In my previous post I had mentioned that we booked to go on a glass bottomed boat tour. Consequently we found ourselves up at the unearthly hour of 06:30, packing our bags into the car, so that we could both check-out from Ningaloo Lodge and be ready for our 07:30 pick up.
We were picked up ,on time, by Alek in his bus. He gave a running commentary on what were to see and what our itinerary was going to be. On the way down to the boat he took us down to see the SS Mildura and on the way back we popped up to Vlaming Head Lighthouse. As I have already covered both in my previous post I won’t bore you again.
By the time we arrived at the Tantabiddi boat ramp there were twenty-three passengers.
Alek, left us on shore while he clambered into a canoe and paddled out to his boat which was anchored offshore.
Soon he was motoring back into the jetty ….
After a short informational pitch we were all aboard and heading out to the reef. As you can see from the photos, the sun was hiding and the reef was not well illuminated. The following shots have all had to be adjusted to try to remove the reflections so are not truly representative of what we actually saw. Hopefully they will give you a hint….
After a tour over the reef Alek tied up to a mooring to allow some of the passengers to go snorkeling. The wind was rising and this session was curtailed. Although the boat was very stable, turning from the mooring brought us across the wind and tide which made an uncomfortable ride, for a short period of time.
On the run back to the Tantabiddi boat ramp we were joined by a couple of dolphins who played across our bows and in the wake.
After returning to Exmouth we headed to See Salt for brunch before setting off back down to Carnarvon.
We arrived in Exmouth in the early afternoon of Friday, We were spending two nights so that gave us plenty of time to take a look around. What we didn’t realise is that, although it is summer time, we had arrived in the off-season. This meant that many of the tour companies were taking a break. It also meant that the whales were elsewhere along with the whale sharks who presumably were off on their holidays.
This left us to entertain ourselves, which we duly did.
On arrival at the Ningaloo Lodge we were greeted by this character …..
He was back again the following morning too !!!
During our first afternoon we went exploring and discovered Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt …..
The station provides very low frequency (VLF) radio transmission to United States Navy and Royal Australian Navy ships and submarines in the western Pacific Ocean and eastern Indian Ocean. The thirteen towers are huge, the tallest is called Tower Zero and is 387 m (1,270 ft) tall. These towers are visible for miles.
…… further along the road we arrived at a car park with access to the beach to view the wreck of the SS Mildura …..
The SS Mildura was carrying Kimberley cattle south when it foundered on the reef during a cyclone in 1907. No human lives were lost but many cattle did not survive. During WWII, allied planes used it for bombing practice.
We spent an hour or more on the beach overlooking the wreck. Paddling and just sitting in the sunshine. We were the only ones on the beach for quite some time. We did have some wild company …
The wreck can be viewed from the beach at the end of Mildura Wreck Road. As I said we had the beach to ourselves until, just before we were about to leave, three guys turned up to fish.
We watched for a while, to check out their methods. However their method entailed wading a long way out until they were waist deep, fishing with a lure until they got it caught on the rocks and lost it. Then they would wade back to shore, re-tackle, and wade back out. One of them lost his tackle several times. I think they spent more time tramping back and forth than they did fishing.
Having decided that there was nothing to be learnt we headed back to Exmouth to search out somewhere for an evening meal. We eventually settled on 5 Kennedy St.
The food here is superb and if you are ever in Exmouth I highly recommend a visit. To give you a hint of what is on offer I had Chilli Pepper Squid, Berry Vinaigrette, Chilli Lime Sauce as an entrée, followed by Lamb Shoulder, Israeli Cous Cous Salad, Baba Ganoush, Dukkah. The lamb was quite a substantial dish and I didn’t think I would make it to desert. However, I struggled manfully on to round of the meal with Churros, Chocolate Chilli Sauce, Vanilla Ice Cream.
Feeling pleasantly plump we took ourselves back to the Ningaloo Lodge for a well-earned kip to prepare for the next day.
Saturday morning saw us up and out searching for a breakfast venue. And for the early morning jump-start we settled on See Salt. Suitably fueled we set of in search of the visitor centre.
They confirmed that we were indeed visiting out of season but informed us that one tour company was still operating and that they still had spaces available. We duly booked ourselves onto a glass bottom boat trip out over the reef. Our departure time was to be 07:30 Sunday morning.
