few brave souls and a teenage kid who was curious about my Hasselblad camera.  This was also the first time we really got to see the red rocks that make this part of the world so famous.

It’s spring in Australia at the moment, so there were a fair few desert flowers about – very pretty.

We still had a long drive and Anja was in a foul teenage mood, so we didn’t get to see the fabled ‘Nature’s Window’, which I was ok with – it was hot and there were lots of flies about, and besides, its such a stupid twee name for a gorgeous rock arch.

We drove back down the track and continued north along the highway into ever more barren countryside and ever increasing temperatures.

Next up – Hamelin Bay and Shark Bay