Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Perth to Coral Bay - part 4

570km - 9,00h

After a wonderful morning learning and interacting with the dolphins in Monkey Mia, it was time to go back to the town of Denham where we would be spending another night.
On the way we stopped at the Little Lagoon for some photos.
The Lagoon, which is not so little after all, is located 5km from Denham, with very calm turquoise waters, ideal for swimming and fishing. There are barbecues and shade shelters, as well as a walking trail to Denham.
The calm waters of Little Lagoon
The next stop was at the Ocean Park Aquarium, where we spent almost 2 hours on a very enjoyable guided tour around the park. The tours are given by trained Marine Biologists, who teach us about all the marine creatures they have in the park, and are happy to answer all your questions as well.

The have a big variety of sea creatures, such as: eels, a three legged turtle, clownfish, (remember Nemo?), sea anemones, blue spotted stingrays, snapper, tiger sharks, hammerhead, lemon sharks, reef sharks...
The three legged turtle
2 Blue spotted stingray

Lionfish with their toxic fins (
We learned about the Lionfish and the very ugly Stonefish....I was already wary of the sea, but I think that after hearing this talk I was pretty scared of putting my feet in the water...

Ufff!! Lionfish have spines in the dorsal fins with a toxic poison, and if you step on them, they release that into your foot. Pretty painful, but the pain  can be relieved by submerging the foot in hot water to inactivate the venom and improve blood flow to the area.

You might need to see a Doctor to get a tetanus injection and to check if no broken spines are in the foot, or check for infection.

Stonefish, are one of the most dangerous and venomous species of fish and their sting could be fatal to humans if untreated within 2 to 3 hours. 

They inhabit shallow waters along the Australian coast, and are well camouflaged in the ocean, often resembling an inoffensive rock. They have 13 sharp dorsal spines on their back that release the toxic venom.

Stonefish  (Synanceia Verrucosa) look like inofensive rocks
The main attraction is of course the live shark feeding, done every hour, with everyone standing on the walkway over the shark pool, the guide dangling a big fish over the water, and the various sharks ripping out bits of it. Scary!!

Some of the sharks in the Shark pool
Dangling the fish over the shark pool, while we watch

Can you see a piece of the fish?

The park is also eco-friendly being powered by the largest private solar installation in Western Australia, (273 kilowatt hours a day) that helps with the reverse osmosis desalination unit to generate fresh water, the park's lighting and pump systems.
Entry to the park costs $20 for adults, and $15 for children over 5, and is certainly a worthwhile place to visit. 
Back to Denham, 7km from the Ocean Park, and we parked the car at our residence, and took a walk around the town.
The local church made of Cockle Shells, as well as a local restaurant - "The Old Pearler"  were duly photographed, and after having a look at the menu we booked a table for 4 for dinner.
As I photographed the church, I saw an Emu "walking" along the road, crossed the street and eventually disappeared into a vacant block of land... (photo below). Strange sight...
Denham church made of cockle shells

An Emu crossing the road, across from the Church
The Old Pearler Restaurant, also made of cockle shells

The restaurant, which claims to be the only restaurant in the world made of cockle shell bricks, has a nice atmosphere, good service, food was also quite enjoyable, prices above average. 
The Grilled Seafood Platter for two was $98 or $53 for one, included whiting, prawns, squid, oysters and crayfish. I went with the Chicken with mustard seeds, served with chips $32, which was quite a plateful, and I needed some help to finish!
If you drink take your own alcohol or go across the road to the Bottle store, as the restaurant doesn't have an alcohol licence. The 4 of us shared two desserts, but I was a bit disappointed with my choice - Mango and Marsala cheesecake, which didn't taste of mangoes at all.

Bring your own alcohol, or buy at the Bottle store across the road
Inside the Old Pearler Restaurant
After a good night's sleep, we were on the road again at 9AM, after having topped up the tank, at Denham, this time paying $1,749/litre (previous one had been $1,699).

First stop for a photo of the crossing of the 26th Parallel, which we hadn't photographed on the way into Denham.

Next stop, Eagle Bluff, 18km out of Denham, named after the Sea Eagles which nest on the rock islands just offshore. It has a boardwalk over the ocean from where you can see marine life on the shallow waters below - fish, rays, turtles, dugongs...  We didn't see anything, but it was still a nice place to visit.
Eagle Bluff is also the place where Captain H.M.Denham, carved an inscription on a rock in 1858. The rock is now in Pioneer Park in Denham.

Eagle Bluff boardwalk
Eagle Bluff - no marine life seen in the waters...
Back in the car for a quick hop to Shell Beach, 36kms away. It's apparently one of the world's two Cockle Shell beaches, and it truly is an amazing sight!! 
Miles and Miles of tiny shells! 
These shells known as Hamelin Cockle (Fragum erugatum) exist in prolific number because of the high salinity of the water and lack of predators. The beach is up to 1km wide, 110 kilometres long, and the depth ranges from 7 to 10 metres.
The water is crystal clear in tones of blues and greens.
Over time, the shells formed a limestone known as Coquina - as used for the construction of the Church and Restaurant in Denham. The Coquina is no longer mined, since Shark Bay became a World Heritage Site.
On the down side, Eagle Bluff and Shell Beach were the first areas where the flies were in abundance and quite pesky. The temperature was already 37.C at 10 A.M!

