Wildlife interaction on Australia’s North West Coast – 2 Shark Bay

Wildlife interaction on Australia’s North West Coast – 2 Shark Bay

It was the May eclipse of the moon that I was on the eastern most point point of Australia and Shark Bay is at the western extreme.

And Denham is the most westerly township in Australia. Steep Point is the the western most point but very difficult to access.

The east and west extremities of Australia are like chalk and cheese. While Cape Byron in the east sits amongst moist rain forest covered mountains but in the west at Shark Bay its where the desert meets the sea.

So desert means lack of water and sparse population.

I wonder if fewer people means more wildlife.

The pelicans,

The turtles,

The old man Emu caring for his chicks.

And the beautiful wild dolphins at Monkey Mia that interact with such trust with visitors to their world.

The beaches in this special place are stunning and unique.

To create this national park now world heritage area. The Western Australian Government bought back a number of farming leases.

Sheep had been grazed on the fragile lands.

At the old Peron Station the remains of the old shearing shed still remain.

It was a bit of a trek to get to the old station along a sandy trail

But made all worthwhile by the the thermal spring hot tub at the old station.

So what else could I do.

Running south across the Wide open spaces of Western Australia

Running south across the Wide open spaces of Western Australia

Departing Broome my next major destination was Coral Bay and the beautiful Ningaloo Reef. A distance of nearly 1,400km

Western Australia is a vast State covering around 1/3 of the Australian Continent.

In the north towns and settlements are few and far between and the roads long and straight.

Mining is prevalent in this part of Australia and relics of mining are many.

This part of Australia has had significant land returned to aboriginal control under Native Title which commenced in Australia in 1993.

Native Title aims to give back to Australian Aborigines land where there has been continuous connection since colonisation.

When I rode through Roebourne 43 years ago it was a town one didn’t stop in. It was the wild west rough and dangerous.

The Victoria Hotel was a bloodhouse that you entered at great risk. Now it’s a beautiful art gallery.

That I would recommend any and everyone to stop at.

The importance and connection to country that aboriginal people have can not be underestimated or understood by us from a colonial heritage.

At the Welcome Lookout overlooking there are silhouettes of aboriginal men from the local tribes looking out on country. Emblematic of the connection.

The indiginous culture has reclaimed and so has the name Leramugadu.

From Leramugadu I headed to the coast to Point Samson and the Indian Ocean.

The coastal land offering some wonderful views and a taste of the wildflowers to come now spring is emerging.

And the lovely coastal birds

But my aim was Coral Bay and the amazing Ningaloo Reef and Marine Sanctuary.

Have had a first little swim on the edge of the reef and look forward to exploring more.

I’m here for a few days and will explore and share some more of this remote and beautiful place.

Broome’s Festival of the Pearl – Shinju Matsuri

Broome’s Festival of the Pearl – Shinju Matsuri

The lustre of pearl drove the colonial development of Broome in the 1870s and remains a major industry to this day.

Prior to this for millennia the aborigines used and traded mother of pearl shell and used it for decoration and ceremony.

This Riji is the carving of pearl shell shell unique to the North East Kimberley.

These pieces of Riji are part of an exhibition called Lustre the history of pearling in Australia.

The Shinju Matsuri celebrates the role of the pearl in Broome.

The festival integrates culture of Japanese and Chinese pearl divers who came here over a century ago and made Broome home with indigenous and colonial history.

The lantern festival at Cable Beach captures a Japanese Tradition.

The street parade is led in a burst of colour and energy by the Chinese Dragon.

The Shinju festival also offers lots of exhibitions street music and art.

There is a beautiful projection down at the Town Beach

But it was the Riji that totally captivated me.

So I took a long ride, over 200km each way to the top of the Dampier Peninsula.

Over made roads and some thick sand roads

To meet Bruce Wiggan, a local elder and master pearl shell carver at his studio.

Aboriginal art tells a story. This piece tells the story of the making the laws of hunting between local tribes. These laws, this agreement bought harmony.

I’m now the keeper of this beautiful piece of Riji and it’s story.

