A Travellerspoint blog

April 2017

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.


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

Warroora Station

Million Dollar Views

sunny 36 °C

Warroora Station is situated on the Ningaloo Coast between Carnarvon and Exmouth. It offers self sufficient camping at a number of camps along the coast within its boundaries. You can’t pre-book sites here so we just drove in and hoped to get a site. It was school holidays and there were a lot of campers here so choice of camp site was limited. We wanted to get a camp site at Sandy Point but the only one available was behind the dunes with no view and no easy access to the beach so we chose the only site left at 14 Mile Camp which was a wide narrow site not suitable for caravans but fine for us. We were just a few metres from the beach with great views of the outer reef and a nice sandy swimming beach inside the lagoon.

The first couple of days the weather was very hot (around 40C) with little wind and very calm water so we swam a lot and took it easy reading and chatting to our very friendly neighbours who were from Mandurah south of Perth and staying for three weeks. There are a lot of retirees who stay here for months at a time and some of their setups are quite elaborate with shade cloth walled compounds around their vans and boats down by the water.

The third and fourth days here were windy in the afternoons so we spent some time behind our neighbours gazebos down near the water which had mesh walls which blocked the wind. On one of the windy days we had to take a long trip into Exmouth to buy another solar panel as our existing 140w solar panel couldn’t keep the batteries charged enough to keep the fridge running in the extreme heat.

Another day we drove around the station visiting all the camps and checking out the coastline. Pelican Point is part of a sanctuary zone within the station and has a nice sandy point to walk around in a protected bay. There was nobody else there and we had a lovely walk and swim in the clear warm water. We checked the water temperature back at camp and it was 29C so very pleasant for long swims. We stopped for lunch at Maggies Camp which was busy but would have been a nice place to camp with a small bay protected by a small headland and a nice swimming beach. The other nice campground was The Lagoon which was a large camp area fronting a beautiful sandy beach with a steep beach and waves. The southern corner of the beach had a large rocky headland which gave protection for campers and also provided shelter to moor boats. The only down side to The Lagoon was the flies which were bad here, this was strange because there were none at our camp at !4 Mile.

You need a chemical toilet to camp here which can be emptied at a dump point at the rubbish tip. The cost is $10 per person/night or $50 a week. We had intended to stay 3 nights but stayed 5 and really enjoyed our time here. The view from camp was stunning, the people we met here were very friendly and welcoming and we had lots of laughs each evening over a few drinks. The other great thing was that we seemed to have left the fly plague behind and could enjoy this stunning coastline without looking at it through fly veils.


Posted by OzJourney 04:33 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Red Bluff

Camp Of The Moon

sunny 38 °C

The drive from Carnarvon to Point Quobba is bitumen and then a well maintained dirt road takes you past Quobba Station on the road to Gnaraloo for 46km where you turn off and drive a further 10km to Red Bluff. The last small section of road as you come into the camp area was very corrugated but overall the road in was very good with no need to drop tyre pressures.

The view as you drive into the camp area is stunning with the high range behind leading out to the massive bluff which creates a sheltered area of clear blue water, extensive reef and a white sandy beach which is quite steep. The steepness of the beach creates large powerful dumping waves which can make swimming interesting at low tide.

The camp sites here are all well spread out and most have elevated views of the beach and protection from the wind from behind and also from the bluff itself to the south west. We managed to score an elevated site just 20 metres from the beach with magnificent views of the ocean, bluff and range. Sawdust based pit toilets which don’t smell are scattered throughout the campground and cleaned daily. There is no water or showers here but there are fire pits at each site and a shop which has food such as burgers, pizza, smoothies, icecreams, drinks etc and some basic supplies.

Out at the bluff there is a world class left hand, hollow surf break which breaks over a shallow coral reef. Unfortunately while we were here there wasn’t enough swell for it to work but it didn’t matter as this was a beautifully wild place with an ocean that was alive with sea life. We would often sit at camp and watch a colony of plovers dive bombing huge black bait balls while large fish or packs of sharks would the attack the bait fish from below. The result was a feeding frenzy where the sharks would smash the bait fish, fins out of the water, some sharks jumping clear of the water and the birds diving in to pick up the pieces left behind. This was happening in multiple areas at once and was fascinating to watch. At one stage a bait ball came right in to shore to try to escape the sharks but the sharks followed them in to the breaking waves in a foot of water and almost beached themselves in their effort to get the bait fish.

