Fw: The Sun goes down on Hamelin Pool
The Sun goes down on Hamelin Pool
We had a long day ahead of us ten days ago on the 20th July, heading due south from Exmouth first to Coral Bay that you can see in the first four photos, another stop on our original ten day camping adventure where we would have snorkelled for sure a few months ago. Suffice it to say it is a very pretty bay with a small transient community of visitors and a few holiday homes. We soaked up the views briefly and then retired to Fin’s Café for a nice coffee before hitting the road, next stop Carnarvon to research the area where we planned to clear out of Aussie in a few weeks’ time.
So that short visit brought about a major change in plans, such as we are used to making, sometimes very quickly. We found the harbour area and the deep water side suitable for Zoonie’s draft and then located the Border Force Office. A contingent of Officers had arrived in the car park with a fast launch on a trailer from Fremantle and one of them told us that it is possible to clear out there. However, the full story was revealed when we spoke with the Officer running the actual office in Carnarvon. It is an operations office and that means it is only open for the likes of us who would have made an appointment and it would be closed for all of September anyway due to the two man crew being away on ‘operations’, for example drug running yachts. The nearest permanently open office is Fremantle, so we decided there and then that Fremantle is where we will sail away from our home of the last ten months and we would give Jeremy and Kathy that news when we planned to meet up with them in Denham.
We headed on down the North West Coastal Highway ruminating on our change of plans and eventually turned right near the Overlander Roadhouse still uncertain of where we would spend the night and pulled into the newly signposted Bush Foundation Hamelin Station for a look see. I fancied another Station stay as the one at Kirkalocka is still a happy memory in my mind. This one did not disappoint either. Once a sheep station the photos tell the story but I have to mention that Rob and I both heard the eerie sound of a ghost sheep bleating during the starlit hours – or maybe it was a feral sheep – no that’s not nearly romantic enough.
The brilliant white paths were made up of miniature cockle shells, their dwarfism caused by the high salinity of nearby Hamelin pool. Black dots of roo poo contrasted on the paths and we were hopeful we might see some enjoying the land they have lived on for eons.
This whole area is a place where there were no barriers between ones links to ages past and the wonderful natural phenomena of our present. We drove the short distance to the lower part of Shark Bay, known as Hamelin Pool and found ourselves in the presence of something truly great and yet modest in size; incredibly rare beds of stromatolites, layers of different cyanobacteria (blue/green algae) living off the fermented residue of the layer above and watered by concentrated seawater, from whence life on earth started three billion years ago and one and a half billion years after the earth came into its hot, gaseous existence.
Billions of years of photosynthesising created the oxygen rich environment in which higher life forms could evolve. Religion is for believers, here in beds like these is where life on earth started. These 2000 year old stromatolites bear witness to that process. Bill Bryson referred to the knowledge of their seminal importance in the formation of life and the fact we can still witness that very same thing happening today as ‘peerless’, and I quite agree with him.
One can only begin to imagine the noise and the violence involved in the formation of the planet, but as to the start of life and in stark contrast it was in peaceful, static, little changing places like this from which our origins came. The still after the storm.
The Aborigines look upon the rocks as their ancestors, or could they be the lost children of Hamelin, taken in the thirteenth century by the Pied Piper in revenge for the King refusing to pay him the 1000 gilders he promised after the Piper cleared the town of rats? This is a place where myth and reality rest easily together.
On this evening visit the tide was still covering the beds so we decided to come back in the morning for another look, one visit could never be enough here, and instead we retreated to a comfy seat on the beach of tiny shells to watch one of the most perfect sunsets we had seen since last at sea on Zoonie. One of the trillions this precious place has witnessed.