Cape Range National Park and Ningaloo Marine Park

After a couple of days in Exmouth to do the Whale swimming trip we headed into the Cape Range National Park and camped at Tulki Beach for 5 days. This gave us plenty of time to get around to all the shore based snorkel sites along this part of the coast and also to do a few walks.

cape range camp tulki beach
Our cape range view campsite at Tulki beach. The beach is just behind the dunes behind us. We saw the range out one side and the dunes and sea out the other.
This is one way you can view the Reef without getting wet.
white eyed peas
We found a paler shade of Desert Pea with white centers growing on the side of the road.
green birdflower
Another really interesting wildflower was the green bird flower
bird flower with nt
This birdflower was not at it’s best and it was being attacked by ants so hoping to see another plant.
bird nest on tower
This little butcher bird looked like it had found a palace or 3 with these Osprey nests!
swimming risk
We took the chance and did the drift snorkel at Turquoise Bay. The current made the water not so clear but there was a lot of healthy looking soft and hard corals here. Many fish both large and small. We also saw a one metre long black tipped reef shark and swam with a turtle for quite awhile. It’s nice to see relaxed turtles that are clearly not afraid of ending up a meal! You could do this dive many times and see something new each time.
lion fish
Lion fish not liking the camera.
white tip resting
White tipped reef shark having a sleep in a cave.
digging ray
Blue spotted sting ray having a feed on the bottom with fish helping themselves to whatever he was digging up!

snorkelling maddy

coral garden
A coral garden. It was like swimming in an aquarium! Lots of healthy hard and soft corals and so many fish. It was a joy to see a fringing reef lagoon so healthy. We went to the Cook Isles a few years ago and although the islands were beautiful all their coral reef was dead around the 2 main islands. Any fish in their lagoons were there because they were fed. The reefs there are very shallow and are getting too hot and the coral has died as a result. You could see global warming in action. Very sad and we must protect what we have here in Australia.

coral fishies

Giant clam.
turtle at oyster stacks
A very laid back turtle. It was like he was drugged. We swam with this guy for so long I got cold – he was so slow! He didn’t mind us, but he was not so sure about the camera.
big whoppers
We saw huge schools of very big fish at times.


feeding blue spotted ray and bumphead fish
Another ray feeding with fish helping themselves after the ray did some digging.

The next day we headed out to do the Yardie Gorge walk and then had a swim and a cup of tea at Sandy Bay Beach.

yardie gorge trail sign

yardie creek

yardie creek and ningaloo reef
Yardie creek opens into the sea when there is enough water but not at the moment. Waves in the background are breaking on Ningaloo Reef.

yardie creek

steve on yardi creek walk
Steve wearing his special bush walking thongs.
eastern reef egrets
Eastern Reef Egrets- “Ebony and Ivory living in perfect harmony”
little yardie flower
A perfect very tiny little wildflower we almost stepped on.

yardi creek walk

sandy bay
The beautiful Sandy Bay Beach with waves breaking out on the reef in the distance.
lesser sand plover 2
Red Capped Plover and a Lesser Sand Plover
sandy beach ningaloo reef
Crystal clear water at Sandy Bay with waves breaking on the reef behind. You just had to get in!

We got the folding boat in the water to do some snorkels further off shore on bommies and saw an amazing amount of turtles. At one stage we saw 7 turtles at one time while we were going along in the boat. It’s turtle mating season we were told but didn’t see any in the act. We saw more reef sharks out further these ones cruising around the valleys in between the coral outcrops. We saw many stings rays and a good range of different fish and corals. So nice that all is so healthy and there are so many fish.

shells in a huddle
Live shells cuddled up together on the rocks. I am not allowed to collect shells here as it is a marine park but I am amazed that there are few shells on the beach when there is so much diversity in the water here.

Another day and many more beautiful beaches here at Ningaloo Marine Park

steve out for a snorkel

blue fins
Down he goes in his new fins.
bat fish2
One of our favourites is the batfish. They seem to be very people friendly fish.
balor snail
A huge live bailer shell with its snail.   I had only seen these dead on the beach before this.
lots of fish
We saw a lot of huge schools of very big fish like these (not sure what they are as all our fish books are at home) and others. These were probably 60cm long.
gordons home
This groper was always hiding under something trying to get some privacy but he was a bit close to shore and easy to find. He was huge and probably weighed 60-80 kgs!
gordon close up
The groper and his friends. He has that “get out of my cave” look!
blue spotted ray
Blue spotted sting ray hiding.
clown fish
Anemone fish
white tipped reef shark
White tipped reef shark trying to get some sleep in this cave-and then Steve came along! There were many sharks on Ningaloo Reef which is a healthy sign.


moorish idols
Moorish Idols
These Ospreys had a killer view overlooking the beach at the top of this sand dune.
osprey and chick
They were very busy feeding this ugly big featherless chick.
marine park sign
We were hoping all the fish swam to the left!
weird snorkel
First time seeing these weird mask/snorkels. I think they may be for people scared of snorkeling as many were pink!
idiot sign
The idiot sign! Risk of the day!
grey haired urchin
There were a lot of these “grey haired” sea urchins washed up on one beach.
rock life
Interesting rock residents.

A perentie on the rocks near the beach

barracuda head
I love walking the high tide line to see what the sea has brought up. This looks like the head of a large garfish.
A crabby crab not happy to see us on it’s lonely beach.

mandu mandu gorge sign

mandu mandu walk view
Mandu Mandu Gorge walk.
Wildflowers in the creek bed.
outdoor shower engine cleaner
The outdoor shower is good for cleaning us and rinsing the boat motor!
moon and saturn
The moon about to move in front of Saturn with it’s rings.       I was watching a program where an astronaut was describing his view of the earth from space. Each time they orbited they would see different areas of the world but there were always clouds obscuring many places. The only place he was ALWAYS able to see (due to lack of clouds) was the Australian outback. Maybe that’s why we love it so much. The moon and stars at night is hard to beat out here too.   M                           About a minute after taking this photo, Saturn disappeared.    Amazingly this image was taken with just a handheld camera (Panasonic Lumix FZ300) – I took a 7 second video sequence, then used image stacking software to combine 160 frames from the video to increase the clarity.   S










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