We spent a couple of days at Geraldton, which is quite a big town, right on the shore. It was incredibly windy while we were there (thought our washing might end up in the desert) and it is just a beach holiday place so I wasn’t very taken with it. I have become accustomed to the wild and unspoilt beauty of the south-west coast and don’t relish being back in suburbia. However, at some point we do have to return to Springvale South!
We left Geraldton yesterday and quickly found ourselves in outback country similar to Central Australia – vast, cloudless skies, low scrub and red, red earth. We disturbed a flock of Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos which must have settled in a tree close to the road. Our first sight of them was as they wheeled in front of the car (heart in mouth) and then up and away. A stunning sight.
We spent a night at Hamelin Station, on a red dirt plain dotted with stunted vegetation. Once the sun had gone down,the silence was absolute and the blackness only relieved when you looked up at the stars which were clear and bright. It is an amazing landscape which, unfortunately has become home to huge numbers of feral goats which decimate the vegetation. The station corrals some to grain-feed and send to markets in Perth, and many are rounded up and sent to the USA and Malaysia. Apparently, goat is the most commonly consumed meat in the world. Who knew!
This morning, on our way to Denham, we stopped at Hamelin Pool to see the stromatolites – living fossils which contain microbes (Cyanobacteria) similar to those found in 3,500 million year old rocks. Even David Attenborough thought they warranted a spot on his show! The stromatolites, which can take a 100 years to grow 5 cm, are found in the shallows of Hamelin Pool, which is extremely salty ( twice as salty as water in the open ocean). Swimming is not permitted so we couldn’t try floating in it a la the Dead Sea. The stromatolites resemble fairly ordinary rocks but they represent a major stage in Earth’s evolutionary history and are one of the reasons for Shark Bay’s World Heritage Listing.