I think I probably forgot to say that there was nearly always a cooling breeze in Coral Bay, although it was fine and sunny throughout. The breeze continued down to Denham, which was my next stop.
We left Coral Bay at 8:30am for the long drive south. We said goodbye to Clay and Victoria in Carnarvon, where they were stopping to go fruit picking. Jane, the new Easyrider driver, wasn't as good as Rebecca and the bus was a bit cramped, but it was still an interesting drive. You could pick up subtle changes in the landscape, but there is still a whole lot of nothingness over vast distances. Scott, Sofia and Kathleen (from the earlier part of the trip) are back on the bus. Generally quite a good crowd, but some quiet Japanese and Koreans and an odd Eastern European couple (of men), who will later try to get a double room (to no avail).
Got some shopping in Carnarvon, at the first proper supermarket for several hundred miles (still finding W.A. quite expensive in general) - it is nice to have a proper range of goods after the limitations of Coral Bay. The rest of the bus comments on my bulging trolley! We stopped for a break at the Overlander Roadhouse before before heading to see the stromalites at Hamelin Pool. Different shades of blue/green water here and interesting to see and read about the stromalites (google it if you want to know more - I won't bore you with the details). From here it was a nice drive along the road with glimpses of the sea on both sides. Visited shell beach, which is made up of billions of shells and an incredibly shallow and saline sea. Got to Denham at about 5:30pm. It is an incredibly laid-back, v. small town, right on the beach. The hostel is homely, with a kitchen/bathroom/lounge for every two dorms. Sharing with the rest of the Easyrider Crew. We watched a slide show of various people's photos on the TV and I provided the soundtrack from the MP3 player (I'm so glad I brought it with me - it has been great).
Sad to say goodbye to Mitch (v. nice Aussie bloke) who was leaVING FOR pERTH EARLY THE NEXT MORNING - WE'RE HOPING TO MEET UP IN pERTH, OR PERHAPS NEXT YEAR WHEN HE WILL BE LIVING IN nsw.
wEDNESDAY 1ST nOVEMBER 2006
Into the second month of my travels...
I was sat writing this diary entry on a bluff overlooking Shark Bay, along the beach from Denham. It's amazing to see the narrow peninsula and islands on the other side of the bay (many miles away, naturally). Spent the morning wandering about and getting my bearings before heading back to the hostel for lunch. It started off partly cloudy (shock) but soon brightened up.
After sorting out some flight changes (Air New Zealand had cancelled some flights and I had to rebook onto alternatives - but thankfully no major problems) I walked the other way along the beach. Saw sharks swimming just feet away and an eagle soared overhead. Didn't see a single other person all afternoon. It is eerily quiet around here (especially with predatory animals about!). Climbed up to the top of duney cliffs for amazing views over Shark Bay. Almost shat myself when I saw a snake trail and almost immediately afterwards put my foot down what I assume to be a snake hole! Otherwise a lovely afternoon and a good (3 hr +) walk.
In the evening we all tried some of the shark that Richard (rather obnoxious character from Wales) had caught earlier in the day. Had a couple of free games of pool before going to bed. Luckily I had my earplugs in as apparently our neighbours were being very noisy indeed during the night (it turned out it was the son of the hostel managers - typical).
Thursday 2nd November 2006
Got free Hostel shuttle bus over to Monkey Mia at 7:45am. Passed Little Lagoon en route - it looked really nice so hoped to get there for a walk the next day. Arrived at Monkey Mia just in time to see the first dolphin feeding of the day (well, they were just leaving actually, but got quite a good view of their fins!). Had a walk along the beach before seeing the second and third feeds of the day. Great to see dolphins up close in the wild (albeit in in a rather packaged, touristy way). At least the rangers provided an interesting commentary and the water was clear and warm, so we got a good close up view of the dolphins.
After a cool windy start it got really hot so spent the middle part of the day in the shade (I had already got a tad sunburnt by then, standing around watching the dolphins). Had a nice swim before getting the free bus back to the hostel.
In the evening I managed to bag some more free shark from Richard (perhaps he isn't so obnoxious after all) - so I roasted some butternut squash and carrot to go with it and had some asparagus as a treat. This is the exciting culinary life that I lead.
Friday 3rd November 2006
After much hmmming and hawing, I decided to spend the day with the rest of the group, on a working pearl farm. Good decision!
We paid $5 to cover the insurance for the day and then got shown around their operation and helped them out for a while by doing a spot of light work. In our case this was pulling up racks of oysters, cleaning them and then putting them back into the water. This was more interesting than it perhaps sounds as we got to see all the accompanying sealife (crabs, little fishes, sponges, etc.). We also got the chance to go swimming. At this point Kathleen thought she saw a shark fin (it was just me and her in the water) - so she had a bit of a panic attack (v funny in hindsight - especially with her strong french accent). It turns out it was a dolphin - so I guess you could say that I swam with dolphins, as well as wading in the water with them. The day also included several boat rides (and numerous cups of coffee and slices of cake) - we all ended up getting totally soaked as the wind picked up - great fun.
Got dropped off at Little Lagoon to walk back to town from there. Went for a swim in the lagoon - lovely warm, clean water, but a high risk of stonefish (most people die from the shock apparently - it is such a painful sting). I kept my sandals on.
It was a beautiful walk back alongside the river/coast. Saw more sharks and rays.
Pretty knackered after getting back but found the energy to go to a naturally-fed hot tub with some of the others. I didn't go in though, because the water looked filthy and I had just had a shower. I might be becoming slightly more tolerant and open-minded, but I have my limits.
Overall, I enjoyed my time in Denham. The group of people wasn't quite as nice as in Coral Bay and perhaps the place was slightly less stunning. But not bad. Hmm... I think I'm probably getting spoiled!
Saturday 4th November 2006.
Went to Monkey Mia again first thing to see the Doolphins. Not as good as on Thursday. There were more people and the rougher water meant that you couldn't see as well.
Got on Easyrider bus with new driver (Mike) for journey to Kalbarri. Had the following stops en route:
- Ocean village - an aquarium place run by marine biologists. Interesting to see and hear about local wildlife, especially the stuff that we had previously seen in the wild.
- Eagle Bluff - beautiful lookout point over Shark Bay. Amazing shades of blue and yet more sharks.
- Shell Beach (again) - not as impressive as it sounds, but nice to stretch legs.
- Kalbarri National Park - viewpoint overlooking gorge - lovely spot, but loads of flies (will have to dig out Michelle's fly net at this rate!)
- Red Bluff - beautiful red cliffs. Watched sun set. Gorgeous.
In the evening almost the entire group went to a seafood restaurant for dinner. Massive mixed seafood platter for $10. Most people couldn't finish theirs, so I did my best to help. Felt pretty stuffed afterwards, but managed to avoid feeling sick, which was a bit of a bonus.
Said goodbye to most of the group, as the vast majority were continuing to Perth without stopping in Kalbarri. Got on really well with most of them but it will be nice to have a quieter few days and a bit of time to myself.
Sunday 5th November 2006
Easy Sunday today. Bought Sunday papers, did a bit of stuff on the internet and generally took it easy in the morning. Wandered around Kalbarri in the afternoon. It's a more attractive/interesting town than Denham, with a beautiful coastline reminiscent of Portugal/Southern Californina.
Writing this up now before cooking dinner and having an early night.
I'm up-to-date at last - hooray (well, apart from photos - they're going to have to wait until I find a good, fast, cheap internet - probably in Perth, I'm guessing).
That's all for now. I hope all is well with you all.