By: Peter & Dawn Van Duren
Location: Australia - Western Australia - Coral Bay
Before we left Carnarvon, we made enquires as to the availability of a caravan site at one of the two Coral Bay caravan parks. We were told that they were both chock o block full and we'd be lucky to get space for a van as big as ours anyway.
People we'd shared a beer with along our journey so far had also told us about 14 Mile Beach at Warroora Station, which is a working sheep station with 50klm of coastline along the Ningaloo Marine Park and has great fishing and snorkelling opportunities. Not two people to pass up an adventure, we decided that this is where we'd plant ourselves for a few days provided we could get our caravan into the camping area along the dirt roads. So off we went, out along highway No.1 from Carnarvon, bright and early on the Monday morning.
Now as you go further North, the towns become more spread out and the landscape rarely changes. Most of the way from Carnarvon to the Minilya Roadhouse was low scrub and desert grass plus a few Termite mounds thrown in for good measure. Still numerous dead Kangaroos along the road mixed with a few head of cattle and the odd sheep & dead Emu.
We stopped for coffee at the Roadhouse and proceeded along about another 500mts to the Coral Bay / Exmouth turn off. We'd only been travelling along the road for 1/2 an hour or so before we came to a turnoff to Warroora Station. We paused for a few minutes before continuing down the dirt road and whilst sitting there, a Harley Electra Gluide came by with rider & pillion towing a trailer. Just shows you go almost anywhere in Australia on a bike.... hmm..... food for thought for a next time trip perhaps?
The road was a good solid dirt road with only a few small areas of lose sand & gravel which we got through without any problem.
Another 1/2 an hour, saw us come to another turnoff which lead to our destination at 14 Mile beach on the coastal fringe of the station.
This road was a little more primative and the sand & gravel potholes were slightly larger so a bit more caution was needed to negotiate the track. Along the way we spotted a few Kangaroos as well as large Termite mounds which dotted the landscape and we were kept waiting for about 10 minutes whilst the station drovers herded a mob of very clean, healthy looking sheep across the road in front of us. It was great to see!
We finally arrived at the caretakers caravan and were offered a spot about 50 mtrs behind the Caretakers van and 70 mts from the water. It did not take long to set up despite the soaring heat at the middle of the day. We'd stay here for two nights at a total cost of $20. (a bargain) The Caretaker was more than helpful in suggesting places to see and great spots to see some Coral and undersea life.
We were amazed at the amount of people staying right on the beach here and speaking with them, some had been there for 7 weeks and were not leaving for at least another 2 months. They had small generators, clean driniking water which they had to travel into Coral Bay for (40klm) and bore water for showers & washing. This was like a little township on its own!
Over the next two days, we drove along the sandy tracks to the Ningaloo Marine Park Nursery. The water was just beautiful and clear and you could see beneath without goggles in some cases. The pics I have do not do it justice as the colours we very diverse in their intensity which ranged from light blues to aqua to turquoise..... stunning!
We spotted little Kangaroos toward dusk on both evenings and we lost count of how many stars we could see each night after tea sitting with a cuppa at about 10pm enjoying the cool breeze before hitting the sack.
We had a go at fishing from the rocks with only minimal success. (We did not put the boat in because we were only going to be here for a couple of nights.) We did see what he boaties were catching out between the reef & shoreline and the fish were not overly big anyway, so we weren't too disappointed.
On our second day we reached the Marine Park Nursery and walked amongst the Coral at low tide finding all sorts of sea life including a Stone Fish, (no camera at hand at the time) Sea slug, Octopus, Huge Clams and lots of colourful crabs... an amazing place and beautiful to see.
In all, our diversion from Coral Bay was worth it as we had plenty of space around us, peaceful nights, two glorious sunny hot days & lots to see & do.
If we had not run out of battery power in the van, I recon we'd still be there!