Sunday, January 1, 2012

Road Trip to Coral Coast, Western Australia Part 3 Denham and Monkey Mia

From Northamption to Denham and Monkey Mia, it was a long 5 hours drive and we had to make a few pit stops for the girls to exercise their legs. The good thing about driving a motorhome is that the girls can just run around, even in the vehicle when we stop and snack in comfort before moving off again. Of course, the most exciting part about this stretch of road trip is that we entered Western Australia's first World Heritage listed area designated in 1991 - Shark Bay Heritage Area. There are a few sites to visit and first, we went past are the Hamelin Pool Stromatolites. Apparently, this is the very few places on Earth where these prehistoric living organisms still exist. At first sight, they don't look very impressive. In fact, they look no more than just some black lumps of rocks in the water. Yet, the amazing thing is that they are alive!!! They are made up of bacteria and algae and occasionally, you can see bubbles coming out from these 'rocks'. As it turns out, they are breathing. Cool! The salinity of the water is so high that animals feeding on the stromatolites cannot survive. Still, they don't grow very tall because they are extremely slow growing, at around 0.3mm a year. Well, at least that is true for the ones at Hamelin Pool. When you see how far the sea stretches out far into the horizon, the world suddenly looks so big and I couldn't help but marvel at creation. It humbles me and makes me appreciate the things around me more. There are a few other heritage sites such as Eagle Bluff, Little Lagoon and Shell Beach. Take your time to explore when you are there. Take it slow and relax.

On the board walk at Hamelin Pool, walking into the horizon.

Stromatolites exposed at low tide

Playing with the sea shells that are littered across the beach.

Eagle Bluff. Hearing the waves did wonders in calming one's nerves.
We stayed at Denham for 3 days. It is a quiet little town and we love how we can stroll on the pavement, with the sea on one side and the palm trees on the other side. People are friendly and the sea breeze is even more generous. We stocked up our groceries and had a great time just enjoying one another's company. We stayed at Blue Dolphin Caravan Park ( and were satisfied with the facilities. Toilets were clean and there were ample clothes lines for us to dry our laundry. Girls were happy with the over supply of shells within the caravan park. They could sit outside the motorhome just building shell-castles. Yes, shell-castles because there was no sand on the caravan park! Very pretty indeed. Another plus point is that it is just a short, short walk to the sea. The grocery store and petrol kiosk are just outside the caravan park. Very convenient.

Denham Town

At the playground, by the sea.
Girls played with the shells while Mummy cooked dinner. 

And they sure played to their hearts' content

The next morning, we headed to Monkey Mia. It took less than 30 minutes and we were hoping to catch the dolphins on their first morning feed. Wild dolphins come to the shore everyday and this enables human interaction. Lucky ones would be able to feed these dolphins. To prevent the dolphins from being dependent on the locals and tourists for food, these dolphins would only be fed up to a maximum of 3 times a day, usually in the morning, beyond which, they would have to search for food on their own. The Monkey Mia Conservation is very careful to ensure that these dolphins remain in the wild. The morning interactions serve mainly as an educational platform for the public, teaching them more about these mammals and how to better protect them and their environment. The staff was also very careful that the tourists do not get too close to these mammals so as to prevent unnecessary stress and injury to the latter. The Monkey Mia Visitor Centre also plays an educational video and has various interesting visual displays on dolphins. We have always been teaching the girls about the importance of treasuring their environment. Just a simple act like discarding litter away in the right place can have big impact on the environment. When litters are not disposed off properly, they can be washed into the open water and contribute to water pollution or even be eaten by marine creatures, endangering their lives. The trip down to Monkey Mia Reserve reinforced these learning points and helped them see some of the animals that they are helping to protect.

 The girls were restless so we brought some sand toys down from the motorhome.

Conservation staff explaining to the visitors about the importance of conserving these precious dolphins.

K thought the dugongs were real so she kept saying, "hello".

Dolphin skeletons

After the dolphins, we headed down to the Shark Bay Ocean Park where we witnessed some shark feeding. The sharks were caught off the bay and kept for a few months for study, as well as for tourist attraction purpose. They would then be released into the wild and new ones would be caught. Other marine creatures like stingrays and turtles can also be seen on site.

A staff at the Ocean Park trying to get the sharks excited while explaning to visitors,
 the different types of sharks and the conservation program they have in place.

That bite was fast and furious!

A tour around the facility

View from the Ocean Park Cafe. Simple drinks and coffee served.

More shells play after the whole day out.
Stay at Denham was great. Attraction sites are also not far from one another. Just wish I had more days to stroll along the beach. We spent the night reading books to the girls, tidied up, cleared the waste, topped up our fresh water supply, and braced ourselves for an early day out tomorrow.