A Travellerspoint blog

Coral bay

sunny

After leaving Cape Range we decided to have a short drive down to Coral Bay, a tiny town on the coast where the Ningaloo Reef continues. It was a pretty boring drive with nothing of interest on the way and we arrived in Coral Bay quite early. The best thing was when we stopped for fuel in Exmouth the person behind the checkout was caring for an orphan joey which was curled up in a fleece pouch and that we got to say hello to and pet. How cute it was!

Coal Bay we found out is mega expensive. Our pitch was expensive and everything from food, drinks, amenities are expensive. Our camp site even charges per 10L of drinking water you need and uses salty bore water for showers and washing up. After setting up our tent we went for an explore sat by the bay and had a beer and relaxed for the rest of the day. This resulted in us Drinking too much wine by our tent, cooking dinner and so lead to one of us (those of you who know us will know which one) having a hangover from hell the next day.

After a VERY slow morning we decided to get out and have a look around around Coral Bay. We had a walk along the dunes, spotting sharks below in the shallows and then hired some fins for $5 each from a shack on the beach for a snorkel.
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The same reef as up at Exmouth, Ningaloo, runs all the way down the coast and can be viewed just off the coast of Coral Bay. After enquiring at the information centre where the best spots were we walked to the end of town, around the headland and waded South, through the shallows for 100m and then swam out. There is then a small current which brings you back up the coast and inland.

The coral here was very different to the coral up at Cape Range. It was all huge cabbage like, flower corals, pristine and beautiful with lots of big and colourful fish. We swam for a while up the coast admiring the underwater life but after a while got a little cold to drifted back to shore.
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Coral Bay was not as good as we had hoped, it was too busy and after Cape Range just seemed too developed. The coral is beautiful, as well as the life under the sea but we much prefer it camping in the bush in the middle of nowhere.

Posted by Chelsandliam 06:53 Archived in Australia Tagged australia coral_bay Comments (0)

Exploring the Ningaloo Reef, Cape Range National Park

Exmouth sits at the top of a peninsular on the Western Coast of Australia. Along the western side of this Cape is a world heritage acclaimed reef called the Ningaloo Reef. This coupled with the mountain range running down the middle forms Cape Range National Park and this is where we were heading. There are bush camping sites all down this coast which you have to book online as they are very popular and we had booked a spot at North Karajong site for four nights. They are simple, just a toilet so you need to take enough water otherwise it's a long drive back into Exmouth and are $10 each per night.
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The drive from Exmouth is lovely, the road weaves through the sand dunes with the rugged range on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other. We arrived quite early and our camp host showed us our site. Putting the tent up was like a game from Krypton Factor. The ground was hard as rock and the wind was gale force but after a while we managed it. Half of it pegged out, the other side weighed down with rocks, as well as some dubious knots from guide ropes to barriers and using our table to anchor the front of our tent, but it was up and we were confident it wouldn't blow away with us in it in the night.

Our camp site leads directly to the beach, through stunning, windy sand dunes and we immediately took our snorkels for a wander down on the sand and in the sea. The sea directly in front of our tent is mostly sea grass but a five minute walk down the beach is a reef, full of fish and bommies, big bulbous, hard, corals that fish like to hide around and under. There are some beautiful hard corals with tiny fish nurseries darting around in them.
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We have spent four full days exploring the area and have found everywhere we have been to be stunning. Five minutes drive south is Sandy Bay and the Osprey Sanctuary area. This is a breathtakingly beautiful bay, with a curve of white sand and a sea so clear, shallow and turquoise you must jump straight in. While Chelsea was waist high admiring the views a turtle swam up to her and back out to sea, poking its head up out of the water for a breather and off it went. We spent a full day here, swimming and relaxing in the sun and for most of the day we had the entire beach to ourselves.
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Snorkelling is what a lot of people come to the area for and although you can see bits of the reef from the entire coast there are a few key spots which are better. We spent a full day snorkelling and admiring the underwater gardens of Ningaloo. We already have a mask and snorkel but as some of the currents are quite strong we decided to rent some fins each for $5 for the day from the information centre half way down the coast to make it easier to swim.
Our first snorkel of the day was at Oyster Stacks as you can only snorkel this at high tide. When we arrived we were a lot bit put off by the sea, it was extremely choppy and you enter from sharp rocks which were getting battered by the surf. We managed to make it into the water without maiming ourselves but once in there the surge was too strong for us. It was knocking us around everywhere and making the visibility very low. Chelsea especially didn't like it and although there were tons on fish, the surge was pushing us around and we didn't want to get smashed against some huge coral, especially as some of the corals here jut out of the water. After ten minutes we decided to get out and managed to make the perilous scramble back up the rocks without any damage. This we imagine would be a great site in better conditions as there was lots to see but in such huge swell we didn't feel very safe.

