A Travellerspoint blog

December 2019

Monkey Mia to Perth - the last leg

...via Geraldton and Cervantes

semi-overcast 23 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Return to complete the Lap on SteveJD's travel map.

Unfortunately, we had grey and rainy weather for our (on paper) 583km drive from Monkey Mia to Geraldton. Still, we have been spoiled, so no complaints! We saw a few dolphins before we left but then got wet loading the car. We had planned on a trip into Francois Peron National Park but the weather deterred us and we continued on our way, stopping at Billabong Roadhouse for lunch, not at the roadhouse but at a cafe in the adjoining Shell service station setup - very tasty beef pie and chips! Here I had hoped that we might see some Budgerigars (which have eluded us on both trips) at the billabong but the weather was so dire, no self-respecting budgie would deign to emerge!

The origin of the name, Monkey Mia, is uncertain but it is thought that a pearler called Monkey anchored in Shark Bay in 1834 and 'mia' is an Aboriginal word meaning house or home, so the name then becomes home of (the) Monkey.

View over the bay before we left

View over the bay before we left

A Bottlenose Dolphin cruised by while we loaded up

A Bottlenose Dolphin cruised by while we loaded up

A last view of the jetty and dolphin-feeding area

A last view of the jetty and dolphin-feeding area

In spite of the weather, or maybe because of it?, we decided to detour to Kalbarri and then down the coast - hence the 'on paper' comment above, as this extended our journey considerably. For most of this part, the rain eased off and we were able to enjoy the magnificent coastal scenery, as well as a few wildflowers. Kalbarri (named after the Aboriginal word for the woody pear) is a wildflower hotspot and you can find something in flower at any time of year with Spring bringing a wondrous display. This was the furthest north we had ventured when we lived in Perth and the coastal loop was not in place then or, if so, only as a 4wd track. It was good to see that the area is still worth visiting and has improved in terms of facilities and accessibility. Not really the best day for photography and we were happy to find our, reasonably comfortable, cabin at the Big 4 Sunset Beach Holiday Park.

Apparently the "North" of the country is a contentious issue - is the 26th Parallel a compromise?

Apparently the "North" of the country is a contentious issue - is the 26th Parallel a compromise?

Hibbertia flower near Kalbarri

Hibbertia flower near Kalbarri

Calothamnus flower near Kalbarri

Calothamnus flower near Kalbarri

Scaevola flower near Kalbarri

Scaevola flower near Kalbarri

On our first trip back in 2017, we had visited Depot Hill, not very far from Geraldton, and enjoyed good wildlife sightings, so decided on a return trip. We got lost! However, in our meanderings we came across the best sighting of a couple of Blue-tongued Skinks (bobtails) on this trip. They seem very scarce now. When we lived in Perth, they occasionally visited our garden and they were to be seen regularly in parks and on dirt roads. This encounter turned out to be not far from Depot Hill and we enjoyed a lunch stop there.

Blue-tongued Skink showing off

Blue-tongued Skink showing off

Blue-tongued Skink wishing we weren't there

Blue-tongued Skink wishing we weren't there

Perhaps we got a bit too close?!

Perhaps we got a bit too close?!

Blue-tongued Skink finds refuge

Blue-tongued Skink finds refuge

Blue-tongued Skink settled in camouflage

Blue-tongued Skink settled in camouflage

A reminder that Depot Hill was used by troops as a firing range

A reminder that Depot Hill was used by troops as a firing range

Female Splendid Fairy-wren in the shrubs on the opposite side of the road from Depot Hill - no ants!

Female Splendid Fairy-wren in the shrubs on the opposite side of the road from Depot Hill - no ants!

We had been sitting at a picnic table at one side of the car park and decided to go on one of the walks. We had only gone a few paces when Judith stopped and said she was standing on an ants' nest - some nest! We walked quickly back to the vehicle and leapt in, beating ants off as we did so, and then we could see that the whole car park was a heaving mass of ants! We warned off another vehicle and drove across the road where I dropped my trousers to complete the de-anting process. Thankfully, Judith failed to take a photo as she was laughing so much but I am sure you can imagine the grisly picture! We were then very happy to drive into Geraldton to meet up with an old friend at Skeetas, a very nice beachside restaurant which caters for people like us who like to drink coffee, eat cakes and generally natter until they turf us out to lay tables for dinner!

