It was our earliest wake up yet 4am but we were rewarded with an ever changing sky a good stretch of road with beautiful vistas and perfect temperatures (for a while at least). It’s not only the distances that are big out here the vehicles are too. We also encountered an unusual airstrip, the main road is used by the flying doctors in emergencies and they have priority, something else to look out for.
We made it to Exmouth by 2pm. Exmouth contains the Ningaloo Reef Marine Park with coral to rival the great barrier reef but snorkling distance from the shore. We were keen to explore.
Our timing was off it was the school holidays and all the cheap national park campsites were full, there were still plenty of commercial ones around but we had to stock up first.
It was only a small shopping centre and we chatted to many people before we could get to the shop, the townsfolk of Exmouth and the tourists were very friendly and generous with one family insisting on giving us a spontaneous donation to keep us going which we were extremely grateful for.
We used some of the money to purchase a snorkle for me and the rest went in the tank before we headed out to Yardie homestead campground.
Yardie proved a great base with really laid back managers who gave us good local info. It also had grassy sites our first grass for months, what joy to be able to bang the pegs in easily. They told us where to look for the turtles on the nearby beach so that was our afternoon covered. On our return to camp we spotted this double rainbow.
Next morning after doing some washing we headed to the national park pleased to find the entrance fee for bikes was half price at $5.Our first stop was the beach known as Oyster stacks which we had to visit at high tide so close was the coral. We spent an amazing couple of hours watching all manner of fish and even saw a stingray. We quickly realised that a day or two here would not be enough.
Next day we travelled to the end of the park and explored Yardee creek. It had a sand bar blocking the outlet to the sea and only breaks through on a king tide, we enjoyed a pleasant two hour nature walk and great views up along cliff edge.
We had no means of underwater photography so Kev rode into town one day to hire a camera whilst I cut my hair and caught up with the essentials. Our camp was very social and we got friendly with three fishermen down from Perth who gave us some of their fresh catch for dinner which we cooked on the bbq later, delicious. The galahs were also very friendly but didn’t try to steal our food.
One day we labelled black Wednesday started out promising enough the fishermen left early for the days catch, we had a good morning and by afternoon had decided to view the turtles again passing the fishermen on their way back before we headed up a different track. The sand started to get really deep and just as Kev was about to give up and park bang, no drive, the engine was fighting against the drag of the sand and our patched up drive cog sheared again. The bike stood up on its own in the sand but this time there was no way I was going to pull it out on my own as Kev would have sit on it to keep it upright.
I was just on the verge of walking back to camp to score a lift when a ute appeared we were in luck as it was the campsite managers. They deployed their winch to drag us out but it was attacked by the gremlins too and wouldn’t pull in so they hooked on and reversed the ute instead. I guided the bike while Kev sat on it to keep it upright. I rode back with them to camp leaving Kev to remove the drive box ready for when hopefully I would return with a lift to town.
Back at camp I approached the fishermen as they went into town most days. Their usual high spirits seemed missing and after explaining our woes they handed me a bottle of beer and packed a beer or two for Kev saying they had to go into town to fix their own problems anyway. On the way they explained that they had suffered an electrical fault on their morning fishing trip and lost all power culminating in them cutting the anchor free as they had no means to bring it in (not something you do lightly). They had to limp back to land on the auxilary emergency engine so their fishing trip was over if it couldn’t be fixed.
Kev was ready for us and in need of his beer when we collected him. Luckily the fishermen knew a good welder who was cheap and our repair was only $10. They weren’t so fortunate so would be heading home tomorrow. They dropped us back at the bike and we reassembled it quickly to return to camp for the night.
The whole Ningaloo marine park runs alongside a huge spit of land which is full of the big Red Kangaroos and emus, we had to be back before dusk every day or it got a bit hairy. The fishermans brand new ute had a stoved in door and wing from hitting a roo, they are like a lump of solid muscle and do a massive amount of damage if you hit one. The coast ranged from rocky to pristine sandy beaches to coral with all types of shells. Up at the lighthouse the view out to sea was so clear we could spot distant whales.
We stopped at Sandy bay a secluded curved shallow beauty, here we found the kite surfers and marvelled at their control of the wind and sea. A young lad swung right next to the beach picked up his girlfriend shot out to sea and dropped her back again barely getting her feet wet. Other people were doing tricks and jumps and it looked great fun.
Turquoise bay was described as drift snorkel, the idea being you gently drfted with the current but the wind was strong so I opted to let Kev test it first. He said it was like hitting the fast forward button no swimming required with a strong pull out to sea so we moved to another more sheltered and safer location. We were lucky enough to see a reef shark and stingrays in the shallows but they were too quick to catch on camera.
Over the course of our time here we explored every bay and snorkled every where we could, the colours were incredible and the varity of sea life outstanding especially as it was so close to shore but eventually it was time to move on.
Next up Quobba and the blowholes