Day 2 Episode II.
Left Vlamingh Head Lighthouse and continued around the headland into Ningaloo Marine Park. “Ningaloo” is an Aboriginal word for promontory; I’m unsure which language group it’s from but the Cape’s original inhabitants were known as the Yinigudura people. I couldn’t find out much about them; they apparently left the cape before white settlement. Why – who knows? But Dave mentioned a large gap was discovered in the reef with pieces of it quite far inland… possibly a tsunami, between two and five thousand years ago.
Growing up in Carnarvon I remember hearing the Exmouth area was ‘taboo’ for Indigenous Australians but never knew why; if a neighbouring nation was wiped out by a natural disaster there it would be a completely understandable reason to avoid the place.
Popped in to the Milyering Visitors Centre where I learned a bit about the park’s World Heritage values.
- At 260 km Ningaloo is the longest western fringing coral reef in the world and a major food source for tropical reef and deepwater marine life. (And so pretty.)
- It is the world’s largest reef lying close to a land mass; just swim to it from the beach! (Bonus! I hate getting seasick.)
- At the back of the reef the water’s about 20 metres deep, 5km out it’s 100 metres, and less than 20 km away is the dropoff of the Australian continental shelf – over 500 metres deep! (Shit!)
- Because of this Ningaloo has enormous biodiversity – the permanent and transient residents include loggerhead, hawksbill and green turtles, several dolphin species, 300 species of coral, hundreds more of molluscs and crustaceans, 500 species of fish, birds, manta rays, plus megafauna such as pygmy blue whales, humpback and minke whales, orcas, pelagic fish such as sailfish and tuna, as well as the infamous whale sharks and probably partridges in pear trees (!!!)
Got some souvenirs and important info about the Turquoise Bay drift snorkel I’m doing tomorrow, then we all headed to Osprey Bay for lunch.
While Dave slaved away getting it ready we could either swim or wander. I opted for the latter.
I’ve never been here before but everything seems so familiar!! The dunes and vegetation look just like at my childhood home… the sand is whiter here though…
Saw a tribe of Grey Nomads ensconced at the campground; so jealous. For a four week National Park Pass ($44 per vehicle) and a mere $10 per person per night, you too can camp here for up to a month. Book WELL ahead. Like, a year or so. And BYO everything, including water, because the only facilities are eco toilets. Well, and a road to get here… what else do you want? That’s what I call really getting away from it all…
Next in my trying-to-do-shorter-posts-but-not-really-shorter-at-all series, Yardie Creek Gorge!