Meandering around Gutharraguda
Gutharraguda is a big place over 2.2 m hectares of diverse landscapes, so you can’t possibly see it all in 4 days and also sit around and just enjoy the fresh air. Gutharraguda is aboriginal for Shark Bay and means two waters. The peninsular on which we are based juts out and divides the Bay in two segments. Denham where we are is on the west coast and we see the sun set over water. Monkey Mia is on the other side and faces east towards the mainland and the sun sets over the land behind it.
On one of our drives around we called into Shell Beach. Now this is serious shell stuff. The little Hamelin cockle shells number in their trillions (or just a real lot it seems) and the beach and shoreline was just covered in them. They are up to nine metres deep in places. There used to be a quarrying operation here that cut calcified blocks of these for building purposes.
There are a number of buildings in Denham with walls made from these blocks, including the Old Pearler’s Cottage which now houses a restaurant. We lashed out and had a nice evening meal in here. The camping ground had a number of its retaining walls made out of them. The quarry now only works to produce blocks when repair jobs are needed.
From Shell Beach we made our way down to Hamelin Pool which is right at the bottom of the Bay. Here the water is very shallow and salty. In fact about twice as salty as the rest of the Bay. In this environment Stromatolites have prospered. Sromatolites are microbiological structures that go back to the earliest times of life, about 3,500 m years ago. They look like small black blobs on stalks about the size of a football. Some of them seem to join up and form a maze type pattern. Fascinating place.
After the day long Steep Point trip we decided to have an afternoon on the water at Monkey Mia and went for a sail on Shotover. The objective was to find dugongs, dolphins and turtles. Now there was a fair wind and this whipped the sea up a bit which made sighting the dugongs difficult. It was early in the Dugong season as well which didn’t help. We didn’t see any. One of the highlights was running over the top of a turtle as it surfaced under one of hulls of the boat. Made a super big crack when it hit. One of the crew went below to check for any damage…….to the boat not the turtle. We didn’t see the turtle again and the boat was ok. It was suggested that he/she warned the dugongs off. A few dolphins were also sighted. Though we didn’t see any dugongs it was a great afternoon on the water. We finished off with a complimentary sunset sail and watched the sun drop over the land behind some unusual cloud shapes.
We are now heading away from Shark Bay for Kalbarri, about 150 km south.