Day 92 – Shark Bay and François Péron National Park

The amazing weather is definitely starting to come to an end I feel. Evenings and mornings are getting cool, and the clouds that came yesterday were still around today. I’m not complaining (we’ve had a pretty long run of perfect days), but it’s just a shame. On the plus side, we’re probably getting ahead of the Grey Nomads who will probably remain in their winter hiatus in the north.

20130813_RCH_0767 20130813_RCH_0765 20130813_RCH_0768 20130813_RCH_0770First stop was Shell Beach, which in the traditional Aussie spirit is named because it’s a beach made entirely of shells. It’s amazing when you start to look closely and realise it’s just shells of very small creatures. You can dig, and dig, and dig and it’s still just shells. The water was crystalline, but felt like glacier water (it was the coldest water we’ve come across). We copied the dozens (hundreds, actually) of other people and wrote our name with shells (though, I made sure to write ours down by the shore so it would soon be washed away, unlike the other low-quality people who’d written theirs up high and in huge letters).

20130813_RCH_0773 20130813_RCH_0774We stopped in at Goulet Bluff, which is where I’d wanted to camp last night, except I thought that it was getting late, and didn’t want to be in a crowded camp area with no toilet and no view. I was so wrong on two out of the three (there was no toilet). The view was amazing and I was kicking myself for not driving the extra 30km last night. It was also empty except for one lucky campervan perched up high looking down on the white shell beach and azure waters below.

20130813_RCH_0776Eagle Bluff was more of the same, views out to beautiful waters, filled with sea grass (the reason for the world heritage listing – this huge area of sea grass supports a huge number of threatened dugongs and other sealife). There was a small island just off shore that was mined for all the bird shit it contained, back when guano was more valuable than gold – hard to believe!

20130813_RCH_0780Denham, a.k.a Shark Bay, was most definitely a tourist town. The town gently slopes down to face the bay, which on a clear day would have been beautiful. Today however, it was overcast, and there was a strong cold wind blowing. People come here to fish, and escape winter – neither would have been too successful today I think.

20130813_RCH_0784 20130813_RCH_0785 20130813_RCH_0797 20130813_RCH_0801 20130813_RCH_0802 20130813_RCH_0806Heading north along the peninsula from Denham you enter the François Péron National Park ($11 day use fee). The first 6km is nice unsealed road that takes you to an old homestead, and the free thermal hot tub was probably the highlight of Risa’s day. The 40˚C water comes from an artesian bore, 540m below ground and apart from being a little salty makes for a pretty amazing bath. In the same grounds we found an emu enclosure (by mistake) and the old sheep shearing stations which were left in their original state. They would have had a tough work life.

From the homestead it was 40km of very soft sand to get to Cape Péron. It was great that at the entrance to the trail there was a compressor station for people to adjust their tyre pressure (we dropped Deli-chan to 28psi from 40). It was the first time for us to drive on such soft sand, and Deli-chan was certainly working hard! We had one quick scare when I tried to move into a different set of tracks, but otherwise, apart from the time it took, it was a fun drive. It’s certainly a different experience, in some ways similar to driving in deep snow.

20130813_RCH_0809 20130813_RCH_0808 20130813_RCH_0813 20130813_RCH_0836The cape was a long trip, but I think it was worth it. Stunning red sand cliffs, white beach and the blue sea. There were also a couple of giant colonies of seagulls and cormorants, which had we read the sign earlier, we probably wouldn’t have chased… but it was fun.

It’s supposed to be a good location to see dugong, sharks, turtles and manta rays, but we weren’t able to see anything in the clear waters off the beach.

20130813_RCH_0845 20130813_RCH_0847A little further was Skipjack Point, named after the trevally that is so abundant there. It was more of the same – deep red cliffs, white beaches and blue waters. The sun was getting low in the sky and not wanting to drive that soft sandy trail in the dark, we got moving. The drive back was certainly easier than the drive there, which either due to my skills improving, or the super soft sand sections were mostly downhill. I’d told Risa earlier that she could have another bathe in the hot tub, but it was getting dark so I took back that offer.

20130813_RCH_0857 20130813_RCH_0860Monkey Mia, the infamous dolphin beach was on the east coast of the peninsula, about 25km from Denham. We arrived just after the sun set, though, with all the clouds in the sky tonight, it wasn’t much of a sunset. Risa saw a few dolphins swimming around in the shallows, but I was too slow getting my camera ready.