The last leg of our journey entailed a drive of 481km to Perth but, again, we deviated from the original direct route in order to try out Lobster Shack Rolls at the Lobster Shack in Cervantes. Very tasty and a worthwhile detour!

Entering The Lobster Shack

Entering The Lobster Shack

Inside The Lobster Shack

Inside The Lobster Shack

One of our Lobster Shack Rolls

One of our Lobster Shack Rolls

From Cervantes, we took a scenic route, ignoring poor Gladys, as we wanted to travel over roads that were new to us, in terms of coverage in the course of the 'Lap'. We arrived in good time at our rented, self-contained flat in Woodlands which had been arranged through AirBnB. It was excellent, with plenty of room for us, a friend (Tilly) who flew over from Canberra to be with us and for all of our luggage and bits and pieces acquired along the way.

The timing of the trip had been arranged so that Judith could celebrate her 70th birthday with our friends in Perth. Some of them, not surprisingly given the fairly short notice, had made other arrangements for 'the day', so we had to go out for lunch with them in various parts of Perth - such a hardship! One of the first places we revisited was Burns Beach Restaurant, after walking along the coastal path which had been part of my rehabilitation in 2017.

Silvereye

Silvereye

Willie Wagtail

Willie Wagtail

Female Splendid Fairy-wren

Female Splendid Fairy-wren

Running Postman wildflower

Running Postman wildflower

Over the remaining days we had in Perth, we wandered around Kings Park, visited friends in Rockingham, found a few orchids in Wireless Hill Reserve, enjoyed a fish & chips lunch (it really isn't all we eat but we do enjoy it!) at the Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour and had a lovely drive up the west coast.

Panoramic view from Kings Park south over the old Swan Brewery and the Swan River to South Perth

Panoramic view from Kings Park south over the old Swan Brewery and the Swan River to South Perth

Aniseed Boronia

Aniseed Boronia

Banded Greenhood Orchid

Banded Greenhood Orchid

View from Kings Park to the city

View from Kings Park to the city

View over the Swan to the city from South Perth

View over the Swan to the city from South Perth

Tinsel Lily in Wireless Hill Reserve

Tinsel Lily in Wireless Hill Reserve

Dark Banded Greenhood Orchid in Wireless Hill Reserve

Dark Banded Greenhood Orchid in Wireless Hill Reserve

Sunlit seedheads in Wireless Hill Reserve

Sunlit seedheads in Wireless Hill Reserve

Plenty of choice of eating places at Fishing Boat Harbour

Plenty of choice of eating places at Fishing Boat Harbour

Statue at Fishing Boat Harbour

Statue at Fishing Boat Harbour

Statue at Fishing Boat Harbour

Statue at Fishing Boat Harbour

Juvenile Nankeen Night Heron at Fishing Boat Harbour

Juvenile Nankeen Night Heron at Fishing Boat Harbour

Cottesloe Beach Hotel

Cottesloe Beach Hotel

We also took Tilly to the Bell Tower which was so beautifully situated but is now dwarfed and overshadowed by high rise apartment and hotel blocks - what were the city fathers thinking?! Nonetheless, we enjoyed the tour and took our turn to ring the bells. The Bell Tower was built to commemorate the new millennium and to house the twelve bells from St Martin-in-the-Fields which had been donated to Western Austraila, as part of the 1988 bicentenary commemorations. Six other bells were cast by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry to form a sixteen bell peal with two extra chromatic notes. The bell chamber is clad in copper and glass with a beautiful glass spire. in 2018, a new 6.5 ton bell was installed to commemorate the end of the First World War. This bell is operated electronically. Just outside the main building is a carillon consisting of 26 bells, which were originally in Canberra.