Miles and Miles of Cockle shells in Shell Beach

Close up of the shells, they are tiny!
Another 50kms down the road, towards he North West Coastal Highway and we drive past the Hamelin Pool turn off. Two of the troupe were already sleeping in the back seat, and we decided to carry on and give it a miss. 
The attraction would be the Stromatolites - living fossils in old rocks. We would be going to see the ones near Cervantes on our way back to Perth...

We reached the highway and turned North on our way to Carnarvon, and stopped again 70kms later at the Wooramel Roadhouse, for a pie and ice cream.
It was now 42.C at 12 o'clock!
140kms and one and a half hours later we arrived in the town of Carnarvon.
Just before arriving the temperature had climbed to 44.C!!!
In Western Australia they say - in winter go North (there is no winter in northern W.A) and in summer go South (it's cooler), and they are quite right!

The temperature as we reached Carnarvon!
We looked around for a place to eat a quick lunch and settle on the Carnarvon Hotel Pub, in Olivia Terrace, overlooking the sea. It was cooler inside, and we ordered fish and chips and burgers. Everything seemed to be fried and accompanied by chips! The portions were generous and surprisingly tasty, and reasonably priced at an average of just over $20 each including drinks.
Carnarvon, a town 900km north of Perth, lies on the mouth of the Gascoyne River on the Indian Ocean.
The town is know for it's fruit production - bananas, mangoes, tomatoes, for the salt mining, fishing (prawns) and cattle, sheep and wool.
The Mile long Jetty, as seen from the Carnarvon Hotel
Before leaving town we drove into a fruit farm on the outskirts of town and bought bananas and the last of the mangoes. I wish the farmer had more as they were very sweet and tasty.
Banana plantation
In the 1960's, Carnarvon was the centre of NASA's communication, with a tracking station built there on the hills, to support the Gemini and Apollo space programs. It was closed in the 1980's.
The dish in Carnarvon
We didn't have time to climb up to see the dish or the view over the town, as we wanted to reach our destination 240km away, before night fall.
Another quick stop at the Minilya Roadhouse, 145km after Carnarvon, to fill up the tank, petrol costing $1.809/litre, up again from the previous time in Denham, at $1,749/litre.

We reached our destination in Coral Bay around 6,30h just in time to see a beautiful sunset on the beach.

Next Post - our 4 day stay in Coral Bay and my snorkeling attempt.


  1. What beautiful photos! The scenery looks spectacular! But think I'll stick to swimming in a pool :-)


  2. With all the dangerous creatures ready to pounce on you at sea, I feel the same way!

  3. What a beautiful place. And that seafood platter looks amazing :)

  4. that cockle shell beach reminds me of one we used to visit in SA called shelly beach. I enjoyed the dolphins more than the sharks :)

  5. What a fabulous trip you took. Thanks for sharing your photos and the lesson on the creatures in the sea there. This type of thing is why I seldom go out past my ankles in the ocean any more. I love to visit the seashore and I love looking at the sea and eating seafood, but I like being able to see what is in the water with me and to know that a rock really is a rock! And, I'm sure some people might disagree, but sharks--eek! Thanks for a great post!

  6. Carole - the seafood platter was delicious. We had plenty of seafood along this coast, which is known for it's good fish.
    Gill - I too preferred the dolphins to the sharks, even though they were small, they are still scary!
    Lynn - Yes, I agree, don't know if it's just in Australia, but the sea seems to be getting more dangerous.

  7. Linda a paisagem na foto do topo. O stonefish é incrível, bem como a 'areia' de conchas!

  8. Obrigada JM. A praia das conchas e fabulosa, a agua fica bem longe...

  9. I'm breathless. What a wonderful and gorgeous place to visit. I got to say that them stone-fish are some of the oddest looking critters I've ever seen. The ocean is truly a fantasia of comical and dangerous creatures.
    I love that big Emu crossing the road. That photo would be a peach of a tourist poster. lol
    Thanks for sharing your awesome journey with us. I look forward to hearing about Coral Bay and your snorkeling attempt.
    Wishing you a pleasant and relaxing weekend. :)

  10. Thanks E.C. When I saw the Emu walking down the road and then crossed the street, I couldn't believe my eyes. I'm glad I had the camera handy!

  11. Such terrific photos Sami.

    I've been missing out!

  12. Thanks Robyn, the natural beauty of the places we visited also helps.

  13. This is quite a trip you're having Sami, am enjoying remembering all these places, haven't been up that way for years. How about the 37C today.I have so had enough of summer how about you?

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