WA's Underwater Treasures
Ningaloo Reef might stretch further than you think. It was definitely bigger than we realised. Stretching for more than 300km, the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage area covers a massive 6045km2. Starting our Coral Coast Ausventure we began at Red Bluff on Quobba Station at the southern end of the reef, venturing all the way to Exmouth on the North West Cape. We saw turtles, diverse coral gardens, white sand and crabs, cuttlefish, eels, clear blue water, octopus and everything in between.
WE ARE HERE
It’s a bit of a trek up to Red Bluff on Quobba Station, but it was super worth it. When people said they hadn’t made the detour up there, we tried not to brag about how good it was. It did cost us as much as a caravan park would have, at $36p/n ($18p/p), but it was a little splurge we didn’t regret. When the tides are out, there’s rock pools at the southern end of the beach for exploring, with some the perfect size for a personal plunge pool! The caves and cliffs are absolutely incredible, with fossils of coral everywhere. A short sunrise walk to the top of the ridge was an ace way to get the whole view of the Bluff, and start our Ningaloo discovery.
Next we caught up with our travelling pals ‘Banjo’s Bandits’ at Stevens Beach on Warroora Station. The property runs along a stretch of the coast with plenty of different camping spots for different needs. At $10p/p p/n, we did the sums and totally understood why so many grey nomads made the trek here and set up for a good few months to escape the southern winter. The ‘grey nomad caravan city’ dominates the beach front at the 14 Mile Beach camp on the northern end of the station, but if you’re patient you’ll get a chance to camp on the beach too. We stayed one night here on our way through to Coral Bay, and while we personally didn’t have any issues, quite a few other travelling families commented on the ‘less than friendly’ camp hosts there (so just a quiet word of warning!). Most of our time, however, was spent along the southern half of the station. And lucky for us, the homestead that services this end of the station had amazing friendly staff that we can’t rate highly enough! Camping just over the dunes from the ocean, snorkelling right at the shore, and even sighting a baby whale carcuss sadly washed ashore despite it’s mothers hopeful dedication. Witnessing nature in it’s equally cruel but incredible rawness.
It’s busy and full of tourists, and the town is basically made up of the caravan parks, but it’s a bloody ripper spot! The beach at the end of the main street is incredible for snorkelling. If you venture no where else on the Coral Coast, this will give you an excellent taste of the delights Ningaloo Reef has to offer. Venture a few kms out of town to the north and you’ll find Oyster Bridge and The Lagoon, where we saw a handful of turtles curiously pop their heads up early one morning. Or to the south of town is Five Fingers Reef. This was our fav snorkel spot! Five ‘fingers’ of reef stretch their way out from the shore, so even when there’s a few people around there is so much area to explore. We were told this spot was the best chance for spotting a turtle, and this is where we got to swim with one big beautiful dude in a shell!
Aptly named, Ningaloo Station was our next stop on the itinerary. Camp right on the beach for a fee, or pay $5p/p p/n (minimum $20) at the ‘short term’ camp and stay an easy 100m walk from the ocean like we did. Good fishing, great beach combing and plenty of peace and quiet. We had this spot all to ourselves. Micky caught a Trevally and fried it up in his ‘ginger beer’ batter (holy moly, couldn’t get enough of this! Delish!), and Cass almost reeled in a Barracoota but lucky for him, this time he got away.
To get to the finale of our venture up the Ningaloo Reef, we had two options. Either cross Yardie creek, which is renowned for destroying vehicles and swallowing them up whole, or drive all the way back out of Ningaloo Station and head north on the highway… Well, we hate to waste petrol and are always up for a good ol ‘Ausventure’, so we pushed on towards Yardie Creek!
Our next blog will be from: Cape Range NP
Until our next update - see you on / off the road 😉
Cassie and Micky