From Ningaloo Station we hotfooted it up to Exmouth to restock and headed out to Cape Range National Park for our campsite booking at Osprey Bay. This was a lovely campsite, although after where we have been we found it to be a little bit sterile and not much character. Although, it was right on the water and the views were pretty good. This was to be our base for 3 nights while we explored the western side of the Exmouth peninsula.
Our first day on the peninsula was taken up with a spectacular day of swimming with Whale Sharks. We booked the tour with Ningaloo Whale Shark ‘n’ Dive and they were fantastic. Everything was provided from snorkel gear and stinger suits to all meals and snacks for the day. We started the day with a snorkel on the main reef which was apparently amazing, although I didn’t get to experience it because Campbell got in the water and then very quickly wanted to get out so I went with him. Vanessa and Lily had a great time though. We then heard from the skipper that some Whale Sharks had been spotted quite near and off we went. Swimming with them was amazing and something that everyone should do if you can. We saw 3 different individuals and were in the water 8 times for about 10 minutes each time. Apparently the ones we saw were pretty lazy which was the best for us as we didn’t have to swim hard and we were able to enjoy the experience. It was a spectacular day. We even finished off the day with home made melting moments and a glass of champagne (sparkling white wine).
After our great day with the Whale Sharks, the next day was a bit of a down day. A bit like post trip depression, we were all at a bit of a loss as to what to do. We went for a drive down to Yardie Creek and then I went for a snorkel at the Oyster Stacks. The snorkelling was good but it had nothing on Ningaloo Station. We then just sat and chilled out at Osprey Bay beach where the kids went out snorkelling with me and got to swim with some green turtles.
Our last day on the west side of the peninsula was pretty busy as we packed up and then went for a hike at Yardie Creek Gorge and saw some Black Footed Rock Wallabies and then headed for Turquoise Bay for some more snorkelling before heading into Exmouth to set up at the Caravan Park.
We had a lovely first night and day at Exmouth with a fantastic meal out at the Italian / Slow Cooked Meats Restaurant and a look at all the sights we even managed to see a shipwreck, dugongs and turtles all at the one lookout. We then looked at the weather forecast and decided to cut our 3 night stay down to 2 and head inland to Tom Price to try to avoid the worst of the weather that was forecast.
The decision to head inland to try to beat the worst of the weather was a very popular decision as there were a lot of people heading the same way. At the Nanutarra Roadhouse we met up with Steve and Skye, who we had met at Carnarvon a week or so earlier, had come from Coral Bay to escape the weather and we had a lovely convoy with them through to Tom Price. Within a few hours of being at Tom Price the travelling families were beginning to gather and by mid way through the next day the caravan park looked like it was the middle of school holidays with kids everywhere. Our decision to head to Tom Price was a great idea as we escaped the 60+km/h winds on the coast, but we did get 80+mm of rain in two days while we were there. While we were in Tom Price we did a little bit of sightseeing out at Karijini NP. Although all the walks in the gorges were closed due to the rain and the risks of flooding, we managed to see some sights from the few lookouts that were open.
As the weather was setting in and the National Park was closed we decided to wait out the weather up at Karratha. So we gained our Rio Tinto Rail Access Road Permit and we headed up the dirt road to the coast. This was a great idea as the Pilbara country in the wet weather was spectacular. However, the red water spray turned the car and trailer both a lovely shade of Pilbara Red, which took a bit of effort to get off at the other end.
In Karratha we got caught up with a few jobs and checked out a few of the attractions, including the Burrup Peninsula Petroglyphs, which happens to be right beside the massive North West Shelf Gas Project. After the weather fined up again and we could dry everything properly we decided that it was time to head back inland again.