14 June 2013

Coral Bay and Cape Range National Park

Coral Bay
Coral Bay surprised me greatly. Again, I imagined a beautiful idyllic place with a white sand beach. Much like Monkey Mia it has been so exploited by tourism that what might have been a serene, idyllic spot for snorkeling and recreation, is now a place of two caravan parks, a resort, a hostel, supermarket and a lively sports bar. If you want to swim with whale sharks this is the place to do it, if you have $700 to spare.

We did have a nice stay and even though the beach was not quite as I had imagined, it was a pretty, yellow sand beach with light blue, shallow water at least thirty meters until the sandy ground comes to a halt and continues down a steep cliff making the water a deep dark blue. But as the rest of Coral Bay the beach is naturally packed to the brim with tourists, and when we were there in mid-may it was only the start of the high season. (Book a camping spot in advance!) The impact of tourists is also apparent in the ocean. When snorkeling, the visibility in the water is so bad that you can't see a thing. Bayview Caravan Park, where we stayed was alright, nice staff and showers(you appreciate showers more after camping at a remote camping ground with no facilities).
Turquoise Bay

Cape Range National Park is most known for the Ningaloo Reef, the Western Australian competitor of the Great Barrier Reef. To get there you can either do a hardcore 4WD trip and cut through directly from Coral Bay or you have to go via Exmouth about a two hour drive from Coral Bay. We wanted to see Exmouth as well as a supermarket to buy supplies for the next two days(that's how long we thought we would stay). We also made a stop at the Visitor Information Centre to get advice on how to spend our days in the area. A warning sign displaying three different kinds of dangerous jelly fish was by the front desk. Fun fact: We asked a staff if this was true and she laughed and said: "Honestly I don't know why that poster is there. It is really, really unlikely that anything like that will happen." Random information to display if it's nothing to worry about. Anyway. We drove to the National Park Entry and talked to a ranger, turned out we were lucky to even get a camping spot for the night. Except the one that was the furthest away from the entrance, Kurrajong, all the others (7 altogether) were full for the night. When we got there it dawned on us that one night might be enough. There was no place in any campground in the area to hide from the burning sun, and camping on the rough, rocky ground was not ideal.
Sunset at Turquoise Bay

After sorting out our tents at the camp ground we went snorkeling at Turquoise Bay that was supposed to be the best spot. The rumours were partly true: Hundred meters from the beach, there were big sea turtles and sharks(not the kind that will feast on you). And when the sun was setting we discovered the true meaning of the location name, the ocean turned into a gorgeous turquoise.

On the way back we were close to hitting at least three kangaroos crossing the road. What makes it worse is that once you get close to them they stop in the middle of the road and stare directly at you for a while and then move on. Hard to avoid hitting them if you're driving fast. The campground caretakers turned out to take their jobs quite seriously. When we came back our speed was a little bit faster than it was supposed to be and while we were getting ready for bed, the campground keeper came over and blinded us with his bright torch yelling at us for driving too fast and asking who forgot to close the door to the bathroom. Slightly awkward and I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have addressed someone above 40 like that.

There was no water at the campsite and the next morning I went down to the ocean on the rocks to do the dishes. Funny thing, but that was the first time I felt that we were far from civilization, even though we were only half an hour from Exmouth.
Lakeside- pretty but not for snorkeling
Before leaving we checked out a few places for snorkeling and sunbathing, Oyster Stacks and Lakeside. At Oyster Stacks there was no beach but the snorkeling was amazing. We didn't see turtles and sharks there, but not far from the rocks on the shore there were beautiful fish in every shape, colour and pattern. After Turquoise Bay I was slightly disappointed, but Oyster Stacks absolutely redeemed Cape Range National Park.
Oyster Stacks
It was unrealistic to reach Karijini National Park before dark driving directly from Exmouth, so we decided to stop in Coral Bay for the night. After spending nearly two whole days in the scorching sun and salty ocean, a shower was also welcome.

The morning after we were on our way to Karijini National Park, one of my favourite places on the trip.

1 comment:

  1. You must all be very strong as you can endure such long days in the sun and the sea and then camp on rocks afterwards without water. You amaze me. Again the landscape seems very special and like not much else on Earth. Nice reporting!