A great coffee is always a good way to start the day and Australia is truly expert at it.  The flat white at the Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort is particularly good and the ocean side restaurant is a lovely spot for breakfast.  A pod of dolphins pops in reliably at 7.45 each day – pretty amazing as they are wild and have no watch.  A carefully controlled feeding operation is staged every day at this time.  The dolphins are fed a small amount of fish (1/3 of their daily requirement) to prevent an unhealthy reliance on humans.

Tips for Future Travellers:
The crowd of tourists builds quickly from 7.30 onwards – be there early to avoid seeing nothing but other people’s heads.  Maximum crowds reach 700 – there were about 200 there this morning.

There is a $15 per adult per day charge to enter the marine park.

If you want to be one of the chosen few who are allowed to feed the dolphins, stand on the beach by the water’s edge, wear shorts and no shoes so you can wade into the ocean if called and wear something eye catching – invitations are issued by a description of what the lucky visitor is wearing.

There are three feeding “experiences “ a day.  The other two take place during the morning and are much quieter, but the timing is unpredictable.

The best time to visit Shark Bay is May – locals call it “May in the Bay”.  April and June are busy (school holidays) and November to February is way too hot and windy – it’s pretty well dead then (except for Christmas/New Year). apparently.


We spent two days at Monkey Mia.  The first morning, I was keen to see the dolphins, but a bit frustrated by the crowds.  The second day, I was actually more interested in the emus who popped into the cafe and had an early morning shower in the resort’s sprinklers.​  Interestingly – Emus do things differently.  Dad rather than Mum sits on the nest and cares for the chicks for 18 months after they are hatched.

Click on READ MORE to find out what else there is to do at Shark Bay and see more photos.  There is SO much more to it than the dolphins! ..

The first day, we pre-booked a 4WD tour of the Francois Peron  National Park with Wildsights.  The only way to access the park is via 4WD, so a tour was a good option.  In the end, due to a damaged vehicle, the tour was actually run by Shark Bay 4WD.

If you thought you knew what red white and blue looks like (Union Jack/French flag), be prepared to think again!  The Francois Peron NP – where the desert meets the ocean – takes red white and blue to a whole new technicolour level.  This is colour of an intensity deeper than you may ever have seen before.  There just aren’t sufficient adjectives to describe it, so the photos will just have to do the talking.  This landscape looks as though it has been photoshopped to the hilt – but it hasn’t.  This is R E A L real!

The wildlife is all here too.  We saw: dugongs, tiger sharks, little nervous sharks eagle rays and green turtles.  You’ll have to take my word for that as the sightings weren’t great photo opportunities.  To capture the wildlife on camera, you would really need to come on your own (not in a group), bring a tripod, the biggest zoom lens you can find and be very, very patient.

There are at least 28 shark species in Shark Bay.  The most impressive is the Tiger Shark.  The most common to spot is the Nervous Shark – a small shark that gets its name due to its timid nature.

Highlights:

Swimming in Bottle Bay.  The water is so salty here that you can actually float.  I spent a good chunk of time happily floating, safely held in the cupped hands of my capacious marine hammock, watching the sunshine sparkle on the water and admiring the pretty pink galahs nesting right above me on the cliff.  Playing at hand sand art was pretty cool too.

Spotting a little nervous shark at Skipjack Point.

The Artesian Hot Tub at the end of the tour.  It is a constant, muscle relaxing 40 degrees C.  The two Aussie grey nomads who were soaking in it when we arrived said it actually had two temperatures – “bloody hot and hot”.

The National Parks in WA are very well presented with boardwalks (made from recycled plastic bags), interpretive panels and clean toilets – all thanks to Regional Royalties from mining.

We had really great company on this trip from our Australian companions – great fun and we learned a lot too.  Thanks guys – and gals!  Loretta – when you do the Coast to Coast – remember – come stay with us – we will really look after you! X

Kat’s expert driving.  We had no need of Max Trax and we didn’t get bogged – although there was one point where we hit soft sand and had to gently nudge our way out.

Lowlights
There was not much room in the back of the Toyota Land Cruiser.  We rocked and rolled quite a bit too – a challenge right after lunch. (See Fascinating Facts no. 1 …)

Stonefish at Gregories.
No swimming after lunch – if you tread one of these nasties, the pain is so intense you need to get to hospital.  Quite a challenge when you are in the middle of nowhere with no ambulance service.  You would be reliant on the help of the fantastic Flying Doctor Service (not government funded).

Those damn flies!

Fascinating Facts:

There are more words for to be sick in Australia than any other country.  Here is just a sample:    Chunder, vomit, play the whale, cry ruth, hurl, do the big spit, park the tiger, have a nice technicolour yawn, laugh at the ground.  Did you Know:  Early migrants had a long sea voyage to get to Australia and sea sickness was common.  If they felt the need to vomit over the side of the ship, it was polite to warn those with a porthole below to “Watch Under” – which was soon abbreviated to ‘Chunder”.

The Aborignes in Shark Bay had very pale skin, green eyes and were subject to balding – all European traits picked up from interaction with an early (pre Cook) Dutch shipwreck.  They built houses with verandahs and had vegetable plots too.

Glad I Packed:
Reefies, microfibres towel, polarising sunglasses.

Wished I had seen:
A thorny devil.

An aboriginal cultural tour with award winning Darren “Capes” Capeswell who gets rave reviews.  We tried to book 3 months ahead, but they were already full.

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