Anyhow, we are now in a wonderful place called Coral Bay. I hesitate to call it a town as it is really just a couple of caravan parks, a hotel and a few restaurants, but it is certainly lovely whatever you want to call it. It is a at the southern end of the Ningaloo Reef.
That means fish. Lots of fish.
But before I get to that, a little update on what we have done since Broome. We headed out of town and down the Great Northern Highway. We had a drive day and only stopped for fuel and to pop our toes in the water at 80 mile beach. On the note of fuel we had a pleasant surprise when we learned that our huuuge van is not to shabby on fuel economy. She gets about 9.5 L/100km, which considering she is over 5 meters long and has heaps of room inside her is pretty good. Also the fuel she drinks is diesel which is a bit cheaper here anyways. So yay!
We passed through Port Hedland, a dirty mining town and port city. It did have lots of nice statues and such and a few cosmetic touch ups, but a dirty mining city and port it remains. Everything is covered in iron dust and is thus rusty looking.
We left after stocking up there and continued on the Great Northern south towards Newman. This road is chockers full of road trains. Like one every 45 seconds or so coming the other direction. They are the ore carriers too so four trailers all squirming around. Kinda alarming I must say.
Anyhow we were aiming for Karijini National Park. We have heard amazing things about it from almost everyone we have met all the way across the country. Due to fading light we decided to park up a bit less than a 100 kms shy at a lovely rest area a few kms off the road and up a ridge with a beautiful view down a gorge.
The next morning early we left for the park. We ended up spending two more nights in the park and explored a pretty good chunk of it. It was full of gorgeous gorges and chilly swimming holes. This deserves a whole post of its own with some pictures so I will leave it at that for now.
Beyond Karijini was Tom Price for fuel and a stock up, then onwards towards the coast. This part of Australia is truly beautiful. The colors and the landscapes are so impressive. Much of our driving across has been long straight roads across flat areas of scrub. Here there are towering mesas and rolling hills, and sweeping panoramas. It was one of our favorite roads. Passed probably four cars on the near 250km stretch from Paraburdoo to the next roadhouse back on a more main highway.
We had a night along that stretch where we had a bit of a problem with our fridge, and I thought it might be a voltage thing so I went to start the car and it didnt, just a click and the dash lights. So we pushed it up a little rise and found that it is actually a really easy engine to roll start. We drove around for a bit then parked up again. In the morning the same thing, we had to roll start. We left all the electronics and air con off for an hour then stopped. Same thing
By this point we were thinking battery shot, alternator, starter, all sorts of things. Eventually I checked the battery and it had slid slightly in its housing and the negative terminal just barely touched the body of the van. Pushed it back, and it solved all the problems. Yay!
That morning we had left before the sun came up and just drove and drove. We had a short break for lunch in scorching sun, and terrible flies before arriving in Exmouth in the afternoon. We have both been looking forward to this since we landed in Cairns. From Exmouth you go up around the end of the Cape and then down the other side and you arrive in the Ningaloo Reef World Heritage Site and the Cape Range National Park.
We ended up spending four nights there, snorkeling off the beach several times a day. It was great. This was Angies first time she remembers swimming with tropical fishes, and for those that know her she likes fish, and looooves swimming with them. Add in the Indian Ocean and a coral reef, and you have a pretty happy girl.
That is another post all by itself too. We took hundreds of videos snorkeling there. It will take some time before we get those all put together, but you shall see them eventually!
After leaving Exmouth, we headed south a couple hours to where we are now. This is a spot that many people, both from Angies work, and tour guides from my work have told us is amazing.
Like I said, not really a town. No kids, no school, just residences for people who work here and on the dive boats. Speaking of which, we went out on a snorkel tour!
It was yesterday and it was exceptional. We went out with Coral Bay Ecotours on about 6-7 hour trip. The first snorkel site was nice and deep, probably 10-15m, and was just spectacular. The visibility was second to none. We saw a couple sea turtles (another first for Angie) and lots of fish.
The second spot was not for swimming for people, but it certainly was for turtles. There were dozens of them all coming up for air around the boat. We also saw a giant sting ray there. It was probably getting close to 2m across!
The main attraction of the tour was next. Swimming with manta rays! We got in and followed one as it fed along the shallow sandy bottom for the best part of 30 mins. It was at most 5 m from us down on the bottom, and sometimes much closer, but given that it was about 3.5 meters from wingtip to wingtip and a bit more from nose to tail, that is pretty close!
They are such amazingly graceful creatures! It was lovely to follow it around. At one point there were even two of them swimming line astern. We both enjoyed it a lot.
We had a couple more snorkels after that, one of them to see a giant 2m loggerhead turtle eating starfish as he cruised along. It was an amazing day and we had so much fun and would recommend it to anyone.
Today we are taking a day off from the sun...Getting some laundry done, doing this, reading lots.
We have been here two nights now, and we have another two booked before we head south again. We dont really know what the road ahead holds, but that is pretty exciting!
Stay tuned for pictures and videos!