On Friday we headed around to the reef to snorkel at Turquoise Bay which has a natural "drift" along the reef. It was a truly stunning beach, with the most amazing coloured water. The snorkel was a bit chaotic with the 3 children, but given it was literally just off the beach we all managed to go in separately and with more calm to have a proper look at the fish. Jamie was delighted to see a baby reef shark with Brad, and wrote a brilliant piece about it in his scrap book. Zach was still basking in the glory of swimming with a whaleshark so was less bothered about the snorkelling today. But we all had a lovely morning soaking up the sun and relaxing in a truly beautiful location.
Brad did the navy pier dive early on Saturday morning and really enjoyed it. The telecommunications equipment based here lead to a huge security alert in the days post 9/11 which we thought was totally exaggerated - who knows where this place is, especially not Al Qaeda - its the middle of now where. But we were put right when we learnt its one of only 4 places in the world that has the telecommunications equipment to communicate with every sea based and sub sea based ship in the world. But when the gear arrived from Texas in 1964, they realised there was no where to land it, so they built the navy pier. The site has never been fished since being built in 1964 and is colonised by coral and absolutely huge and very friendly fish. Large shoals of golden trevally, a number of 200kg potato cod and some grey nurse sharks amongst numerous others that I have no idea what are called. visibility was tough at about 5 to 7 metres which is apparently normal and the currents and surge was massive which made navigating through the pier struts and cross beams under water interesting. All in all well worth doing.
Me and the kids had a relaxed day hanging out in the campervan, then the 5 of us treated ourselves to a scenic flight over the reef to get a bird's eye view of the stunning colours of the reef. You could even spot reef sharks from the plane.
Tomorrow we start the mammoth journey to Broome, and it is with sadness that we leave the Ningaloo reef region. We have had a brilliant week or so in the area, and could easily spend at least another week here. It definately goes down as the best part of our trip so far. Snorkelling with the children, both on the reef and on the manta ray trip will stay with me for ever as one of the best things we've done. And Brad and Zach just loved the whaleshark trip, Zach is now fixated with the creature and both wish they had more time to go out on another shark-spotting trip. Maybe we will all come back again one day, when all 3 boys can enjoy the experiences here.....
We were all gutted to wave goodbye to Skye early on Thursday morning, so decided that we would head on up to the northern end of Ningaloo reef, basing ourselves at Exmouth which is about 150km north of Coral Bay. It was a good move - Brad booked the famous navy pier dive for Saturday, and the kids had a relaxed afternoon playing in the fantastic swimming pool at the campsite (not to mention Brad who had a Benji-free hour reading his book while me and Benji went to the supermarket). The kids had a fun evening too - the campsite laid on "Megamind" on a big screen under the stars.