Ningaloo's National Park
If you’re travelling up the WA coast and want to get up close and personal with the Ningaloo Reef, then Cape Range National Park is your spot. Located on the west side of the Exmouth peninsula, with no less than eight camp grounds on the beach, it’s the destination for many travelling from down south to escape those winter blues. Cape Range is certainly one of those pristine places that everybody knows about and with easy access via sealed roads from Exmouth, it’s full of all sorts and the campgrounds are bizz-eee!
WE ARE HERE
Coming from Ningaloo Station, we weren’t exactly sure how we were going to attack Cape Range. Located at the bottom entrance of the park is Yardie Creek Gorge. As one of the main attractions, this creek seasonally flows out into the ocean making for an interesting sand bar crossing. It’s also a long and dusty road through Ningaloo Station to reach it, hence why the majority of travellers enter from the north of the park, via Exmouth.
We like to think we’re a bit different to the majority of travellers, and we’d also stayed at Ningaloo Station three nights and quickly found out the creek was not flowing – thus an easy sand crossing. So we made our way through the station, a restricted defence area and across the sand of Yardie Creek to enter Cape Range National Park. Then we tackled the short walk up a rocky track, to get great views down into the gorge. It’s a perfect spot for kayaks with a few people paddling around down there.
We’d always had our eye on a 4×4 track that crosses the mountain range at the southern end of the park from the ocean to the gulf. The decision was made to drive north to Exmouth for supplies, refresh at the caravan park and then tackle this track back across into the National Park.
The entrance to the track wasn’t that easy to find from the east side on Exmouth highway. One handy item when we have access to phone reception is Google satellite maps. It helps to find roads, clearings and other land features. So once we found our way onto the route, we travelled slowly up the very rocky single track, until we arrived at Fig Tree Cave. This cave is only listed on some maps but it’s a great little spot to explore with a ladder down into the cave for access. A quiet private camp spot, but very rocky with not much room, it is also not really a ‘camping’ area so we always make sure to leave everything as we found it and not a single bit of rubbish. Crossing the belly of the park on this little track was a highlight and we didn’t even see one other car up there!
The next day we travelled slowly west across the remainder of the track towards the ocean. Just before dropping down from the mountain range to sea level, you’re treated with the most awesome views, an aerial shot of the coast line with the amazing reef stretching as far as the eye can see in all the perfect colours. The park is littered with snorkelling spots galore so we descended down and tried a couple for ourselves. The coral and fish life just go on and on, and there can be some strong currents as the tide moves in and out from behind the reef. Turquoise Bay and Sandy Bay were some of our favourite places, however all the beaches here are perfection, with many people staying for a week or even more.
On the eastern side of the park, not too far from Exmouth, are Shothole Canyon and Charles Knife Canyon. On our farewell from Cape Range, we woke up early and headed for Charles Knife Canyon for a sunrise photo. There were a few people with the same idea at 6.30am, and the winds were howling, but the views and colours at this special time of the day are worth it. This was our last stop before we began heading inland, 500km to Karijini National Park; the place everyone said we ‘had to go to!’
You’ll get to hear what we think about that next time…
Our next blog will be from: Karijini
Until our next update - see you on / off the road 😉
Cassie and Micky