The next good snorkel site is Turquoise Bay. As you approach this site there are lots of signs waning you of currents as it is where two bays meet. This means two currents meet at the headland and it pushes the water straight out to sea in a huge rip. The current takes you along the beach and you have to be out of the water before you are in line with the headland or you will be dragged out. On this dive we were happy we had rented fins as the currents were very strong but there was so much to see. We swam out, straight to the dark patches we could see from the beach and were greeted by pristine hard corals and lots of fish. There were huge bommies again, and some huge fish and we enjoyed drifting down the coast over the top of all the life. The water was nice and clear and you could easily see everything. We drifted down and swam back to shore, then walked back down the beach to do it all again. We did this a few times, every time seeing a different part of the reef and on the final time we saw a huge stingray, laying on the sand between two corals, at least 2m wide with a stinger as long as a human and as thick as a thigh. This was extremely cool but also got our hearts racing and we made that our last go and decided to swim out. Around the headland is the bay, we had a swim in the blue waters and dried off admiring the beautiful views.
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The last site was Lakeside, which is near the visitor centre. You have to walk 500m down the beach and the conservation area is marked with buoys both on land and in the water and you have to stay within the markers. It is a huge site and the current was bringing us back in to shore the whole time so it was a harder swim out. It was quite choppy and visibility wasn't as good until you got quite far out. We saw lots of nice corals, some beautiful box fish, bright blue with luminous yellow spots but the highlight was a beautiful relaxed turtle that let us swim along with it. It was minding its own business swimming along and we were above it but it kept swimming up so it was right next to us. As one point while Chelsea was filming him, he swam right up to eye level and surfaced next to our heads in the water and then slowly made his way back down. It was a beautiful experience and we were the only ones there. After a while we let him be on his way and we decided to get out.
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All the snorkelling spots we visited were a lot better than we expected and they are all self guided. The corals looked healthy and there was a lot of life inhabiting them. It's such a pleasure to be able to swim on such a beautiful reef straight from the beach and we enjoyed every second of it.

On our last day we decided to go back to Sandy Bay for the morning for more beach time and swimming. In the afternoon when it had cooled off we drove up to Mangrove Bay. Here is tidal mangroves and a bird hide where you can sit and watch all the local and migratory birds. We were the only people there and we sat and watched the different birds wading and relaxing. We watched a pelican scooping up his lunch, snapping up fish from the shallows and a bird of prey circling above the water looking for a meal as well as lots of shore birds, sand pipers and tiny fluttery colourful birds in the trees.
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The rest of our time has been spent laying on the beach between the dunes at our camp, sitting in the sunshine, swimming in the sea and relaxing. On a morning you can walk five minutes away from camp and spot the Kangaroos between the dunes, sitting in shade under trees and relaxing in the fresh morning air. They spot you way before you notice them and eagerly look at you with suspicion.
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The sun sets over the ocean have been spectacular every night. We have sat on the sand with a cold glass of wine and watched the sun slowly slide beyond view ever night
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. The moon and stars have been spectacular and on our last night we were greeted with a full moon rising over the horizon, so big and bright it was like sunrise. We are the saltiest we have ever been and our hair is crispy but we absolutely love it. It is how perfect days should be spent.
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Posted by Chelsandliam 23:07 Archived in Australia Tagged australia cape_range_national_park ningaloo Comments (1)

Swimming with whale sharks

An unbelievable encounter with gentle giants

sunny 32 °C

Swimming with whale sharks had been a dream since we first found out it was possible, years ago and it was one of the things we most wanted to do whilst in Australia. Doing it today was so special we can't quite describe the feeling. It was one of those once in a lifetime experiences that surpassed our dreams, it was totally and utterly AMAZING!

We set out at 7.20 with Kings Nigaloo Reef Tours and after fitting for fins, masks and vests we were soon in the water, snorkelling on the reef. The reef we saw this morning was not in great condition, a lot was damaged and broken but there was a lot of fish life.

After a look around the reef the boat heads further out, a spotter plane goes up in the air which then communicated with the boat with what it finds. Within ten minutes they had seen a whale shark and the boat headed closer to it. We were previously split into two groups of ten as only ten people at a time are allowed in the water with a whale shark. We were told to quickly get ready as it was only 200 metres away so we all excitedly scrambled to suit up. Just as we were about to enter the shark took a dive, too deep to see anymore.
We waited until the plane spotted another one, around five minutes later.

