Have I mentioned that we really liked Kalbarri???  Here are a few more shots we took while hiking and touring around...  Out in the Kalbarri National Park, down about a 500 meter trail from the car park, is a formation called Nature's Window.  Here's Paula cooling herself in the shadows...of course, we only hike between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm!!!  The Murchison River can also be seen through the window...we did a canoe safari on that river, but that's another story.

While hiking along a coastal trail we encountered these Sooty Oyster-catchers probing at the shore for some lunch...after all, it was high noon!  Did I mention that we only hike when it's really HOT!

This formation is called Castle Rock...we saw some sea lions playing in the surf, but they were too far away to get a good photo.

We read in the guidebook that there was a Pink Lake down the coast about 30 k, so we set out to see it...expecting it to be, at best, "pinkish".  Turns out it is Pepto Bismol pink...as we were approaching it you could see the pink reflection in the clouds.

On our way from Kalbarri up to Monkey Mia, we encountered this little family of emus.  In spite of the fact that we had seen lots of emus at the zoo or in wildlife parks, it is still a thrill to see them "in the wild".

The Monkey Mia or Shark Bay area is most famous for two things...one is the stromatolites which are in Hamlin Pool just off the road to Monkey Mia and at the far (from the sea) end of Shark Bay.  They look like boulders, but are actually formed by sediment becoming trapped by thin organic mats of living organisms called cyanobacteria.  These particular ones in Hamlin Pool are about 3000 years old and still growing...albeit very slowly. This photo is at low tide so the cynobacteria are not active, but at high tide you can actually see small bubbles of oxygen produced by these organisms rising to the surface.   

The other thing that the area is most famous for is the wild dolphins which come into the shallow waters at Monkey Mia to be hand fed.  Access to the dolphins is tightly controlled.  You are not allowed to just wade into the water with them, but you can get very close.  A few visitors are selected by the rangers to feed the dolphins, but no one is allowed to touch them...they are not tame and are not pets.  They do come into knee deep water and frequently peer up at the crowd gathered to see them.  Some think that they are curious about the creatures gathered on the beach...I suspect they are just looking for the fish..."Hey, you got any fish???"

The Australia phase of our adventure is getting down to the last week...there is so much that I want to talk about...it is such a wonderful country with many unusual or at least different customs.  For instance, the coinage consists of a five cent piece, a ten cent piece, a twenty cent piece, a fifty cent piece, a 1 dollar coin and a 2 dollar coin.  The 1 dollar and 2 dollar coins are gold coloured with the 1 dollar about the size of a US quarter and the 2 dollar about the size of a US dime, but thicker.  The silver coins are sized by their value, i.e., the five cent piece is the smallest while the fifty cent piece is the largest.  Kinda makes sense, doesn't it!   You may have noticed that there is no longer any 1 cent piece.  Absolutely correct.   When you do some shopping and pay with cash, the total is rounded to the nearest five cents.  So if your bill comes to $5.63, you will hear the cashier say, "5 dollars 65, thank you!"  Of course if your bill is $5.62, you will hear, "5 dollars sixty, thank you!"  It all seems to work out in the end and no one has a jar of 1 cent pieces at home.

For those of you who might want to track us on a map, we are currently in Augusta, WA, where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean, and by the time you read this, we should be in Walpole, WA, along the southern coast...if it's Friday (in the US), it's Walpole.

So, our adventure continues...


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