28.06.2012 - 28.06.2012
We began today with bacon and eggs and cooked tomato for breaky which is Jess' way of preparing us for a long drive. We appreciate it as the extra work in cooking b & e means an earlier start for her despite the hours of driving ahead.
Our first stop of any significance was the town of Carnarvon where we stopped to fuel up the truck and get Jess her morning coffee.
The servo happened to be close to a former OTC earth station with a big satellite dish. It seemed the stop would be long enough so I told Jess I was going to run up for a closer photo. She offered to take us all up after she'd fueled up...which took a little longer as the servo didn't do coffee so we went into town first.
When we got to the dish it turned out that it was just one of several things to see. There was a small museum which I didn't go in to, a full size (but remarkably small - poor astronauts) mockup of an Apollo space capsule shell, a Cassegrain-fed folded-horn antenna used to support the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission back in 1969 (yes THE first time man walked on the moon), and various support buildings some of which were inaccessible as they were now on private / leased land.
Still, I got to get into the capsule replica and to wander around on the platforms beneath the dish to check out the dish supports and drive mechanism.
I like this shot of the sun's corona behind the dish. If we'd been there longer I'd have positioned it better but, as everyone else was back on the bus, I had to dash into the scrub and quickly...but very carefully...straddle a cactus to get this shot.
Soon we crossed the Gascoyne river, which was looking pretty dry, and continued on to Hamelin park for a late lunch.
It's the site of an old telegraph station, has a quaint store and a caravan park, but more importantly for us, it's where we got access to the stromatolites - ancient single celled organisms which grow in colonies in the sea and form odd rock structures.
They used to be found all over the earth's oceans but now survive here and in the Bahamas. They require the extra salty conditions that arise because of a remarkably dense fringe of 12 species of sea grass around the Hamelin pools.
That same sea grass makes this area a popular one for dugongs but we didn't see any.
We left the stromatalites just after 3 and, half an hour later, took a photo of this road sign.
Useless Loop is the road that goes to the western most point of mainland Australia. This is as close as I got - that's your cue Barry
Another hour down the road we stopped just outside the electric fences of Project Eden. It's a large fenced reserve inside of which they're trying to eliminate non-native predators and competitors to allow native Australian creatures to flourish.
They do lots of culling of goats and brumbies and 1080 baiting, a poison derived from native plants that doesn't harm our wildlife but does kill introduced species like feral cats etc. They even have motion activated recordings of dogs barking to scare other creatures.
By 4:30 we were marvelling at the millions of tiny cockle shells that were metres deep on Shell Beach. It's estimated that they've been washing up here for 4000 years.
Although it wasn't on our itinerary, the timing was right for a detour out to Eagle Bluff to watch the sun set. A little low cloud on the horizon stopped us from getting a perfect shot but it was still beautiful.
Then we continued into Denham, our stop for the night, where Karen got a pleasant surprise. While we were up on the bluff she said to Ken and I that she really felt like a good steak dinner with mashed potato, brussel sprouts, pumpkin and a nice mushroom sauce.
Jess was nowhere near us at the time and we didn't say anything about Karen's yearnings but, other than having broccoli instead of brussel sprouts, that's what we had for dinner!