On to Broome and completing the Savannah Way

On to Broome and completing the Savannah Way

Leaving Halls Creek there were sights to see but I had my heart set on Broome.

A stop at the big Boab on the side of the road.

It 43 years since, as a young man, since I was last riding a motorcycle up in north Western Australia, the Kimberley.

The road was unsealed and rough then.

Remnants of the old road still exist. Including the old corrugated iron shed that was the garage.

When I had some bike problems all those years ago. The owners let me use a corner of the workshop to replace the head gasket on my Norton Commando!

Finally Broome and the end of the Savannah Way crossing the north of Australia from the Pacific to the Indian Oceans.

And swim at Cable Beach. My first swim in the ocean since late June in Queensland.

With its Camel Rides,

Sunsets,

Coastal birds

And the Stairway to the Moon.

Given Western Australia’s covid free status and Broome’s beautiful weather it’s crowded and I had to camp 25km out of town for a couple of nights.

It was a good place to give the Steinbock a wash.

In company with the bush birds like this little Sparrowhawk

Now I have a room in a hostel in the town of Broome which is in the throws of its annual festival, the Shinju Matsuri.

But more on that next post.

Water springs eternal on the road to Wave Hill

Water springs eternal on the road to Wave Hill

Wave Hill is the town where fight for aboriginal land rights took a first decisive step with the Wave Hill Walkoff

I have been reminded that 23 August 2021 is the 55th Anniversary of the Wave Hill Walkoff.

I didn’t go all the way out to Wave Hill

After the hot dusty Bungle Bungles I was after a cold spring to soak in and such places existed on the road from Halls Creek to Wave Hill.

The first spring was Palm Spring just off the Wave Hill road.

The swimming hole was deep and cold just perfect to refresh the body.

I was going to set up camp there but a couple of locals, who had come out for a swim suggested Sawpit Gorge a few kms north offered better camping further off the road.

As I say -local knowledge is the best knowledge.

So I set up camp on a flat area above the gorge and the spring fed stream.

It was near a full moon that night.

Which shone a silver light on the Ghost Gum I was camped under.

Making it a ghostly silver in moons beam.

I have spent a long time in the outback and at this point I was only around 600km from the west coast and the Indian Ocean.

My next swim will be in salt water having crossed the northern part of Australia from Innisfail on the Pacific Ocean to Broome on the Indian Ocean.

I will finish this with Paul Kelly’s musical tribute to the Wave Hill Walkoff.

The World Heritage Purnalulu National Park aka the Bungle Bungles.

The World Heritage Purnalulu National Park aka the Bungle Bungles.

The Purnalulu National Park contains a number of unique rock formations one of which is the Bungle Bungle Ranges.

It’s 53 km from the Northern Highway into the Park and I have to say possibly the most challenging 53 km I have ridden this trip.

The road was extremely rough with 4 water crossings 2 quite deep.

As this 4wd came through the first water crossing (above) my heart started thumping as I thought this is a challenge.

At the third, and deepest crossing I thought I was beaten. I let a 4wd go through. The next thing it was stopped at the top of the embankment and the driver is down into the water.

“You can do it. I’m.a biker too. Keep to the left side there are less rocks”

“This is the deepest part” he said, standing thigh deep in water. “You can do it”

And I did as he talked me through the crossing.

I set up camp at the Kurrajong campground and the view of the Bungle Bungles at sunset told me the ride in was worth it. I was looking forward to riding out to the walking areas the next day.

The Bungle Bungles are unique rock formations formed around 300 million years ago.

The colours and contours of the landscape just breathtaking.

At the northern end there are huge gorges of red firey rock

The Northern walk (above) are is named Piccaninni after the creek that cuts through the land scape and is noted for its dome shaped rock formations and steep gorges. Cathedral and Whip Snake were the ones I visited.

The southern walks are characterised by amazing chasms. Echidna chasm is a thin passage through the 200 metre high cliffs.

The southern chasm entrances provide the perfect environment for the Livinstona Palm

Especially in the Palm Valley.