Entry to Monkey Mia is $8/person, and is not included in the WA National Parks Pass. There is only one accommodation option here, which is $32 for an unpowered site. It’s cheaper than Exmouth so I was feeling positive, until I learnt that the campervan section is just in the car park around tent grounds. So, we’re basically paying to sleep in a car park in a caravan park… At least it’s surprisingly quiet – everyone must be going to bed early to be up ready for the 7:30AM dolphin feeding frenzy.

92日目 Shark Bay!!

世界自然遺産のShark Bay (サメ湾!)となかなか恐ろしい名前のついた場所を探検しました!

この半島にあるシャークベイは、あのイルカで有名なMonkey Mia(モンキー マイア)がある場所です。

まずは、Shell Beach(シェルビーチ)と呼ばれる貝殻でできたビーチを散策しました。

このビーチは、名前の通り、砂のかわりに、小さくて白くとてもキレイなCockle(とり貝/ざる貝)の貝殻が5mもの深さに渡って、流れ着き体積した場所です。

本当に掘っても、掘っても砂はなく、ひたすら貝、貝、貝、貝!!!

歩くとシャラ、シャラと音がします。  真っ白で太陽の光をよく反射するので、とってもまぶしい!!
水の側は、すこし色が濃くなっているので、白い貝で文字を書きました。

今日は風も強く、南に来たせいで、気温は、かなり低いです。(といっても24℃ほどですが) なので今日は泳げる気温では、ない!

残念ながらこの先は、南下を続けるので、もうオーストラリアの海ではしばらくの間泳げないのかなー。  イルカと泳ぎたかったけど、心臓マヒ起こしそう!

その後は、いくつかの小さな湾を見に行きました。 青の色あいがとってもキレイで印象的です。 透き通った水色、淡い青にターコイズブルーと濃紺のグラデーションがとってもキレイです。

このシャークベイは、サンゴではなく海草が世界一広いエリアで生息しているらしく、世界で1番多くジュゴンが生息している場所だそうです。

その他には、名前の通りたくさんの種類のサメや、イルカ、エイ、カメなどなど愉快な海の仲間達が非常に沢山生息している場所だそうです。

そして海だけではなく陸地にも、稀少動物のビルビーやマラなどが生息しており、外来種であるウサギやキツネの駆除作戦(エデン プロジェクト)により、近年その数を増やす事に成功している場所でもあるそうです。

Denhamという町がこの半島の唯一の町でここのビジターセンターでMoneky Miaへの入場券一人$8を買いました。

その後、Francois Peron岬を目指しました。

その手前には、Peron Homesteadと呼ばれる現在は使われていない、とても古い羊牧場がそのまま保存されている場所を見学しました。

そしてそこには、以前は井戸として使われていましたが、深く掘りすぎたため(500m以上) 暖かい塩水が湧き出てしまい、温泉になってしまった場所も行ってきました。

水温は、40℃ほどで、少し風が肌寒い今日の天気にはばっちりの温度でした。  思ったよりもとても居心地がよくついつい長居をしてしまいました。

まだまだ先は長い! この先は、Francois Peronの岬を目指しました。

この道は、未舗装で道はほぼ砂。  なので、入り口にはタイヤの空気を抜く機械があり、デリちゃんも空気を抜いていざ出発。

道はかなりうねっていて、やわらい砂なのでなかなかてこづりました。 景色は、赤い砂と背の低い木が中心でちょっと飽き飽き。 ロスくんは、ちょっとエクストリームな運転を楽しんでいるようですが。。 もう未舗装の道は勘弁。。

途中省略、90分−2時間程でやっとこ岬に到着。

岬は、真っ赤な赤土で、白い砂、青い海とのコントラストがとってもキレイな場所でした。
色々な種類の海鳥、貝殻、ビーチを歩くのはとっても気持ちがよくもう少し居たかったけど、思ったより往路に時間がかかり、この道は暗くなるとまずいので、早めに退散〜。

帰りは、うさぎちゃんを数匹見つけました。この辺りでは、外来種なので見つかったら処分されちゃうらしいけど、(かわいそう!!)
やっぱウサギちゃん、かわいいねー。 モコモコのお尻がかわいかった!

今日のキャンプ地モンキーマイアへ向けてデリちゃんを走らせ、なんとか日没までに間に合いました。

キャンプ地へ行く前に夕日がキレイだったので、ビーチへ立ち寄りました。
私は、トイレを探す為にビーチの周辺の建物を目指して歩いてたらなんとイルカさん発見!!

かなり浅いビーチから3mほどの場所に3匹ほどいました♡ わーい!

イルカで有名な場所だとはいえ、着いて2分で早速出会ってしまうなんて超ラッキー☆

夕日とイルカ。 最高のコンビネーションです☆

ああ、今日も1日よい日でした!

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