After the amazing Coral Bay we headed further up the Ningaloo Reef to a National Park on the coral coast which is just near Exmouth. We were originally planning to travel up the beach camp along the coast at Ningaloo Station but Yardie Creek had been flowing for a number of weeks following the cyclone that came through in early March and the locals don’t expect the creek to be passable for a few years.
On the way to Cape Range we took a short side trip into Charles Knife Gorge to the Charles Knife gorge Lookout. At the start of the track it warns that you should not take caravans and when we reached the track we reailsed why – the road was a good unsealed road but it was a narrow and winding road with cliff edges and some parts where only one vehicle could pass. The drive was spectacular although were not impressed greatly with the lookout. We had timed the drive with our planned lunch stop and parked to enjoy spectacular views down into the gorges and out to the Exmouth Gulf.
We drove through Exmouth and had a brief look around and we found the BIG prawn (locals have nick named him Shaun the Prawn) and the BIG whale shark but the kids and dad didn’t rate the whale shark as ‘big’ given it was smaller than the one we swam with so they all refused to pose and I had no option but to do a selfie of myself and the Exmouth Whale Shark!
At Cape Range we were lucky to get a spot on Osprey Loop camp ground with a view of the beach. The Cape Range National Park require booking online which is annoying as you can not book less than 48hours ahead. Cape Range NP has just had a make over and they have good new bush loos. We were here for Mothers day and I was spoiled with lovely breakfast and cards from all three kids.
We loved being in a National Park rather than a caravan park – MORE space. At Cape Range NP we had a pretty relaxing time for three nights apart from the daily school work we did a bit of fishing again without any luck. The snorkeling from our camp was okay but then we went around to Turquoise Beach and the snorkeling was fantastic apart form being a stunning beach with white sand and crystal clear water the beach has amazing snorkeling. It was understandably busy with tourists but there was lots of interesting coral and fish and we found a turtle and Holly, Aaron and I swam with him for about half an hour. This was my mothers day highlight.
From Cape Range we headed down to Yardie Creek (Northern side) and walked along the cliff edge to view Yardie Creek Gorge. The views were stunning. It was clear to see why the creek was unpassable!
We all enjoyed the walk and scramble along the cliff taking in the view and watching an Osprey flying down and catching fish in the creek below. I was constantly asking the kids to take care and not go close the edge – a little nerve racking at times. This Gorge was the first of many we will be seeing and we all enjoyed the walk.
On the way back to camp Andrew had to try a small track heading into the hills it was marked on our Hema map and he wanted to check it out. At the Exmouth information centre they didn’t even know the track existed and our map suggested it was a shortcut back to the main road thru the range. So we drove up and it was the first time in a while Andrew got to use his new low range. The track was rough and rocky and we went up for a few kilometres before turning enjoying the sunset and heading back to camp. We later found out it was a mining track that is now used by the nearby military base for training.
Whilst at Cape Range we went snorkelling every day there are a number of beautiful beaches with different fish and coral our favourite one was Turquoise Bay where we you enter off the beach and there is an amazing reef with huge coral bombies formations. We were lucky enough to find a gorgeous big loggerhead turtle and Aaron Holly and I swam with it for about half an hour – a really special experience.
The Coral Coast is beautiful and it is clear to see why the Ningaloo Reef and the surrounding area is World Heritage listed. We were a bit sad to be leaving but it was time to head inland and get into some more gorges at Karijini.