Letho's Blog

Shark Bay

by on Mai.05, 2011, under Along The Coral Coast

May 05, 2011

On the way to Shark Bay, one of Australia’s World Heritage sites due to its special marine wildlife and physical landscape and seascape features, we stopped only to have a quick breakfast at the Overlander Roadhouse. Pancakes, toast and coffee provided enough strength for the upcoming amazing sites and sights.

Our first stop of the day was at Hamelin Pool to take a look at some of the probably oldest living creatures on earth: the so-called stromatolites. As Wikipedia says, stromatolites are layered accretionary structures formed in shallow water by the trapping, binding and cementation of sedimentary grains by biofilms of microorganisms, especially cyanobacteria. Now what do they look like? Very unspectacular – like lumps of grey matter.

On the way to the stromatolites boardwalk we came across another most interesting thing: a shell quarry where building blocks made out of shell bricks were mined. Actually whole buildings, e.g. the local post office, were constructed by using shell bricks. How does this work, and why shells, and how do they align into bricks? They don’t by themselves, but those tiny cockle shells being one of the few lifeforms capable of living in the highly salt-enriched waters of Shark Bay they accumulated, were compacted and calcified over time, building up layers of up to 15 meters on the beaches!

Next we drove to a place called Shell Beach. And you might guess by now where that name comes from …

Let me assure you that this was a completely new beach experience for all of us. 🙂 Nearby was another shell-ish beach where we stopped to gather some more impressions, walk on the shells and even try some offroading:

The following panorama of the beach could easily be mistaken for a sand beach – but you know better by now:

Panorama of a shell beach

Panorama of a shell beach

Afterwards we did a boardwalk at Eagle Bluff, a spot where you could spot lots of turtles, rays, sharks and even dugongs. Well, we were unlucky and none of the former fellows actually showed up. Still a nice view there:

From here we continued to Denham, the closest town to the Francois Peron National Park that covers most of the Shark Bay area. We decided to go for a quick swim in the Little Lagoon. Unfortunately we were all busy swimming, so there are no pictures of that. 😉

Last thing of the day was driving back quickly to Denham, refuel, resupply and re-enter the Francois Peron NP. The tracks in this park were filled with such an amount of deep, soft sand that there was a special tyre deflator/inflator station right at the park entrance where we lowered the air pressure in our tyres a lot, resulting in improved tyre traction necessary for these tracks. What a luxury this was – normally you are required to buy and bring your own deflators and compressors. We then headed up to Big Lagoon in the NP and stayed there for the night on one of the park’s campgrounds.

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