It was windy last night, so much so that I got up in the middle of the night to check that the awning outside was OK. Everything seemed to be in order so I went back to bed, but once up in the morning I added an extra tie down and some extra tent pegs just in case things got out of hand.
Today’s highlight was a Willie Creek Pearl Farm Tour. There is a bus option and a self drive option which required the use of a 4WD. So we set out in the mighty BT-50 for a stint of off-road driving. It was certainly a bit of a challenge as we haven’t done very much 4WD-ing until now, but we thought that we’d give it a go.
We started off on the bitumen for the first 20 kms or so to Willie Creek before the road surface changed to a wide, graded, red dirt road. At this stage we changed into 4WD and coped quite well with the corrugations and some mud. The surface eventually changed to a single lane sandy road, which was fine until we met a number of vehicles coming the other way!
After some 15 kms of dirt/sandy roads we eventually arrived at the oasis of Willies Creek Pearl Farm. Our tour guide Finn (he’s Irish) started off with a very informative and entertaining lesson on the styles of oyster that grow pearls, the anatomy of a pearl oyster, the seeding, cleaning and harvesting process, and more. We learnt that pearl meat sells for up to $500 per kilo overseas – that’s a lot of oysters though.
Then it was off to lunch which included some delicious Kimberly Dampier [sorry Downunda – no photos]. After lunch we boarded our “luxury cruise ship” to see some oysters in the wild and to go for a bit of a cruise around Willie Creek and surrounds. We saw a crocodile – there are known to be three in the area. Finn also pointed out many interesting examples of bird life, geological features and so on, as well as detailed some history of the area.
Back on dry land it was back into the showroom for a more detailed discussion on the end result – pearl jewelry. This was also very informative and it was quite surprising at the difference in prices for the various sizes and styles of pearl. Several members of our tour actually bought some of the beautiful pearls.
Later in the afternoon we met up with our friends for another Happy Hour before returning to the fiver for the night.