Shark Bay
Sunday, 5th October 2003

BirridaBirridaBirrida

I went on a 4WD tour of the Peron Peninsula with Dexter of Majestic Tours. He was an interesting guy to talk with having worked in sheep farming and other agricultural areas. I wouldn't have cut it as a sheep shearer - hard work. At the Peron Homestead I saw my only thorny devil. Alas it was dead and I felt it not sporting to photograph it. The Peron homestead (besides exhibits and disused sheep-shearing barns) has a hot tub supplied by Artesian water which emerges at a decent temperature.

Dexter let the pressure of his tyres down to help driving over the sand in the peninsula. A 4WD is definitely required in this strange area. The gypsum salt pans (called birridas) here are impressive. The rust coloured salt bush grows in the birridas and quickly the eye learns that the colour of the vegetation tells you where the birridas are. Some of the birridas are pretty big.

BeachBeachBeach

The coastline with its deep red cliffs is awesome. I didn't see that much marine life - a few manta rays, a juvenile reef shark, fish - the tide may have been wrong. Timing things has never been my strong point. Admired the way the pied cormorants and terns lined up along the water's edge. The next morning I went to Monkey Mia to see the people seeing the dolphins. Such things always make me wonder whether the people are seeing the dolphins or the dolphins are seeing the people. Feeding over a number of years has led to the dolphin visits becoming a big tourist attraction. Next was Shell Beach (uncomfortable to walk over both from the foot point of view and also the eye numbing light reflected off the shells.) Shark Bay Cottages where I stayed in Denham had a ground covering of the fine white shells which looked like snow. Saw a pair of emus here.

StromatolitesStromatolitesStromatolites

Finally Hamelin Pool is a must to see. It has the stromatolites - mounds of primitive cyanobacteria. These thought to be extinct bacteria put the oxygen into the atmosphere to start with. Hamelin Pool also has a coquina quarry. Rainwater fuses deposits of the fine white shells into a makeshift building material. Can be cut with a fretsaw but isn't used now apart from maintaining old buildings. The Old Pearler restaurant in Denham is built out of coquina - I tried to eat there but you need to book well ahead.