WA: A journey of roadhouses, roadtrains and roadkill IV
Denham, Western Australia
Almost had a lie in today, but suddenly realised at 6am that we had to be in Monkey Mia by 7.30 (about 80km away), so after a breakfast of tinned pineapple and biscuits and a speedy shower off we went. We arrived in Monkey Mia in good time; it had just turned 7.30! After purchasing our tickets for the national park we were instructed to be on the boardwalk by 7.45 for the introductory talk. There were around 40 people in total all snapping away and, looking to the water, we noticed that the dolphins had beaten us there (as had a few pelicans)!
The talk began and we were told all about the dolphins that came here to be fed by the volunteers, how it was all started in 1960 by some locals and how it gradually became a popular destination for tourists. We were also told about how visitors were permitted to stroke, touch and even swim with the dolphins, but conservationists realised that it demoted natural behaviour and so it is now much more strict. Dolphins are fed up to 3 times before 12.30 but then they are to go out and forage for themselves, to encourage natural behaviour and to help feed and teach their young.
We were told to move forwards and enter the water shoeless about shin deep to let the dolphins know it was almost time. They were swimming a little far out (still visible though) but one of them came quite close - the instructor said this was because she was hungry, and she rolled onto our side and was eyeing us all up. There are 4 dolphins that they are allowed to feed but only 3 showed up (there was about 5 or 6 in total there) so the volunteers picked 3 people out of the crowd, Charlotte being one of them, to feed fish to the dolphins. It was an awesome experience, albeit not as cool as seeing them in total wilderness!
After the experience I meandered my way to the shop where I purchased my first keyring of the trip, the first of many I am sure! Then went to the café where I had an undercooked and cold but nevertheless satisfying eggs florentine and a latte. We discussed the hike that one could do around the hills and the beach at Monkey Mia and how if we were to traverse it we must stay together this time. So back to the car to change footwear and off we went, realising that every hike we had been on thus far had terrible, unclear signposts (which made me feel slightly less foolish for getting lost in Kalbarri).
Whilst walking we discussed how the beautiful white sandy beaches and turquoise water seemed more befitting for the Caribbean and that we didn't realise places like this existed on the Australian coast. I for one didn't think that I would ever get used to the colour of the water! Anyway, soon we realised that we had taken yet another wrong route and that the walk was much shorter than the map had shown. Oh well. We thought we better not push our luck as thankfully we were back at the car, so we just headed off on our way to Coral Bay.
On the way we stopped at several places each of which seemed more picturesque and paradisiacal than the last. The first was Little Lagoon which was just that; a completely isolated lagoon that was again turquoise in colour surrounded by white sand. It was particularly windy there and we didn't stay long due to the sand whipping painfully at our faces, although we did read that it was very popular for windsurfing. Next we stopped at a lookout called Eagle Island which was a high point along a metal pathway and a view of the open ocean with a tiny island situated just where the water turned from turquoise to dark blue. The last place we stopped at along the way was Shell Beach. And just wow. I couldn't believe my eyes. The ENTIRE beach was covered in tiny shells (obviously hence its namesake) but the tide was really far out and so I walked for about 10 minutes to get to the sea, up and down over hills of shells. When I got to the sea I couldn't believe how clear and warm the water was and that it was actually washing away from the shore (maybe due to the high winds), something I've never seen before. The bit of water I was in was in a bay and I had walked a fair way out and the water was never deeper than up to my knees - I reckoned you could walk to the other side of the bay and never go any deeper! Anyway, we could have stayed there a lot longer than we did but we thought we must get on.
Back on the road we commenced the 4 hour journey to Coral Bay, interrupted only by toilet, gas, ice cream (and in my case a highly sought after blueberry muffin) stops. We made it there at about 6pm and thought we'd finally pay our dues and purchase a spot in the caravan park for a night for $34 (well worth the money in my opinion). Feeling very self righteous we had a lovely hot shower and deciding against going out for dinner we ate rice, tuna (which we had difficulty opening with the useless tin opener) and canned veg. Feeling well fed and sleepy from the many excursions of the day and the long drive we went to bed.