Woke at 7.50. I do like my sleep, but then there are a lot of short nights to catch up on too! Today we wanted to book the Monkey Mia cruise, *if* I could buy sea sickness tablets in town. I would not take the cruise otherwise. So we went into the ‘newsagent-post office-chemist-gift shop’ to ask, and yes they had Travacalm so it was now safe to go and book the cruise – except the travel bureau wasn’t open yet. Deciding to have a breakfast (something we never do) to fill in the time, we chose one of the little cafes and an outdoor seat. I chose bacon with scrambled eggs and David chose his favourite eggs benedict. Both were very nice and we sat with the sun warming our backs as we happily ate. Marley was given a few titbits along the way too.
Now it was time that the tourist bureau would be open and the same lovely lady helped us purchase our tickets for Monkey Mia and the cruise. It was $12 each to get into the Monkey Mia area at all, and then $98 each for the cruise. She assured us that Marley would be made very welcome in the area and on the cruise. With so many dogs touring now, I guess they have to if they want everyone’s custom. The cruise price also included a sunset cruise, which was lovely for those who could stay. And now we’d booked the cruise we went back to the all-purpose shop to get the travel sickness tablets to go with it. Except 2 pretty little plush mermaids in the window caught my eye so of course we had to buy them for our granddaughters.
Along the foreshore of Denham, tucked in a little circle of palm trees was an open-air church meeting. Such a beautiful thing! We saw Mr Emu around town twice, the second time right in front of our car as we were trying to leave town! I’d read about a ‘thong hut’ at Denham Lookout, a spot we hadn’t bothered to visit yesterday, so we thought we may as well drive out and see it. (For anyone outside of Australia, thongs are what we call flip flops or jandals, there was nothing scandalous about it.)
Somehow, we ended up back at the beautiful bay, and this time were surprised to see people walking along the sand bar. Well we had to join them! David drove along the track nearer to the bar than mere cars could get. We were loving our 4-wheel drive very much! The sand bar, perhaps unsurprisingly, was actually made of the small white shells. They were a little hard underfoot, but not unbearably so.
Even Marley walked a little. At one point she tried to follow me and ended up having a paddle as well. Quite the biggest adventure she’s had in the past 5 years I should think! The reflected clouds were still showing on the blue water in all their amazingly beautiful glory. As we stepped through a little band of dried sea grass at the water’s edge David said “I wonder how many dead orgasms we’re stepping on?”
Well, we were supposed to be going to Hamelin Pool today so David dragged me away from the beauty and we got back in the car again. Denham to Hamelin Pool was a little over 100 kms in each direction, so quite a journey really.
Hamelin Pool and the stromatolites weren’t really what we were expecting. I’d seen plenty of photos at my camera clubs and was expecting something more ‘beautiful’ I suppose. The boardwalk was great and the stromatolites basically looked like rocks. We hadn’t expected them to look any other way, but the area just wasn’t as pretty as we’d hoped. There were signs saying that it can reach 45°C here in the summer so we were definitely glad we were there in winter!
A very short drive away was the Hamelin caravan park and a little café. The menu was largely bread based, and we don’t eat grains so David asked for fish and chips. The very nice lady told us that the fat wasn’t heated so they would take an hour! So he asked about chicken salad and they were out of chicken. As she said, they were miles from anywhere and nothing they can do if they run out of anything. We fully understood and she put together a really nice, fresh, tuna salad for us instead.
There was an old telegraph station museum, but David’s not keen on museums and one had to pay to go into this one – and wait for tour times – so we didn’t bother. I was in need of facilities and we couldn’t find them anywhere. David asked in the café in the end and it still took us ages to follow her instructions and actually find them. Even then it said ‘staff only’ on the door. Well no sign was going to stop me by that point. Seems odd, in a place miles from anywhere, not to have the loos clearly signposted!
After this we drove to Nanga Bay, stopped at the Shell Beach Lookout, and at Eagle Bluff once again to see if there was any sea life today. In a word, no! But the clouds were reflected fairly well in the water here at this time and I admired that anyway, and we had a lovely chat with a young man from Italy whose friend had a really nice drone that he flew down to the nearby small island to look at the birds.
