Around Australia Week 33 – Carnarvon, Monkey Mia, Denham, Kalbarri

Carnarvon was the next stop on our itinerary, and we decided to go on a plantation tour. We knew it was a short walking tour, with just a brief insight into the life of a family business here, and we thought it would be just mildly interesting (sorry, Bumbaks, we underestimated you…) but we were surprised at how fascinating we found it! Maybe Robyn Bumbak is just a gifted presenter?


Well, she is good, but it was the whole story of how the Bumbaks make every drop of water count that got us intrigued. I was especially interested in the computer system that sends alerts to everyone’s mobile phones if there’s a leak or a blockage. They (the Bumbaks, not the phones) go racing off to the site of the problem (accurately pinpointed by the computer) fix whatever is messing things up, and then reset the computer. But the bit I found so interesting was that the computer ‘knows’ which areas are most important when it comes to restarting the water flow. (Oh, all right, I know it’s all in the programming, but I prefer the idea of the computer just magically knowing what to do…!) For example, it would direct water first to certain crops, then to others further down the priority list, and lastly to the Bumbak household. They figure they can manage without water for while… but the crops can’t! I also loved Jo’s story about how she started making preserves both to improve the family cash flow, and to ensure that nothing was wasted… any fruit not suitable for selling ‘as is’ can become jam. Neat idea. And now Jo’s preserves win prizes at the show!

[Note: I dropped a line to Robyn, after the Gascoyne River broke its banks and flooded local plantations in December 2010, to ask how the family business had been affected. We were relieved to find that they came out of it not too badly. I quote: “We were very lucky and managed to stay dry thanks to our boys and neighbours working 1/2 hr. shifts throughout the night on all our levy banks…the water actually broke through at about 3am but they managed to stop it otherwise it may have been a very different story.  We did suffer crop losses but that is very insignificant compared to the financial and personal losses of many of our friends and community members.  For some it really is devastation.”]

After our visit to Bumbak’s, we took some time out to visit One Mile Jetty to have a bit of fun riding the train out to the end of the jetty (more enthusiastic volunteers – what would Australia do without them?) and poke about the Shearers’ Hall of Fame.


Then we headed off to Shark Bay and the famous Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort, where Rob got to feed a dolphin and we took a few walks along the beach.


We also called in to see the stromatolites at Hamelin Pool (which look like a bunch of boring rocks, but are actually living organisms). While they’re not that fascinating to look at, the role they have played in history is quite amazing: about a gazillion years ago (Marg’s estimate!) their role was to increase the oxygen content of the air we breathe… and if that hadn’t happened, many forms of life (including us) wouldn’t be here.

So instead of smothering a yawn while you look at them, show a bit of gratitude and smile as though they are truly the handsomest rocks you’ve ever seen.  [I sincerely wanted to put up a picture of them here for you to admire, but I can’t find any. I searched and searched… surely I would have taken a photo????)

Yes!!! I found one!!!!

Behold, stromatolites…



On to other things: while at Shark Bay we wandered around the Denham Discovery Centre and the Ocean Park Interactive Aquarium; both interesting places to visit. One way and another, we’re finding that there’s so much to see and do on the way around Australia there’s no chance of getting bored! 

After a short stay at Kalbarri, stopping in to see Nature’s Window and the Z Bend, we drove on to Geraldton, passing by Pink Lake on the way. This really is an intriguing phenomenon! It looked for all the world as though someone had added a few hundred gallons of cochineal to the water.


We did a bit of digging to find out why this lake is pink – and discovered that it’s actually not always this deep pink colour. The pink tinge appears when high concentration of salt-tolerant green algae begins to accumulate the red pigment (beta carotene) in the bacteria that are present. The intensity of the pink depends upon the amount of water in the lake: when it dries out a bit, more light reflects from the white crystallized salt and it appears paler.


Which is all a bit boring, really, but the effects are dramatic! Anyway, good luck in happening across the lake when it’s a nice bright pink. (Although if it isn’t I guess there’s always PhotoShop.)

Then it was on to Geraldton, a town we really liked. We set up there for a week or so, pottering about and checking out the local places of interest. One of the first things we did was drive to Greenough Historical Village, where we (like everyone else) took photos of horizontal trees and well-maintained old buildings. If you ever had any doubts about the power of the winds sweeping across the land here, they would be dispelled after you had seen these trees. I’ve never seen trees growing horizontally before!

Greenough is an interesting village to take photos from the point of view of someone interested in the history of the place, but before we adjourned to the well-run gift shop and café for lunch, I had fun sitting down and attempting some of the elementary school bursary questions. (I’m not going to tell you how I scored!) But I don’t want you to miss out on the fun… so here you go: here are some selected questions included in the elementary school bursary exam at Central Greenough School in 1986. (Apparently these are reproduced from ‘The Education Circular’, Western Australia 1986.)


Bursary Questions: (Central Greenough School, National Trust of Australia (WA).

English: Give the past tense and past participle of the following verbs:

  • write
  • talk
  • cut
  • sing
  • have


  1. If 450 people wanted to travel a journey of 250 miles at three-farthings a mile, what would all the fares amount to?
  2. How many hours from 9 o’clock a.m. on the 1st June to 7 o’clock p.m. on the 30th June?


When and where was the battle of Waterloo fought? Who were the commanders on either side? What were the results of the battle?


Name two British possessions in Asia which may be considered commercial centres. Give reasons for your selection.

So… how did you do????

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