Two and a half hours drive north of Carnarvon is Coral Bay, where a 10 year old boy this week was attacked by a 2m bronze whaler shark while snorkelling with his Dad about 75 metres from the shore. A tour operator on the beach heard the Dad’s cry for help, and bravely swam out into the bloodied water to pull the boy to shore, while the Dad held his speargun at the ready in case the shark attacked again. The boy is safely in hospital with bite wounds to his foot. I’m telling you this story because it demonstrates why part 2 of my On the Road blog won’t have me frolicking in the Indian Ocean at Carnarvon despite the warm summer like weather here!
You would think I’ve seen it all of Carnarvon’s delights after visiting here many times in the past. But yesterday, heading out to a mango and banana plantation for a freshly made mango smoothie, I spotted a home with its front garden full of cactus! And in the middle, an almost complete skeleton of a whale! Do they do whale watching in Mexico? For a nano second, I thought I’d been transported there!
Humpback whales regularly pass along the Western Australian coast. Many of them, on their southern migration, will call into Geographe Bay in the south of Western Australia to rest with their babies in the next few months. And that’s where I’ll catch up with them when this road trip ends. Last year, whale monitors counted more than 3000 in the Bay, some swimming within 100 metres of the shore!
Another unusual sight I’m seeing on this visit to Carnarvon is water flowing in its river! The Gascoyne River stretches inland for 865 kilometres, and by the time it reaches Carnarvon on its way to meet the Indian Ocean, much of its vast river bed is often empty. However, a cyclone a few months back and recent heavy rains have flooded much region, and the river is flowing strongly. The Gascoyne is known as an upside down river. For much of the year water flows below the dry river bed. So effectively, the river is a massive water storage system for aquifers below the desert sands.
The Gascoyne runs through through sparsely vegetated countryside used mainly for gold-mining and stations (ranches). You might strike lucky exploring its dry bed with a metal detector after the strong flows we are now seeing with the recent rains! I’m definitely on the lookout for any glitter of gold in the river stones!
The fish above are not in the Gascoyne river. They are tiny little fish that I spotted today when I was trekking in Carnarvon’s saltlands. This is an area where you need to really hone in and use your eyes to spot its inhabitants. Birds are abundant in this area too, so having binoculars is a good idea.
I also took a wetlands board walk where I spotted tiny mud crabs and a slug like creature called a mud skipper.
They are hard to see. You have to watch intently for movement and stay very still. If they sense you are there, they will stay hidden in the mud.
My Carnarvon visit hasn’t all been nature based. I’ve gone to the Saturday morning markets, met up with friends also escaping the winter cold in the State’s south, and enjoyed walking along the town’s facine area. Hubby also has had a great time with some shore fishing.
Another enjoyable pastime is driving around the district’s plantations – there are approximately 170 plantations in the Carnarvon Horticulture District, which cultivates a yearly average of 1200 hectares of land. Bananas and vast fields of tomatoes are currently almost ready to harvest. You can buy more unusual produce here too, like fresh turmeric. Many of the plantations sell vegetables and fruit at the farm gate.
Tomorrow we leave Carnarvon, heading south for about 100 kilometres for a stay at Wooramel Station (ranch). It’s another return visit for us, lured back by the promise of campfires, camp meals, starry nights and .. yes .. more amazing birdlife. Stay tuned for my final ‘On the road again – part 3’