Then we headed back to Rosie and settled in for the night with Mexican chicken for dinner followed by some TV, review of all our photos from the last 2 days and bed at 10.15.
Another chilly morning so David put the heater on again before I dared get in the shower. Took 1 travel sickness tablet at 6.30, packed David’s backpack with jumpers, doggy water bowl and baby sling and we loaded ourselves into the car. It was still fairly dark. We are *never* awake before the sun is well up usually. We travelled along the one road to Monkey Mia. The tourist bureau lady had said ‘just follow the traffic’ but there was nothing in front of us and only one car a little behind. Looks as if we had beaten most out of bed. With not much further to go the sun broached the hill and looked like being directly in our eyes, but thankfully the road twisted a little and David was able to drive safely with good vision.
The entry booth to Monkey Mia was unattended and causing a little bit of a queue. Considering every brochure said to get there for 7.45 and it was now about 7.15 this didn’t seem like very good planning on their part. Surely the booth should be manned by 7am. There were ‘self pay forms/envelopes’ but everyone seemed a little confused. By the time we were through and going into the carpark the attendant was headed for the booth. She didn’t look as if she relished her job.
As we entered the gift shop there were signs for the toilets pointing out the door, but that was the last sign. I conducted a thorough search, walking the length of all the buildings along the foreshore, but couldn’t find them anywhere, so came back to David and said (apparently fairly loudly) “Nope. It seems that toilets are a secret institution around here too!” A guy passing by turned and told us they were up a little winding path behind a building and indeed they were.
There were quite a few people milling around on the wooden pathway and signs saying we weren’t allowed to go onto the beach until instructed to do so by one of the staff. I began to feel edgy as I hate push and shove events. My very obviously out-dated sense of fairness that those who arrived first (which was not us!) should get first pick of where they stand always kicks in in crowds, and I am never at peace. Don’t ever ask me to catch a train in peak hour!!!
David and I were both, unbeknown to each other, eyeing up the wooden jetty and thinking we’d prefer to go take our photographs from there rather than being pushed to the back on the beach. As soon as the ranger (not sure if that’s the right title) said we could come forward, both of us shot over to the jetty. David had Marley in her trolley that has her soft basket inside for her to lay in, and she is totally at home and comfortable in there.
The people on the beach were all given a very lengthy speech indeed and told not to step in the water yet. The facts given to us were very interesting, though it did seem a bit unnecessarily lengthy. Meanwhile some dolphins were arriving and swimming around a bit for us all to admire them. We were glad we’d chosen the jetty, and had front row seats from there. Finally the beach folk were told they could go ankle deep in the water and *now* the dolphins would know it was feeding time. Except it wasn’t – the ranger kept talking for at least another 5 minutes.
Two more rangers arrived with buckets of fish and 5 people were chosen from the beach and instructed how to give the fish to the dolphins – strictly one fish each. That part happened very quickly and at water level so there was nothing really to see and nothing to specifically photograph. It was really lovely to be so close to the dolphins in the wild though. We stayed for a while after the feeding and were lucky enough to see some dolphins leaping from the water as they went away again.
Apparently there would be 2 more feeding sessions not closer than 15 minutes apart so that the dolphins with calves could go back into water deep enough for the calves to feed. The later feeding sessions had fewer onlookers, but we didn’t hang around for it, we decided to go get some food from the restaurant.
David put Marley onto the grass so she could have a little walk and maybe a widdle and the next thing a big Doberman broke free from its owner and was on top of Marley attacking her. She let out a little yelp and David pulled her lead practically lifting her up into the air by her neck, it was horribly frightening and obviously quite a shock for Marley. The dog owner arrived very quickly and pulled the dog back and I was checking Marley’s head and paws. Thankfully she was fine and all the big dog had done was deposit a massive drool puddle on her head. The owners were thoroughly apologetic and assured us that he was only playing and hadn’t meant any harm. We could tell that – it would have eaten Marley in a single gulp if it was trying to be aggressive. I felt like crying for the next half hour though, probably through the shock. My poor little darling doggy 🙁
The menu didn’t really have anything we would normally choose so I ordered a ham, cheese and tomato croissant and David the bacon and egg burger. We put down Marley’s little bowl with some water for her as well and then she snuggled up in her safe trolley again. Suddenly the trolley nearly tipped over and as David went to grab it his elbow hit his pot of hot tea, sending it sliding towards Marley. I gasped and reached to stop it, but it stopped just before reaching the edge of the table. Now I really felt like crying, but managed not to.