The fishing off the beach was reasonable with catches of blue salmon and dart providing fresh fish dinners. Sunsets here were glorious with the changing colors illuminating a thin layer of cloud over the water and bluff. The weather was hot and sunny, around 40C with a late sea breeze cooling things down of an evening. Winds were light or still and the sea was very calm. We swam a lot despite the presence of the sharks which you could sometimes see in the water nearby.

One day we drove along the coastal track to 3 mile camp at Gnaraloo and I had a surf outside the barrier reef at Tombstones while Deb swam inside the barrier reef and sunbaked on the beach. The water temperature here was very warm at 29C and the water is clear with lots of coral and fish. 3 mile campground is very spartan, dusty, flat and exposed. As it was school holidays the campground was packed with little space between campers and very unappealing compared to Red Bluff which was not crowded at all and had such a nice setting as opposed to the harshness of 3 mile.

We had planned to stay for 7 nights at Red Bluff but due to solar panel problems which led to flat batteries we had to head back to Carnarvon to sort out the issue after only 4 nights. This was very disappointing as we absolutely loved Red Bluff and will be back for a longer visit in the future. Red Bluff is a special place with a wild but relaxing atmosphere that is hard to explain but gets into your heart and mind and makes it hard to leave.


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

Francois Peron National Park

Color Contrast

sunny 40 °C

From Carrarang Station we drove to Denham to refuel, get water and some fresh fruit and veg which were in short supply in the IGA supermarket so we had to go to the other one to get what we wanted. Water costs $1.00 for 20 litres of desalinated water which is a coin operated tap just as you get onto the Monkey Mia road. We had a nice lunch at one of the pubs in Denham before heading out onto the long and sandy track to Francois Peron National Park.

On the way to Denham we stopped at Shell Beach which is made up of millions of tiny shells and millions of flies. We also drove out to Eagle Bluff which had elevated views of the clear shallow water below where sharks, rays, dugongs etc can be seen, but unfortunately there was nothing swimming around this day.

The road out to Francois Peron NP is good until you get to the homestead where there is a tyre inflation/deflation station where you need to drop your tyre pressures to 20psi or less and engage low range. The track from here on is about 30km of single lane sandy track which goes up and down hills and is very soft. We chose to camp at Gregories after first checking out South Gregories. South Gregories had a rocky shoreline with nowhere to swim and only one site left which was in the no generator loop but close to a generator site and the other side also had a generator running even though they were camped in the no generator area. Gregories also has a protected bay with a red dune leading down to a nice sandy beach where you can swim and fish so the choice was easy.

Cape Peron and Skipjack Point are great places to visit while here. Skipjack Point has a viewing platform with great views of the water and cliffs while Cape Peron is quite stunning with red cliffs contrasting with white sandy beach, blue water and green vegetation. On the way back from Cape Peron we called in to Bottle Bay which is another camp area with a lot more sites and is good if you have a boat as you can drive onto the beach here and launch. We went for a drive up the beach and parked the car, put the awning out with the insect screen room attached and spent the afternoon swimming and reading on this beautiful beach. The insect proof room was necessary if you wanted any peace from the flies which were in plague proportions.

The fishing from the sand spit at Gregories was good and kept us fed with bream and flathead. I went for a snorkel along the reef which extends out from the sand spit and runs parallel to the shore. The water is shallow here and the further you swim along the reef the more fish life appears in the rocky ledges and caves. There were some quite large fish here including bream, coral trout, emporer, tuskfish, wrasse and some others I am not familiar with as well as areas with some coral.

It was very hot while we were here, reaching 40C each day and cooling down late afternoon with a sea breeze. The winds were very light and from the east. The day we left we got up at 5am and drove out of the park in the dark as we wanted to visit Monkey Mia on the way to Carnarvon. The first dolphin feeding happens at 7:45am and we got there in plenty of time and paid our $12 each for the privilege of joining a hundred fellow tourists watch the five dolphins being fed. If you hadn’t seen dolphins in the wild before it would have been interesting enough as they come very close as you stand in the water but the huge number of people takes away from the experience.

