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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
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
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
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 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 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
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.
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