This one didn't mind us and stayed on the surface. We geared up and our guide instructed us to line up in the water, ready for the shark to swim past. Within thirty seconds the whale shark was along side us, we swam with it in the water for a few minutes. It was a beautiful juvenile male, around 6m long and swimming slowly and steadily. We were able to stay in the water for a long time, cruising right next to it. You could see up close, it's gills moving as it filtered the water, little fish in and around its mouth and sucker sharks on its belly, hitching a ride, feeding on its leftovers. It was magical.

Each whale shark has its own distinct and individual markings, like our fingerprints. There beautiful white spots are totally unique to each animal. They are the gentle giants of the underwater world and don't at all mind us swimming along side them. They are the biggest fish on earth, and as sharks there senses are very sensitive. They would be hearing all our hearts racing in the water but they don't swim off or dive, they just cruise along, feeding, minding there own business while you stare in awe and wonder at there size and beauty. They are completely harmless to humans, as the biggest fish in the oceans, they eat the tiniest organisms, plankton and krill.

Our groups took it in turns to swim along side the huge fish until the captain decided to find another one. We then cruised along and within five minutes they had spotted a different one. Another juvenile male, 6-7m long. We did the same thing, lined up in the water but this one changed course, coming straight at us, the size of a bus with its huge mouth open and feeding. As we moved out of its way we could see its eyes and the scale of its huge head. It glided past us and we swam along with for a while, again admiring how giant yet graceful it is in the water.

That was going to be our last before lunch but on the radio our captain had heard of a fully grown, 8m plus mature shark close by so we zoomed off to get closer. We were quick to suit up and jump in and the sheer size of it was just unbelievable. These mature sharks are extremely rare in Ningaloo as usually there are only juvenile males but this was a gigantic, adult female. We saw the biggest shark of the season, in a place which is extremely rare...... We are very privileged and grateful to see such a magnificent creature. It swam straight past us, incredibly close, just metres away and we swam with it, trying to keep up. It was hard work keeping up with a fish this big and after a while it got too fast for us all. We managed to get two swims with this huge giant, both times getting so close to see all its detail. It was the most amazing thing we have seen in the whole of Australia... Absolutely amazing in every way! It was so cool and rare, even the captain Jumped in for a swim.

With that nothing could top the day so we moored up for lunch around a snorkel spot, seeing, turtles, a dugong (oh my god, also amazing!) and a tiger shark and had one last swim over the coral to end the day.

Without a doubt nothing we have seen in Australia can match today's experience, we are so grateful to be able to see such a magical, gentle giant so close and to share the ocean with it for a few minutes. Our cheeks are sore from so much smiling!
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Posted by Chelsandliam 03:37 Archived in Australia Tagged australia whale_shark ningaloo Comments (2)

Exploring gorges at Karinjini National Park

sunny 36 °C

It was a long boring drive from Broome, towards Port Headland and we stayed over night just before port headland in a rest area in the middle of nowhere. From here the next day we then headed inland towards Karinjini National Park and the drive was magic. As soon as you hit the park the views were awesome. Huge canyons and massive red Rocky Mountains that you weave through towards the camp site. We stayed at the bush camping site at Dales, for £10 each a night for two nights. It was a bit late in the day to start a walk so we had a relaxing late afternoon around the tent ready for tomorrow.

The main people come to Karinjini is for bush walking and swimming in the gorges. There are several gorges within the park that you can enter and walk inside and our campground hosts had recommended a few to us. We got up nice and early to start the walk inside Dales Gorge before the midday heat hit.
The views from the top, at the lookouts were amazing, you could see right into the bottom of the gorge down to the pools of water below, over the bright red pillars of rock. It was a very steep and rocky climb into the gorge but once in the bottom it was beautiful.
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The Rock is layered and all around you can see layers upon layer of red rock. We walked through the gorge, climbing up and down the layered patterns all the way to both ends. First to circular pool, a beautiful clear pool you can swim in and then the other way, all the way to the other end. It is a pleasant walk once in the gorge, flat but consistently amazing.
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Every time you look up you can see huge walls of rock towering above you. We walked all the way to Fortescue Falls, a beautiful waterfall falling down the layered rocks and into a crystal clear pool. Once we arrived we went for a swim, walking over the slippery and slimy rocks and jumping into the refreshing water for a swim.
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Another 300m up the track is another water hole, fern pool. This was absolutely beautiful, crystal clear with a small waterfall at one end. We swam for a while here as the water was so beautiful, surrounded by trees with bats flapping upside down in the heat. We then climbed up to the top of the ridge and walked back along the tops, through the fields of spinifex grasses. We were blown away with how good it was.... We will let the photos speak for themselves.
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But as good as we thought Dales Gorge was, it was no where near as good as our next walk. We got up early the next day to drive the 80km to Hancock gorge, we had tried to go the four wheel drive track the day before but it was just too rough and Brian, our car was not enjoying the horrendously deep corrugations so we decided to go round on the sealed road on the morning we left.

