Before driving into Cervantes we pulled in at Lake Thetis to see the stromatolites. These grey rock-like mounds on the fringes of a shallow and sludgy samphire ringed pool are an evolutionary wonder, but they're visually pretty hard to get excited about. The mounds are formed by some of earth's earliest life forms, so it was cool imagining our whole planet once looking like this small unappealing wasteland and that evolution has brought us so much diversity.
Natural history lesson complete, we were in need of somewhere with shade and water. We settled on the beach at Thirsty Point in Cervantes. After swims and cold showers we headed to Cervantes' Lobster Shack for lunch. This was a great little joint, the product of an entrepreneurial cray fishing family diversifying into tourism. The kids were thrilled by the aquariums of live lobsters and tropical fish and from our table on the water front we watched cray boats unload their day's catch.
That night we made our way on to Sandy Cape, a hot spot for families doing the Big Lap. For a bargain $20/night it had showers and flushing loos and lots of spaces. Walking over the small dune to the beach was like stepping into an Instagram post from any one of the Big Lap families I've been following. The wide, curving bay had pristine glassy water which we discovered was great for snorkeling, kayaking and paddle boarding and was visited by giant friendly rays in the early morning and evening.
There was definitely a feeling that we had joined the great caravan of travellers heading north for the winter but by no means did that detract from the beauty or our enjoyment of the place. It's great exchanging stories with other nomads and gorgeous watching the kids, particularly Hugh, join in with other sunkissed kiddos.
We spent 5 nights in this little paradise. I had a great sea lion sighting from the kayak. Hugh enjoyed the liberty of a long leash and spent hours with bigger kids catching fish in the shallows, climbing trees, bike riding or playing under another family's caravan awning. We had another crack at sliding down the dunes on the boogie board. The kids sat long enough to be buried in the sand. We all swam with an enormous school of palm sized silver fish that pulsed up and down the bay. Even Hugh with his newly acquired snorkeling skills was able to view them under water.
We went for two day trips; one into Jurien Bay spent entirely at the playground and riding bikes at the skate park; and the other at Lesueur National Park.
The national park, 20 or so kilometres inland from the coast, was hot but beautiful country (though more to my dryland tastes than Matthias' preference for green and towering trees). It was disappointing not to see it in its wildflower glory but still great to see the botanic diversity. We walked up flat topped Mt Lesueur and did another walk out to an elusive cave (turned out we read the map wrong).
Diesel prices are notoriously on the rise. At $199.9/L, Jurien Bay was probably the last place we will fill up for under $2/L.