Saturday, 11 October 2014

Ningaloo Marine Park and Cape Range NP Camping.

It's very easy to get a camp site at the incredibly popular Cape Range National Park and set yourself up just metres from Ningaloo Reef goodness: just pop onto the website a few weeks before, type in your name and numbers, hell you can even choose the particular site you want. Pay the nominal fee and bingo bango, turn up on your allotted day.  Now doesn't that sound so simple? 

Looking out to the Ningaloo Marine Park from Mesa Campground.

Or you can do what the Uyshuis did.

We were warned all the way back at 80 Mile Beach to book a site at Cape Range NP, but of course we didn't because my husband has an aversion to booking anything. It's almost pathological.  Anyway, by the time we got to Exmouth and were ready to hit the reef, there were no pre-bookable sites left. Our next option was to turn up at the gate of the park, line up with the rest of the idiots who hadn't booked and hope that a site would be available at one of the non-bookable sites.  This also sounds relatively easy, except for the urban myths floating around about this system. 

Desert pea on the Cape Range Road.

I was told by different people to turn up at 8am (by the actual ranger) at 6am (by other campers) or not to bother at all because there are people lined up at 3am and the possibilities of getting a site were dicey to say the least(owner of the Caravan Park we were staying at, unsurprisingly). Luckily the Doves were also ill prepared, with Lizzie and I taking one for our teams and driving down to the gate, in the dark, at 6am. Surely we would be the first there!? It's so early, we'll get a spot no problem!? Can you believe there were all ready four groups of people waiting at the gate? And the Ranger wasn't even set to start allocating sites for another two hours.

So we got a site each,  20 kilometres away from each other. We got ours at the Mesa campground which turned out to be awesome- even the initial bummer of being right next to the camp host (the volunteer running the camp, we’d have to be on our best behaviour) turned into huge plus as I could eavesdrop quite openly on all the comings and goings of camp life. For example, two separate groups tried to bypass the 6am line up, one with a bottle of wine as bribery!
Camp PigHuis.
Our view out to the bay.

Even better, was the lagoon allowing Fiela easy access to the reef for fishing, sorry, angling.. Even I paddled out, dropped the anchor and had an hour or so of solitary snorkelling- exhilarating because it was scary being out in the ocean alone and the marine life on one coral bommie alone is amazing! And the enormous dunes looking out over the ocean provided a brilliant spot for daily sundowners. Aahhhhh.

And as for being a few kilometres away from the Doves?? Who cares when EVERY family we have EVER met on the trip so far seemed to converge at Turquoise Bay for a snorkel everyday? Even new people we met at the Mesa campground new two other groups we’d met previously.

The rest can be told in the photos. We loved it here and stayed for just under a week. We would have stayed longer but our water ran out.

Caesar, ready for the day and the rock chucking to begin.

Beautiful Turquoise Bay, where you enter the water at one end and let the current take you over the coral. No effort required really, except when you paddle like crazy to avoid being sucked out to sea...

More Turquoise Bay.

Oyster Stacks- another supposed great snorkelling spot but too rough for this little duck.

The best thing about sundowners on the dunes? The enormous babysitting sand pit.

Idyllic sunsets.

Wonderful company.


My favourite people.

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