Western Australia – Pinnacles & Monkey Mia, Shark Bay (1995)

The lunar-like Pinnacles form one of Australia's most unique and fascinating natural landscapes. Formed over millions of years, thousands of tall limestone spires rise eerily out of the yellow desert sands of Nambung National Park, just outside the coastal town of Cervantes. Nearby Monkey Mia, famous for its wild dolphin experience is surrounded by rusty red sand dunes, white sandy beaches and water teeming with wildlife.

🙂 Koalas! Kangaroos! Kookabarras! Dolphins! Fishing! Camping! Beach BBQs!

🙁 Speeding Fine! Wished that we could afford the sunset cruise.

This was the end of our Africa section of travel and start of the Australia section! We were excited for our flight from Port Elizabeth to Jan Smuts to Perth. Our replacement credit cards which we’d lost at Hout Bay arrived at the airport by courier with minutes to spare before boarding our PE flight! At Jan Smuts we called home and read to pass the time. Restless night and landed in Perth at 12h05 – extremely friendly Customs & Migration who checked our luggage carefully for foodstuffs. The shuttle bus driver did a special detour to drop us at our hotel – what a warm welcome to OZ! Lovely little motel, spent the afternoon swimming and an early night. Set off at 9am the next morning and went for breakfast through drive in ‘Hungry Jacks’ and then a drive through ‘Bottle Shop’ to buy some wine and beer – so exciting as our first experience of drive throughs! We were stuck by the long, straight, empty roads! The First stop was Yanchep National Park where we camped at Club Capricorn for only $3!

Yanchep National Park is north of Perth, in Western Australia. Its bushland and wetland are home to western grey kangaroos and rich birdlife. Trails include a raised boardwalk among trees inhabited by koalas. One of many caves in the park, Crystal Cave is an underground limestone cavern with stalactites and stalagmites. SO excited to see koalas! Kookaburra calling above our tent – so cool!

We woke up early and set off to the Pinnacles which are limestone formations within Nambung National Park, near the town of Cervantes. They formed approximately 25,000 to 30,000 years ago after the sea receded and left deposits of sea shells. Over time, coastal winds removed the surrounding sand, leaving the pillars exposed to the elements. Swimming or wading in the park reservoir is strictly prohibited in order to protect the endangered California Red-legged frog. It was a fascinating and eerie place!

We stopped on the way to have a beach BBQ and do some fishing.

A kangaroo was enjoying the shade – SO exciting!

We then stopped off to see the amazing stromatolites which are the earth’s oldest living life forms which peaked about 1.25 billion years ago!! There are only two well-developed marine Stromatolite areas in the world: in the Bahamas and at Hamelin Pool in the UNESCO site in Shark Bay area of Western Australia. Hamelin Pool is perfect for Stromatolites because it’s hypersaline. Sea grass forms a ‘barrier’ between Hamelin Pool and the rest of the ocean, preventing ocean circulation, which would dilute the super-salty water. They are stony structures built by colonies of microscopic photosynthesising organisms called cyanobacteria. There were also millions of flies!!

Paul had enjoyed the drive so much down the long straight road that we incurred a speeding fine for doing 143kph …!! It was quite funny as a car in the opposite direction flashed us and we waved. He then turned around to chase us and turned out he was a policeman who handed us the fine after commenting on how hoy our engine was! Not what we needed. We set up camp at Monkey Mia where we were to spend the next few days. We cooked breakfast on the beach on a BBQ every morning which was delicious. We went to watch the video about dolphins at the restaurant and then headed out to the beach as a mother dolphin and baby and Holey Fin had come in to be fed. Trent was chosen to feed Holey Fin who swam right up to us in the shallows and took her fish!

We enjoyed a delicious lunch of prawns and Paul had kangaroo. A friendly pelican was also hoping for some lunch!

We headed back to the beach for some more fishing with our new feathered friends. When the sun set we enjoyed another BBQ and a beer on the beach before showering and falling asleep in our tent feeling that wonderful sense of exhaustion that comes with sea and sunshine. We had really caught the sun and were browning nicely!

We were up early the next morning before breakfast to go and see the dolphins coming in again. We wished that we had a bit of money to splash out on the sunset catamaran cruise but we couldn’t justify the cost

We spent the day on the beach fishing – today was far more successful and the dolphins came to visit while we were fishing, swimming right up to us in the hope of being given a titbit. I swam out to enjoy the ocean and got a bit of a shock as I saw a tiger shark, so swam straight back to shore! Must have been attracted by the fish being caught but we were told that they were the most common predators of the dolphins.

The highlight was the guitar shark that weighed about 40Kgs and put up quite a fight – a nice chap came to assist us in beaching the poor thing who put up quite a fight before we released him. There were plenty of small black tip reef sharks swimming in the shallows around us who kept taking the bait. I caught a grouper. Another lovely day ending with a delicious fish BBQ on the beach all washed down with some divine sparkling wine. The camp site was very comfortable but we did cast an envious glance in the direction of the little beach houses that one could rent … we promised ourselves that we would be back!

We packed up camp super early in the morning and headed to Denham to post some letters. Stopped off at Shell Beach. Shell Beach is a beach in the Shark Bay region of Western Australia, located 45 km south-east of Denham. Situated on the northeastern side of the Taillefer Isthmus along the L’Haridon Bight, the beach is covered with shells for a 60 km stretch to a depth of 7–10 m.

Drove 500Kms to to Dongara where we set up camp. Went to a divine place called Thokos for dinner – this place is legendary for lobster and did not disappoint! Paul had coconut prawns for a starter and pork for a main. I had salad with porterhouse steak and prawns.

Up early again the next morning for our long drive to Wave Rock via Swan Valley for wine tasting. We had lunch with wine at Little River – divine. Finally arrived at Wave Rock Camping grounds after dark so parked up and slept in the campervan – we were exhausted! We were up at 07h00 to explore Wave Rock. Th eHippo’s Bum was more appealing than the Hippo’s Yawn! Trent got stuck half way up Wave Rock and started to cry before we rescued him! It is impressive but one hell of a drive to get there in the middle of nowhere!

Headed off to Albany to visit Phil and Janet (Paul’s cousins) and their children Andrew (12, Fiona (11) and Heather (2). Trent was in his element to have children for company! Swam and chatted and had delicious veal for dinner with plenty of wine.

We woke up early the next morning so that we could go sightseeing at the Gap and the Bridge. Nice scenery reminiscent of Cape Town / Cornwall. Trent was sulky and tired. Phil went sailing and we took the kids to see an old whaling station which was very interesting. Had a Hungry Jacks and then a siesta in the afternoon. Delicious roast dinner with wine from local vineyards.

We were up at 04h00 to go fishing – slightly hungover! Fished off the rocks – no bites. Moved to beach – no bites. Headed back for breakfast and said farewell. Drove to Perth and arrived at 14h30. Paul needed an emergency poo and we had to knock on someone’s door to let us in!

Drove to Fremantle – really cool. Fremantle is a port city in Western Australia that’s part of the Perth metropolitan area. It’s known for its maritime history, Victorian architecture and remnants from Australia’s days as a British penal colony. Fremantle Prison, which housed convicts from the 1850s to 1991, now features re-created cellblocks.

We had been itching like mad so went to a Chemist who confirmed that we had scabies!! Must have been from Africa! We had to boil wash our sleeping bags and booked into a motel for 2 nights after putting lotion all over our bodies which stun our bits! Hoping we were cured after two days we said farewell to Western Australia and boarded a train to Sydney.

Go To: Monkey Mia – 2011

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