Thursday 30th April, warm cloudy
Denham to Carnarvon
Except for the small towns, the Shark Bay World Heritage Area is almost devoid of trees, just low buttons of green and grey shrubs in pink sandy soil.
Shell Beach is home to millions of tiny Fragum cockle shells. They say there are 4000 per square metre but how did they arrive at that figure did they weigh them or count them? The water here is twice as salty as normal sea water. Any more salt and you’d be able to walk on it. There is an electric fence that crosses the peninsula at this point to keep the park free from feral cats, goats and foxes.
At Hamelin Pool we see an eagle nest atop an old telegraph pole. I’ve been waiting for ten years to see the Stromatolites here, they are supposedly the oldest living organisms on earth at 3,500 million years (and that’s a lot of zeroes). After staring at them for half an hour I have to say that I’m still none the wiser. Woody wanted to know if they light up at night! Shirley (Temple) called them tomatolites. Standing on the boardwalk are two Canadian bikers in full leathers and helmets, an Aussie drawl behind me says “now there’s the perfect fly cover.”
The old telegraph station at Hamelin is where in 1964 a Mrs O’Donohue transmitted morse code for NASA during the first Gemini launch when lightning took out the Gascoyne Junction trunk line. She was given an award by NASA for her four hours of excellent work.
Behind the dusty caravan park is the shell grit quarry where the bricks have been sawed since the 1800’s. They still use it when replacements are required for the last remaining buildings in the area. Both the church and a restaurant are built from these shell grit bricks. They call the grit Coquina.
For days we have been listening to cyclone warnings as category 4 Cyclone Quan is forming off the coast north of Carnarvon. There will be heavy rain and strong winds. We um and ah over whether to press on but the caravan park in Carnarvon assures us that all is well.
Scrubby desert changes to scrubby grassland. The Wooramel river is wide but contains nothing but dry red sand. We are expecting tropical vegetation as this area has been described as a ‘tropical fruit bowl’. We see nothing until, like a British who dunnit, we reach the main street of Carnarvon and there before us are mangoes, bananas and palm trees and it is humid. There is visible damage from Cyclone Olwen of only six weeks ago.
Dark clouds are building, the air is warm and still.
Accom: Wintersun Top Tourist $35.88
Travelling Kms: 325Kms