Purnalulu was a special way point on this trip and what an overwhelming beautiful place to visit.

I was even lucky enough to have a fellow biker for company.

Back heading west on the Savannah Way and a stop at Keep River National Park

Back heading west on the Savannah Way and a stop at Keep River National Park

The savannah woodlands stretched out to the horizon.

Crossing the big rivers I didn’t need a sign to say I was back on the Savannah Way.

Just before the Northern Territory/ Western Australia border there is the Keep River National Park.

About 18 km in from the Rangers station is the main camping ground.

A special part of North Western Australia is the amazing rock formations.

There are a number of walks through the rock canyons at Keep River. I will give you a taste of these beautiful rock formations.

From the lookout the rocky range stretches out through the savannah

The stunning colours of the rock and landscape.

And there is the beautiful Rainbow Bee Eater, flitting around the forest.

As the sun sets the rocks turn red reflecting the setting sun’s fire.

When the light is gone the Milky Way fills the sky.

There is nothing like the stars in the outback.

So I’m now sitting in Kununurra, in the State of Western Australia. Supplies have been purchased ready for the next outback leg of my journey.

A few days in Darwin before heading west

A few days in Darwin before heading west

Darwin is the Capital of the Nortern Territory and was nice to be back beside the sea.

It was Darwin Festival time and an opportunity for the piecemeal adventurer to turn into the piecemeal culture vulture.

And even catch a performance of the Opera Carmen at the Darwin Entertainment Centre. Thanks to a friend.

Followed by dinner with sunset over Darwin Harbour.

Of course a priority was having the Steinbock serviced for the next leg of the journey of around 6,000km across to the west coast and south to Perth.

All serviced and nice new shoes for the trip into Western Australia.

Into the Northern Territory- more hot springs, how can life be so hard!

Into the Northern Territory- more hot springs, how can life be so hard!

I was running short of supplies to find a supermarket.

Nearest supermarket – 550km by mainly sealed roads or 334 by mainly dirt roads.

So it was back on the dirt roads again and refreshed by the healing waters of Boodjamulla it was time to make big distance.

A stop at Riversliegh (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riversleigh_World_Heritage_Area) the world heritage fossil site.

Through river crossings

And onto the city of Mount Isa.

Refreshed from my swimming at Boodjamulla is time was time to make miles.

Some Covid outbreaks in Queensland influencing my decision to get west while I could.

I covered the just over 1,600km to Mataranka hot springs a 2 and a half days.

Met up with some fellow bikers on the way

Joined up again with the beautiful Savannah woodlands

And celebrated being back in the Northern Territory with a soak in the hot thermal waters of Mataranka on a moonlight night.

And how could I resist a dawn swim!

The steam rising of the thermal water in the cool morning air.

Border entry into Western Australia is very strict with a requirement to be in the Northern Territory (classified covid low risk) for 14 days before entering.

Nitmiluk National Park was my next stop and where I have spent most of my current time in the Northern Territory.

My next few posts will cover this amazing piece of Australia.

Boodjamulla National Park -oasis on the Queensland /NT border

Boodjamulla National Park -oasis on the Queensland /NT border

From the Oasis that is the Gregory River there is a rough dirt road that runs west into the desert.

Boodjamulla NP and Adels Grove are oasis neighbours on the spring fed Lawn Hill Creek

Adels Grove is a large campground oasis flanking both sides of the stream.

There is small bistro, lots of camping and cabins, swimming holes, bushwalks and wildlife.

Quite amazing for somewhere so remote.

Adels Grove has an amazing history. Planted as a tropical botanic garden in the 1920s.

Remnants of those original planting still flank Lawn Hill Creek

Approx 8km upstream from Adels Grove is Boodjamulla National Park and spectacular gorge.

The gorge can be enjoyed by kayaking in the 3km of gorge open to the public or by walking the top of the gorge.

The waters at Boodjamulla are healing in Waanyi dreaming.

When I arrived at Boodjamulla the months on the road was telling on my body.

Indeed a week bathing in these waters were healing.