The Coral Coast

Inevitably when you travel, you meet many other travellers, experienced and newbie’s. When I happen to encounter a serious chat, I always ask two questions; what has been your favourite place, and what has been your least favourite. The Western Australian Coast is often an answer to both.

Our trip is truly getting to the most isolated areas of Australia. It is evident by the prices of fuel and food, and the chunks of time between passing other vehicles (and being overtaken by others, which use to happen quite frequently). I never thought this year I would get to a fuel station and say ‘$1.70 per litre, that’s cheap’. It can be a long way between roadhouses and towns, and there are signs everywhere warning about the shortage of available drinking water. Water is starting to become a limiting factor when planning sections of our trip now, as the amount we can carry will only last us for 4 days, if we are careful. Then landscape just doesn’t seem to change over hundreds of kilometres.

But there are so many diamonds in the rough.

Carnarvon Jetty & BayShells @ Point QuobbaHomestead Beach - Point QuobbaCarnarvon is the last big town we pass through for about a month and our last opportunity to stock up on reasonably priced food. For those of you not in the know, Carnarvon is a major fruit and veggie growing region for WA. The average temperature all year is a constant 28°C, and something is always in season here. We had a great several days rest and relaxation here at the Carnarvon BIG4 Plantation Caravan Park, which is situated amongst the plantation area of town. We were able to treat the children to gorgeous vine-ripened bananas, mango fruit ice-cream and tasty tomato’s. I even cooked banana pancakes for the family one our mornings there. Rhys was especially impressed.

We got into the true spirit of Carnarvon, and did a plantation tour. Here we learned all about bananas, mangos and grapes of the eating variety. The tour ended with tastings of their homemade jams, sauces and chutneys. Delicious.

Stocked up and ready for adventure, we had a big drive of nothingness to the absolute gem of a holiday destination, Coral Bay. Apart from Perth over Easter, we haven’t really had to book much this entire trip. Fortunately we listened to advice we got a couple of weeks ago, and booked Coral Bay. After spending five days there, I would have been gutted if I missed it.

Into the tropicsCoral Bay is at the southern end of the Ningaloo Marine Park. There really isn’t much there except two caravan parks, associated cafes and supermarkets, a bakery, pub, tour booking shops and that is all. Somehow, this is one of the reasons I liked it, but a small one. The main reason is evident in the name. Just a few meters off shore, on a pristine blue beach, the reef starts and goes on for longer than I could swim out.

This is honestly the best snorkelling I have ever experienced. So many fish, so much variety, beautiful arrays of coral in many different colours (although not the bright vivid colours of tourist brochures). The kids were happy playing for hours in the shallow water, looking at baitfish and the large Western Snappers that hovered around the shores. Mike and I took it in turns to go out on mammoth snorkelling expeditions, probably over 200 meters from the shore without any trouble. Personally, I couldn’t get the Beatles song ‘Octopus’ Garden’ out of my head as I carefully manoeuvred over the coral that almost scraped my tummy when swimming at low tide.

Coral Bay ShallowsThe Lagoon - North of Coral bayGlass Bottom KayakI only wished we had taken more time to try and teach Coby to snorkel before we got here. No matter as we hired a glass-bottomed kayak for an hour so the kids could share the joy. Rhys having previously been impressed by ‘Finding Nemo’ the movie, kept finding Nemo, or at least a lovely black and white species of clownfish. They were both impressed by the fish and coral and happy to be passengers as Mike and I paddled them around.

It was with great regret we left Coral Bay after just under a week of fun in perfect sunny weather. We only managed to tear ourselves away with the knowledge our next destination would mean more sea and swimming adventures.

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One Response

  1. Coral Bay sounds wonderful! I spent a memorable few months in Carnarvon as a backpacker – working by day in a scallops factory and by night at the Chinese take-away! It paid for me to get round to Syndey anyway, even if it did put me off scallops for life! I hope your trip continues to go well – I’m really enjoying your blog, you write really well.
    love Jessica

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