So – here we are at
the Ningaloo Lighthouse Caravan Park. We have decided to stay here in
relative comfort rather than queue up at 7am each morning for a
rationed camp site in the National Park.
We took a trip out on a
commercial glass bottomed boat to view the reef and have a snorkel.
Conditions were excellent. A slight breeze, high tide, good
visibility, warm water and not to many people on the boat. This was a
basic trip lasting from 10am to 1pm, including pick up and drop off
from our camp site for $60. Good enough, we had about 30/40 minutes
of time in the water. Lots of fish and lots of interesting coral. The
boat skipper took us over some coral heads that have been core
sampled and are up to 1000 years old.
Into town (Exmouth) for
lunch and then a lazy afternoon. A walk up to the old lighthouse in
the late afternoon. Excellent views out over the bay and down the
ranges. Lots of humpback whales frolicking just offshore. In the far
distance out to sea a couple of gas drilling rigs are visible.
The Exmouth peninsula
is covered with defence installations. Tall antennae litter the
landscape. These installations date back to the Harold Holt era when
it was “All the way with LBJ”. The town of Exmouth didn't exist
until the yanks built these bases.
Three course dinner and
then some time on the computer uploading photos before bed.
Today we hired some
snorkels and fins from the caravan park. A ride down the Cape Range
NP coast road, stopping at various places that had been recommended
as good beaches to access the reef from.
High tide was midday,
so we went all the way down to Yardie Creek for coffee and a (very)
Of all the spots we'd
reconnoitred on the way down, South Mandu Beach looked the best. Easy
access from the car park to the beach, easy access from the beach to
the coral and not another person in view. Also as we'd 'checked' the
location out earlier in the morning, we sighted a couple of small
reef sharks chasing bait fish down the channel between the beach and
the coral. They dashed about at a great rate, scattering bait fish in
all directions. Sharks mmmm
There is an 'Eco' camp
)just behind the dunes, with swank looking safari tents etc., but it
The person who had
advised us to try South Mandu, had indicated that at high tide, the
current runs parallel to the beach, from south to north and that the
best way to snorkel, was to walk south along the beach and then drift
back with the current.
This worked like a
charm. We managed two 'trips' of about 20 minutes each, before having
a rest. Then a final trip as the tide was turning and we'd had enough
of being out in the sun.
Floating along in the
current about a metre above the coral was like being in a low flying
aircraft zooming over some alien landscape. Magic! Lots of fish of
all shapes, sizes and colours. Ditto the coral. This was a fitting
compliment to the boat trip of the previous day.
Tired but content we
headed back to camp to shower and prepare for dinner tonight. To late
Marco & Ursala remember that they'd left their swimming togs back
at the beach. It was a long ride back for Marco. I promised not to
start the beers until his return.
Tomorrow its south to Coral Bay.