Good ‘Ole Shark Bay

6 Apr

We didn’t have anything in particular planned for today, so we decided to explore all the stops along the World Heritage Drive on the North West Coastal Highway, essentially backtracking as far as the Overlander Roadhouse (130km). The destinations were quite diverse, I must say.

Eagle Bluff

Visitors overlook the clear and shallow waters of Shark Bay Marine Park from high on a boardwalk. You’re supposed to see everything from sharks, rays, turtles, and even dugongs (sea cows) – all of course depending on the season and what not. All we really saw were a few dark patches, over which we debated on making a big scene in order to stir up commotion for the other onlookers. Maybe next time.

Eagle Bluff

Shell Beach

This one was pretty cool! As the name implies, the beach is made up entirely of shells rather than sand. They all come from a creature called the Hamelic Cockle, which is heavily populated in the area due to its especially salty water. The shells have all washed up into massive piles, creating a beach 10m thick of shells, up to 1km wide and many km long!

Shell Beach

Shell Beach

Because they essentially have a never-ending supply of these shells, they have a mine rigged up on the far end of the beach for exporting shells. I figured they were used mainly for architectural purposes, but it turns out they’re also crumbled up and put into chicken feed so that their egg shells become harder. Who’da thunk it?

Hamelin Pool Stromatolites

Stromatolites are colonies of micro-organisms that resemble the oldest forms of life here on Earth. They were present about 3.5 billion years ago, and these stromatolites in Hamelin Pool are thought to be more like 3,000 years old… “the largest and oldest living fossils.” Stromatolites are extremely rare nowadays, but the high salinity in the area makes it a comfortable area for the colonies to grow here. We felt it was necessary to see because everyone made it sound like life started here, but it was a little anti-climactic once we saw them. I wasn’t expecting to shake hands with God or anything, but maybe I was imagining something more dramatic like the Pinnacles; instead they were just rocky lumps in shallow water. But I guess they’re the most basic form of life, so it’s not like they were gonna be completely crazy looking to begin with.  You gotta respect the process.

Stromatolites

A Backpacker’s Night to Remember

At this point, we returned to our home base at the YHA hostel. That pool was the greatest gift anyone could ask for! It was also full of a bunch of other people who had just arrived on an Aussie Wanderer bus (or one of those tours). We befriended a handful of them and then watched the sun set over the ocean. Then conversation turned to going-out plans. Apparently their bus driver was friends with Jamie Morgan, the pearl farmer from the popular Aussie reality TV series “Farmer Wants a Wife.” And Jamie was celebrating something… I thought it was a birthday but I think it was some sort of reunion show. Anyway, the plan for the night was to go to THE bar for a “disco” which then turned into a karaoke night. The Swedish girls sang multiple ABBA songs. I might have sung some Garth Brooks. And we all met Jamie!

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