What does it take to get you out of bed in the morning?
The sun had barely raised its golden head by the time my feet hit the sand of Cable Beach in Broome. Although it felt a little like a chore, getting up at this time in the morning had its plus points. Firstly, the temperature was at the perfect level to walk along the beach without getting scorched by the sun – and believe me, Broome is mega hot – and secondly, the tide was out.
The tide being out was actually the crucial factor in this morning’s activity. My friends and I walked along the beach for a couple of kilometres until we reached the rock pools at the base of the cliffs at Gantheaume Point.
A lighthouse sits atop Gantheaume Point, a vibrant red rocky outcrop rising from the white sands of Cable Beach, and it’s a spot that affords you a perfect view of the Indian ocean.
But the view alone wasn’t what drew us here so early in the morning.
Clambering around the pools and over the rocks we were on the hunt for things that would only reveal themselves when the tide was exceptionally low; under 2.16 metres.
The red rock here is sandstone thought to be 130 million years old. Footprints from dinosaurs of that time, and plant fossils, are preserved in the sandstone. At very low tide, dinosaur footprints can be seen about 30 metres out to sea.
Let me repeat that, so it can really sink in: we were searching for 130 million year old Sauropod dinosaur footprints.
I hope I’m not the only one who was rather excited by this – well, I know I couldn’t have been because my friends had joined me in scrambling from rock to rock that morning. It’s one thing to see a replica of a dinosaur or bones in a glass cage in a museum and something completely different to be placing your own foot inside the print of a creature that stepped in that exact spot 130 million years ago.
Our early morning search combined with the low tide paid off. But strangely enough, it was quite an effort to find the footprints.
In England, I joked that the area would have been roped in some fashion, despite often being covered by sea water, to avoid people trampling over them. Here you were left to your own devices and then when you did stumble across the unmarked 130 million year old footprints you were able to walk all over them.
Looking down at the prints below my feet was one of those moments where you struggle with expectation. There, printed in the rock at my feet, were footprints dating back to a time so distant that I couldn’t wrap my head around it.
You read about dinosaurs since school but most of the time don’t have any way of actually engaging with those facts. And now here I was, looking at a dimple in a rock that was prehistoric, but unsure how to feel about it.
Perhaps because there were no ropes, no signs, no placards of information, no fanfare it felt strangely underwhelming (although I must caveat that by saying up by the lighthouse on the cliff there was a whole slew of information on large boards).
But here, down on the rocks, it was just me, placing my foot inside the imprint of a creature that roamed the planet millions of years before our time.
After a moment of silent reflection a small smile chinked the corners of my mouth.
Actually, who was I kidding? This was pretty cool and definitely worth getting out of bed early.
For more information about Gantheaume Point, I visited Broome Visitor Centre.
Have you visited the dinosaur footprints at Gantheaume Point? How was your experience?
Have you ever visited a place where you struggled with expectations versus reality? Did you end up enjoying it or were your expectations too difficult to dismiss? Share your thoughts!
You can read up on my adventures on my journey from Perth to Broome on the blog – these include swimming with manta rays, abseiling in Kalbarri National Park and taking in the breathtaking gorges of Karijini National Park.
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