Water Wonderworld at Ningaloo Coast

After the fantastic Pinnacles, pretty Pink Lake and hot Kalbarri National Park, it was time to hit the water and therefore we headed north.

Hot Drive up to Monkey Mia

On the way out of Kalbarri, we stopped again at the national park for two more looks at the canyon and even spotted some emus on the side of the road.

It was now really getting very hot and the car dashboard showed 43 degrees in no time. The road was very straight for many kilometres and we were quite happy once we reached the turnoff for Monkey Mia (the roadhouse at the turnoff was even home of some goats and sheep).

Just after the turnoff, we stopped at Hamelin Pools to see some more stromatolites. Again an impressive sight under the very hot sky.

Stromatolites at Hamelin Pool
Stromatolites at Hamelin Pool

After another 150km we reached Denham where we stocked up on supplies and half an hour later we finally reached Monkey Mia. By now we were even used to pitching up our tent in stormy weather.

Dolphins at Monkey Mia

After a good night’s sleep on the very nice campground, we headed for the beach to see the resident dolphins. They swim right up to the beach where they are fed a few fishes every morning from the local researchers.

Can't get any Closer - Dolphins at Monkey Mia
Can’t get any Closerer – Dolphins at Monkey Mia

This started 25 years ago and by now they can trace some of the dolphins back a few generations. It is definitely quite an experience to see these majestic creatures from so near.

The rest of the day we spent reading, swimming in the super clear water and relaxing. Besides the dolphins, the campground was also home to some naughty emus which regularly inspected the kitchen for some food (and even lay a stinker or two). We were especially impressed by their massive claws – one definitely doesn’t want to mess with them.

In the evening also some kangaroos and bunnies showed up.

Naughty Guests at the Camp Kitchen
Naughty Guests at the Camp Kitchen

Monkey Mia is really a paradise-like corner of Australia definitely worth the drive.

Excellent Aquarium at Denham

The next morning after watching the dolphin feeding again it was time to head off. For once, the drive was short as we wanted to stay a night in nearby Denham which is not only the most western city of Australia but also has a great aquarium.

Although it was more of a research/rescue station and we loved the excellent tour and the shark feeding.

The next day we first stopped at Eagle Bluff on the way out from the peninsula. From the elevated viewing platform, we saw quite a few sharks, rays and turtles. Australia is really amazing for wildlife spotting, as almost every day there are some animals to see.

A few kilometres later we stopped at Shell Beach which really consists of millions of shells (so no false advertisement for once). It was very hot again on our drive further up north to Carnarvon and the quicksilver (or rather its digital equivalent) showed 44 degrees.

Shells at Shell Beach
Shells at Shell Beach

Up to Coral Bay for the Ningaloo Reef

On the well maintained Coral Coast Tourist Park we met a friendly Swiss couple which has been travelling in Australia for almost a year already. Always nice to meet some friendly travellers.

The next day was devoted to relaxing and reading before heading out to buy some local fruits. Carnarvon has a bit of a food industry and so we scored some melons and zucchinis before having some fish and chips for dinner.

After a good nights sleep, we were off again towards Coral Bay about 200 kilometres north of Carnarvon.

The very nice Ningaloo Coral Bay – Bayview Campground was home for the next three days. Coral Bay is just lovely with its cristal clear water and corals just a few meters out. It’s a great spot snorkelling and so we booked a tour for the next day through our campground.

Close Encounters with Sharks and Rays

It was a great day. First, the boat brought us to a cleaning station where we saw about five reef sharks being cleaned by small fishes. Reef sharks are quite harmless (at least so they say) and so we were to live another day.

This was good as later on we saw a few very big manta rays – absolutely fantastic to see them up close. They told us we were very lucky to see seven of them at one go. Besides that, there were also quite a number of nice reef fishes and later on, we saw some smaller rays just at the beach. What a day.

The next day in the afternoon we walked along the beach to the nearby shark nursery. And indeed we spotted some sharks just next to the beach. Some more snorkelling off the beach rounded up our stay at beautiful Coral Bay.

Escaping the Heat at Exmouth

The next day it was time to head to Exmouth the most northern stop on our Western Australia trip.

On the way there we crossed a few hundreds big, fat termites mounds which reminded us of the ones in the Northern Territories.

Termite Mounds on the way to Exmouth
Termite Mounds on the way to Exmouth

It was about 40 degrees again and even on the campground, it felt like being in an oven.

Initially, we thought to make it all the way up to Broom but by then we decided that it was just too hot and as you go further north it will just get hotter and wetter (not to speak of adding a further 1000 km to the journey). So yet another reason to come back one day

Cape Range National Park

The best way to escape the heat was to hit the water and so we went snorkelling again. Cape Range National Park is just the place for it.

Very Hot Cape Range National Park
Very Hot Cape Range National Park

First, we saw some beautiful and quite sizeable fishes at Oyster Stack Beach before doing some drift snorkelling at Turquoise Bay. Drift snorkelling is really quite cool as you just need to walk up the beach a few hundred meters, go into the water and let yourself be carried by the current (can’t get any lazier). The only thing you need to make sure it that you make it back to shore in time before the currents turn and push you out to the open sea. We were lucky and even saw a flat nose ray.

Cape Range National Park
Cape Range National Park

On the way back we stopped at a lighthouse lookout which offered a breathtaking view of the endless coast. It was also the site of a WWII radar station.

Great View of Cape Range National Park
Great View of Cape Range National Park

Also nearby are some Very Low-Frequency antennas. They were originally used by the US and Australia in the cold war to communicate with submarines and are still part of an active communication network. The tallest one is over 300 meters high.

Last but not least we also saw the Mildura Wreck just off the coast. Later on, we even had some late-night entertainment in the form of a meteor shower. Okay, to be fair we ‘only’ saw about five shooting stars (but hey, not too bad).

Mildura Wreck
Mildura Wreck

Long Drive back where it all started

As we were now all the way up in Exmouth we needed to get back to Perth which meant a lot of driving. So the next day we headed off early to get 850 km done. Again Australia is really very big and especially up north there is a lot of nothingness. So we were quite happy when we reached Geraldton in the late afternoon.

The next day we had a look at the sand dunes in Lancelin before pitching our tent in nearby Ledge Point.

Sand Dunes at Lancelin
Sand Dunes at Lancelin

The next day we headed down to Mandurah just south of Perth.


Where to pitch your tent:

Monkey Mia

Coral Bay and Exmouth

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