There is something special about being close to the sea – at least for me. I am in my element when watching the moods of the ocean, the vegetation, coastal scenery and the different lifestyles of the communities all along the coastal stretch. For a while we are out of the red dust, the dramatic landscapes and rock faces, the vast distances between places – not to mention the flies and the heat!
Leaving Shark Bay we visited the remarkable Hamelin Pool stromatolites. I had no idea what these were until we visited the Discovery Centre and so we were keen to see what it was all about. These Hamelin Pool stromatolites are the oldest and largest living fossils on earth. These are considered “living fossils” and are part of the Earth’s evolutionary history.
Now part of the Word Heritage Area, a purpose built jetty has been built over these amazing life forms so people can walk and observe without causing damage. This gives everyone has a chance to see what is of great interest to botanists and geologists and give an indication of what the earth may have looked like about 3.7 billion years ago when stromatolites grew widespread across the water.
Some scientists are now saying that this is what life on Mars may look like right now.
An easier explanation is the following quote:
The oldest Stromatolites in the world are found in Western Australia, and date to 3.7 billion years old. As such, the stromatolites provide a record of local environmental changes. Hamelin Pool in Western Australia is one of only four places on earth where living marine stromatolites exist and the location contains by far the biggest colony on earth.
Stromatolites which are found up to a metre high are believed to grow at a maximum of 0.3mm per year – they are truly “living fossils”. 80% of the history of all life was stromatolites – for that time, stromatolites were king.
Our next destination was Kalbarri. This little town on the mouth of the Murchison River is known for its seaside cliffs, estuary beaches, pelicans and birdlife and the National Park nearby. Once again there are gorges and and natural bridge forms and several scenic walks and climbs for those who are more adventurous.
When I did my first Road Trip all those years ago, there was nothing here except a couple of holiday houses and fishing shacks. Now it is a thriving tourist destination and very popular with families. The first thing you notice on driving into the village is the river – which is currently very muddy and so it is easy to see where the river meets the ocean.
There are sandy beaches close by which are protected by a reef – and the thundering surf beyond is quite spectacular.
Red Bluff is where ancient rock meets the ocean and the history of this area is interesting.
The first European people to visit the area were the crew of the trading ship Batavia belonging to the Dutch East India Company who apparently put ashore two mutinous crew members here. The wreck of another ship – the Zuytdorp – which sank in 1712 is also here.
There is a lovely little walk along the cliff top which illustrates clearly the problem ships would have had sailing into this area.
At the bottom of the cliff is a trail from the beach leading up to the top and here the contrast between the red rock and the beach is obvious. This is a popular fishing spot.
Bird life is prolific and at times, walking on the beach, the only company you have is our feathered friends.
Another interesting place to visit is Port Gregory and the “Pink Lake” . This is on the road south of Kalbarri and we were told one should see it in the morning when the sun is overhead. We were not disappointed.
The Hutt Lagoon has a pink hue created by the presence of carotenoid producing algae which is a source of B carotene, a food colouring agent and a source of Vitamin A. There are other pink lakes in WA and hopefully we will get to see more on this “Big Loop”.
History has always been a passion of mine and so a stop at Lytton close by was a must as this was a Convict Hiring Station and there are several ruins and many tales to tell here.
And finally – not far from Perth we came across an amazing sight – a desert in the bush. This is The Pinnacles – in Nambung National Park and is incredible.
These are limestone formations and some reach 3.5m. Some are jagged, sharp edged columns and others are smooth and rounded. There are thousands of them and they literally take your breath away.
And my favourite image is this one, of a little resident of the area out for his morning munchies!