Saturday, 13 October 2012

13-20 October - Cape Range NP (Ningaloo Reef), Exmouth, Coral Bay

Had read you had to book online or line up at the Rangers station at 6.00am to get a camping spot in the national park which would provide much closer access to snorkelling on the Ningaloo Reef.  Lining up anywhere at 6.00am didn’t appeal to us, so we took our chances and rocked up at the ranger’s station at 2.30pm instead!  Luckily, we got straight into Ned’s, one of the first camping areas (meaning only a 40km drive into Exmouth for school work each day), but also Ned’s had been recommended to us by a few fellow travellers. 

Some of the vans are parked in a row, with not a lot of space between them, but from our annexe we could sit and see the ocean, and we had trees behind us for morning shade so we were happy.  The drop toilets even smelt good!! 
This is the view from our van!
Each evening at 5.30pm, happy hour is on, where all the campers bring a drink down to some tables and chairs and have a good chat. People are literally from everywhere, some are on holidays but most are doing what we are doing and simply travelling long-term.

The happy hour regulars, Ned's Camp, Ningaloo Reef
Larry has been in his element as there are a lot of keen fisherman here and they all mostly fish at night which is not something Larry has done much of.  The night we arrived, some of the guys caught a large reef shark and when they went to fillet it, discovered six baby sharks. All were alive and able to be released.  Bit sad I thought. Anyway, Larry had all the wrong tackle and bait so the guys sorted him out and he’s down there again.  The campground organised a fishing competition which saw about 8 fishing the first night in very windy conditions.  Due to the change in weather conditions, not a lot was caught once the competition began.  This was our entry:

A rare Ningaloo Reef stick fish!

Another entry was the expanding Emu fish.
The Ned's Camp perpetual fishing comp trophy.
Ended up extending our stay twice and stayed 8 days, it was so chilled out. Had two days of snorkelling but the water was pretty choppy due to the wind so you were tossed about a bit. Coral was OK, not brilliantly coloured, but there were patches of colour but the fish stole the show. Elizabeth and I saw a stingray with purple spots, a giant clam and lots of fish of various sizes and shapes. However the girls were a bit freaked out and only stayed in the water about 20 minutes each time. I would love to have done some more snorkelling further out but only under calmer conditions. 

While in the area we did some of the gorge drives, saw the shipwreck ‘Maud’, a cattle boat that was grounded on a reef in 1907, visited the lighthouse and most of the beaches. This is also turtle mating and egg laying season but I couldn’t get anyone to agree to visit to the turtle nesting beach at midnight!

One of the main things you notice about the area is the colour of the water. It's literally aquamarine, a green/blue colour, just spectacular and behind that, further out, it turns a deep dark blue. Turn your eyes inland and you see a ridge that is mostly shades of orange.

Exmouth is home of the giant prawn!

After leaving Ningaloo and stocking up on water, fuel and groceries in Exmouth, we drove to Coral Bay.  What a pretty, sleepy little spot! Two caravan parks (about $60 for us to stay), a hotel and a few shops and lots of people.  Kate and I watched a wedding on the beach and Elizabeth & I had a snorkel.  The water was cloudy and the coral pretty dull, but the fish were huge.  We also watched a fish feeding at the edge of the beach.  A shower in a public toilet block meant we could all wash our hair and rinse our togs before moving onto a free camp about 60km down the road for the night.

Travellers Tips: Cape Range NP camping fees cost $16.00 (2A + 2C), maximum stay is 28 days, no power/water or showers, drop toilets (but cleaned every day). If you prefer a regular campground, Yardie Station and Lighthouse are nearby.  Laundromat in Exmouth. Water available at the Visitors Centre in Exmouth.  Two IGA supermarkets. You can hire snorkelling gear from the Visitors Centre (in Exmouth and in the NP), or there are plenty of places to purchase gear. However, it would be less expensive to get snorkelling gear from a KMart, Big W etc before you arrive in Exmouth.

1 comment:

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