Monkey Mia, Dirk Hartog Island and surrounds...

Denham Travel Blog

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Most people have heard of Monkey Mia, the resort in North-west Australia where you can see dolphins come into the shallows to be fed. It's quite beautiful but the dolphin "experience" is a little manufactured - a couple of dolphins come in every morning at about 7am to be fed a a fish or two by the rangers. You can see a more exciting spectacle at Disneyland.
However, there are much more interesting things to see and do around Monkey Mia.
Before I go on, I should emphasise that if you are staying in a resort here or anywhere else in rural Australia, always tell the resort staff if you are going to vanish for a day or two, otherwise you'll set off search parties in a panic looking for you - like my brother and I did. It's reassuring to know that they look out for you so carefully, but a bit embarassing all the same.
Denham, a few minutes drive away from the Monkey Mia resort, is the most Westerly town in Australia. It's tiny, and very quiet, but there's a pub which serves pretty decent food and a few shops for bits and pieces.
It was here that my brother met up with Dave Brown, a guy he'd met on a previous visit, who had taken him on a "safari" of Cape Peron National Park.
This place has to be seen to be believed. The earth and cliffs are a deep, outback red in colour, which contrasts with the white sand, turquoise sea and vivid blue sky to give an unworldly kaleidescope of colours you simply won't see anywhere else. A day tour from the Monkey Mia resort only costs a few bucks and includes lunch at a lookout called "Room with a view", which looks down on to two bays, one either side of the lookout. It's stunning.
Anyway, back to this trip. We met Dave, who is caretaker of Dirk Hartog Island when it is out of season, (holiday season here is March-September, when it's not too hot), and he was on the mainland only briefly to pick up some supplies.
When we bumped into him he suggested we go with him back over to Dirk Hartog Island and stay for a day or two and he would show us about.
Dirk Hartog Island is named after the Dutch sailor who is the first westerner recorded to have set foot on Australian soil in 1616 - long before Captain Cook - yet who has heard of Dirk Hartog? A bit unfair really.
Anyway, we jumped on Dave's little boat and set off on the trip across to the island - about the same distance as from Dover to Calais, or about 20 miles.
A couple of hours later we arrived. There were no guests, and the island is uninhabited apart from goats and a lot of snakes, spiders and lizards.
Every January/February, at Turtle Bay at the north end of the island, Green and Loggerhead turtles nest on the beach, and were lucky enough to see a late arriver scrabbling up the beach, digging a nest and laying eggs, whilst at the same time helping some conservationists, who just happened to be there at the same time, digging up older turtle nests to help the little hatchlings down to the sea, and to count them to see how the numbers compared to the year before.
It was a once in a lifetime experience, but if you can possibly wrangle it, totally worth it. Maybe, if you can track down Dave in Denham, he might take you over - for a fee. A flight back to Denham in a light aircraft costs about £70.
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photo by: lasso