DAY 31 WEDNESDAY 22ND AUGUST 2012
SHELL GRIT CAMP.
Denham town is located on the west side of the middle peninsula. Map orientated north.
This is a traditional style boat of the area.
Fortunately last night we only had a light shower so it was dry underfoot this morning. As usual I was up at around four, went for a shower and retuned to the tent and put fingers to the keyboard. At the moment our bottleneck with regards posting my writings revolves around Internet connection. The signal drops out far too often to do any serious postings. Last night Bev via her iPad chatted with a bloke in some far off distant land about our problems and it seems we may have to upgrade the connection manager. I don’t understand, it’s mumbo jumbo to me but hopefully Bev will have it sorted soon.
Denham is an odd town. I see it as a town with multiple personalities. I have always believed that the personality of people is reflected by the style of house they live in and Denham is no exception. The town here obviously started out as a fishing squat then a holiday destination and now a retirement location with a big emphasis on tourism. Houses and buildings in the town are a mish-mash of a number of architectural periods, interesting but not that aesthetic. I think we could use the word phantasmagorical to describe the variety of building styles in Denham.
When Pacific and Orient cruise ships first started arriving in Sydney Harbour residents were so taken by their majesty that they began building houses in the form of ships’ bridges and featured round corners, handrails and bridge observation platforms, a porthole style window in the front door and flagpoles. The only feature this house is missing is the porthole-style window.
Went for a walk along the main street this afternoon and watched the world go by.
DAY 32 THURSDAY 23RD AUGUST 2012
SHELL GRIT CAMP AND KAYAKING.
Early morning we made our way to Monkey Mia, launched our kayak and met some of the famous Monkey Mia dolphins
Kayaking and having a dolphin escort is not new for us. We were kayaking on Nelson Bay a few years ago and a severe storm blew up. Bev was freaking as waves crashed over her as we made a run for shore. We couldn’t see the exact spot we launched so we were paddling blind. Two dolphins came to our aid and led us to the beach. How they knew where we were going is one of life’s mysteries.
The Monkey Mia dolphins are fed fish twice a day which is a great tourist attraction.
Paddling was not the most comfortable due to the wind. Water that drips off Bev’s paddle blows back onto me so I end up drenched, however it was good exercise battling the wind. After Monkey Mia we found a sheltered spot to do a second launch and paddled in a creek leading into Little Lagoon. The tide was running out so we skipped along at a steady rate and found ourselves on an exposed sandy estuary where the lake runs out and meets Shark Bay proper. Even though we were only on the water for about four hours it was a good day.
DAY 33 FRIDAY 24TH AUGUST 2012
SHELL GRIT CAMP TO WAGOE CAMP
Pleased to get out of the Shell Grit camp this morning as last night a couple of huge motor homes came in just on dark and started their generators which ran until around 8-00pm. This morning they started again so we decide to get a move on ASAP. There were a few hassles with the Shell Grit Camp. The park was full to capacity and we were in the overflow section as far from the ablution block as you could get. Often there was a line up at the men’s loo. The water was lousy too. It was desalinated seawater, which left a lot to be desired. When on the road we carry about 65 litres of water and now half of it is desalinated. I will toss it as soon as I can and replace it.
The countryside around Shark Bay is not startling, mainly because there are no trees. The shrubs, many of which are in flower, have a charm but I need Eucs. around me. First stop today was to go into the stromatolites again. The reason for the second visit was to photograph them at low tide without waves breaking over them as was the case the first time. There is something very magical about those living rocks; you have to have seen them to understand what I mean. Bev and I both agree that seeing those ancient creatures could well be the highlight of our Darwin to Perth journey.
As intended we made a second visit to the old telegraph station. I wanted to meet the owner Trish and have another look at her collection of stuff. I found her in the kitchen and explained my station in life. She reciprocated and told us she has had a bad trot since buying the café. Her husband and father died and her house burnt down, all within a short time. To survive these traumas she is obviously a strong woman and she needs all the encouragement the likes of us can give. The best way to ensure the gem of a place keeps going is to buy a meal or something from her shop.
Trish and her establishment are two rare gems. I hope these two endangered species (Trish and her café) survive the onslaught of progress. I reckon we need a national treasure register set up in Australia for ordinary people and I nominate Trish right now to be included on that register.
