Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cape Range NP, Ningaloo Reef

Getting into Cape Range NP is quite an experience. They have 7 bush campsites, each along a pristine beach within the park and along the reef and no bookings are taken. One needs to queue up early in the morning (6.00am) and the ranger checks at 8.00am each morning as to how many people are leaving and how many spots are available that morning. This is done by radio communications with the camp host at each camp site. Approximately 12-15 lucky cars get in and the rest have to try again the next day. We turned up at 5.30am and were first in the queue.

Once you get in you can stay up to a month and move from one camp site to the next. Your vacated spot is snapped up by another camper. There are toilets provided but you need to carry your own water.

The photo above is of the queue at the ranger station at the entry point to the park.

Cape Range NP means the Ningaloo Reef - photo above. It is a 200 km long coral reef running along the coast of Western Australia and it is Australia’s largest and most accessible fringing reef system. The Barrier Reef may be more spectacular but the Ningaloo Reef is very accessible to anyone swimming in the lagoon between the reef and the beaches along the coast parallel to the reef. The lagoons provide sheltered and safe harbours for great snorkling. April to July whale sharks swim within the lagoon. They are apparently gentle creatures of the deep and swimming with them is an experience.

We were at Ningaloo out of season for the whale sharks and unfortunately for us the weather was not the best for snorkling, with strong winds and swells lasting two weeks. We still managed to enjoy ourselves swimming in the crystal clear turquoise waters of the lagoon.

This photo is of Coral Bay, some 165 kms further south but still on the Ningaloo Reef. The reef is even closer to the edge of the water.
Large spangled Emperors swim close to the shore, you feel you could catch them in your hands but it is a sanctuary with no fishing allowed. Coral Bay is pretty but a tourist place pure and simple. We spent the day there and moved on.

This is our attempt to stay on the right side of the law. Peter and Sharon are police people (coppers) whom we met up with and travelled together with at various free camp spots. When there are two vehicles you get even more adventurous than being on one's own. Peter also endeared himself to us by giving us one of the fish he had caught.
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1 comment:

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