When discussing this section of the trip with Andrew’s folks we were uncertain where to go when we reached the coast. Not from lack of choice, more from so many options. We eventually settled on Francois Peron and Dirk Hartog Island.
This section of the coast is World Heritage listed and I can understand why. It is stunning and bursting with marine life.
The road in was sandy but not too soft until the last section to Herald’s Bight, where we got bogged. Being experienced now we lowered our tyres and dug in the Maxtrax and were out in a jiffy.
At the entrance to the park there is a tyre inflation station and loads of interpretive signs educating people on what tyre pressures to use in the sandy conditions. It was a great piece of infrastructure to have in these conditions and their pumps were super speedy when we had to pump the tyres up again on the way out.
Herald’s Bight was a great spot on the beach and we managed to find a few spots tucked away in the coastal brush which were a bit more sheltered. It was still quite windy though, for probably the first time on our trip, and the soft sand made keeping the tent pegs in challenging but the scenery was stunning and it was a lovely spot to slow down a little and appreciate the ocean.
Matthew and I even managed to make a chocolate pudding for dessert.
The beach was stunning and filled with interesting shells and remnants of coral. Andrew and I took a walk and having spotted where the a local 4×4 tour stopped up the beach earlier in the day we chose that spot to explore the water. The bay here is really shallow and at under knee depth we spotted a couple of rays, a reef shark and blue swimmer crabs.
On the way back there was a massive ray that stayed long enugh for Andrew to run back to camp to fetch the rest of the family to have a look.
The following day we drove to Skipjack Point and Cape Peron. The drive was stunning as it passed through the coastal scrub and several clay pans.
At one point we stopped suddenly to admire a Thorny Devil on the road. What an amazingly scary looking, yet harmless reptile. We read later that they only move 10-500 metres a day and just lower their head when threatened to expose their thorns to the best advantage. This was a bonus for us as we got to have a really good look at it against the clay pan floor.
Skipjack point is home to a beacon we could see from our camp and also the most impressive coastal lookout I have ever been too. Maybe we were lucky but in the time we were there we spotted a pod of dolphins, including a baby dolphin, a turtle, several rays, reef sharks and dugongs. In fact we ticked off all the marine life listed on their spotting interpretive sign! It really was a magical spot even in the wind.
Cape Peron was a great place to appreciate the white sands contrasting with the red dirt of the desert. It was a stunning coastline and the first spot we got out our snorkels to explore the reef in the area. Izzy and Andrew braved the choppy conditions and managed to see some tropical fish and coral.
After much debate, we decided to pack up early and head to Monkey Mia to catch the ‘dolphin experience’. We had heard that ‘this is not what it used to be’ as you are no longer allowed to enter the water when the dolphins feed and they no longer feed them as regularly to minimise the impact of human interaction.
Regardless it was still an amazing experience to see dolphins close up. They feed at about 7.45am, 8.30am and 9.00am only and you can watch from the shore getting a clear view of the stunning creatures. We made it for the end of the 8.30am feed and also saw the 9.00am feed. We were super lucky as Picolo had given birth on October 14 and had her baby with her. Seeing a baby dolphin swimming in the shallows and building its confidence was incredible. You could even hear the mother and calf communicating with each other!
Five dolphins came for the 8.30am feed and eight for the 9.00am feed. Izzy was super lucky to be chosen to feed a fish to a dolphin and that totally made her day.
From Monkey Mia it was time to head back to Denham to restock prior to heading out to Dirk Hartog in the morning.