A Travellerspoint blog

Middle Lagoon

Natures Hideaway

sunny 32 °C

It was a leisurely pack up this morning as we left Broome around 8am and made our way up the Cape Leveque road. The first 14km is bitumen and then it turns into a mix of red sand and flat rock and the width varies from a one lane ditch to wide flat open sided areas. Being early in the dry season the road had been graded recently and was in pretty good condition with the exception of some corrugated sections near the end of the dirt. We were able to sit on about 70km most of the way taking it easy as we weren’t in a hurry.

The dirt section is around 85km long and then it reverts back to bitumen. Once you get to the turn off to Middle Lagoon there is 34km of sandy track to negotiate to get to the campground. This road was also in good condition and an easy drive taking around 40 minutes. We had pre-booked a camp site called Bluey’s which was a large elevated site overlooking the lagoon with great views of the long beautiful beach and rocky headland protecting the small bay. The site had large shady trees to camp under with an open section for the solar panels, a fire pit and water tap. There were also bushes which gave protection from the wind, although there was very little wind on the three days we were there. This site was away from the main camp area and very private with a short walk to flushing toilets, solar heated showers, laundry and filtered water taps.

The campground was not very busy when we were there and the popular camp sites seemed to be on the ridge/clifftop overlooking the western beach. We could have camped here but these sites are very close together with no shade and exposed to the full force of any wind. Another reason not to camp there is the idiots that run generators all day spoiling any peace while looking at the nice view of the beach and ocean. Our pick of the sites at Middle Lagoon would be Bluey’s or Lino’s, both huge private protected sites with amazing views
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Middle Lagoon is a beautiful place, the beaches are pristine and littered with a huge variety of shells, the ocean calm and clear, and the place has a sense of peace about it that makes it impossible not to relax here. The only down side for us was the midges and mosquitoes which snuck up on us the first night, before we realised we were being bitten.

There are great walks to do here, the lagoon beach is a long sandy curved beach which finishes at a tidal creek and rocky headland. The creek is lined with mangroves and trees and the water is clear with the huge tides flowing in and out. This beach is also great for swimming but I wouldn’t swim down at the far end near the creek as there is a croc warning sign at the end of the dirt track that goes to the creek.

If you walk around to the right past the beach in front of the ridge you come to a track which goes around through the bush until it comes to a stand of pandanus above an isolated beach with stunning rock formations. The morning walk we did along this beach was amazing and will be a highlight of our big lap.

I fished off the rocks at the lagoon one evening and managed to catch a trevally and was bitten off after a short fight with something large. There were a few boats launching at the lagoon and heading out to sea but I am not sure how they went with the fishing. The other great thing about Middle Lagoon was the ability to have a camp fire. We collected firewood beside the road on the way in and had a fire 2 out of the 3 nights we were there. Food always tastes so good when cooked on the open fire and we had chicken casserole one night and roasted potatoes and damper on the other night. Delicious
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We really enjoyed Middle Lagoon and if it wasn’t for the bities we would have stayed for a week. This was one of those special places and one that we will definitely return to for a longer stay in the future.

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Posted by OzJourney 01:45 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Broome

Gateway to the kimberley

sunny 33 °C

Two weeks back home in Victoria gave Deb time to spend with her family after losing her father. A 6.15am flight from Melbourne to Perth was 2 hours late leaving but we still made our connecting flight to Broome arriving around 1.15pm. We picked up the car and camper from the mechanic and setup camp at the Cable Beach Caravan Park, which is a nice shady place with large sites and a shaded pool. We stayed here 2 nights before heading up to the Dampier Peninsula. Our time here was spent restocking our supplies, walking around Chinatown and spending time in the pool.

On our last night we treated ourselves to a sunset camel ride along Cable Beach which was enjoyable but not as good as the camel ride we did at Uluru in 2015. Two nights in Broome was enough for us as we were keen to get out into the bush again away from the crowds.

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Posted by OzJourney 01:40 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Cape Range National Park

Underwater Wonderland

sunny 33 °C

Cape Range National Park is situated about 70km southwest of Exmouth and has a number of campgrounds that must be pre-booked online. We chose Osprey campground as some fellow travelers had recommended it. It costs $10 per person per night and the only facilities at all campgrounds are pit toilets and picnic shelters. Before we left Exmouth we replaced the bushes in the camper trailer shockers and stocked up for our 5 night stay at Cape Range.

Osprey campground had recently been upgraded with new toilets, picnic shelters and flat gravel campsites with bollards, the sites were well spaced apart and had views of the ocean. After checking out all the other campgrounds we were happy with our choice of Osprey as it had easy access to the beach for swimming, a protected bay, great snorkeling very close to shore and a view of the ocean from camp.

