Time to leave Kalbarri and continuing our trek north to experience many of the coastal attractions on offer. Stopping for an overnighter at Carnarvon, we continued to Denham where we based ourselves for a few days. Our main desire for this leg of the trip was to visit Monkey Mia, the home of the famous dolphins which come into shore daily to be fed. Arriving at the Marine Park fairly early, the dolphins were right on queue. When wading into the knee deep water, we were really lucky as there was over 12 dolphins which were quite content to swim very close to shore with 5 (including a 4 month old baby) coming into shore to have a morning feed. We were less than a metre away from these guys…what a great and unique experience! But it got better! Just imagine Grant’s delight when he was plucked from the crowd to be one of the volunteers to feed one of these beautiful creatures – he was just like a big kid…you couldn’t wipe the smile from his face!
Returning to the park, we packed up to get ready and move on. Just as we’re ready to leave, we were both surprised, as we didn’t realise we had been harbouring a visitor by our van…when we connected our van’s stone stomper (stone guard) a “lovely”?? snake appeared from underneath and headed towards the front of the car. Not knowing whether it was venomous or not, it didn’t matter…I just jumped for the camera and managed to snap the 2m + visitor before he escaped into the bushes. Grant’s and my heart both skipped a beat as who knows how long he’d been hiding under the van for!
With hearts back at resting pace, we continued the trip to Coral Bay. With its spectacular turquoise coloured water and fantastic white beaches, we bunked there for a few days in a great park (People’s Park) directly opposite the beach. We had heard the park was a popular one and it was so true. It wasn’t even tourist season and the park was well over 50% capacity when we arrived.
Our highlight for staying at Coral Bay was taking a snorkelling tour to swim with manta rays. What a buzz! Luckily for us, these guys don’t have stinging barbs and are completely harmless…but are they big! Booking our trip with Coral Bay Eco Tours, it was pretty well a full day trip which took us to the inner reef where we were able to first snorkel on a coral reef to hone our skills before swimming with the “main attraction”. To assist in locating the manta rays, spotter planes are sent up to locate them, and then once spotted, the boat steams forward very fast towards the manta ray’s location. Frantically, it’s then “go, go, go” as the snorkellers jump into the water and before you know it, the manta ray is swimming below you, only a couple of metres away at the most. What an incredible sight!
The experience was amazing…seeing these graceful animals often with around a 4 metre wing span doing “loop the loops” below you as they swim and feed, filtering the plankton with their mouth open (which alone was almost 1 metre wide!) Seeming quite relaxed with our presence, we were lucky enough to do numerous swims with these fantastic creatures during the day, and felt very privileged to be able to swim with them in their natural environment.
Our next stop was Exmouth. Originally set up in the 1960’s as a communication station for the US, the town is now more famous for the Ningaloo reef which covers much of its coastline and goes all the way south to Coral Bay as part of the Cape Range National Park.
Basing ourselves here for a few days, we checked out the new marina being built, visited the Mildura shipwreck which can be seen from the beach, and visited the now defunct Vlaming Head Lighthouse. But we knew there was much more to be seen in Exmouth by visiting Ningaloo Reef from the Cape Range National Park. We decided to head down there for a couple of nights free camping, and had no troubles getting in to the Lakeside campsite to set up camp. Lakside is right next to the beach and has a tidal lake adjacent to the beach with around 8 campsites.
Being rather busy with other campers when we arrived, we backed the van in went about setting up. However, it wasn’t long before we realised there was an issue….the high tide was extraordinarily high and it was obvious the lake was starting to overflow and fill up the car park, with water coming closer to the campsites very quickly! Becoming a little anxious, we watched the water come very close before receding. Finding out later in the afternoon that the tide was the highest all year (1.8m), we don’t think we would have stayed if we had known otherwise. The ranger visited later that day to indicate that the tide the following day would be larger again (1.9m), so the camp area was now closed and we needed to vacate in the morning before the next high tide. Not to miss a good opportunity before having to move, we took our snorkelling gear down to the beach and swam out to the reef which that beach is renowned for, and using the current, observed a lot of coral, fish and a few stingrays before coming back to shore.
Next morning we packed up and moved to the Kurrajong campsite – not so nice as there was little shade and it was around 37 degrees and a storm was coming! However, the beach was still pretty good and the water extremely warm. Before leaving the National Park, we took a boat tour on Yardie Creek Gorge – being the only passengers we had a personal tour…fantastic! We were definitely lucky to spot a few rock wallabies whose rock hopping on the huge gorge walls was great to watch.
Leaving the National Park, there was one important date we had back in Exmouth which I had been looking forward to for sooooooo long….we were going to swim with the Whale Sharks!! Telling both parents thats what we had planned to do raised all sorts of comments, such as “you’re crazy”! We had researched a variety of tour operators and decided to go with 3 Islands Whale Shark Dives. Growing up to 15 metres in length, swimming with whale sharks had been high on my bucket list for a few years! Well the tour was great! We managed to swim with 4 sharks, the last being around 8m in length. Trying to describe how good it was to swim alongside an animal of this size in its own habitat (and it not try to eat you!!) was the opportunity of a lifetime. You have just gotta do it!
Well after an action packed time on the coast, we needed a holiday 🙂
Join us next time as we travel into “mining” territory at Tom Price, and stay at the stunning Karajini National Park.
Grant & Linda.
|Kms Travelled Total 9,659|