Denham, Western Australia (Part 2)


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Hamelin Pool
Not much here except for the biologists among us, and for them this is a big BUT – here are stromatolites, the earliest form of life on earth. Their ability to photosynthesize sunlight and create oxygen led to more complex forms of life. The ones at Hamelin Pool are only (!) 2,000 years old.

Monkey Mia
It’s a rare event and we were here. Dolphins are fed 3 times a day at the beach and just 4 days ago a new calf was born to Piccolo who is part of this dolphin pod. This calf was so new he/she was swimming non-stop leading mom on a merry chase. In another few weeks the calf will figure out that the safest place to be for the next 3 years is snuggled down under mom’s side where there is protection from sharks and other predators. Today however, we were treated to a frisky youngster newly born, not entirely coordinated and exploring the wide world.

Historical Homestead in what is now Francois Peron National Park
When this was a working station as recently as the 1960’s the highlight of the year, according to respected stockman Arthur Pepper, was the sheep shearing. A good shearer was able to finish one sheep every 2 minutes. The hardest worker however was the cook who was baking bread before the station was awake and was still cleaning up and preparing the next day’s meals after the others had knocked off for the day.

There is always a shortage of potable water in Western Australia with much drinking water distilled in desalination plants. There is less of a shortage of bore water which may or may not be drinkable. Occasionally bore water is warm (32 degrees), as at Wooramel Station and sometimes it is a deliciously hot 40 degrees continuously replenishing the large old cement hot tub at the homestead.

Which is where we met-up again with Matt and his unnamed wife who we’d met on the Rio Tinto access road when their van had a punctured tyre (Aussie spelling) and we stopped to help. We saw them again at the pool in Millstream Chichester park, at Yardie Creek and finally had a long visit with them in the hot tub. They are on a one year trek around Australia. She’s a chemical engineer and he plays Aussie Rule Football, coaches, cycles competitively and works for moving companies on and off. Meeting people several times is not all that unusual as we are visiting the same places on our way south.

This area was first visited by the Dutch in the early 1600’s who were blown off course on their way to the Dutch East Indies. It was later mapped by the French which is why many names along the coast are French. Louis XVIII sent a scientific expedition to gather specimens and make notes on this new land, all in the spirit of the enlightenment. Though one ship met an inglorious end shipwrecked off the coast of South America on its way back to France, the other ships returned with specimens and descriptions of plants, animals and minerals as well as accounts of their encounters with indigenous people.

Imagine how different Australia would be today had it become a French colony.

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