Hancock gorge is a Level Five bush walk, the hardest but our camp hosts had said it was the best so we decided to go for it.
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It was utterly spectacular. After descending a very steep rocky path down, half of it being ladders we were in the gorge, at a sign that said danger ahead, fatalities have occurred.
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But it was worth it. We had to rock climb, swim, wade through water, slide down waterfalls and navigate over very rocky terrain. It was awesome. At one point we had to pack our cameras away and pray we could lift it out of the water enough to get through, but Liam found a way over the rocks while Chelsea waded, chest high, through the narrow rocks and through the water.
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This entered into a natural amphitheater. This then went into spider gorge, a very narrow section where both hands can touch the walls and you have to navigate down rocks and small waterfalls and ended at a beautiful blue swimming hole. large_A20DFDAAE317316C0FFEC60712A09C55.jpglarge_A1FCFBDCBF41CB67C1EB46CF2CB264D7.jpglarge_A201928CF231D1AD4D8C09047F433263.jpglarge_A205BB9DDDF607C6A2FA9031BC0D84EC.jpglarge_A214B6B9AFBF0F2C920EA6F9C44CB18F.jpglarge_A209299B0EA5268F98384ABD97C081D4.jpgWe enjoyed every second of it, even the gruelling climb back up the ladders and huge steps was worth it. We reckon it's the best bush walk we have done in Australia and the views both over the top of the gorge and inside are spectacular! It was exciting and beautiful and so worth the extra effort to get there.

Posted by Chelsandliam 03:29 Archived in Australia Tagged australia karinjini Comments (0)

Sunsets in Broome

sunny

To us Broome was one of those faraway exotic places you always wished you could go. Camels on the beach, dusty, rough and ready with stunning beauty on the Indian Ocean and it didn't disappoint. We already knew Broome was expensive so prepared our tight wallets for a shock. We didn't want to stay 20km out so took the hit for a caravan park, $40 a night for a tiny patch of gravel on the iconic Cable Beach.

We spent three nights here and really enjoyed the laid back, slightly outback atmosphere. Your are in civilisation but you still feel like your in the middle of nowhere, everything costs more due to the cost of freight to get it up here and although there is a lot of top end resorts, the dusty pavements and muddy four wheel drives bring you back down to earth.
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Some of our time was spent doing jobs, restocking in town, doing a mountain of laundry, and booking some accommodation where we expect it to be busy on our next leg. The rest of our time was spent strolling around town, admiring the perfectly round saltwater pearls, relaxing by the pool or enjoying walking down the beach.

Pearls is the big business up here and that is what the town is built on, the old pearling industry. Immaculate shops with immaculate ladies try to sell you huge perfectly circular, glossy pearls from the local area but they were a few thousand out of our price bracket. There is a little museum telling you about the perils of the industry and you can try on an old dive mask.
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Apart from the small town the main attraction is the beach. Cable Beach is an icon to Australia, a huge white curve of sand sweeps around and into the gorgeous turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. It is safe to swim, the stingers have retreated and the water is clear and beautiful.

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We had our first dip in the Indian Ocean late one afternoon just before sunset. Nevertheless despite its beauty sunsets are what draws in the crowds and every evening we have walked to the beach and sat and admired the sky turn an array of colours, sat on the sand, an Esky full of icy beers. It is a perfect spot to kick off our Western Australian adventure, the sun has finally come out and we can slow down and take the journey down the coast steadily and relaxed. Cheers to that. large_5E0E2AA3C147009ECC48CBB5A7D15CDE.jpglarge_5E0F1F8A9411F4AD4F040D92DFDD8AA1.jpglarge_5E103471B7EF67C264B83175BF52BD02.jpglarge_5E1AAE72FF86B44C552AB02AA7CE1984.jpglarge_5E1BCCDEE0A7BBF737E56712853B105D.jpglarge_5E1CFAF1BF397AB46B6548DC8D237C3B.jpglarge_5E1DF04E9783BACDA6066D92F289AC14.jpglarge_5E1EDA78B6CBE9B2C42393687C1A8CC3.jpglarge_5E1FF379038BECEF429EFC81E72135BD.jpglarge_5E20CE3D09CFB5637B9F3C5DD09F2096.jpg

Posted by Chelsandliam 20:26 Archived in Australia Tagged australia broome Comments (0)

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