Shark Bay is one of only two places in the world where living marine
stromatolites exist. These living fossils contain microbes similar to
those found in 3,500 billion year old rocks - the earliest record of
life on earth. As such, the stromatolites provide a record of local
environmental changes. Stroll along the boardwalk, read about the
history of Stumpy's stromatolite family and take in the biology of
these ancient organisms.
Hamelin Pool is home to the most diverse and abundant examples of
living stromatolites in the world. These creatures are monuments to
life on Earth over 3,500 billion years ago; a time when no other
complex creatures were present on the planet.
You can visit these stromatolites easily at Hamelin Pool where a
boardwalk provides easy access to their marine environment. Other
visitor facilities nearby include the Old Hamelin Pool Telegraph
Station, built in 1884 as part of the vital communication line between
Perth and Roebourne. The original building is now a museum housing many
Getting to Hamelin Pool and the stromatolites is easy. Drive the
27km of sealed road from the North West Coastal Highway and turn right
at the signs for the last 5km to the Old Telegraph Station. From there
it's a short walk along a formed walking track to reach the boardwalk
and view the stromatolites.
Boolagoorda Walking Track
This walking track is a 1.4km loop track linking the Old Telegraph
Station with the stromatolite boardwalk. The walk’s key
attraction is obviously the stromatolites but other interesting
historic sites can be found along the way including the old shell block
quarry, a grave and remains of the old telegraph line. Information
signs explain the significance of these features.
Tearooms / Café
Privately run tearooms within the telegraph station precinct offer
snacks, drinks and souvenirs. Staff also run tours of the small
Caravan Park and Camping Area
It is possible to stay overnight at Hamelin Pool in the campground
located at the Old Telegraph Station. Toilets, showers, water and kiosk
facilities are available for people using the campground.
Viewing the Stromatolites
Stromatolites are the number one attraction at Hamelin Pool. These
ancient structures are examples of what life on Earth was like 3.5
billion years ago and are considered living fossils. Cyanobacteria were
some of the first living creatures on Earth and stromatolities are
formed by these organisms. How? The cyanobacteria bond together and
produce a sticky gel – trapping sediments and sand together and
gradually building up layers. As the sediment accumulates, it forms
flat algal mats or hardens to form stromatolites, which have an outer
layer of living cyanobacteria. At first glance these don't even seem to
be living. Each structure is actually a very slow growing microbial
colony that may grow less than 1mm per year.