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.