Western Australia’s Coral Coast

Our 'famous' whale watching trip

Our ‘famous’ whale watching trip

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Underwater fun for Cameron

Ningaloo Reef is an exceedingly dynamic 286km stretch of fringing coral reef, meaning it is situated close to shore, located just off the white sandy beaches from Exmouth down to Coral Bay.   For us, it has been the best place we’ve ever been for the variety and sheer volume of marine life and corals, indicating a very healthy reef, so an incredible place to snorkel and dive.IMG_8794

We started at Exmouth watching humpback whales frolic on the far side of the reef from the beach, went snorkelling at the amazing Oyster Stacks in the Cape Range National Park and booked on a dive/snorkelling tour with the excellent team at Ninagloo Whaleshark Swim.  With only a small number of tourists and a fun dive team, we had a brilliant day on the reef snorkelling over ‘bombies’ tall coral towers that attract hundreds of rainbow-coloured tropical fish. The boys practising their snorkelling ‘diving’ with Jeremy, one of the dive crew, all over the reef peering under corals and into caves like the little fish they are becoming, with me trying to keep up with above on the surface, and Ben scuba diving below us all.    We also met the lovely Phil, who served the most excellent breakfast baps from his funky van at the caravan park we stayed in, he and Ben had a lot in common!

 

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From Exmouth we drove down to Coral Bay, the southern end of the Reef where we did the incredible (and newsworthy!) Manta Ray trip that turned into a unique whale experience too.   Not only seeing but hearing the Humpback Whales as they splashed so close around us was magical, and following this up by swimming 2 metres from the huge Manta Rays made it our best ‘nature’ day ever.

Ben and Ollie also did a fun ‘sea-doo’ trip, looking like something out of a James Bond movie, while Cameron and I snorkelled off the beach.

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If you want to see incredible marine life forget the Great Barrier Reef, Ningaloo is simply beautiful and still unspoilt by mass tourism.

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More natural wonders awaited us at Shark Bay, another world heritage site that includes Monkey Mia, famous for dolphins coming into the beach, and as Ollie mentioned in his post, where we also saw Dugongs. Unsurprisingly, it is also a fantastic place to do some shark watching (and there are plenty in the shallow waters to see).  Shell Beach is one of only two beaches in the world made up entirely of the shells, here up to 10 metres deep.  It is also home to another stranger ‘animal’ the stromatolites which are the world’s oldest living organisms (only about 3.5 million years!)

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Stromatolites

DSC04837We stayed here at Denham, where the boys made friends with the son of the park owner (and his dog) and they had lots of fun together paddle-boarding and kayaking in the gorgeous shallow bay.  It is also good for the boys to ‘find’ friends on the road, as they do need the company of other kids, and it has been quite hard on them at times.

 

Boom-netting

Boom-netting

 

Waiting for the dolphins to arrive.

Waiting for the dolphins to arrive.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Kalbarri,
 further south down the Coral Coast, was our last stop before Perth, with stunning rugged coastlines and a national park with more spectacular gorges and lookouts, including ‘nature’s window’.

DSC05189DSC05109It is also wildflower season here, and the countryside is covered in multi-coloured blooms, a big change from the endless bush scenery we’ve been used to on our long drives.   We also had our first rain in 9 weeks which was a novelty, and thankfully coincided with us having a break from camping for this bit, so we didn’t get wet either!

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