North from Geraldton, we drove four hours with the temperature raising and the wind gusts increasing. The roads are good, though passing “road trains” gives a pretty good gust against the motor home, keeping Rick with two hands on the wheel. The Billagbong Roadhouse was an interesting gas stop, and a good place to make lunch. We arrived at the Overlander Roadhouse around 1pm, and turned onto the World Heritage Drive, which leads us onto the double bay peninsula that creates the Shark Bay area. This unique area is home to over 28 species of sharks, as well as other marine life like dolphins and dugongs. Dugongs are really cool, one of the two species of sea cows in the world ( the other is Manatees), and a good percentage of the world’s population live in Shark bay.
Our first stop in the area was Shell Beach, where shells have been piling for like 4000 years or so…. 10 meters deep and about 3 miles long by 300 meters wide, that was a lot of shells. They are mining in one small area, using the shell as chicken feed additive for laying hens. The water there was ankle deep for perhaps a kilometer out, and felt slippery with the lime of the decaying shells. Reminded us of the Dead Sea water, stinging our skin. Next was Eagle Bluff, with an awesome view of a sea cove below, and we managed to spot about 10 sharks swimming below, as well as manta rays and some other large fish in the clear, shallow water, very close to shore. Okay, forget about swimming in Shark Bay, I mean, you could, if you were so inclined, but we felt we would rather find a caravan park with a pool. Those sharks may be harmless, but really? What if they were really hungry, or just curious? Denham’s Shark Bay caravan park, complete with pool, it is.
Dinner was a wonderful seafood assortment, a treat of the local delicacies - crayfish, oysters, snapper, calamari, prawns. The restaurant was a hand-cut shell block building, very unique, and the sidewalks paved in pearl shells…..nice little windy town. Woken by a cackle of wild parrots this morning. And an early dawn visit to Monkey Mia meant we were able to have a private visit with the local dolphins before the irritating park rangers arrived. Seriously, they started hassling visitors the minute they arrived - don’t stand there, you must move your car, you are camping illegally, don’t touch anything, wait on the boardwalk, gather here, move back, etc, in high pitched bossy voices ( Derek‘s comment was we didn’t need to go on a catamaran to find the sea cows) …… very glad we arrived early enough that they didn’t wreck the entire visit to the dolphins, who themselves were extraordinarily friendly.. They played in the water for at least two hours close to the shore and genuinely interested in checking out the people - amazing experience with wild creatures of the sea.