That left us with the whole of Saturday to go and explore. After studying maps and brochures we decided that we would follow Yardie Creek Road which winds its way down the western side of the North West Cape. Our target was to follow this road all the way to Yardie Creek and then to wend our way back to Exmouth, stopping off en-route to go swimming and even get in a little fishing. As always our plans are flexible and any trip is likely punctuated by numerous stops to admire the views and take pictures.
Consequently we hadn’t been on the road very long when we detoured of to visit Vlaming Head Lighthouse.
The wreck of the SS Mildura was directly responsible for the building of this lighthouse. Vlaming Head was also the site for a radar station. There is quite a comprehensive set of information boards pertaining to the history of the area and providing information about the views and wildlife that may be spotted. It is well worth the visit.
Continuing along Yardie Creek Road we did eventually reach Yardie Creek. This is pretty much the end of the paved road. To continue on requires a 4-wheel drive vehicle and the courage to cross the creek.
As you can see from the photos this area is absolutely swarming with tourists. No room to move on the beach. Honestly though, I’m sure it would be busier here if it wasn’t out of season. Would love to have taken the boat trip up Yardie Creek Gorge. Perhaps next time.
So, we managed to drag ourselves away from the creek and start our meander back to Exmouth. Although there are many tracks off Yardie Creek Road, to various beaches, we had decide to visit Turquoise Bay. We were not disappointed ……
We spent a good couple of hours here. The water was warm and very clear with loads of fish. They, the fish, were big enough to have given great sport to a fisherman. Unfortunately, fishing is not allowed here as this is a protected zone. Great for snorkelers who can observe the fish and the corals on the reef. Once again the beach was absolutely swarming with people…… not.
Alas time, as always, moved on and we had to set off back to Exmouth. As the sun sets the kangaroos and other wildlife become active and it becomes decidedly risky to drive after dark. We saw several kangaroos as we motored along and Gerry managed to get a couple of pictures ….
Back in Exmouth we again ate at 5 Kennedy St and with it being Saturday night the restaurant was very busy. The food was really good, five-star. My compliments to Dexter and his chef.
One of the features of Carnarvon is the One Mile Jetty and at the landward end is the Jetty Railway Museum. We couldn’t spare the time to visit the museum but I took a few photos of some of the vehicles dotted around the outside.
Back to the trip, after a buffet breakfast at the Carnarvon Motel, we headed out onto the North West Coastal Highway to continue our trek up to the north. Once again we topped up with fuel and set off.
We hadn’t been on the road for very long when I felt the need to stop and snap off a few photos. Carnarvon sits on the Gascoyne River and the road out-of-town crosses the dried up river bed.
Gascoyne River – Carnarvon, WA
Parrots – Gascoyne River, Carnarvon, WA
Gascoyne River – Carnarvon, WA
While I was taking my snaps the local parrot population was very vocal, heckling me from every vantage point.
Once more en-route and after an hours motoring I felt the need to empty my bladder. So cue my visit to a bush loo. This one was at Yandoo Creek …….
As an aside I have noted, regarding Australia’s public loo’s in remote places, is that they tend to be clean, not smelly or vandalised. Quite often they have toilet paper and sometimes even soap and water. The reason I mention this is that coming from the UK I find it surprising. Typically, back home, any loo in as remote a place as the Yandoo Creek example, would have been vandalised and covered in graffiti. They don’t even have to be remote to have been trashed.
Well done Australia and shame on you UK.
Our journey continued and, after another 80 kilometers, our next stop was Minilya Bridge Roadhouse.
After a snack, comprising some dubious sandwiches and a Magnum each, we continued on our way. A short distance up the road we left the North West Coastal Highway and struck out onto the Minilya-Exmouth Road and after approximately 50 kilometers further we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn.
What a pair of posers !!
Moving on we started to see new features in the countryside …..
We started off seeing the odd one or two nests alongside the road. The further we travelled, the more we saw. There were literally thousands of these nests, scattered as far as the eye could see. And they aren’t small …
Termite mounds – Each mound is an entire kingdom, complete with a king, queen, soldiers, workers and thriving cities. Millions of termites may live in a single mound and each termite has a role of its own in maintaining their complex social environment e.g. worker termites (smallest) build the mound using dirt and saliva. They have no eyes or ears but work by smell. They make tunnels to help keep the mound cool. These mounds can last up to 100 years. The King and Queen have their own room and the soldier termites keep quard outside their door. The King and Queen can live up to 30 years.
The above description was taken from an information board via this blog
Eventually we arrived in Exmouth and located our accommodation for the next two nights, the Ningaloo Lodge.