August 2020 [Denham]
Before we get to the apple turnovers, I’m going to take you back to those pesky mooring lines that I am obsessed with. Arriving in Denham (Thursday 15th August) it was ‘totally not stressful’ knowing that the lovely Wendy (the voice of Sea Rescue Shark Bay) was texting me on her way to the Post Office to say that she could see us coming in (one of our more casual logging-offs there). It did seem that the whole of Denham knew we were here, less us and more our boat really, as she does stand out a bit. Anyway, it means that you have in the back of your mind that there are people probably watching us come in and worse assuming that we actually know what we are doing! This berthing did turn out to be quite amusing too. There was a good cross wind threatening to push us onto the neighbouring boat and the mooring poles were very big and far out (the berth being for a commercial boat). I didn’t get my lines around the poles as we were going past, but I had planned for the possibility of things going awry and put out big fender balls between us and the neighbouring boat. This proved fortuitous as we ‘sat’ against them for a wee bit while working out how to get a line out the windy side. Fortunately, Brendon and crew on ‘Reel Force’ didn’t mind (I think they were looking forward to the entertainment that might ensue).
We solved the problem by ‘drawing straws’ and throwing Peter in the water to swim a line out to the ‘pole too far away’. Later in the afternoon I sent out the ‘knight in shining boardies on his trusty SUP steed’ to attach shackles for our lines to run through so that our ropes don’t wear on the rusty chains (as we might be here a while due to the stabilizer repairs).
Denham has obviously benefited from the Royalties for Regions money. There is a new Visitor’s Centre full of well-presented information and interesting displays; we spent the first day just going through it all. The foreshore is beautifully developed, with a magnificent playground and covered bbq eating areas. The whole town appears to be very Town Proud too, there was not a skerrick of litter anywhere. Peter noticed that the fake grass used in the median strips (one of the few practical uses for that stuff) has a chappy cleaning the sand off it with a blower every morning. And of course there is more interpretive art (this piece is a reference to a shipwreck – it lights up a very disconcerting blue at night).
The next day we were again causing the odd smile when we walked out to the Hardware Store to buy a 3m ladder and then walked it the 1.5km back to the boat. Pourquoi, I don’t hear you say? Because when you are parked next to a fixed jetty, it can be quite undignified getting off the boat at low tide (the whole husband pushing your backside up thing). Unlike at Mindarie where we were attached to a floating pontoon that went up and down with the boat, most of the smaller places along the coast have a fixed jetty and the boat floats up and down but the jetty does not – presenting an ever changing ‘height to the jetty problem’. So, the boat now boasts a ladder. Peter even rigged the ropes so the we could secure it at night, like a drawbridge
We had seen Steep Point (the most westerly point of mainland Australia) from the sea, but thought we would like to see it from the other side, so we booked a 4WD tour with Garth. The coastline is as uninviting and harsh from the land side as it looks from the sea side, but very spectacular.
It was a long day tour that included the Cathedrals (blowholes) and the monument to the ‘Nor 6’. ‘Nor 6’ was a prawn trawler that hit the point and sunk in 1963, because the charts for the area used data surveyed back in 1858. Note to self; a map is only as accurate as the date of the data used to make it, irrespective of the publication date (we were to see a great deal of ‘inadequately surveyed’ written on the charts as we moved north – which I find really disappointing in this the 21st century). There was one survivor from the ‘Nor 6’ and he made quite a story, as he survived by climbing in the ships cold box which was then carried in and out by currents for over a week before he was finally rescued. The newspaper headlines at the time were something like “Man saved by Eski”.
Garth really likes Thorny Devils and spotted them easily on the road coming back (and he stops to move them off before they get run over by all the grey nomads in their vans). I recall people keeping them as pets back when I was growing up in Kalgoorlie/Boulder, to eat ants.
I thought for a moment that Peter had fallen in the harbour, but it turned out to be a dugong cruising around the boats. I was told there was also a regular shark in the harbour – they could have mentioned that before I got in to clean the growth off the boat’s waterline!
Meals at the local Pub (conveniently just across the road from the jetty) were all truckie sized portions, but good pub grub for the end of a cold windy day when neither of us felt like cooking. The walls were covered in historical newspaper cuttings, pencil drawings of the locals, photographs (like the one on the right showing a novel way to bring home a moderately decent sized catch) and what looks to be a taxidermy of just mentioned huge fish. There is a lot to look at while you wait for your meals, which start at 5:30pm (and be warned, don’t dare go up earlier to order).
The Pearlers Inn had a retro 70s menu (Steak Dianne, Prawn Cocktail and a seriously good homemade Mango Cheesecake). The food was excellent and the building was unique, with the walls being made from blocks of compacted shells cut from the beach near Hamelin Pool (the shell rock is called Coquina and this is the only place it occurs in the world!). I believe that the only blocks cut now are for restoration purposes.
