Friday, 15 January 2010

Western Australia - Why Choose Exmouth as a Holiday Destination?

Australia is a huge country, and the coastline of Western Australia is often overshadowed by the more glamorous and famous East Coast, that boasts the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsunday Islands, the tropical rainforest and the cosmopolitan cities of Sydney and Melbourne.  However, for the more adventurous and intrepid traveller, Western Australia has a lot to offer.

Western Australia is the largest state in Australia.  Most of the state is still sparsely populated, with around 75% of the population living in its capital city Perth.  The coastline of Western Australia is very long and if you travel around 2200 kilometres north from Perth, you will arrive in Exmouth, at the northernmost tip of Australia’s Coral Coast.

Cape Range National Park


Exmouth is a small town with a population of around 2500, and it could also be said that it is not the prettiest or most interesting of towns.  One of the things that make Exmouth unique is its emus.  There are emus everywhere!  They wander freely down the streets and even wander into the hotel and camping complexes as they are extremely inquisitive birds. However, remember that they are still wild birds.  Do not feed them and be careful around them, especially if they are accompanied by chicks, as they can be very protective.
 The first Europeans to set foot in the Exmouth area were the Dutch, and Captain Jacobz of the Mauritius came ashore in 1618. Exmouth was named after Viscount Exmouth by a naval captain, Phillip Parker King, in 1818 and he also named North West Cape.  The area was then visited by pearl luggers occasionally until the Second World War, when Exmouth became the centre of a military operation called ‘Operation Potshot’.  Many of the streets in Exmouth are named after early residents or military and naval craft or operations. In the 1950’s the area was being used for oil exploration, fishing and grazing, and in 1967 Australia and the US combined to build an important communications base.

Humpback Whales, Exmouth WA

So why does it attract such a large amount of tourist and travellers each year? The answer is that Exmouth is the gateway to some of the most beautiful natural landscapes to be found in Australia.  Off its coast and beaches of fine silvery, sand can be found the pristine, beautiful underwater world of the Ningaloo Reef and if you prefer to keep your feet dry you can enjoy exploring the beauties of the Cape Range National Park.
High season in Exmouth is April through until the end of October, and you can expect the weather to be hot and sunny.  July is probably the busiest month of all, so it is highly advisable to pre-book your accommodation and travel well in advance.

To get to Exmouth you can either take a 2 ½ hour flight from Perth, or drive up which generally takes two days.  If you want to go by road, you can catch the Greyhound coach, which runs a frequent service to all the major destinations between Perth and Darwin. When you arrive there is a wide range of accommodation to choose from, varying from basic backpacker type to plush hotels, and also many self-catering apartments and chalets.   Camping is also available, and there are plenty of spaces for camper vans!  There are also eco-retreats and wilderness safari tents to stay in.

Exmouth Sunset

Exmouth has a range of shops, including a couple of supermarkets, restaurants, cafes and bars.  There is a large Visitor Information Centre, where you can get advice on what to do in Exmouth and book accommodation or one of the many tours available.  There is also a new marina that has been built in the last few years, where a lot of the diving and whale watching tours start from.   If you like being active on dry land, there is a golf course and a gym.

Ningaloo Reef

Ningaloo Reef is Australia’s largest fringing coral reef and is around 260kms long.  It was designated the Ningaloo Marine Park in 1987.  It is teeming with different coral, fish and marine life.  More than 500 species of fish and 220 species of coral make Ningaloo their home. During the winter month’s it is regularly visited by migrating humpback whales, dugongs, dolphins and manta rays. And of course Ningaloo Reef is most famous for being one of the best places in the world to swim and snorkel with Whale Sharks, which arrive at the reef to feed on the rich plankton between March and June.  The beaches are also important breeding grounds for turtles, and hawksbill, green and loggerheads all nest here.  The reef is especially good for snorkelling as it lies very close to the shore, and you can snorkel straight off the beach.  There are coral bolas in the shallow waters that enable you to snorkel and encounter many of the denizens of the reef in waist-deep water.  However, beware of the strong currents.

Osprey Bay, Ningaloo Reef

So with this wealth of marine life, clear turquoise seas and powder sand beaches on its doorstep, it is not surprising that diving, snorkelling, kayaking, whale watching, and glass bottom boat cruises are big business in Exmouth.  The diving trips that track the Whale Sharks are especially popular and can be booked months in advance, so if you have set your heart on snorkelling with these gentle giants make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to make arrangements.  Other trips combine snorkelling with manta rays and whale watching, or scuba diving, or snorkelling the reef.  There are also PADI courses available, so you can learn to scuba dive at Ningaloo Reef!

There are also many fishing tours that can be booked; you can do a boat or fishing charter or combine a fishing trip with snorkelling.  There are around thirty species of game fish that can be caught in the seas around Exmouth, and they host the Gamex Fishing Tournament every year in March.

The Cape Range National Park

The Cape Range National Park encompasses a wide area of rocky plateaus, spectacular gorges and around 50kms of beautiful beaches.  There are over 700 caves in the Park, and the rocky slopes and cliffs help to make this a stunningly beautiful landscape.  The Cape Range National Park contains abundant wildlife, ranging from emus to euros, red kangaroos and birds.  There are even rare black-footed rock wallabies to be glimpsed if you take a cruise down Yardie Creek.  During the season the Park is also carpeted by a colourful array of wildflowers including some species only found in this region like a variety of the Sturt Desert Pea that has a red centre.

Yardie Creek

You can take a 4WD tour around the Park which will include some of the gorges, visiting the Milyering Visitor Centre, going on the Yardie Creek Cruise, snorkelling off one of the beaches and probably finishing off at sunset at Vlamingh Head Lighthouse to take photographs.

If you wanted to spend more time in the Cape Range National Park, there are camping bays available which make it easy for you to make the most of the snorkelling, hiking, fishing and swimming.  They do, however, have very few facilities and you have to bring everything with you, including your own water.  Don’t be surprised if you find a euro making the most of the shade under your car!

So Exmouth truly has a lot to offer as a holiday destination, especially for the tourist that likes being outdoors and active.  Although popular, it is nowhere near as crowded as the popular holiday destinations on the East Coast, and you can just relax and enjoy the spectacular wilderness that is still Western Australia.

All images my own

1 comment:

  1. Great article with excellent idea! I appreciate your post. Thanks so much and let keep on sharing your stuffs keep it up.

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