The weather while we were here was perfect, warm sunny days around 33C with little if any wind, and the sunsets were stunning. We swam and snorkeled multiple times each day and tried fishing without success. The snorkeling in Cape Range is magnificent with lots of coral and sea life quite close to shore inside the Ningaloo reef. My choice of best snorkeling area goes to Lakeside, many varieties of coral, the biggest range of fish species, turtles, reef sharks, cuttlefish, and a large area to explore. Turquoise Bay had a nice sandy beach and the snorkeling was ok but the reef structure was not as good as Lakeside and there were a lot less fish. However, I looked under a ledge here and inside the large cavern was a huge potato cod nearly as big as I was. Osprey Bay has a semicircular reef not far from shore that supports a good variety of fish and a large painted crayfish that was hiding under a ledge. Turtles also made an appearance here. Oyster Stacks was disappointing the day we snorkeled there as the water was murky and there were thousands of red jellyfish which you had to dodge to avoid being stung. After about two minutes we gave up and went back to Osprey Bay where the water was clear and there were no jellyfish.

One day we visited the Vlamingh Lighthouse that had great views of the reef, the wreck of the SS Mildura and Surfers Beach (no surf this day). I got up early one morning to do the 3km Mandu Mandu Gorge walk before it got too hot. As I was driving there along the main road in the pre-dawn the road and verge was swarming with kangaroos and despite being very careful a couple of them decided to jump across the road in front of me resulting in one dead kangaroo and no damage to the bull bar. The walk up the gorge and back around the cliffs was great with panoramic views of the reef and rock wallabies perched on the cliff tops.

Camped next to us were Chris and Emma from Victoria who were also doing the big lap. They had a tinny, went fishing one day out from Yardie Creek, and caught a nice coral trout and a yellowfin tuna. Chris gave us some of the tuna that we had for dinner that night and it was absolutely delicious, you can’t get fresher fish than that.

Unfortunately we had to leave Cape Range a day early as we received a call on the satellite phone (no service in Cape Range) to let us know that Deb’s dad was very ill and to come home as quickly as possible. Ron had been battling Parkinson’s disease for many years and his health had suddenly deteriorated. As we were leaving Osprey Bay we heard a noise coming from one of the camper trailer wheels and suspected a problem with the brakes so we disabled the brakes until I could pull the wheel off and find the problem once we got to Exmouth.

At the caravan park I removed the wheel and found one of the disc brake pads was missing and the piston was rubbing on the rotor causing the scraping noise. The piston was worn away where it had been rubbing and it was seized in the caliper so the only option was to try to get parts to repair it. We took it to a caravan repair place but the owner was less than helpful and said it would take a week to get parts and he seemed not to be interested in fixing it. The best option was to head to Broome where we could get it repaired. We decided to book a flight home for Deb from Exmouth the following morning and I would drive on to Broome with the brakes disabled and catch a flight home from there.

Deb got home in time to be with her dad as he passed over – RIP Ron, and I drove the 1500 km to Broome stopping overnight to camp at Maree Pool, a free camp alongside the river 30km south of Karratha and the next night at 80 Mile Beach. While at 80 Mile Beach I rang Broome Wheel Aligning & Suspension in Broome to arrange to get the camper trailer brakes fixed and they said to call in before going to the caravan park. Ron the owner was a great bloke, took the caliper off the camper, and clamped the brake line so I could use it that night and he could start work on getting parts organised. After explaining our circumstances he offered to store the car and camper at his workshop and have it repaired by the time we returned. If you ever need repairs to your caravan, camper or car give Ron a call and he will look after you.

That night I walked down to Cable Beach from the caravan park and watched a beautiful sunset. The next day I dropped off the car and camper and caught a flight back home to Victoria via Perth.

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Posted by OzJourney 16:24 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Exmouth

Whale Sharks

overcast 32 °C

We had pre-booked a whale shark tour with WHALESHARKnDIVE one of ten operators in Exmouth for Anzac Day, which is our wedding anniversary. We also booked for 2 nights at the RAC Exmouth Cape Holiday Park. The bus to take us out to the boat ramp about 30 minutes out along the road to Cape Range arrived to pick us up at the caravan park at 7:15am. Unlike every other day recently, the morning was cloudy and moderately windy as we picked up a few more passengers and then had a briefing on the day’s activities while being driven out to the boat ramp for transfer by rubber ducky to the 65ft boat Aliikai.

The first destination was a coral reef area inside the Ningaloo reef where us and 18 other passengers snorkeled amongst coral and fish as we drifted along to be picked up down current by the Aliikai. Morning tea followed the snorkel and then we headed out into the open ocean hoping the spotter plane overhead could locate some whale sharks for us to swim with. There was a fair swell running and a few people were feeling seasick as we were motoring around. A huge pod of dolphins, could have been 1000 of them, swam around the boat, leaping out of the water and putting on a show for us. A few minutes later a humpback whale breached, completely leaving the water and landing with a huge splash.

