Leaving Broome, it took several hours of driving to find anything that can be called a city. Or even a town. If you look at the Australian map, you’ll notice there is nothing between Broome and Perth (unless you zoom in Google Maps like crazy). Point your finger between those two cities and you’ll find the location where we are today, in the middle of nowhere. To get there, we passed through cities younger than us, towns with a hundred of inhabitants, miles of culture areas without anybody to run into, lonely roadhouses at the heart of life in these remote areas and in between: kilometers of endless roads!
But, don’t get us wrong, while there is less to see on the wild west coast in terms of urban life, there are some stunning wild areas that make the trip worthwhile.
80 miles beach
2 hours south of Broome, we make a first stop that will blow our eyes and minds away. Welcome to “80 miles beach”, which literally goes on and on for 120 kms!
As we arrive on this beach, it seems infinite. Right or left, it’s white sand as far as the eyes can see. In front of us, pristine water of the Indian Ocean melting in the sky, making the line of the horizon blurry.
We drove on that beach for kilometers, never ending beauty… and we got the impression to go through the exact same path again and again… a little bit confusing but so beautiful that we didn’t mind the repetition!
Getting out of the car, we realized the beach is actually covered up by thousands of small shells, of all colors and shapes. I couldn’t resist to pick up a few, just to keep a souvenir of this fabulous place…
Exmouth & Cape Range NP
Exmouth is a small coastal city, built from the ground up in 1965 and now filled with new constructions, boat ramps and marinas. The town in itself is kind of pointless: not much to see, not much to do. However, just a few kilometers north stands Cape Range National Park, a beautiful weekend getaway with fantastic beaches, amazing wildlife and terrific snorkeling spots.
Before the park, we make a stop at Vlamingh head lighthouse. From that high elevation point, we can enjoy wonderful views of the bay and the Ningaloo reef, the little sister of the great barrier reef.
The Ningaloo Coast and Marine Park are home to over 220 species of coral and 500 species of fish, pretty impressive! That’s why we decide to set our tent here for 3 days, letting us some time to explore both the underwater life and the amazing landscapes of the park.
At dawn every morning, we notice some evidence that we are not alone on our camping site… And it doesn’t take us a lot of time to bump into our neighbours: we are disturbing the kangaroos’ breakfast with our early work out! They might wonder what those strange humans are doing moving around so early in the morning while they’re eating young green grass… So, after that first encounter, our ritual every morning is to watch them while doing burpies, under the impression they are wishing us a good day!
During the day, we explore the park which stretches over 60 kms of beaches along the reef. Some spots are famous for snorkeling. You can indeed dive with a scuba and fins, swim a couple of meters and you’ll discover a colorful marine life, where sweetlips, blue spotted rays and clown fishes live along with green turtles, whale sharks and humpback whales.
Oyster Stacks and Turquoise Bay are the most famous spots to snorkel but bear in mind that the water is pretty cold, so following Nemo underwater was a rather short experience without swimsuits.
There are other beaches with a spectacular scenery, we loved Sandy bay for its postcard look and its quietness. Not much to protect us from the beating Australian sun though, so we found some DIY shelter to enjoy the beach anyway!
As we already did a lot of scuba diving in Indonesia, we didn’t buy into the $700+ day trip to swim with the giants – whale sharks, manta rays and humpback whales – but we found a solution to that. Every evening, we would sit on top of dunes, and enjoy the show given by the whales just after the reef’s break, jumping and playing in the water colored by the sun setting down for the day. Such magical moments…
In addition to its amazing beaches, Cape Range Park also has gorges and trails that are interesting to walk in order to meet another kind of wildlife and get wonderful views of the coast. We walked Mandu Mandu Gorge where we spotted a tiny rock wallaby and get a stunning panoramic view of the reef as we reached the top of the canyon.
In a nutshell, we had a great time at Cape Range National Park. Its wildlife is amazing and accessible, its landscapes are diverse and beautiful, and you’ve got a lot to do! Definitely a beautiful getaway and a destination we won’t forget…
After a quick shower at the visitor center ($5/pp grrr), we were off to the must-do Coral Bay! On the way, an important step: we crossed the tropic of Capricorn! For the ignorants like me, it actually is one of the five major circles of latitude on maps.
Coral Bay is a tiny tiny township with a hundred inhabitants, that stands on a peninsula and is basically a seaside holiday city. Since we’re here, we will enjoy its beautiful beaches and get some laid-back time. We don’t know it yet, but we will need some strengths for our next destination… stay tuned!