Ningaloo Reef

We arrived in Exmouth and spent 2 nights at the Ningaloo Caravan & Holiday Resort. Great park right on the main road and central to everything and right opposite the information centre.  The in-house restaurant was great too, we ate dinner there on our last night and loved our meals. Great atmosphere sitting on the deck covered in fairy lights and overlooking the pool.IMG_7540Our main reason for visiting Exmouth was so that we could snorkel the World Heritage Listed Ningaloo Reef.  The Ningaloo Reef, an intricate reef system stretching over 260km, is one of the world’s largest fringing reefs. Ningaloo Reef is a fringing reef, rather than a barrier reef, meaning that it is closer to the shore with shallow water separating the land and reef.IMG_7541We spent a day in Exmouth out snorkelling the pristine reef and we weren’t disappointed, another tick off the bucket list. We drove out to the Cape Range National Park which is full of turnoffs to various beaches and campgrounds. We went snorkelling at Lakeside, which had a self guided snorkel area.IMG_7573We literally walked in off the beach and we were there swimming above the coral and with the most colourful fish, stingrays, reef sharks, turtles …… to have these creatures swimming past or gliding under you was really a sight to see.IMG_7655Personally I enjoyed this a lot more than our snorkelling trip to the Great Barrier Reef.IMG_7578Whilst in Exmouth, we also drove to Shothole Canyon, this 4WD track takes you right through the base of the canyon.  It’s not the smoothest of rides as you drive in and out of rivers/creek beds (all dry), but the scenery is quite nice.

It’s also worth taking a drive out to the Vlamingh Head Lighthouse.  This gives a great view over the Ningaloo Reef.img_4452

We do love a good shipwreck story so we headed out to see the SS Mildura Shipwreck – During a cyclone in 1907, the SS Mildura (a cattle ship) came to grief on the reef.  The crew were rescued, but they let all the cattle free.  Unfortunately most of them drowned trying to make it to shore.  The hull of the ship was later used for bombing practice in WW2.  The wreck can still be seen quite clearly at low tide.IMG_7557

Anchor from the SS Mildura

Another unique thing about Exmouth is their resident emus! They wander the park and the streets and it’s not unusual to see them wandering around the town.  The morning we left we saw traffic waiting for one to cross the main road outside the caravan park!IMG_7518
Next up we were headed to Coral Bay for 2 nights.  Coral Bay is a tiny little beach town on the coast of WA and it’s absolutely beautiful. Like Exmouth, the Ningaloo Reef runs through the waters of Coral Bay aswell, but it’s even closer to the waters edge here. IMG_7595IMG_7596From our caravan park, we simply had to cross the road and we are on the beach, take a few steps further and you can already see the fish swimming on the shoreline. At low tide you probably only need to walk a couple of meters and you are ready to explore the coral and fish.IMG_7605IMG_7655The waters around both Exmouth and Coral Bay are beautiful.  The blue, green, aqua and turquoise of the water are a sight to see, it’s even more beautiful than it appears in the pictures.  And the water is so crystal clear, you can see right through it, so pristine.IMG_7656This area is also famous for their whale sharks and the ability to swim with them (we didn’t do this as we ran out of time to be able to book in on a trip), but hopefully one day we will be back. As well as whale sharks, there are humpback whales, dugongs, turtles and of course the reef sharks and fish.IMG_7674Today we booked on a 1 hour cruise on the glass bottom boat and this was well worth the money. We saw a lot of coral and many, many fish. We even fed some of the fish which was fun! It was a fun, informative cruise and we got some great photos through the glass bottom of the boat – wish we had of had an underwater camera to capture these shots while we were snorkelling.

The coral here isn’t as colourful as other areas we’ve seen (eg Fiji) as this is hard coral and this normally takes on the more earthy tones, rather than the typical colourful coral you tend to see in photographs, which are generally from your soft corals.


Fish feeding

George went in for a snorkel after our cruise, but it was a little cool for Shelly today (ok, it was 25 degrees, which may sound great to our poor rain soaked Sydney-siders back at home, but what can we do!).IMG_7586After lunch we went for another drive up along the dunes and found our own little piece of beach all to ourselves.IMG_7666Coral Bay is a little slice of paradise and we can see why it’s so popular as a holiday destination for WA locals.  

A visit to the Ningaloo Coast should be on everyone’s bucket list, it really is an amazingly beautiful part of the country.

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