Coral Coast WA - Cape Range National Park (The amazing Turquoise Bay and Yardie Creek Station)

Tuesday, Jun 06, 2006 at 00:00

Mick O

Tuesday 6th June
Cape Range National Park


Mercifully, the wind dropped in intensity with the sun. By bed time it was just a breeze and it stayed that way until about 5.00 a.m. Made it much easier to sleep. No rain either so that was a change.

The morning I emerged to was a half and half sort of one. It could’ve gone either way and I couldn’t pick it. A fry up was in order so it was toad in holes, bacon and tomatoes. Good fodder for the coming day. Amanda emerged some time after 9:00 a.m. and when she’d finished waking up (sometime around 11:00 a.m.) we headed down to Turquoise bay to do some snorkelling. At 10.15 a.m. the sun was shining, it was windy, but the water was warm. The current that sweeps along the beach of turquoise is notorious and its reputation is well deserved. It does motor along. I managed to swim through it and out to the first of the corals which formed a large bommy probably in 3-4 metres of water. The amount of fish life was incredible. I found a reef shark cloistered under the large outcrops together with huge groper, myriad types of tropicals, pipe fish, clownfish, sea anemones, octopus, wrasse, trevally, parrot fish, tang. You name it. The highlight was a large turtle that spent 5 minutes swimming the same path as me. I could have (and did) touch it as it was that close. I’d seen and disturbed others which had shot off, not interested in interaction but this one was great. It was that good that we had to drive the 16 km back to camp to get Amanda’s swim gear so she could have ago as well. By the time we returned, the car park was full and the sight of dipping snorkels and fins were everywhere. Never the less we trudged up the beach and I retraced some of my steps to show her the sights as well. Funniest moment would have to be when I scared a reasonable sized white tipped reef shark out from under a large coral outcrop. I came to the surface to see Amanda’s eyes as big as saucepans filling her mask. She gasped; “What was that?” to which I replied, “exactly what you think it was! They only look mean …they ’re harmless.” The “unless there’s 20 of them in a frenzy” was said under my breath. Again we were rewarded with heaps of fish, sea cucumbers, pipefish and more.

We returned to camp along taking in a few more of the camp sites along the coast. Mixed up a tuna treat for lunch and then a little nap was in order. 2.30 p.m. saw us off down to Yardie Creek Station and gorge where we walked along the top of the gorge. This freshwater stream is subject to tidal influence but is also largely blocked by sand banks making an interesting aquatic mix of low salinity and estuarine environments. We were about a kilometre upstream and saw a large ray gliding through he shallow waters. Many fish trapped here have adapted to the varied conditions.

Five o’clock was happy hour at the camp commandant’s site. We attended and met our fellow borders including the Carney’s from Eaglehawk who naturally enough were good acquaintances of Dave and Jude’s. Six degrees of separation hey! I cooked a lemon risotto with scallops for dinner with John and Julie in attendance. It went down quite well with a bottle of white and some new Norcia fruit cake and port for afters.

The day has been sunny and windy. Again the breeze has subsided with the sun. A million moths have been drawn to the outside light so it must be bedtime. We’re off tomorrow and will head further north.
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903
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