The Bell Tower used to stand out on the foreshore but is now hemmed in by high-rise buildings

The Bell Tower used to stand out on the foreshore but is now hemmed in by high-rise buildings

The glass spire punches through to the sky

The glass spire punches through to the sky

Some youngsters enjoying bell ringing demonstration

Some youngsters enjoying bell ringing demonstration

The Great ANZAC Bell

The Great ANZAC Bell

View over Supreme Court Gardens from the Bell Tower

View over Supreme Court Gardens from the Bell Tower

View from the Bell Tower over the Barracks Street Jetty area - the copper circlet in the foreground bears tiny copies of thousands of children's signatures (formerly on tiles laid out in front of the tower)

View from the Bell Tower over the Barracks Street Jetty area - the copper circlet in the foreground bears tiny copies of thousands of children's signatures (formerly on tiles laid out in front of the tower)

The carillon

The carillon

Although I am sad that Test cricket has been moved from the WACA to the Optus Stadium, I had hoped to visit the new stadium, in fact I had hoped to see an AFL game but neither footy nor a tour of the stadium could be arranged far enough in advance, so on our last day in Perth, a grey and dismal day we went to Burswood Park and ate a picnic lunch by the Swan and then had a look at the large new stadium. It is very impressive but appears a bit soulless - maybe this will grow over the years. While in the area, we also had a walk over the new (to us) Matagarup Bridge to East Perth. I had hoped then to take some late afternoon photos of the city from South Perth but the light was truly dire - what a farewell!

Statues in Burswood park - Black Swan (with Matagarup Bridge in the background); Willem de Vlamingh; Mary Durack, storyteller; children playing hopscotch

Statues in Burswood park - Black Swan (with Matagarup Bridge in the background); Willem de Vlamingh; Mary Durack, storyteller; children playing hopscotch

Optus Stadium

Optus Stadium

Optus Stadium with semi-covered walkway to main entrance

Optus Stadium with semi-covered walkway to main entrance

Statue of AFL star, Nicky Winmar

Statue of AFL star, Nicky Winmar

Matagarup Bridge, near Optus Stadium

Matagarup Bridge, near Optus Stadium

Matagarup Bridge and Optus Stadium from East Perth

Matagarup Bridge and Optus Stadium from East Perth

Red Wattlebirds

Red Wattlebirds

Australasian Darter drying its wings

Australasian Darter drying its wings

Australasian Darter posing for portrait

Australasian Darter posing for portrait

Australian Shelduck

Australian Shelduck

A handsome Black Swan, on the Swan River, to see us on our way

A handsome Black Swan, on the Swan River, to see us on our way

The statue of Willem de Vlamingh was unveiled in 1997 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of this Dutch navigator's exploration of the Western Australian coast between 1696 and 1697. The statue also pays tribute to earlier Dutch explorers, starting with Dirk Hartog in 1616. The statue of Dame Mary Durack shows her 'engaged in conversation with her 'young self' as a child. They are both looking at a book, 'The Swan River Saga', one of many historical works penned by Mary Durack. She was a daughter of the Duracks who were pioneers in the Kununurra area, which I mentioned in an earlier blog.

So, that is the end of our 'Big Lap' which have enjoyed immensely and we will surely be back some day. In the meantime, we are watching the disastrous bushfires and wish the firefighters and other emergency services all the very best and send our sincere commiserations to those who have lost homes and, indeed, loved ones.

Posted by SteveJD 04:26 Archived in Australia Tagged bell-tower perth cervantes geraldton depot_hill skeetas lobster_shack wireless_hill Comments (1)

Carnarvon to Monkey Mia

...via Hamelin Pool

sunny 23 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Return to complete the Lap on SteveJD's travel map.

Our first port of call in Carnarvon was the Carnarvon Space and Technology Museum. It may come as a surprise to some that this isolated town played an important part in the United States manned moon missions. So much so that, in 2013, Buzz Aldrin came over to open Phase One of the museum's development. Australian-born astronaut, Andy Thomas, did the honours for Phase Two in 2014 and Phase Three was opened in 2016 by Gene Cernan, the last man on the moon - at the time of writing. The Tracking Station, which forms the basis of the museum, was built in 1964 to support Gemini, Apollo and Skylab missions and, for 11 years, it was the last station to communicate with astronauts before leaving earth's orbit and the last voice they heard as they headed for splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. (Acknowledgements to the Carnarvon & Coral Bay Destination Guide for this and other information about the area.