We stayed overnight in the Capricorn Caravan Park in Carnarvon which was well maintained and had grassy sites and nice owners. We used Carnarvon as a stopover for supplies etc before heading to Red Bluff.


Posted by OzJourney 06:53 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Carrarang Station

Paradise found

sunny 40 °C

Our original plan was to camp out at Steep Point but after reading online about camping there we changed plan. To camp at Steep Point you needed to book well ahead which we couldn’t do because we don’t have a set schedule. Instead we decided to camp at Carrarang Station which is about half way along the useless loop road to Steep Point. The camp sites here cost $5 each per night and have no facilities at all but you get a whole beach to yourself and don’t see any other people. We tried ringing Carrarang Station to book but there was no answer by phone, so we emailed them a couple of days prior to our stay and got a quick reply saying there were 2 sites available. We close East Landing which was a beautiful little cove with a headland at one end and a rocky outcrop at the other with a beautiful sandy beach in between.

We set up camp on a flat section of beach just metres from the water in the corner near the headland. Behind us were high sand dunes and in front was a calm, clear bay with the skeletal frame of a wooden boat half buried in the water near the beach. As we were setting up camp a turtle poked its head out of the water and then swam around the corner of the headland and out of sight. Up on the headland or on the sandy dunes you could see stingrays and shovel nose sharks swimming around.

The weather while here was sensational, no wind until around 5pm each day when a cooler sea breeze would come up to cool things down for sleeping. The daytime temperature got up to 40C each day, so we swam a lot in the beautiful clear water, read in the shade and fished early morning and evening. The fishing was good and included bream, flathead, snapper, a small shark, and the shovel nose shark we saw swimming around. There were other critters that peeled 30lb line off the reel at a frightening rate and eventually snapped the line and others that chomped straight through the line. We ate fish for dinner every night cooked in the coals of the fire, while looking up at the stars in the clear night sky
wild goats came down to the beach each evening to drink the sea water which seemed strange but it obviously doesn’t bother them. If you climbed the high sand dune behind the beach you could see the next beach camp site in the distance but never saw another person for the 3 days we were there.

On our last day at Carrarang we got going early and drove out to Steep Point which took about 90 minutes and involved lots of corrugations, some very soft and bumpy sand in one section but you could get a camper trailer through there if needed. Steep Point was a magical place, with lots of different camp areas along the sandy beaches in the bay before you get to Steep Point. At the point are high cliffs where people fish from and you can see lots of rod holders drilled into the rock. In one area there were huge fish frames left by fishermen to cure in the sun. These frames were huge and must be left there as evidence of the great catches and the effort involved to haul them up the cliffs from the water.

We drove out to the Zuytdorp Cliffs to a lookout which gave fantastic views of the cliffs in each direction. There was a monument there marking the wreck of the fishing vessel Nor 6 which sunk here after hitting rocks in the dark in the early morning in 1963. The skipper survived by getting into the vessels ice box and getting blown out to sea for 14 days before eventually being blown back toward shore and being rescued. What an amazing story of survival.

For lunch we stopped at a beach just west of the Dirk Hartog Island ferry and setup the car awning for some shade, the beach here was stunning with white sand and clear water and we did some beach combing for shells. While having lunch we noticed a dive boat anchor up just off shore where a group of snorkelers jumped in and swam around a small rocky outcrop and a large rock just out from the outcrop. I thought I would walk out onto the outcrop to see what was of interest to the snorkelers but couldn’t see much from the top so thought I had better get the snorkelling gear out and have a look for myself. First thing I noticed was the rock was covered in oysters and then swimming out a little way I could see that the rock had been undercut forming large caverns which were the home to the most incredible collection of different corals and fish I have ever seen. There were brain corals, fan corals, plate corals as big as a car and many other shapes and colors of coral, some corals with flourescent outlines in green, yellow, purple, blue and orange. There were thousands of fish of every shape and color, big schools of each variety, some iridescent blue, a long tom three feet long and thicker than my arm. There were also large clams and sponges to add to this incredibly beautiful underwater scenery, all in water no deeper than 8 feet. This was an experience I will never forget and it makes me wonder what other underwater treasures exist in this beautifully wild place.

It was really hard leaving Carrarang Station as our days here were like paradise found, great weather, great scenery, solitude and a true wilderness experience which along with Cactus is the highlight of our trip so far.


Posted by OzJourney 05:23 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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