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Ningaloo Reef, Cape Range National Park, Western Australia.

We left Carnarvon bright and early as we had a few kilometres to travel today. The drive was uneventful and we made it to Coral Bay for an early lunch. And it seems that at least 500,000 other people were in Coral Bay too and it wasn’t even school holidays yet!!!! After lunch we had a walk around town and out onto the beach, the water was amazingly blue and clear and the sand was ridiculouly white. The scenery of Coral Bay was spectacular, however we couldn’t get past the fact that it was sooo busy, even a week before the school holidays. We had orginally been hoping to stay here for a few days, as my cousin David had raved about it, however we were only able to book the National Park further up in Ningaloo for the week before school holidays, so unfortunately our plans of staying here and also at Waroora Homestead were squashed, as we had to move forward a week or two to compensate for the busy upcoming holiday period.

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Beautiful beach at Coral Bay.

After we left Coral Bay, we had a quick stop in Exmouth before heading around to our campsite in Cape Range National Park. We had booked in at Osprey Campground for the next week, the campsite was neat, clean and had amazing views of the reef and endless sunsets. We had the best of both worlds camped here, as we had the amazing reef to the west of us and gorgeous hills, gorges and ridges to the east of us.

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The afternoon sun from the beach at Osprey.
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Not much snorkelling at Osprey, but the water was a welcome relief from the heat.
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The beach and rocks at Osprey.
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Some furry visitors at our campsite.
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They call me the kangaroo whisperer.
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The little joey had no fear.
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Amazing sunset from our camp.

However, firstly we were itching to get in the water, as one it was bloody hot and two we wanted to see some awesome fish. Our first snorkel was at Torquoise Bay, and the infamous Torquoise Drift, where you walk up the beach about a 100 metres then hop in the water and start snorkelling. The current of the water then ‘drifts’ you back to your original spot, no swimming or paddling required, unless of course, you want to explore around a particular bombie for a while. You just had to keep an eye out that you didn’t drift too far as you would end up past the point and out to sea……. Needless to say Abs had us well organised and kept us informed about when we had to swim back into shore. The snorkelling was amazing and relatively easy work as the water is so salty and therefore makes us all more bouyant, particuarly the more larger members of the family!! The only problem we did encounter was we were all constantly yelling out to each other to ‘come here’, ‘look at that’, ‘quick over here’. Think the girls made Nik and I swim around in circles so they could all show us what they had found, the funniest thing was listening to their underwater squeals through the snorkels. Towards the end of the week the girls had the snorkelling mastered and would quite often duck dive to the bottom for a closer look. Zoe had also spotted and befriended 2 reef sharks at the drift, who we saw for about 3 days in a row hiding under the same coral, she had no fear and spent most of the time diving down to them, while they happily ignored her.

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White-barred triggerfish
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From L to R: Scissortail Sergeant, White-barred triggerfish & Bluespot butterflyfish
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A school of Green chromis.
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Green-finned parrotfish.
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Butterflyfish.

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Green-finned parrotfish.
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Bluespot butterflyfish.
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Rock cod
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Reef shark.

We ended up snorkelling at the drift every afternoon, however we also took a drive to the Oyster Stacks for a look. The stacks was great snorkelling too but could only be done at high tide and entering and exiting the water was a bit more difficult due to the rocky beach, with lots of scrambling and unflattering exiting occured on my behalf.

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The entry and exit point at Oyster Stack at high tide.
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Lots of sharp rocks as you try and get in and out.
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Looking out to the Oyster Stacks from ashore.

 

One morning we got ourselves organised early to explore the Mandu Mandu Gorge, it was a relatively short hike however at one stage it was straight up the side of the gorge and with the hot sun beating down it made for a hot car of Smiths afterwards. Whilst there was no water in the gorge we were able to walk along the stone river bed and marvel at the color of the cliffs, then we scrambled up to the top of the cliff to get some awesome pictures of the gorge below.

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The girls all geared up for the hike.
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Not even 8:30am an the sun was hot.
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The amazing colors of the rock.
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The views of the gorge as we climb.
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Ningaloo Reef in the background.
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The gorge as it snakes its way into the ranges.
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Abs on the walk.
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More views looking inland.
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The gorge from afar.
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Nik descending from the cliff top.

Halfway through our week the travelling Mol’s arrived, setting up camp nearby. So of course we had to snorkel the drift with them again…… this pretty much became our routine every afternoon. With the Mols we also drove the short distance down to Yardie Creek, where apparently you can cross the tidal river at low tide when the sand bank is exposed and continue along sand tracks all the way to Coral Bay. We had met many people along our travels who said that this was the best way to get from Coral Bay to Exmouth, however when we got there and looked at the crossing, we were more than happy with our decision to stick to the bitumen main road. The crossing was about waist deep with water and by the looks of it and according to the info centre the sand bank hadn’t been exposed for a few years…….. Quite clearly a case of chinese whispers from the many travellers down south…..

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Looking out to sea from Yardie Creek at low tide, certainly no safe crossing there.
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Looking out to see from Yardie Creek, the crossing is under there somewhere…
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The cruise boat that takes you up the creek.
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Panorama of Yardie Creek tidal mouth.

Whilst at Yardie Creek we opted for the cheaper option of walking to the end of the gorge instead of taking the boat cruise. The walk was easy, a few up and over bits here and there, but all the kids and adults did it with ease. We were even spoilt with a turtle spotting further in and also some awesome views of the gorge down below, however as usual we were kept on our toes by the girls getting a little to close to the edge for our liking.

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Start of the Yardie Creek walk.
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Heading inland along the creek.
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Yardie Creek.
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We spotted the turtle down in the water just cruising around.
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Trying to get the best shot.
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Yardie Creek panorama.
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The views back out to Ningaloo Reef.
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The trek back down the cliff.

Of course we couldn’t be so close to the mountains and ridges without taking the cars up there for a short drive. We had earlier seen a track that led up into the ridges, so one morning together with the Mols and another family the Martins, we went for a short drive. There were a few rocky steep sections that we had to navigate, however we all made it up quite easily and were rewarded with a spectacular view of the Ningaloo Reef and ocean beyond. After some photos were taken we decided that we would head back down to do some more snorkelling, however it would have been pretty cool to follow this track across the range and onto the main road back up to Exmouth, although we had been told that it takes at least half a day.

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Up the top of the range.
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The views atop the range, with NIngaloo in the background.
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Navigating our way back down.

But with food and water stocks running low we finally decided to head into town for a few days to stock up, recharge and perhaps celebrate another birthday with a special surprise. We had an awesome week at Osprey, as usual we met some great people, we all mastered the art of snorkelling, saw some colorful fish and drove through amazing ranges. In anticipation we headed off on the short drive to our next destination and adventure on our OZLAP………………….

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We LOVE Turquoise Bay, Ningaloo Reef.

2 thoughts on “Ningaloo Reef, Cape Range National Park, Western Australia. Leave a comment

  1. Great pics Amy, can’t believe how much water was in Yardi Creek at the crossover. Have walked over that quite a few times. Great place. Xx

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