Cape Range National Park, Exmouth to Coral Bay

Friday, Sep 17, 2010 at 16:23

Member - Alex B (WA)

We stopped overnight at the Potshot Hotel in Exmouth so we could head out to the Cape Range National Park early next morning. We had since found out that rather than queueing at the gate to wait for a campsite we could also go into the Exmouth DEC office. However, when you turn up at the office you have to be ready to go as they will only hold a spot for you for 1.5hrs (the time it takes to get there). When we arrived at the office the National Park was full but they had 3 sites available in their overflow area where you are allowed to camp overnight. The benefit of doing this is that once you are in, you have priority the next morning for any sites. Each area in the park has a "host" couple and they radio through availability each morning to DEC. It was not the best choice but the only option we had so we took it! We set off from the office to the National Park (or what we thought was the National Park) only to find after 1hrs driving we came to a dead end! We had seen a sign for the Park on the way into Exmouth and assumed this was the way in but no!... instead we found a lovely little canyon picnic spot! You have to head out of Exmouth and around the point to the gate! This however, meant that we would not make it to the gate within the 1.5hrs so we had to drive back to the DEC office and re-book. As we pulled up outside the office another family turned up and beat us into the office (bugger!!!). They too wanted a campsite and yes, one had become available! However, when asked if they were ready to go, no! They still had shopping and fuel to do so they wouldn't hold the site for them! I was standing behind them in the office and trying very hard not to smile!!! The lady then offered it to me! Fantastic! Now we had a permanent site and we didn't have to move then next day! As I walked out of the office the family were sitting in their car still debating what to do so I tried hard not to make eye contact and walked past very quickly!
The Cape Range National Park turned out to be everything we expected. Beautiful sandy bays and beaches and excellent snorkelling over the Ningaloo Reef. We had an excellent camp spot right behind the sand dunes and spitting distance from the beach! We were staying at the Kurrajong campsite. There are 5 large sites for vans or camper trailers and 5 small tent sites. We were positioned right at the end of the campsite so we still had privacy and no noise. We spent most of the week fishing off the beaches, snorkelling over the reef and not much else! The beaches are absolutely picture postcard perfect and hardly any people on them as there is limited access into the park! This is an absolutely stunning National Park for those who like camping by the beach, and I have to say, have the best drop toilets I have ever experienced! They actually smelled nice! The only downside was the lack of fish Alex didn't catch!...
From Cape Range we headed off to Coral Bay where we met up with Helen and had a beach-front house booked for the week. The house was in a fantastic location, looking right out over the bay with a track leading down onto the beach. The house itself was a bit dodgy (considering the cost) but the sunset views over the ocean made up for that! Alex and I went out with the Sea Force Fishing Charter the other day while Helen looked after the girls. Not something I would normally do because I suffer terribly from sea sickness but Alex convinced me the weather was going to be perfect and I dosed myself up with Quells. This is where I get to brag about the fish I caught!!!.... The first one I hooked up was a MARLIN!!! The only person on the boat to do so thank you! I also had an 8kg Red Emperor on my line although Alex is debating with me who can claim that one as he pulled it up (but it was on my line!)... All in all, it was a fairly slow day, not much biting, but between us we managed to come home with a Robinsons Sea Bream, Red Emperor, Sweetlip Emperor, Scarlet Sea Perch, Coral Cod and a Honeycomb Cod. Not bad for my first go and I didn't even throw up!
We have also found a couple of nice beaches north of Coral Bay which are only accessible by 4WD. We have taken Helen to these where we can sit on the beach and pull out our foxwing awning and chairs and relax. We all had a go at fishing and Amy caught a flathead which was just undersized but I caught a beauty which Alex filleted and we ate for breakfast the next morning. It's sad but true, I think I might hold the best fishing record on this trip now, maybe?!!!....
We are leaving Coral Bay tomorrow and heading off to Gnaraloo Station for 5 nights. We have managed to book a primo site right on the beach. After Gnaraloo we have booked into Tamala Station (off the Useless Loop Road) near Shark Bay. We are using this as a base to go exploring around this region. We were going to try and camp in the Francois Peron National Park but there are only 5 campsites in there and it is school holidays.Tamala Station is not widely known about and once you are in here you can have your own campsite and private beach with no-one else around! We are here for 1 week but have booked an overnight trip to Monkey Mia, staying at the Monkey Mia Resort for 1 night while Alex goes out on the Mac Attack Fishing Charter the next day. I plan to take the girls down to the beach to swim with the Dolphins then spend the rest of the day by the pool and hopefully cook fresh caught fish on the BBQ for dinner that night!
Anyway, time to start packing up again as we have to vacate this house at 9am tomorrow. Enjoy the beautiful photos!....
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