Coral Bay

Trip Start Jul 07, 2011
Trip End Oct 10, 2011

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Where I stayed
Peoples Park Caravan Villiage
What I did
Swim, snorkel, explore

Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The namers of places (is that a profession? Perhaps "Gazeteerist"…) really have it all sewn up when it comes to describing what's at a place by its label on the map.  They can either make or break a place.  Take these for example:
  • Mount Nameless (near Tom Price) – that would be a mountain with no name;
  • Useless Loop – we’ll not be going there when we go to Monkey Mia (there’s a weird one); and
  • Coral Bay – what do you think’s there?
Thankfully, coral sounds a lot more interesting than a nameless or useless, so we exited Exmouth (there should be joke in there somewhere, but not now) and plodded down the coast to the southern end of the Ningaloo Reef to a sleepy seaside town – allegedly with a lot of coral…

By this stage in the trip, we’d started to come to the end of the bookings that we’d diligently made in Adelaide before leaving.  Broome had been a 'must book’ because of its popularity.  For some reason, Exmouth had been on the ‘booker’ list, but Coral Bay wasn’t so Megan called them (while the boys had been swimming with Mr Whale Sharky), to find that they hadn’t got any powered sites available until will after we wanted one.

So we chanced it.  The worst that could happen was that there were no sites available at all, the best that we’d get one that had become vacant.  Let’s live on the edge a bit…

And Chris was living on the edge a bit too.  The trip computer on the Outlander said ‘no worries, you’ve got plenty of juice to do those 150 clicks’, so we didn’t bother filling up and went down the coast.  What the Blue Beauty didn’t calculate though was the prevailing southerly and the airbrake caravan behind her, and the you’ve-got-this-much-distance-left-in-the-tank meter started to converge on the distance we had remaining.  We weren’t really worried though, the jerry can had enough in reserve, but Chris played feather-foot and got us in with 20km remaining.

It seems to happen wherever we go: We get somewhere and no one else is around.  Then, two minutes later, the place fills up with people wanting just what we came for.  This time, it was no different.  But this time we needed to get a site, and so did the 3 cars just behind us on the way into Coral Bay.

Luckily we were the vehicle in front, but the GPS had other ideas and sent us left (to the boat ramp) instead of straight on to the caravan park!  We needn’t have worried though, all the hopefuls had stopped at the first caravan park (which looked like a zoo) and we were headed for the second (The People’s Park – which Megan had contacted and we’d heard good things about) and there was only one person waiting in the office.

The situation hadn’t changed though – no powered sites – so we opted for an unpowered one (rather than go back to the zoo), which turned out to be a blessing in disguise since pretty much all the other vans on powered pitches were crammed in.  Our site was neatly tucked away in a quite location, grassed and near to the camp kitchen – which had power anyhow!  Perfect!

And the staff here were also perfectly mannered with a smile in everything that they did – what a pleasure.  Chris got chatting to one of the grounds staff and said how nice they were – to which the response was “how could we not be with these views?”

There are views a plenty – right over a crystal white flat sandy beach curving into the distance surrounding a light blue bay with (you guessed it) coral corralled by the fringing Ningaloo Reef.  And that’s the beauty of a fringing reef: it means that everything’s close to shore, and the coral that’s just off the edge of the sandy beach is great and easily accessible.  No long boat trips, just jump in and enjoy.

So, that’s exactly what we did!  Towels on the beach, fins on the feet and faces in the water.  Go!  Everyone had a great afternoon on the beach, in the water and duck-diving on the coral: Whip rays, parrot fish, clown fish and big wrasse.  Darn that sun going down, you can’t see the beautiful views!

The two nights we stayed were enough and you want to take all your gear in.  There is a very little mall containing a tiny supermarket (sic), yummy bakery, newsagent/post-office and an overpriced gift shoppé.

The time’s enough because unless you want to sit on the beach all day getting skin cancer, there’s not much else to do other than snorkel, so after visiting the boat ramp where there were abundant ‘no fishing’ signs (Chris didn’t really care), the boys decided that they’d climb over the sand dunes to the beach and snorkel the couple of kilometres from the edge of the mooring area north round the point and back to the main bay.

So, Megan and Caitlyn dropped them off and they zig-zagged for about a kilometre (as they found out once they were out of sight of the car) through sand, bushes and lizards (and probably a few snakes) without shoes and across hot sand to Paradise Beach where they happily donned gear and got in.

The coral was much better off Paradise Beach – and the boys knew where the good coral would be because that’s where all the glass bottom boats were headed!  So, they forced a couple of the boats to detour round them (marine rules say that power gives way to sail!) while they floated and dived onto the coral gardens below before finally drifting and fining back to the beach.  Excellent!

While Chris went for another snorkel/coral fix later in the afternoon (all of 500m off the beach), the kids played sandcastles and moats on the silky sand and Megan was quite happy just sitting in the warm sun watching on!

Good job a Gazeteerist didn’t call Coral Bay, “Go Somewhere Else” because we might just have!
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