Sustainable lobsters

Lobsters and rock lobsters are caught in salt water whereas those caught in fresh water are crayfish. We have been lucky to be able to have rock lobsters a couple of times this holiday. Rock lobsters, unlike lobsters, have no claws. But they are just as tasty. 

In the coast of Cervantes, rock lobsters are plentiful and regulations are strict to ensure a sustainable consumption of this delicacy. We walk through the factory and learn that rock lobsters can be put into a sedated state when they are in 5 degree waters. They can survive up to 30 hours in that state and keep the great price people pay to choose their meal live from a tank. They must, however, have no more than 3 legs missing. 

Lobsters quality is in the weight and are classed from A (the smallest size, though there is a minimum size for them to be caught) to H which can be up to 2.5kg. You would think that countries would fight for the big H sized lobsters but it is not the case. Places like Japan prefer the A and B grade crustaceans whereas places like Dubai like the size. 

In any case, any size is tasty so long as it is sustainably fished. 

Finally, a sunset. 

It has been a few times I have been in the West coast. It is a magnificent place to watch sunsets, or one would think. Until very recently though every sunset where I was intently watching and waiting, clouds always covered the horizon. Not today. 

Today we sit on a pier. The new pier of Jurien Bay. The old pier has been practically taken down, except for the pylons that are now part of an artificial reef that has been housing life and is used for a 120 meter round snorkel trip. 

On the new pier we fish, we read, we have a beer, we watch a dolphin going by chasing squid. Our turn to watch a magnificent sunset because a few days ago our spell was broken, and now we can watch sunsets in all their splendour. 

It’s pink!

I recently learnt that some of the saltiest bodies of water in the world are actually pink. In exploring the coasts of Western Australia, between Geraldton and Kalbarri in Western Australia, there is a pink lake called Hutt Lagoon.

It used to be believed that the presence of an algae is what made the lake look pink but studies have discovered that it is most likely the presence of a bacteria. The dominant bacterium produces a pigment, which helps the organism harvest light for energy that is spread across the entire bacterial cell. This means, when you look at the lake, you mostly see the pink colour of the bacteria. Of course the time of day, weather, etc., influences the tone of pink of the lake. 

Two waters

Initially I didn’t think much of Shark Bay but after a couple of nights there, the place really grew on me. Shark Bay is called Gutharragudain in the local Aboriginal language, which means two waters, refering to the two bays that form Shark Bay. 

Aboriginal people have lived in this area for thousands of years. They believe that the most important things in life are Culture and Country. Learning to live in this world come from their philosophy of life Education, Understanding and finally Respect to the Culture and Country. By teaching the future generations on the harmonious way of living with nature (or Country), Aboriginal people have been able to survive harsh environments in Australia. Shark Bay has the best of two worlds, the red sands of the desert of the Outback and the sea. It also has what comes with that which is the constant need to find fresh water; especially as around the Shark Bay area the salt concentration in the water is 1.5 times that of which any other ocean. It is Kangaroos who find the source of water; they dig half a meter in where they smell the fresh water and let the hole they dug fill up with drinkable water that is filtered through the sand. Other animals then follow and drink from the waterholes these marsupials created. This is one of the many things Aboriginal people have learnt from living and respecting Country. 

Like this, there is much wisdom that our Aboriginal tour guide, Capes, shares with us as he tries to help us understand how to interact with country. The Aboriginal ingredients are now becoming a culinary delicacy in many fine dining restaurants. Chefs come to seek for plants and animals to cook for their clients. Our guide tells us how wrong that is. Each dish tells a story, has a song, a significance and obviously a season. The season for when the plant or animal is available – which are closely related. Not on demand. 

Our tour guide takes us to the big lagoon in the Francois Peron National Park which once upon a time used to be a station to farm goats and sheep. Since 1993 it has been a National Park, world heritage area. Conservation efforts have been put into place, including project Eden to reintroduce endemic species and the extermination of pest animals like feral cats, foxes and goats. To achieve these killings, throughout the park there are sausages put in with 1080 poison that is made from an endemic plant to which endemic animals have tolerance but invasive species will die from. Capes tells us about the program they are trying to put in place in which Aboriginal people can catch the goats and sell them for their meat and thus make a living, intead of killing and wasting the animal. 

The hard work of kayaking 5kms almost all day really was worth it. 

Nine Emu day

Emus are the second biggest bird on Earth after the Ostrich. Male emus are the ones that incubate the eggs and raise their offspring. 

Emus are also a hazard for drivers in Australia due to their size and because when they are running away from a car they generally zig zag confused as to where to go. 

Emus are a rare bird to spot but as it happens, some days are filled with spotting some creature over another. 

A mile into the sea

This jetty was built in 1890 to transport local produce (like wool and livestock) from the ships to and from Freemantle and into the town of Carnarvon. Later the jetty was widened as the traffic through it also started to include passengers. In 1966 the jetty as a transport system ceased as state ships stopped calling. 

The jetty is still in a very good shape and you can walk its length or use it as locals do for good fishing. Restorations are constantly needed and to walk the jetty you pay $5 which goes to the retoration fund. Each of the pylons costs $2500 AUD to replace. There are 250 of them along the jetty. Walking the jetty means you are able to spot some marine life like turtes or moon fish. 

And it really is one mile long!

Just off the beach

There isn’t much around Cape Range National Park. It is the perfect location to enjoy walks, nature, sun and the lack of technology. Winter hitting Australia means shorter days and slightly cooler mornings on the West coast; and with the wind blowing, there is always hesitation about snorkelling. The love for spotting fish and marine life wins (almost) everytime in this corner of the world and the cold water is well rewarded with masses of coral, big bull rays, lots of schools of fish and turtles just 20mts off the beach. Worth the cold every dip in this part of the ocean.