After eating we still had time to waste before the cruise so we just walked up and down the concrete path a bit until one of the slab gaps was bigger than the rest and the trolley wheels got caught, dragging it out of David’s hand and the trolley fell over causing Marley to fall out. This was really not her day, but if things happen in threes then this was the third and she’d somehow lived to tell the tale.
We saw the 2 cruising yachts come and moor at the jetty and meandered along there to hopefully be first in the queue and choose the seat best suited to our needs. The bright and cheery lads on the ‘other boat’ were welcoming people on board with happy banter, laughing with everyone and chatting with us too. Our boat still had the ‘doors bolted’ and we had to wait until about 5 minutes before sailing before they put the gangplank out – at the other end than where we’d been waiting. However, everyone pretty much stood back and we were second aboard. We chose a seat at the back, safely in the middle for Marley’s sake, and 2 other dogs and owners came and joined us. We had a happy chat, with 1 more than the other, until after we’d set sail.
There was actually a really comfortable number of people on board and we were able to mill around, go up top/front and do as we pleased. Each time there were sightings of sea life the cry went out and the boat stopped so that we could all make the most of it, and that was very pleasant indeed. We saw quite a few dolphins, a dugong, a huge loggerhead turtle and some rays that were way too fast to photograph. It was a very relaxed and pleasant way to spend 2½ hours even though David’s second camera battery failed when he put it in his camera. That’s such a pain when that happens.
Included in the price of the morning cruise was an optional sunset cruise. We ummed and aahhhed about whether to stay for it and decided that we would. In the meantime we thought we’d have some lunch. We probably would have done this even if we weren’t going to stay for the second cruise. I wish we hadn’t.
Back to the restaurant and when we went to give Marley a drink we realised we’d left her bowl here this morning. David went in to ask about it and they’d thrown it away. Thank you very much! They did bring out a plastic takeaway container with some water in though so that was the second best thing. David ordered fish and chips with lemongrass and ginger tea and I made a big mistake by ordering a pumpkin and beetroot salad. David eats a lot faster than I do so when he finished his meal he was waiting for me and I told him to go now if he wanted – he’d mentioned going back to Denham to get his camera battery charger and charging it in the car on the return journey, so off he went, and thankfully took Marley with him. Thankfully, because I was still left with 2 backpacks, Marley’s trolley and the 2 cameras and I hadn’t even finished eating my meal when it became apparent it had not agreed with me. I had to try to pack all of these things up in a big hurry to be able to make a bathroom trip – which turned out to be the first of many. David returned way faster than I’d expected so I was very grateful to be able to leave him with all the stuff as I continued to make multiple trips over the next 2 hours. We were completely stuck there, next to the bathrooms for 2 whole hours! And then, with about half an hour to go on our decision on whether to cruise or not I was ok again. We still left it late to walk to the boat to make sure we could board, and sat near the loo to start with, but the emergency was over and we enjoyed ourselves once more.
The evening cruise was a lot less eventful than the daytime one had been and the sunset was a bit of a fizzle too, but it was still relaxing and peaceful to be ‘driven’ around. The wind was getting quite cold so I added fleecy trousers over my normal ones and a second jumper, David had his jacket, and we added a fleecy top around the outside of Marley’s sling, carefully tucked all around her neck as well. She already had her thick jumper, the sling, and heat from David’s body, so with only her tiny little head poking out she looked all happy and snuggly warm. She looked so totally exhausted though. It had been a *very* big day indeed with no nanna naps for her at all.
We got back to the jetty just as darkness was falling and made our way straight to the car and then the 25 minute drive back to Denham. David filled up with diesel and tried to buy some paper towel from the little IGA but they were all out. We were the same as the dog – tired and hungry.
Back in Rosie I made a tuna pie, we watched TV and were very naughty indeed, sharing a rum and raisin chocolate bar for dessert. Washed up and were in bed for 10.30.
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