Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cape Range National Park 21 - 24 July

 As it is over 500 km from Parraburdoo To Exmouth we decided to spend the night at Giralia Station, about 100 km from Exmouth. The station used to be a sheep property but is now only used for accommodation. It is fairly basic, but adequate for our needs. We were camped next to a couple named Mick and Gay from Perth. Amazingly Gay has a twin sister named Joy. They were friendly people who, just before we left, gave us a meal of fish they had caught. He was a baker and spent a bit of time fixing the gas stove in the camp kitchen.

Wildflowers on the way to Exmouth

Operation Potshot was a joint Aus-US effort in WWII
The Big Prawn, but you can't buy fresh prawns there.
Vlamingh Head Lighthouses, one from World War II

We departed for Exmouth in drizzly conditions, hopeful of getting a campsite in Cape Range National Park, as several people had recommended it to us. We discovered that there is online booking for Cape Range, but unfortunately we haven't had enough signal to make an online booking, even if we knew when we expected to be there. But it was our lucky day as we arrived at the Parks and Wildlife Office and obtained the last available site. So we quickly did some shopping, refuelled and headed off to claim it before anyone else could.

Cape Range NP is on the western coast of North West Cape,  almost as far west as you can go on the mainland, and its shoreline is protected by Ningaloo Reef,  a coral reef that is easily accessible to snorkellers from the beach. The park is unusual in that it has no trees, except those in the picnic ground at Yardie Creek, the park's only permanent fresh water. At this time of the year it has abundant wildflowers in bloom, lining the road and also en masse further away.

 Turquoise Bay where we snorkelled today is an amazing colour and well named. Osprey Bay where we are camped is a beautiful colour as well.

Because there are no trees there are very few large birds in the park, certainly not like we have seen practically everywhere else we have been. The animal we have seen most it the rock wallaby, and unfortunately many have been dead on the side of the road. Today we saw a dead mother wallaby and just near it on the road was its dead joey. Quite upsetting to see.

The park is very regulated with most of the coastal area a marine park, so the fishermen have to take their boats at least a kilometre off shore before they can fish. Camping is only permitted in certain areas, and these are supervised by volunteer campground hosts. The hosts get free camping. The facilities here at Osprey campground are new as the previous ones were destroyed by a cyclone earlier in the year. There are only toilets though, no showers.

There are a few walks you can do and today we did the Yardie Creek nature walk, followed by the Gorge walk, which overlooks the creek. The rocks of the gorge are a deep red, but all the rock surrounding the gorge is a pinkish white colour. The rocks have been eroded and are full of holes, many with a minimal amount of soil in them and wildflowers taking the opportunity for water anywhere they can. The whole area used to be a seabed in millenia past.

The picnic area at Yardie Creek

Cape Range is one area that has to be revisited as we didn't spend nearly enough time there. It is, however a long way away but it is a great place to spend a winter. The local West Australians have worked it out. They book in months in advance for 28 days at a time and only have to pay $6.60 per person per day. It is also one of the best places for catching big fish. Fish around a metre in length are what we are talking about. None for us though.

More Sturt Desert Peas

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