Friday, August 27, 2010

Heading to Ningaloo and Monkey Mia

We were sad to leave Broome, as we knew we wouldn't be able to be carefree about time spent at any place we stopped. We headed towards Ningaloo Reef, stopping at Port Headland on the way for lunch and a computer stop to pay the caravan registration.

While I was waiting for Randall to finish I noticed the name on one of the big ships in port - Tampa. Wasn't that the one involved with some boat people controversy?

As we drove out of the port, we noticed a huge pile of white stuff, which we found out was salt - Rio Tinto Salt! There are so many mines up here!

We stopped at an overnight road stop, along with a few other caravanners, and enjoyed the warmth of a fire after our tea. We had set up our satellite dish and saw some breaking news in the Phillipines about a man who had hijacked a bus, and was holding everyone on board hostage.

The next day was quite cool and it started to rain as we were driving along. It was the first real rain we had had on our trip.We called in at Karratha to have a look then kept going to find our next stop. Our roadside stop was on bitumen, but at least we were dry in our little van. We did try and sit outside for a bit but it was too unpleasant.

You can see by the photos that we always have company at these roadside stops, and people are always friendly.
We headed to Exmouth to have a look at Ningaloo Reef. Exmouth was quite a nice seaside town, so we parked the van to have a look around. It was funny to see an emu wandering around the car park!

We had heard about some campspots near the world famous reef, so called in at the information centre to find out about them. We were disappointed to find out that they were all full, but we decided to go and check them out anyway! Each campspot has a volunteer host - taking up a space for a regular camper I might say, so we were not happy! We found out that you had to queue up at the entrance gates at about 2am and wait for people to leave and you might still not be guaranteed of a space, so we gave up on that idea. We did find out the best place to swim and snorkel, so we hired some flippers and snorkels and, with limited time, had a go swimming over the reef. It is really close to the water's edge and it was lovely, but I was hopeless with my mask - it kept filling up with water and I couldn't breathe properly, so I didn't really get a good look at the reef. We returned the snorkelling gear, and had another swim at a beach nearby - our last swim as it turns out, as the weather is now too cool.

We decided not to stay in a caravan park there, but head out towards our next stop - Monkey Mia. We drove up to look at the lighthouse on the way out:

The sky was a beautiful blue, and we hoped that we could come back another time.
We had another roadside stop before we got to Monkey Mia, and it was lovely watching the full moon come up.

We arrived at a camping spot just outside of Denholm, the nearest place to Monkey Mia. We had to make a phone call and get a permit to camp, and I was surprised when the lady said there were spaces at all the campspots, so I took the one closest to Monkey Mia, called Eagle Bluff. It turned out to be a magic place, with a beautiful view, perched above the beach.

We got up the next morning and headed to Monkey Mia. I was really looking forward to this, and I had read about the dolphins at Monkey Mia, and really wanted to go there and see them. We had to pay an extra fee to get onto the beach, but we managed to get a seniors discount, which pleased us no end!!!
We were lucky that some dolphins had just come in, and a lot of people were standing along the water's edge, so we wandered down and joined them. It is all very controlled, and you are not allowed to touch the dolphins or get too far into the water, but it was still lovely to see them. A mother and child dolphin were there and stayed around for at least 1/2 hour while we were there.

I was so happy to see these dolphins, they really were lovely to watch. After they swam away Randall and I enjoyed a coffee at the resort there, called in at Denholm on the way back to our camp and had a nice pie at the bakery for lunch.
We got back to camp and did some catch up washing before relaxing watching the action out in front of us.

In the early evening we saw some dolphins in the distance, and then I saw a skate swimming along in front of us, and also a couple of sharks slinking in. The water was amazinly clear and we really felt we were at a very special place. Our permit was only for one night, but we stayed 2 nights anyway, and no one came looking for us to tell us off!!! It was quite isolated, only one tent in the distance, so lovely and private. We really loved this place.

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