The nearest town to re-stock fuel and supplies was Denham, though it turned out to be smaller than expected. It is on a well-worn tourist route for travellers heading for the Dolphin Conservation resort at Monkey Mia within Shark Bay. We used the campsite at Big Lagoon, in the Francois Peron National Park, as a base to explore for a few days. We were excited at the prospect of seeing Bilbys, Mallee Fowl and Dugongs in the wild, but they all proved to be very elusive.
After a long day’s drive we got horribly bogged at the campsite looking for the perfect spot. We ended up having to unhitch the trailer to get the car out then winch the trailer out. A bit of extra practice is always good!
The lagoon was surprisingly devoid of fish life but most mornings a solitary dolphin would cruise past the channel before any boats got launched. A couple of eagle rays cruised beneath me as I swam across the channel. The flies had not abated and to keep it interesting there was also a scattering of biting march and sand flies loitering in the Francois Peron National Park.
An afternoon’s excursion took us deeper into the national park on a 4WD track. At the northern tip, Cape Peron we encountered the worst concentration of flies yet making our stop purely long enough to see the cormorant rookery on the beach beneath the cliff. Rather than walk the 1km to Skipjack Point we drove. From there two lookout platforms offer fantastic vantage points to view sharks, turtles, dolphins, and sometimes dugongs. We saw all but the latter.
On the return we checked out the beaches at Bottle Bay, The Gregories, and South Gregory, all beautiful and great campsites, then on the east coast at Harold Bight the free camp looked very quiet but the sand was also very soft and deep.
We enjoyed Skipjack Point so much we returned the next day for more shark spotting and were not disappointed. We also saw a giant shovelnose ray in the shallows and an eagle ray treated us to an aerial acrobatic display, leaping clear of the water repeatedly. We fished at The Gregories on the way back and caught dinner (whiting and a 34cm yellowfin bream). We also visited Krasker’s Tank and learnt about the unfortunate one-legged entrepreneur, Leon Krasker, who perished trying to get to the water tank in the middle of the arid landscape. On one of his weekly 70km trips from Denham to Harold Bight, in1916, to buy pearls and collect mail, his horse, Battler, threw him, breaking his good leg (the other was made from cork). Before he died he documented what had happened.
A visit to snorkel Little Lagoon was followed by a look at the mangrove outlet. Supposedly full of stonefish this is the place to snorkel as the main lagoon itself was surprisingly devoid of much life.
We caught squid from Denham jetty one night (well Hannah did) and visited the artesian bore hot tub at the old homestead in the park. This 40 degree tub is a must visit place but takes time to get in!