After ranting about how painful it is to travel around WA without a car, and seeing how especially difficult it is to go to Monkey Mia (airway is too expensive and the bus stops around 190 kms away), I decided to go on a road trip from Geraldton to Monkey Mia and return.
I went with Avis, and renting the car cost me around 150 $ for 5 days (starting on Monday afternoon), 150 kms included each day (clearly not enough, and each extra km costs 30c).
After a long afternoon of waiting for the Avis office to open (it was a public holiday in WA), I finally got into the car, and headed to Kalbarri, because I wanted to see the sunrise on Nature's window. And guess what? Just the next day, June 4th, some road work started on the road to... Nature's window! And apparently it will be so until October 2013. But I still had fun, met the great friends I had made the first time I went there and spend a good time there.
Even though the sunrise was then out of the question, I still woke up early and headed to Kalbarri National Park, to see some beautiful gorges still accessible by car. And the National Park didn't disappoint.
|doesn't look like an early morning winter light, right?|
After that, I arrived on the North Western Coastal Highway, and it was practically one long and boring line of a road. After refilling half a tank at the Billabong Roadhouse (25 l for around 50 $), I turned left on the World Heritage Drive of Shark Bay. And after a while, I could see the nice blue of the Indian Ocean next to the road, and simply had to stop at every lookout. That is one of the things telling me that I did well to rent a car. I couldn't have taken so many pictures if I hadn't had the opportunity to stop wherever I wanted.
|And that would have been too bad...|
I stopped at Denham to have a look at the "Shark Bay Discovery Centre", but as I couldn't book the scenic flight I wanted, I went on to Monkey Mia itself.
Monkey Mia is a kind of resort from the Caravan Park to the luxurious beach front cottage, and in its heart lies the Tourist Centre and the Dolphin Interaction Area. Apart from the dolphins themselves, the good thing about the location is that you can see the sunrise and the sunset from the same area. And the beaches are protected from strong surf. The bad thing... I'll come back to it later.
So after setting myself in one of the dorms of the resort, and discussing with my roommate who was a volunteer for the Dolphin Interaction Centre, I went to see the sunset on the beach.
|beautiful sunset colors.|
Early wake up call to see the dolphins feeding that starts at 8 AM, but everyone is already there at 7:30. The feeding starts with explanations on the dolphins and the local dolphin Who's Who.
Then the volunteers arrive with the baskets of fish, make 3 or 4 people give the fish to the dolphins, and that's it. The feeding is highly limited, only 500 grms per dolphin per feeding, and only 3 feedings between 8 AM and 12 PM.
So after the first feeding, I decided to switch to my favorite activity in Australia, that is to say: walking on the beach.
|that was rewarding|
And after a morning of walking and a light lunch in the camp kitchen, I decided to give snorkelling a go.
Remember when I told you about the good things of Monkey Mia? Now the bad things: the snorkelling is just void. I only saw one fish that I nearly missed (it being white on white sand) and one starfish... And even though the surf is non existent, the current is still rather strong. The other bad thing, is that the sand is not just sand. It's also broken shells... Which doesn't make for a nice walk barefoot...
|pretty, right? Try walking on it...|
So after a nice little snooze on the beach, I just went back to the resort and read in the sun.
After another dolphin feeding in the morning, I checked out and hit the road at once, with a self catered breakfast at the Blue lagoon...
and several other stops along the way, including Shell Beach
|you can't see it here, but it's entirely made of shells...|
and Hamelin Pool, home of the Stromatolites:
Riding back on the same road the opposite way, I arrived in Kalbarry in the beginning of the afternoon (after another refill of half a tank for another 50 $). As the day was beautiful, I just walked along the beach in Kalbarri then chilled out after the sunset with the guys of the YHA around several beers.
After another early morning, I checked out of the YHA and decided to have a look at the coastal cliffs of Kalbarri.
Then I headed back to Geraldton, via Northampton, which was a pretty nice drive.
After giving back the keys to the car to Avis, I took the bus from Geraldton to Cervantes, where I will spend the next 3 weeks, before heading back to Sydney to hopefully find a job there to help me finance my trip to NZ in October. So I fear this blog will be on hiatus until September, which will be quite eventful with Uluru and Bali.
See you then!