About 88km from the Nerren Nerren campsite we pulled into The Overlander Roadhouse to stretch our legs, top up the fuel ($169.9 L and $5.00 for a shower) and do a toilet run. The moment we opened the car doors we were greeted by gazillions of flies ( ok, there were lots!). They were pretty terrible at Nerren Nerren – particularly around the long drops – and have been consistently hanging around ever since. Lots of people, generally overseas tourists, have resorted to wearing fly nets, sometimes it feels as though we have walked into some kind of apiarist convention! We have been relying on good old Bushman’s Repellent/Rid/Aeroguard etc and these mostly seem to help.
After piling back into the car and driving approximately another 140km we rolled into Denham. We checked into our caravan park and it was really hot as we set up, we were surprised by the lack of shade and after spending three days in Denham we came to the conclusion that this was a common theme no matter where you stayed. We can’t imagine what it would have been like to be in a tent like the good old days.
To celebrate our arrival, the kind people of Denham had organised a Fish Fiesta. There was a parade of boats through town and some of the local schoolchildren raced in a beer can regatta. The boy’s team managed to win and then proceeded to pelt the girls with eggs as they came across the finish line. All week there were planned activities such as kids fishing competitions, music, food and dancing, with much of the focus being on the adult fishing competition with daily weigh- ins of various fish caught offshore. We watched a little of the weigh-in one day and I swear there had been fish caught as big as small dogs!
The next morning was Mother’s Day and after an early start we headed off for the 26km drive across to Monkey Mia ($15 family day pass) to hopefully see some of the wild dolphins that visit the beach there. We arrived early, along with a large number of others and at 7.45am one of the rangers employed by the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) invited us to stand at the water’s edge. She then gave us a sort talk about the dolphins and the rules for interacting with them and then we waited…. and waited…..and then about 45 minutes later EUREKA! We were blessed with the arrival of a total of nine of the 20 or so dolphins that visit the beach. The kids had front row seats and it was very cool to watch the dolphins watching the people.
In years gone by people were able to touch the dolphins, but this caused a number of problems and now DEC control things quite strictly. Mind you, I think the dolphins were generally better behaved than some of the humans – particularly the adults! There seemed to be quite a bit of hip and shouldering and people not willing to give up ‘their’ possies for others to get a look or take a photo, which was a bit of a shame. The group was quite big, as you can see, on the day we were there but Vanessa (who I am sure is following us as we saw them again both in Monkey Mia and Carnarvon!) said that the crowd did thin out later in the week. At least it wasn’t as bad as a couple of weeks before we went, when the Ranger said there was between 720-750 people on the beach! There is no guarantee that the dolphins will turn up but I sure hope they did that day!
Helen’s Hot Tip: If you can, avoid Monkey Mia during the school holidays!
After spending a couple of hours on the beach we headed off and before too long Paul was in bloke heaven – we did some 4 wheel driving through Francois Peron National Park. We visited Peron Homestead which has a self-guided walk around an old sheep station and checked out the hot tub filled with artesian waters. Upon leaving the homestead we went off the beaten track a little to check out a place called The Big Lagoon. This area is only accessible by 4WD and there is even a spot for deflating your tyres before you go in and then inflate back on your way out.
On the way back to Denham we found a gem of a place called Little Lagoon. It was great – there were shelters and free barbecues. It was sheltered and would have been a lovely spot to while away the hours watching the kids swim if we had discovered it earlier. Not to worry, we had lovely fish and chips on the foreshore for our Mother’s Day dinner.
On our last day in Denham we visited a number of places and one of my favourites, although we didn’t stay long, was Shell Beach. There are masses of Cardiid cockle shells along the beach and in the area in general. Hamelin coquina – naturally cemented shell blocks have been mined in the area since the 1960’s. The loose shells are used locally for footpaths and parking areas, throughout Western Australia as chicken feed to produce stronger eggs and as lime for the cement industry.
Next time I’ll blog about our favourite overnight stay so far, the kids first attempt at snorkelling and going bananas for Carnarvon.