The last thing I said to Trish was ‘Don’t let the bastards grind you down and keep plugging’. I said this because some international resort developer will want her real estate one day on which to build a multi million dollar complex.
Heading for Kalbarri, the next big town on the coast, we spotted our first gum trees since travelling for hundreds of kilometresEven though they were stunted mallee they were a change from the monotonous coastal shrubby heath country. Bev spotted an orange banksia and I had to stop so she could photograph it. Driving off the road onto another track we came across the most delightful collection of wildflowers. We found cypress, banksia, a variety of acacias, Geraldton wax, grevilleas and a myriad of shrubs new to us. Tomorrow if we are about Kalbarri we will visit the national park office and see if we can identify them.
Today we saw our first wheat crop. I reckon that growing wheat this far north must be only marginally successful. There was also a rising salt table, the effects, I think, of mallee clearing.
Around 5-00pm we were getting desperate for a campsite. I absolutely refused to spend the night in a caravan park. By the time we hit the national park boundary we had run out of options as the dreaded NO CAMPING signs began to appear. There was a roadside sign advertising a home farm stay, prior bookings essential. The sign detailed a phone number and Bev tried to ring but there was no service. The sign also said call on UHF channel 16; I called a couple of times and got no reply. So it was into Kalbarri town where we had fish and chips and Bev bought a bottle of wine.
There are times when on the road you become despondent and because we couldn’t find a reasonable place to camp we were getting that way. Being experienced travellers we know how to deal with it, you buy a bottle of wine! In 1972 Bev and I attempted to book into the Florence YHA. It was raining heavily, we had no food and the hostel was booked out so our only alternative was to put up the tent in the hostel grounds, crawl in and drink the wine. It was Asti Spumante and I put a plastic cup over the cork as I levered it out because I didn’t want to blow a hole in the tent. The cork popped and blew the bottom out of the mug. After a bottle of Spumante we didn’t care if it rained all night and the next day.
Ate the fish and chips and then drove twenty kilometres south to a farm stay caravan park called Wagoe which is perched on top of a hill overlooking sand dunes and the Indian Ocean. Trees around the camping area were leaning at 45 degrees to the horizontal. We selected a spot on the lea side of the trees and put in additional pegs around the tent and even tied a couple of ropes from the top pole to the ground. This morning there was a red sunrise so I thought extra anchoring of the tent advisable. I suggested to Bev if the tent blows over in the night we grab the sleeping bags and sleep in the car, I will take the front seat with the handbrake and she can take the rear seat.
Tonight we sleep to the sound of the sea, far better than a generator.
Before leaving the writings for the day there is one thing I must tell you. Late evening in Kalbarri we noticed a crowd outside a fish and chip shop and this usually indicates that the fish and chips served therein are probably of best quality. The following extract from their menu clarifies my thoughts: For most people fish and chips should be enjoyed as a treat rather than a regular meal. This is because of the high carbohydrate and fat content of the meal (batter, oil and chips). Our fish is from pristine West Australian waters. Our chips are produced in Manjimup WA. We cook our food in rice bran oil that is cholesterol free.
It is unusual for a fish and chip shop to go to such lengths to explain the ins and outs of eating fish and chips and I say, good on ‘em. These days near 75% of fish offered for sale in Australia is imported and because much of the imported fish is taken from unsustainable resources and/or from suspect locations where fish can be loaded with heavy metals it is always a good idea to ask where the fish comes from before buying.
While on fish and chips I must tell you about their origin. Fish and chips have been in vogue at least since Dickensian days. We know this because in Oliver Twist there was reference to Bill Sykes and Fagin eating fried fish while Oliver and fellow pick-pockets ate gruel. Fish was cooked at fried fish warehouses, which by all accounts were pretty much on the nose as lard (animal fat) was used instead of oil for the frying.
When it comes to the chip part of the equation you have probably guessed the French were involved. The French and Belgians invented the chip and they combined them with Jewish style fried fish. Fish and chips came to Australia with the convicts
Over the years we have had some fantastic fish and chips: On the west coast of Wales, Amsterdam, Constitution Dock in Hobart and now, a new location on the list, Kalbarri WA.