Our initial impressions of the park were not the best. All stays in the campground were required to be booked on-line at least 48 hours before your stay. We had done this back in Feb, but in this case it didn’t pay to be organised as they had some early website glitches. This meant the campsite and maps did not correspond, and the lovely private single site meters from the beach we thought we had booked turned out to be a shared site over the dunes and a few hundred meters from the good swimming beach. Oh well, despite them acknowledging this is what had happened – No Changes Allowed!!
Our consolation prize was a fantastic views eastward over the Cape Range hills which glowed orange every sunset. The best thing about the campsite were the lovely camp hosts Merle and Frank. They were a wealth of information and were grandparently enough not to mind having daily visits from James for up to an hour at a time listening to his constant chatter.
They also let us in on a local unmarked gem. A bright red gorge just 3km from the campsite where Black-footed rock wallabies abounded on the steep walls. We visited twice, once in the morning and once at dusk. At each visit we were lucky enough to spot 10 or so of these lovely creatures all around us on the precipitous gorge walls.
Black-footed rock wallabies.
We ticked all the tourist spots, walking Mandu Mandu gorge and Yardie Creek as well as snorkelling every day. We drift snorkelled Turquoise Bay twice and felt this was by far the best spot, but the recent cyclonic activity had left visibility poor which scared away a lot of the bigger fish so I got the impression we weren’t seeing it at it’s best. Oyster Stacks needed a high tide to be snorkelled and our best opportunity was on a day with high winds so again the visibility was poor and apart from a couple of 1.5m reef sharks all we saw was chop. Apart from the wind which would come and go at the drop of a hat the weather was glorious with lots of sun and temps around 30 degrees.
Julian and James’ fishing excursions were unproductive and throughout the campsite all the fisher folk were coming away empty-handed. The camp host Frank who has been fishing this area for 12 years said he had never seen it so empty and even his most reliable sites were currently empty of fish. Maybe two cyclones in 6 weeks caused the fish to run away for a while!!.
All in all, our Ningaloo experience was lovely, but was not littered with the adjectives most people use to describe the coral in this National Park. Whilst the water was warm and the fish abundant in the marine sanctuary zones, the highlights were definitely the gorge walks, the sunsets and the timid rock wallabies.