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Published: December 1st 2004
A shot of the coast in the area of Kalbarri National Park
Lynton Station to Nanga Bay
Another early start… We have to hit the road early, so that we can make it to our next destination during the daytime. In Australia it is absolutely not recommended to drive during the night, as many accidents happen with cattle, sheep, feral goats and – of course – kangaroos. Just take a look to the left and the right of the roads when driving through the bush… Anyway, we get packed and leave Lynton Station around 7 in the morning. First stop after a few kilometres is a huge purpelish/pinkish lake or to be more precise an area where seawater evaporates leaving behind sea salt. The colour is due to the activity of photosynthetic cyanobacteria. These are halophilic (salt-loving) organisms that are able to survive the high salt concentrations. The red colour are the pigments of their organelles that they use to utilize the atmospheric CO2 as a carbon source for nutrition. OK, this is getting to scientific. Sorry for that, but the biologist in me is breaking through ;-)
We get on the truck and drive the coastal highway further up north towards the Kalbarri National Park: Along this scenic drive we have
Z Bend gorge
A shot down into the gorge.
another stop to take a walk along the coastline. I think the colour of the Indian Ocean and of the Western Australian rocks do make a nice contrast.
Our next stop is in the Kalbarri National Park to hike a bit along “Z bend” and “The Loop”. A nice scenery to take some pictures of, to get an idea of the geologic nature of the area that we are in and to feel incredibly hot. I’ve taken some pictures, hopefully you can get an idea of the landscape (@Volker: Doesn’t remind you this scenery of something? Perhaps “Wattenscheid”? ;-).
We continue our trip in the general northern direction and our final destination for this day is Shark Bay. It is an area on the north-western coast (as you might have guessed…) that has been listed as a world heritage site. One of the reasons for this is, that the Australian government has put much effort into eradicating all non-native species from the peninsulas that make up shark bay. An electrical fence has been erected that parts the peninsula from the main land. Foxes, which are a big problem for the native Australian small mammals, are being baited with 1080 poison
Z Bend gorge
Another shot. Reminds me of an artwork that once decorated one of my bedroom walls... Seems like ages ago.
(Remark from the biologist: 1080 is save for most of the Australian mammals, as it is a plant compound that is found in many endemic Australian plants. Australia does not only have the world’s most poisonous animals but also some of the most poisonous plants…) and the rabbits (which challenge other native species for food) are being infected with a virus, that should slowly lower their numbers. Well, it is not nice, but then again it is just another example for how much effort has to be made to clean up the consequences of earlier mistakes (introducing rabbits and foxes in the first place). Another reason for being listed as world heritage is found in Hamelin pool, an area of shark bay with very high salt concentrations. Here so called “living fossils” can be found, the stromatolites. They are formed by ancient single-celled organisms (again cyanobacteria…) that utilize CO2 from the atmosphere. In Precambrian ages the CO2 rich atmosphere was slowly converted to an O2 rich atmosphere by the activity of these organisms - thereby paving the way for lifeforms like us. What you see on the pictures are not the actual bacteria (hahaha – sorry, another biologist’s joke) but
The entrance of the walkway over the stromatolites
the result of their metabolic activity, a formation of solid rock. Depending on the site where they grow (closer or farther away from the water) they show different growth patterns. Shark Bay is one of the rare locations on earth where stromatolites can be found that are actually still growing. The high salinity of the water in the area simply prevents the survival of any other organisms that could feed on the bacteria.
From Hamelin Pool we drive up to another beach of Shark Bay, called Shell Beach. As the name indicates it consists of shells. Apparently, all the shells that you miss on the other WA beaches can be found here (just joking again). But honestly, I’ve never seen such an enormous amount of shells. They are commercially used in the region for making bricks and to cover the dirt tracks, so that less dust is kicked up by traffic. A couple of people from our group want to take a swim, but I let this occasion pass as I am not particularly keen on walking with bare feet on the sharp edged shells. Watching the girls getting into the water and then walking for about 100m before the
The "stars" of the show ;-)
water rises to their hips confirms me in my opinion that there are much better beaches for a swim…
From Shell Beach we make our way to the Nanga Resort. We make it before sunset and I take the chance of taking a few shots of the sun sinking into the Ocean. Again we have nice bunks for the night, a big communal kitchen, and good showers. After preparing and having dinner together, we check out the “hot spa” and to our surprise it really is what the name promises: A hot spa under the sparkling stars of the southern hemisphere. We quickly get changed into our swimmers, grab a few beers and get into the warm and soothing water of the spa. Turning on the jets and bubbles, we get just the right kind of relaxation that you need after another day on the road. What a wonderful night.
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