The huge satellite dish and the giant Redstone rocket are the first things one sees, on approaching the tracking station. Inside there is an almost overwhelming display of items connected with the history of the station including full scale replicas of Gemini and Apollo command modules. In the latter you can sit inside in 'launch' position and hear the sound of the rocket - it's worth doing for the atmosphere. The Gemini is decidedly less roomy but also accessible. The museum is expanding and it is easy to while away at least a couple of hours and still not see everything - excellent value.

The Redstone rocket near the entrance

The Redstone rocket near the entrance

The main satellite dish

The main satellite dish

There's always one!

There's always one!

Steve and Judith inside the replica Apollo command module

Steve and Judith inside the replica Apollo command module

Some rooms were crammed with machinery which is all beyond me but very interesting

Some rooms were crammed with machinery which is all beyond me but very interesting

7f690720-1a8a-11ea-b9e2-eb6db621e809.jpgTwo views of Steve in the Gemini replica

Two views of Steve in the Gemini replica

By the time we had finished there, it was time for lunch and we made our way to the Small Boat Harbour, where we had an excellent meal of fish & chips at the Harbourside Cafe.

Harbourside Cafe

Harbourside Cafe

Steve inside the cafe

Steve inside the cafe

In the afternoon we visited the One Mile Jetty. It is currently closed for safety reasons but we found quite a bit of birdlife there while walking on the mangrove boardwalk. There is also an interpretive centre providing details of the jetty's history. The jetty is, or was, the longest in Western Australia and at one time had a tramway which transported people and goods. The goods have included, from the late 19th century until the 1950s, wool, sandalwood, livestock, pearl shell and people.

One Mile Jetty viewed from mangrove boardwalk

One Mile Jetty viewed from mangrove boardwalk

Black Kite hunting over the mangroves

Black Kite hunting over the mangroves

Singing Honeyeater by the mangrove boardwalk

Singing Honeyeater by the mangrove boardwalk

A relic from bygone days at the jetty

A relic from bygone days at the jetty

We then planned on driving out to Bibbawarra Bore but after driving several kilometres along a dusty track, we found a "Road Closed" sign! Our next stop was Chinaman's Pool, a nice treed area by the Gascoyne River. Here there was a pleasant walk and plenty of birds but also swarms of mosquitoes! Our stay was short but productive! On the way back to our cabin, we called at a pharmacy where we asked after something for itch relief (the mossies had been really nasty) and the pharmacist recommended a haemorrhoid cream which worked a treat!

Australasian Pipit

Australasian Pipit

Little Corellas

Little Corellas

White-breasted Woodswallow

White-breasted Woodswallow

Meadow Argus butterfly

Meadow Argus butterfly

Having anointed ourselves, we returned to the Small Boat Harbour where we saw more birds and a lovely sunset to see us off. There is a great deal to see and do in and around Carnarvon so, if you can spare more than the two nights we managed, you will be busy.

Fishing boat returning to harbour

Fishing boat returning to harbour

Wader (possibly a Redshank) at sunset

Wader (possibly a Redshank) at sunset

Panoramic view over the inlet at sunset

Panoramic view over the inlet at sunset

Sunset over Carnarvon Beach Resort, across the inlet

Sunset over Carnarvon Beach Resort, across the inlet

A flight of ducks over the inlet at sunset

A flight of ducks over the inlet at sunset

The following day we headed off on our drive of about 380km to Monkey Mia. Most of the drive was pretty uninteresting but after we turned off towards Denham, we found Hamelin Pool. The caravan park and amenities are rather shabby, to be kind, but the short walk to the pool and out on the boardwalk to see the stromatolites is well worthwhile. The low tide area is covered with living organisms known as microbial mats which sometimes trap grit and become stone, at which stage they become microbialites. When these microbialites grow one on the other and the layers form a small tower, they are called stromatolites - living stone! The are not the prettiest things you will see but they are fascinating.

A dried out and broken stromatolite (perhaps an ex-stromatolite?)

A dried out and broken stromatolite (perhaps an ex-stromatolite?)