While I spent a morning at the hairdressers, I sent Peter out for the day on a fishing charter with Garth (a different Garth) on ‘MacAttack’. Peter got a lift back with ‘Leigh from South Australia’, both of whom were very happy with their catch. They spent until 8pm filleting it all up on some of the best fish tables we have ever seen. The tables are under cover, large stainless steel with water outlets washing all the waste to the middle. All the left-over bits go into a dedicated bin for collection by the aquarium. And the whole setup didn’t smell. I was impressed. If anything, there needs to be more of the tables, as they were in constant use.
I think the boat parts for the stabilizers are being sent from the USA via Mars, but there are far worse places to be stuck.
Peter took up bread baking (as you can’t fish all the time and some of the weather we had was foul), so we ate lots of soup and fresh bread on the cooler days. My favourite meal has to be Peter’s Lemon Pepper Squid. We ate a fair bit of squid, as the jetty turned out to be the hot squiding spot in town – they are attracted by the lights and like to hide under the boats. There were people squiding until the early hours of the morning some nights and in some terrible weather. The jetty also meant that we had a constant stream of people going past looking at the boat and asking questions (mostly about the masts that aren’t for sails). As a result, it can take quite a while for us to get things done as we were talking to people all the time, which we don’t mind as it is all part of the fun of travelling and we are quite boat proud.
We also took the opportunity to hire a car to see Shell Beach about 50kms south of Denham, as well as the local Aquarium about 8kms out of town. On the way out the road got blanketed in mist which created a very surreal experience on the beach, as you could hear the water edge but not see it until your feet were almost wet. I was half expecting a Loch Ness Monster to come looming out of the mist. Shell beach is literally a beach made of those little shells. The beach is constructed in waves and there are little holes where kiddies have obviously been digging. Walking on the beach makes a lovely sound, a bit like when walking through autumn leaves, but it is not soft at all.
It has been over a week now and we are still here. As the winds were calm for a few days, we dropped the tender and went fishing behind the anchored boats in the bay. It was non-stop action, not all of it wanted though. The North West Blowfish proved a tricky blighter to get off the hook, mostly due to them being akin to an armoured tank with shears for teeth (nothing like the little annoyances we are used down south). We lost a lot of tackle to fish with a variety of teeth (Peter now has a real reason for going to a fishing store, as we need to get some heavy leader line that the beasties can’t bite through). After lunch a Tiger Shark the same length as the tender came around to check us out, so we decided to move on. Neon was happy we brought home a meal of Shark Mackeral. The RecFishWA app proved useful for identifying some of the catch and finding out the bag limits for the various fish. The following night I had to explain to Neon that he is not allowed more than 2 meals of raw fish each week, he is not happy about that at all.
We were pleasantly surprised when one day we heard a “Hellooo, anyone home?” coming from the jetty and it turned out to be Ron and Dora (they own the beautiful, wooden boat, ‘Kiawa’, who was berthed near us at Mindarie). As well as dropping in for coffee and a chat, Ron took us to the artesian bath at the old Peron Homestead, gloriously hot.
Friday 6th September the parts finally arrived in Perth and Ollie and Sam from Dingo yachts headed up at 3am Saturday morning, worked all day and emerged mostly victorious at 6pm (one of the hydraulic hoses had a leak that we will get sorted at Exmouth). A celebratory tea at the pub (the Heritage this time) listening to Ollie and Sam talk about their experiences working on big boats in the Mediterranean and the next morning (Sunday the 8thth September) we left for Coral Bay, after 3 ½ relaxing weeks in Shark Bay. Unfortunately, it was a Sunday and the Bakery doesn’t open on Sundays, so I couldn’t take an Apple Turnover traveler with me. Total devastation, as those Apple Turnovers were the best I have eaten for a good 20 years.
Neon’s Notes: Unfortunately, I have done the research myself and it turns out that Mum is correct and I shouldn’t eat fresh fish too often (10% of a balanced diet). Personally, I would be happy to eat Dad’s fresh fish every day, but I might then die from a Thiamine Deficiency (a rather nasty list of neurological symptoms and then the death bit). There is an enzyme called Thiaminase in fresh fish which destroys Thiamine (it’s not in all fish, but Mum checked and all the ones Dad likes to catch have it). The enzyme is destroyed by cooking, but as I don’t produce the Thiamine stuff myself, Mum would then have to add it to the fish (which is what they do to my cat food). Evolutionarily speaking, cats got their Thiamine from the warm furries, or slightly crunchier slithery prey, that we hunted. No fish in the historical diet, so why is it soooo yummy? I think Mum has the same problem with Apple Turnovers.