We slept wonderfully at our free spot by the water. The day before, we had decided to wake up early to avoid any confrontation with the ranger. After about half an hour of driving, we arrived at the center and took a free public shower. It was a refreshing and salty shower, but it instantly awakened us. On the way to the center, we came across an advertisement for “Ocean Park,” described as a place for a delicious breakfast and good coffee. It seemed like the perfect way to start the day. However, upon arrival, we discovered breakfast wasn’t available because it was still low season. We were allowed to eat our own breakfast there, though. We also booked an exciting tour with a guided tour and lots of learning about the underwater world. We saw sharks up close and, for the first time, we spotted a sea snake. It was very impressive!
François Peron National Park is also located near Denham, but it consists only of sand and is only suitable for sturdy 4WD vehicles. Our car could handle the first part, but that was very limited. We booked a small-group day tour of the national park through Ocean Park. We were really looking forward to it! We drove back to the center, shopped, and stopped to buy bait. We hadn’t tested our fishing lines without Steve, and Linde was also eager to learn how to fish. This time, we purchased a camping permit at the information center because we didn’t want to risk having twice as much luck at the same camping spot.
Linde was lucky (or perhaps it was beginner’s luck) and caught five fish! Unfortunately, they were too small or had too many bones to eat, so we released them back into the sea. We thought we were lucky again during dinner and spotted a large turtle. I went closer to take a look, but the creature was too big to be a turtle. Moreover, I could see what looked like a mermaid fin from behind. It was starting to get dark as the sun was setting quickly. I was convinced it wasn’t a turtle, but I couldn’t think of what else it could be. Later, through our tour guide, we learned that it was a dugong. It was super cool to have been able to see this creature up close.
The following day, we received a visit from the ranger. We were closing our tents after a rainy night, and the water for our coffee was boiling. The ranger was quite talkative and seemed overly busy for that early in the morning. Linde’s attention was immediately lost, and mine followed not long after. Luckily, Ely, a morning person, kindly conversed with him. We received all sorts of tips.
After breakfast, we went fishing one last time, and this time, Ely was successful. He caught one fish. Now I have to make sure that my count of 0 goes up. And for someone as competitive as me, it’s not easy to admit I’ve never caught a fish! We took another free shower in the center, filled up on fuel, and decided to drive to the national park. Ely and I are never too keen on 4WD routes. It’s fun to drive on these routes, but there’s often no cell phone signal, and we’re always worried that our car won’t make it. We felt a bit safer with Linde by our side, so we mustered up some courage. We first visited Little Lagoon, but it was too cloudy for snorkeling. The initial part of the national park was supposed to be accessible to everyone and had an unsealed road. However, upon arrival, it wasn’t entirely accurate anymore.
I was driving and could feel our car losing traction on the loose sand. We stopped for a moment, and people were already deflating their tires ahead of us. Ely decided to have a chat with them and received some tips. Without the proper equipment (a gauge to measure tire pressure), we decided to try it anyway. We manually deflated our tires to improve traction and reduce the chance of getting stuck. After the most nerve-wracking part, we arrived at the old Homestead. There was a machine to inflate and deflate tires, so we adjusted them correctly to the recommended pressure for driving on sand. After driving about 25 kilometers on soft sand, we reached Big Lagoon. It was an exciting but quite enjoyable ride! Linde and Ely guided me through it as best as they could. I lost traction once, and our car slid in turn, but luckily there was no traffic!
The heat hit us, especially Linde, immediately. We found a spot at the campground, which took some searching because Linde couldn’t drive tent pegs into the ground due to the heat making it too hard. Fortunately, there were designated spots for tents. Big Lagoon would have been a beautiful place to snorkel. We quickly had a snack, but in the meantime, Linde kept getting redder and redder. She doesn’t tolerate the heat as well as we do (maybe we’ve gotten used to it by now?!), so we decided it wouldn’t be responsible to spend the night there with her.
We were a bit disappointed that we couldn’t stay overnight in the national park, but we let common sense prevail. Ely drove back through the sand. He also seemed to enjoy off-road driving and did a great job! He slid in the same turn as I did 😀 In the center, we made sure to have our tires inflated again, and we continued to Monkey Mia. We arrived at a beautiful campground/resort/hotel at an affordable price. We took a quick dip in the pool and decided to have dinner at the restaurant. It turned into a delightful evening.
The next morning, our alarm went off early to go dolphin watching. Well, you couldn’t really call it watching. They called it the “dolphin experience.” It costs 15 dollars per person. You stood in line for one hour to look at the dolphins. They gave a long explanation, but I got lost after a few minutes. Finally, they selected a few people from the line to feed the dolphins a fish. None of us were chosen. The dolphins live freely, come to eat when they feel like it and are taken care of.
The concept behind it is certainly good, but for us, it had too much of a show element and lacked naturalness. Ely and I found it much more spectacular in the water with the dolphins while catching crabs. Those were true wild dolphins. We made the best of it and had another coffee. We decided to stay one more day because the campground was really great for a bargain price. It turned into a lazy day by the pool!
X Inez & Ely