At the end our 3 night stay in Denham we packed up, had our first experience of paying for water ($1 for 20L) and headed off for the next leg of our adventure. Ben made us laugh, having the last word as we pulled out of the caravan park with, “Denham……been there, done that!”
The kids had their first on the road science lesson when we called in to Hamelin Pool on the way back out to the North West Coastal Highway. Here, in the super salty water there are only a few things which can survive, one being cyanobacteria (blue-green bacteria). The cyanobacteria trap and bind sediments building stromatolites of various shapes and sizes in the water.
There were a few patches of Red Cap stromatolites that actually stopped growing some 500-100 years ago. Scientists are not really sure why they are red unlike the other living stromatolites but think that it may have something to do with iron in the water or perhaps the pigment of visiting bacteria. (Isn’t that nice ‘visiting bacteria’ like they were in the area anyway so just thought they would just drop by!)
There is also a campsite at Hamelin Pool which used to be home to a telegraph station, here you can pay to have a look around but we were keen to head off. It may be of interest to some people but it was always our intention to just pop in to check out the stromatolites.
After a quick ice cream and coffee we set off to our next overnight free camp at a site named Edaggee about 230 km from Denham. The camp was fairly standard and once again filled up in the late afternoon. The kids discovered a mud nest in one of the toilets. I am not sure what kind of birds the eggs belonged to but obviously one without a very keen sense of smell!
Next day we drove about 80km to Carnarvon where we grabbed some groceries and topped up the fuel ($164.9L) before heading off to check out The Blowholes at Point Quobba 72 km north of Carnarvon. We arrived at Point Quobba and drove through the campsite to have a look. It was quite full and looked like some people had bagged their spot and were set up for weeks. We decided to head another 8km north to Quobba Station to perhaps stay there. There wasn’t a lot happening at the station and to be honest we were a little put off by the woman who ‘greeted’ us and gave us the low down. I’m not sure if she was just mega-relaxed living in such a remote area, or what, but her enthusiasm was very underwhelming. It was dearer to stay at the station, with no power and at a beach that couldn’t be swum at so we headed back to the point and are so happy we did as it was such a great spot. The station would probably be better suited to people on a fishing trip.
There was a beautiful lagoon and the kids decided to have a go at snorkelling, as we had been talking up Ningaloo Reef and the snorkeling we were hoping to do at Coral Bay. What we didn’t realise was that we were actually at the southern tip of Ningaloo Marine Park and how awesome the snorkeling was right here! The kids loved checking out the plentiful fish and coral and even spied an octopus!
The coastline is very rugged and quite stunning. An attraction that many people go to visit is The Blowholes. We enjoyed watching the water swirling and listening to it gurgling and bubbling and trying to guess when the next big water spray was going to be. There are a number of signs around warning of king tides and recommending that people do not fish from the rocks as lives have been lost in the area. Needless to say we saw people fishing from the rocks and could only shake our heads.
Sadly, we were only able to stay the one night here as we had made a booking in Carnarvon, so that we could do a big shop, washing etc. before heading north again. This has been our favourite place to stay so far. However, we have heard that it can be incredibly windy here, which may have changed the whole experience. Oh and I forgot to mention that we paid the outrageous sum of $5.50 to stay overnight!
Helen’s Hot Tip: Don’t wear thongs when visiting the blowholes, the rocks are sharp!
After dragging our heels to pack away, we headed back to Carnarvon to restock. Carnarvon produces over 30,000 tonnes of fruit and vegetables every year from its 176 plantations. Unfortunately within the last six months the area has experienced two very large floods – with the Gascoyne River, where the water usually sits unseen below the riverbed in underground reserves, flowing periodically after heavy rains inland – burst its banks and caused utter devastation. As we drove into town you could see where the roads had been re-bitumised after having been washed away.
All around the place there was evidence of the floods with piles of silt and high water marks. Unfortunately a large number of crops were lost and the fruit stalls that we would normally have been able to visit and purchase local produce from were not yet up and running.
Since the floods we haven’t been buying bananas in Perth because the prices had gone through the roof, but we did manage to visit a plantation in Carnarvon that was selling some and we bought a couple kilos. We also bought some yummy frozen bananas which had been dipped in chocolate – DIVINE. The kids had obviously missed bananas as they all managed to eat three each within the space of half an hour!
I did a big shop at Woolworths in Carnarvon and would recommend this to everyone. The goods were similar to Perth prices and definitely cheaper than what you will get heading north. Get fuel here as well. We paid $1.63L (saving 4c a litre as we had a shopping docket discount voucher), with the next place you are able to get fuel being the Minilya Roadhouse which was priced at $179.5L!!
*sorry about another slideshow so soon, blog seems to have gremlins at the moment*
Our next stop was Coral Bay where we were looking forward to laying in the sun and snorkeling Ningaloo Reef, only to be met by howling winds and thunderstorms, we even had to break out the long pants! Don’t worry though, on our last day there Coral Bay totally redeemed itself in totally magical way!