Excited about all the fishes I had seen during snorkeling the previous days, I headed to Shark Bay, a peninsula which, I guess, is known for its shark-filled coastal waters, ready for some more fish-fun.
The day started off with a visit to a place full of stomatolites, age old bacterial colonies. Unfortunately, the tide wasn’t at its lowest when I was there so they were still underwater, less than ideal to look at them and even worse for taking pictures. I revisited the place later during the day, but alas, the water was even higher then.
Content having caught at least a glimpse of these prehistoric things, I drove up to a lookout point over one of Shark Bay’s many bays. There I spotted two sharks and a ray, but unfortunately from quite a distance. Luckily, some other tourists pointed me in the direction of an aquarium a few kilometers further.
The aquarium visit was super cool, nothing like a “regular” aquarium visit. For starters, there was a marine biologist explaining all about the various fishes, sharks, turtles, etc. in the pools. Furthermore, those pools were all rather small and no higher than knee height, which means you could basically touch the fish. Touching them wasn’t really recommended though, since almost all of them were either poisonous or rather agressive. Some of the aquarium’s inhabitants are there to heal, such as a weakened 3-legged turtle, and will be put back into the sea when they are once again strong enough.
In the evening I drove down to the entrance of Kalbarri NP, so I wouldn’t have to waste too much time driving in the morning. Whereas I spend the previous day surrounded by sea creatures, the one in Kalbarri was all about birds. After visiting some lookout points in the park, I participated in a daily pelican feeding. Those pelicans are big! Tossing fish for them to catch was really fun :).
Afterwards I explored the rugged, beautiful coastline for a bit. Supposedly there are a few good spots for snorkeling there, but the sea was very rough, so I decided not to risk getting smashed onto sharp rocks.
The majority of the afternoon I spend in the “Parrot Jungle Centre”. This centre breeds endangered species in order to reintroduce them back into the wild. They’ve got a ton of different parrots, cockatoos and parakeet, each of them in their own cage. Although checking them all out one by one was nice, the best part of the visit was definitely walking around a huge cage full of trees, bushes and hundreds of birds.
The next morning, by now it was the 20th of May and day 81 of the trip, I drove to the Waminda wildlife shelter. This is basically a farm, but with some unusual farm animals. A few people are allowed to camp for free on the property and twice a day you can help feed the animals.
Animal-wise there are the usual suspects, such as a dog, about 50 chickens, and a couple of geese and ducks. They also have a 35-year old horse and a surprisingly strong and playful pig that someone donated after deciding it wasn’t ideal as an indoor pet after all (who would have thought…).
Then there’s a ton of not so common farm animals. A bunch of dingos occupy one big pen, their leader unfortunately had a recurring infection in his eye. A whole host of parakeet and cockatoos live in another huge cage, the most impressive one being a big black red-tailed one-footed cockatoo which is super hard to rid of once he takes a liking to you and comes sit on your shoulder (which is about 3 seconds after entering the cage). A bunch of emus and kangaroo roam free on the property. Next to the breakfast table is a cage with an adult python and a couple of baby ones, who all spend most of their days doing what snakes do best: laying in the sun while digesting that big rat/mouse they ate 2 weeks ago.
One of the coolest animals is a baby red kangaroo, which was brought to the farm after his mother was killed in an accident. The baby suffered a broken leg and had to hop around in a cast for a while. Now he is slowly learning to live outside, instead of dozing off under the computer desk.
However, the best, softest and cutest of them all is Bonus. She’s a red kangaroo that drank cow’s milk, which apparently makes kangaroos go blind. She spends most of her days laying in the sun, surrounded by the geese and ducks. When you pet her, she will lick your hands, but as soon as the finds anything non-skin she starts to nibble on it. So adorable! I think everyone wanted to take her home :).
There were already six people camping on the property, more or less the maximum the animals can handle without getting too nervous. But luckily for me, Ian, the owner, decided it would be OK if I stayed the night as well. So, the next morning, a Canadian family of 4 and I helped feed the animals for a second time. Bonus was once again the star of the show, although the pig certainly won the prize for most enthusiastic animal.
After breakfast, I said goodbye to the animals (read: patted Bonus for another 10 minutes) and drove south. Having decided not to drive too much the next few days, I set up camp after about 250 kilometers. But that’s a story for another day.