There’s a certain something about making those long journeys into red dirt territory. There’s almost a magical switch from the farmland of the south to instant red of the north, separated only by a lonely cattle grate crossing the highway.
Traffic seems to disappear and those that you do see become your companions on the road with a friendly steering wheel wave as you flash past each other; a sure sign that you’ve entered the north.
First impressions after hopping out the car were that we’d somehow managed to drive ourselves straight into a cyclone. Car doors suddenly closed themselves and crossing the road involved a complex trigonometry equation to ensure we didn’t end up blown completely off course! We were soon put at ease with an explanation that only a local can provide “It either blows, or it doesn’t” and today, it certainly blew!
That aside, what an awesome place it turned out to be. The contrast of the bright blue and green of the ocean against a backdrop of the red landscape is something that can be admired for hours, and the sunsets delivered night after night without fail.
You’re nothing but spoilt for choice with the accommodation, with everything ranging from beachside camping, formal campsites, chalets and houses. Some of the beachside campsites we checked out were nothing short of spectacular with their 360deg views of the landscape. But from what we were told, the cream of the crop are tucked up in the Francois Peron National Park, which unfortunately for us were only accessible via 4×4.
Monkey Mia also didn’t fail to impress either with the dolphins making an appearance each and every day we made the short trip across the peninsular. We also caught sight of their resident green turtle along with a few rays that snuck in from time to time. Although snorkelling is not great in Monkey Mia itself, just out of the resort down a 2WD track you can access Red Bluff, which we had to ourselves, and gave the kids a great chance to spot some sea life in nice shallow waters. We also took a tour out to the Pearl farm pontoon just off the coast at Monkey Mia. An interesting little trip and well worth a visit it you have a spare couple of hours. The kids also loved getting to feed the pink snapper off the pontoon.
Having dragged the boat all the way up to Denham, our first attempt at launching from Monkey Mia was again thwarted by our lack of 4×4. The ramp at Monkey Mia was rather sandy, slippery and steep….to the point where even some of the 4×4’s were struggling to get their boats back out. So plan B of the kayak and paddle board kicked into action. After feeling somewhat deflated by our lack of pulling power the dolphins certainly put on a show for us out on the water. Darting across the shallows and under our kayak as if we were not even there, they must have known how disappointed we were!
Denham boat ramp also turned out to be a little tricky with its coating of seaweed, but with sheer determination and a little less rubber on the tyres that was the place for us to launch. Heading out, the water was like glass and it wasn’t long till the sea life started putting on a show. We managed to see Dolphins, Rays and Dugongs multiple times over. It doesn’t get much better on the water, unless your trying to catch something….which by the way we failed miserably at. Our guess is operator error given what the other boats came back with!
With places like Eagle Bluff, Little Lagoon, Shell Beach and the Ocean Park Aquarium you won’t be short of things to do. We would recommend if you don’t have a boat or 4×4 5-7 days would be plenty, but if you want to get out on the water and explore some of the national park we’d allow a bit longer. It’s definitely on our list of places to go back to, and armed with what we know now, we can’t wait for the next trip up there!
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