Stromatolites growing under water

Stromatolites growing under water

The boardwalk over the pool gives an excellent view of stromatolites and other marine creatures

The boardwalk over the pool gives an excellent view of stromatolites and other marine creatures

A ring of stromatolites out of water

A ring of stromatolites out of water

Welcome Swallows resting on a stromatolite

Welcome Swallows resting on a stromatolite

Clearly it was nesting season for these Welcome Swallows - their nests were tucked under the boardwalk - hopefully above high tide!

Clearly it was nesting season for these Welcome Swallows - their nests were tucked under the boardwalk - hopefully above high tide!

Seaweed seen from the boardwalk

Seaweed seen from the boardwalk

Back in the car park, an Australian Hobby posed nicely for us.

large_20190621_IMG_5785.jpgTwo shots of our friendly Australian Hobby

Two shots of our friendly Australian Hobby

Not far beyond Hamelin Pool, we pulled in to Shell Beach where the shells are 7-10 metres deep over a stretch of some 60km! The shells are mainly a species of cockle and these have formed a limestone rock known as coquina. Before Shark Bay became a World Heritage Site, this material was mined and used for building in Denham.

View down to Shell Beach

View down to Shell Beach

Panorama of part of Shell Beach

Panorama of part of Shell Beach

Stay away - it gets really crowded!

Stay away - it gets really crowded!

At Denham, an attractive little coastal town, we turned off towards Monkey Mia and drove through some good bushland. Close to the resort we stopped for a group of Emus and, a little further on, an Echidna crossed the road, paying little attention to us.

Emu by the roadside

Emu by the roadside

A closer view of one of the emus

A closer view of one of the emus

The Echidna on the road

The Echidna on the road

Echidna safely across and into the sand

Echidna safely across and into the sand

The RAC/Big 4 resort is massive and the staff are friendly and helpful. We paid extra to be upgraded to a sea-facing villa which was well worthwhile and, shortly after arriving, we saw dolphins swimming close to the beach, from our verandah.

View from our villa

View from our villa

Inside the villa - plenty of room

Inside the villa - plenty of room

Sunset from our villa

Sunset from our villa

The cabin was very roomy and comfortable and was equipped with no stove but at least a microwave. We were unable to access wifi, so had to talk to one another!

The following morning we went along the beach to see the dolphin feeding and were delighted to see a couple of females come in with calves. It was a bit breezy so no nice clear water for good photographs unfortunately.

People waiting for the dolphins

People waiting for the dolphins

The first one in to be fed

The first one in to be fed

A beautiful creature

A beautiful creature

Smiling for the camera!

Smiling for the camera!

Steve sitting in the shade on our verandah while Judith takes a few more photos

Steve sitting in the shade on our verandah while Judith takes a few more photos

A Silver Gull came onto the verandah hoping, in vain, for a handout

A Silver Gull came onto the verandah hoping, in vain, for a handout

View along the beach to the dolphin feeding area

View along the beach to the dolphin feeding area

Colourful kayaks lined up waiting for an outing

Colourful kayaks lined up waiting for an outing

Across the road from the resort is a bush walk area. We picked up a map from the Dolphin Centre, with the intention of heading for a bird hide. The paths that led to the hide were blocked off and it turned out the staff in the Dolphin Centre were unaware of the closures! Nonetheless, we wound our way through the dune bushland, seeing quite a few birds both in the bush and along the coastal strip, as well as a family of kangaroos.

Panoramic view from top of dune on bushwalk

Panoramic view from top of dune on bushwalk

View over the resort from the bushwalk

View over the resort from the bushwalk

Western Grey Kangaroo and joey in the dunes

Western Grey Kangaroo and joey in the dunes

Torresian Crow on the beach

Torresian Crow on the beach

Australian Pelicans on a sandspit

Australian Pelicans on a sandspit

Australian Pied Oystercatchers on the beach

Australian Pied Oystercatchers on the beach

Posted by SteveJD 08:42 Archived in Australia Tagged animals birds boats sunset australia museum dolphin western_australia monkey_mia mammals carnarvon echidna hamelin_pool stromatolites space_technology Comments (0)

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