Cape Range (Ningaloo Reef)

7—8 July 2002

On the first morning at the caravan park the weather was overcast.  I got up and did a load of washing, which seemed like a good idea at 6.30 a.m., but it rained for the second day in a row so I had to get ingenious with the clothesline.  The kids did some schoolwork in the morning, but by late morning the weather began to clear, so we tidied up the campsite and drove to the information centre at Cape Range National Park to gather information about snorkeling on Ningaloo Reef.

By the time we arrived at Turquoise Bay, the sky had cleared and the snorkelling was great. We swam with several large turtles, and Ruby and I came across a large octopus. At the end of the day we returned to the lighthouse to watch the sun go down.  Susie made pasta, and we all played cards until we collapsed into bed, exhausted.

The next morning we packed a picnic lunch, and spent the day at a location called Lakeside, a charming stretch of bleached coral sand and turquoise water.  A few hundred metres out, the surf thundered on the outer limits of Ningaloo reef.  Closer in, the water was calm and the visibility was good considering the dire warnings issued at the information office.  You could hop in the water at the south end of the beach and swim out to patches of coral. The current would then return you to the north end of the beach.  We repeated this exercise several times.

There were large outcrops of colourful coral, tropical fish and huge stingrays.  The parrotfish were gorgeous.  About halfway through the first lap of the beach I encountered a streamlined reef shark over 2m long. I had to swim towards it in order to place myself between it and Clare, who was swimming nearby.  Thankfully it swam away when I drew close to it.  Clare ended up clinging to my back after she spied it in the water near to us.  On our second excursion along the beach we encountered a large wobbegong shark which seemed indifferent to our presence.

At sunset we went up to the lighthouse again for drinks and a pre-dinner snack (slices of salami on biscuits).  I made spicy beans and rice for dinner.   Susan had her first bout of homesickness that evening when I was adding ground cumin to gently frying onions – a typical home smell.

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Clare and Ruby at Vlaming Head Lighthouse, W.A.

Ruby and Clare were invited to watch a DVD in the caravan nearby, but due to a misunderstanding they were never summoned when the movie began. They were both very disappointed because they have had limited opportunities to interact with other children while we have been on the road.  Clare took it hard, but Ruby was stoic.  Susie promised to take them to see a movie down the road to make up for it.

We’ve got one more day in this idyllic, if rather crowded spot.

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Ruby and a rusty anchor, Northwest Cape, W.A.

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