The call came that a whale shark had been spotted and it was time to enter the water and swim with one of the gentle giants of the ocean. Only 10 people at a time can swim with a whale shark so we were split into two groups and took turns at being in the water. The first of three whale sharks we swam with was about 4.5 metres long and this one was in a hurry so you had swim reasonably quickly to keep up. The next two whale sharks were larger at around 5.5 metres but swam slower so it was an easy swim with these. The experience of being in the water just 3 metres away from these giants was awesome, the graceful movement of the huge tail, the ribbed body with the beautiful patterning of white spots and the sheer size of these creatures combine to create a powerful impression.

After about an hour swimming with the sharks it was back inside the reef to the calm water so the half a dozen seasick people could recover and to enjoy a smorgasbord lunch. A second snorkel inside the reef at a different spot was next. Again lots of fish to see plus a pair of large white tipped reef sharks laying beneath a ledge under a coral bommie. We also got to play with underwater scooters and a stand up paddle board.

We had a fantastic day on the whale shark tour and would highly recommend it if you are in the area. The crew were great, professional and friendly people and the food was good. The photos below were taken by the on board photographer Jess Hadden, so thanks Jess for capturing the day for us. We went out to a restaurant across from the caravan park for dinner to round off a great day and nice way to celebrate our wedding anniversary.

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Posted by OzJourney 04:28 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Ningaloo Station

Aquatic Wonderland

sunny 34 °C

Leaving Warroora Station early we drove to Coral Bay to resupply and oh boy was it busy. It was school holidays and that was one reason we decided not to stay there, and what a good decision that was. The punters were crammed into the two caravan parks like sardines and the shopping and beach area was ridiculously busy, not a place that appeals to us. Anyway after being bled dry at the supermarket, the prices were outrageous, and having to pay for water at the caravan park we pushed on to the turnoff to Ningaloo Station.

We had heard that the road into the station was not maintained anymore and was very rough so we our tyres down and prepared for the worst. It is 30km from the highway to the homestead and the road wasn’t as bad as we expected, even though it was badly corrugated for the last 10km and less corrugated at the beginning. There were however some crests that had deep moguls as you came over the top blind and if you were going too fast could cause considerable damage. We sat on 50km and managed to avoid damaging the car or camper on the way in.

We had tried to book a site online about 3 days before but never got a reply so managed to get through on the phone after a few attempts the day before and they said if we just turned up there would be a site available. Luckily we timed our arrival at the homestead to perfection as someone had just left a prime camp site on the beach at South Lefroy Bay which was our preferred camp ground, so we scored a great spot on the sand with million dollar views of the beach, reef and lagoon just 40 metres from the water.

Ningaloo Station is a beautiful remote part of Australia with the stunning Ningaloo Reef on your doorstep. The snorkelling straight out from camp was fantastic, with so many varieties of fish, turtles, reef sharks, dolphins and all sorts of corals an easy snorkel off the shore. Just swim out a little way and drift along with the current and exit the water down the beach, then repeat taking a different path.

The week that we spent here was taken up with walks on the beach, fishing, snorkelling and just relaxing without having to drive anywhere if you didn’t want to. The sunsets here were gorgeous and the clear night skies full of stars. The weather was close to perfect with cloudless skies, little wind, except for one day which blew the sand around, and mid 30s during the day and 20C at night. There are no facilities here so you need a chemical toilet, water and enough supplies to last a week. There is a bore behind some large sand dunes where you can get good clean water if you have a pump. It only costs $35 a week each to stay in this beautiful place.

The great part about traveling is not only the sights you see but the people you meet along the way and our neighbors here were a lovely couple from Newman who were staying for 2 weeks. Graham and Lisa stay here regularly and love the place. Graham is a very good photographer and he spent quite a bit of time showing me the finer points of photography. He is also an amateur astronomer and the photos of the cosmos he has taken with his camera hooked up to his telescope were mind blowing. The colors and patterns of the various nebulae, the detail in the moon craters etc were stunningly beautiful.

There are the remains of an old whaling station a short drive away from camp through the dunes which we visited one day. One other day we did the coastal drive from Ningaloo Station to Coral Bay along a sand/dirt track which has lots of side tracks off to the coast along the way. Near the end of the track was Oyster Bridge which took us quite a while to find as there are no signs showing the way and involved driving along some deep sandy tracks through dunes with some steep climbs which required low tyre pressures and low range.

At Coral Bay the crowds were less but still busy as Easter was past but it was still school holidays. I went for a snorkel beginning around the point where the dive schools go but found the coral here colorless and boring with not many fish but it did improve once i came around into the bay with more fish to see. I managed to see a reef shark and a turtle very close to shore and some nice emperor but it was nothing compared to Ningaloo Station.

The week passed very quickly here and we were sad to leave this beautiful place but other adventures were beckoning so it was on to Exmouth to dive with the Whale Sharks next. As we pulled up at the end of the road out of the station to reinflate the tyres I heard a knocking noise coming from the camper trailer and on inspection found both rubber shock absorber bushes had melted and fallen to pieces. The rough Ningaloo Station road had claimed a casualty which had to wait till Exmouth to sort out.

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Posted by OzJourney 04:47 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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