Francois Peron National Park had much more to offer than just a drive to Big Lagoon. We heard various stories about the stunning views and diverse wildlife. We wanted to see more! The day of our day tour had arrived! There were five of us in total: Linde, Inez, myself, and an older retired English couple. We had already explored a small part of the national park on our own, but doing it in a well-equipped 4WD vehicle made it even more spectacular. Instead of turning left, we continued straight ahead. The sand became deeper, and after a few kilometers, we reached the beach.
They were right; we would have immediately gotten stuck if we had attempted this in our car. Several kangaroos hopped across the beach in front of the car. They were startled by the noise and quickly fled. Our driver had to brake hard once to avoid running over one of them. It was fantastic to see everything in the wild again. We stopped for coffee and tea and walked towards the water. Here, we learned how to dig up fresh cockles, ate fresh oysters from the oyster beds, and tasted wild seaweed. We had barely been in the water for two minutes when a shovel-nose ray swam by. Due to the low tide, the ocean leaves behind various water pools. These pools are teeming with small fish and shrimp. They stay there until they are fully grown. When they reach maturity, they swim as adults into the open ocean. Our driver caught a small shrimp with his hat. The day started well, and it could only get better.
When we arrived at Bottle Bay, we climbed a sand dune. From here, we had a magnificent view of the reef. It was stunning how the blue water, white sand, and red dunes merged at this spot. We learned to create Aboriginal art in the sand. A little further, we saw some goats walking over the dunes. The national park used to be owned by a family that bred goats. Australia considered the area too beautiful and unique, so they turned it into a national park in 1993. The family decided to leave the goats behind. The goats are now seen as a nuisance by the locals, and it is legally allowed to hunt them. We put on our snorkeling gear and entered the sea.
After a few minutes in the water, we already saw a sea snake. Our guide had told us beforehand that the chances would be minimal. Well, it turned out he was wrong! 😀 We were a bit startled and not entirely at ease, but we stayed nearby. What a unique opportunity! Sea snakes do not have the intention to attack humans. Of course, keeping your distance is better because if they bite you, you’ll be dead within minutes. We saw lots of fish and coral reefs four hundred meters further into the sea, but the visibility was moderate. We had hoped to see more, but that’s something you can never predict in advance. Linde is not a big fan of the sea; when she saw the sea snake, she panicked slightly. After four hundred meters, she wanted to swim back. I decided to swim back with her so that she could safely reach the shore. On the way back, it was a bit challenging for her, but I held onto her and brought her to the shore. Inez and the rest of the group returned twenty minutes later. They also saw the sea snake again on the way back.
We did two hikes where we, unfortunately, didn’t see any wildlife. We learned about animal footprints and enjoyed some beautiful natural scenery. We spent our lunch break in the water, eating wraps and chatting with our driver. Our final stop took us to a place where we learned a lot about marine wildlife. Here, we could spot various rays, including the Cowtail Ray and Eagle Ray, Lemon Shark, turtles, fish, and a few crabs. It was simply enjoyable to witness how everything can coexist in harmony. We stayed there for about half an hour. Satisfied, we drove back towards the center of Denham and then to our camping spot in Monkey Mia. It was a long and tiring day, but we were extremely happy with everything we learned and saw. We took a shower and drank at the campground restaurant before sleeping.
X Ely & Inez