Day 31


Denham (Shark Bay), WA



What We Did:

Having checked out the stunning Shell Beach on the way to Denham (where the beach is actually countless tiny shells), today was our first day learning about the Shark Bay World Heritage Site.  We’re on the most westerly tip of the continent in a 5.4 million acre protected area, home to over 10,000 dugongs, a huge shark population and massive sea grass meadows.  The shallow sea is the colour of dreams.  This morning we visited the nearby Ocean Park Aquarium, where friendly marine biologists introduced wide-eyed kids to sea snakes, turtles, venomous rock fish, sting rays, puffer fish, moon wrasse, and various shark, which they even got to feed.  All were kept in large tanks and rescued, a very different sort of aquarium from what we know. Raquel was totally engaged, asked questions (and made a few more statements). The big fish were too much for Gali, who needed a nap in our air conditioned Ford Everest.  It definitely got hot today, and UV rays here feel like they cook you from the inside out. After lunch, we went back to our rooms at the Shark Bay Hotel in Denham, where Dad got some writing done in the Old Pub. It cooled down a bit for some great times on the beach and the excellent playground by the jetty.  The kids both swam although Gali is freaked out by sand at the moment.  To see out a lovely day, we hopped aboard the Shotover catamaran in Monkey Mia for the last sunset cruise in Australia (you simply can’t get any more west!)  Sailing without power, Raquel steered the ship and bounced around the net.  Gali took much longer to warm up, but eventually relaxed for us to soak up a magnificent sunset.

What We Ate:

Lunch: Surprisingly excellent and several cuts above what you’d expect to find at an aquarium!  Mom had grilled barramundi with rocket salad, Dad had a pesto/grilled veggie panini, Raquel almost had chicken nuggets (a food group, apparently) and Gali did.

Dinner:  It’s incredible how you can literally travel to the ends of the earth and find better pizza than you do back home!

Where We Ate:

Lunch: Ocean Park’s Oceans Restaurant.

Dinner: Western Wood Fired Pizza

My Favourite Pictures Today

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Where We Slept:

The Shark Bay Hotel is Australia’s most westerly hotel. It’s an iconic Denham institution, beloved by locals and you can see why.  There’s family photos of the community on the wall, local art, sport team photos, legendary catches by local fishermen…it’s very homely and friendly. Our rooms are basic but comfortable and clean, with a cool ocean breeze blowing in.  The kids love playing the piano, spinning the bar chairs, and have made themselves right at home.

We Learned:

The difference between a venomous creature (they have to inject/bite you) versus a poisonous creature (you have to eat it).  That sea snakes are incredibly venomous, but are notoriously friendly and would sooner give you a love bite than strike you with venom.  That sea grass makes an excellent environment for marine life.  That Shark Bay got its name from Dutch sailors who saw so many nervous sharks swimming in the bay.  Nervous sharks are an actual species, and they’re very nervous creatures!   That you wouldn’t want to step on a rock fish.  That Shark Bay was the first Australian World Heritage Site.  That Gali really doesn’t like sand, but is now OK with swimming in the sea (a reverse of last week).   That it’s fun to feed a lemon shark, but don’t put your hands anywhere near the water!

Reflection of the Day

The Best Part:

Raquel and Gali steering the catamaran at sunset.  Gali laughing his head off in the sea water.  Raquel not being afraid to ask questions at the Aquarium, and tell everyone the difference between a turtle and a tortoise.

The Worst Part:

Gali had a total freak out on the catamaran, and it took him an hour to really settle.  He was clearly nervous, but was squirmy and couldn’t be soothed.  Combined with keeping him under control at the aquarium (where he could literally fall into a pool of sharks) we ended up carrying him a lot today, and our backs are paying for it!

We'll Always Remember

  • Name: Sherri
  • Favourite Place: Fishing on a boat on the top of Dirk Hartog Island
  • I Love Travel Because: To relax and enjoy and be happy
  • My Advice for Kids: Be good to your mother
  • Name: James
  • Favourite Place: West coast of South Australia
  • I Love Travel Because: You meet so many amazing people, and see so many amazing places
  • My Advice for Kids: Stay young, listen to your parents, be good to your mother

  Today's Random Thing

  A Note from Mom and Dad

It’s amazing how far we’ve come and how much we’ve done, and we have so much to go.   Raquel was in excellent spirits at all our excursions today, a different kid from the one that left home.  She still had a couple four year old meltdowns, but as long as she’s busy she’s good to go.  Gali has more teeth coming in, is eating less consistently, and becoming increasingly difficult to manage. He was our routine kid…was.    Tomorrow we’re going on a wildlife cruise in the bay and we’ve decided to  leave Gali and unfortunately Mom behind.  A squirmy kid who refuses to wear a life jacket and wants to run and jump around a boat in shark infested waters…it’s a little more than we can handle!  The heat and humidity is particularly draining this time of year, which is why we decided to return south after this and not continue onwards to the Ningaloo Reef.

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