Published: August 20th 2012August 13th 2012
Day 45 – Monday 13th
August – Ningaloo Station, South Lefroy Bay
During the night the wind picked up considerably and it was very blowy when we woke up. Worse still, the unthinkable had happened… there were clouds in the sky! Not just any old clouds but grey ones and they seemed to be galloping in around us with the wind and it started to look a little bit like it might rain. Shock horror! This girded us into action to pack up before the rain came. We had put the awning up for a bit of wind protection so packing up the tent took a little bit longer than usual. Not sure how strong the winds actually were but it was definitely the windiest it’s been all trip and the gust were very powerful. And in case I haven’t mentioned it enough, these have been the first proper clouds we have seen since, well, since leaving Victoria I reckon. We’ve been sooooooo lucky with the sunshine the whole way.
By the time we had all packed up at 9.15 the menacing clouds had blown away and the sky was mostly blue. False alarm for bad weather!
As planned we took the unsealed road south from Yardie Creek towards Coral Bay, but not exactly sure of where we would camp tonight. The Yardie Creek crossing is dry but sandy, so speed is the key getting across. Mark gave it some welly and sprinted across the sand in low range, arriving safely on the other side without getting bogged.
The National Park gives way to National Defence land allocated to RAAF Learmonth. Scary signs warn against camping and hiking in the firing range area. OK then, so we’ll give that a miss and drive straight through. The road was bumpy, sandy, corrugated but so picturesque, with dunes and glimpses of the turquoise sea on the right and savannah on the left. Taking this route down the coast instead of the sealed road felt like a real adventure.
After about 40kms of driving we pulled over to check out one of the bays. More beautiful white sand and turquoise water. It was quite rocky and Luke did some more great wildlife spotting, seeing loads and loads of crabs in the rock pools. From this little bay we saw tents and caravans on the beach in the distance.
According to the map it was bush camping at Windjerabandi Point. That meant the end of the RAAF Firing Range was close by. Another 10kms further along the road we came upon the gated entrance to Ningaloo Station. We had read about Ningaloo Station and the fact that you can camp right on the beach, but you need a chemical toilet (which we don’t have). But we decided to call in at the Homestead to ask about camping and see if we could hire a loo.
Driving through Ningaloo Station we passed a few gated entrances signposted to campsites. The gates were locked to keep unauthorized campers out. Finally we arrived at the Homestead, third in a queue of four camper trailers. The homestead was very rickety and run-down. Nothing like the word “homestead” conjures up in your mind. Or in my mind, anyway. The people in front of us were all calling in at the end of their camping stay to hand back their keys and recover their deposits. All of them had stayed longer than they had planned, which made us think that we would be in for something special if we could get a camping spot
on the beach.
When it came to our turn the lady said she could hire us out a portaloo for $10 a day and that camping would cost $5 per adult and half price for kids 10 and under. She gave us key number 12, a spot at South Lefroy Bay and the smartest portaloo from her shed! We paid for two nights and headed back north along the track to Lefroy Bay with the portaloo squeezed in the back of the car (boot, not back seat with the kids).
At the locked gate to Lefroy Bay we had to reduce the tyre pressures to 20 psi as we would be driving on very soft sand. There were two warning signs to remind us to do this and advise that rescue towing would be charged. So we dropped the tyre pressure and collected some firewood at the same time. Camping spot number 12 turned out to be right on the beach. Awesome, awesome, awesome. The only downside to being right on the beach was the wind. Strong southerlies were still blowing and there was no shelter from the dunes.
It was the first time we had put
the tent up in the strong wind and the first time we got to use our “serious sand pegs”. In fact it was lucky that we had our humungous plastic sand pegs with us because the steel ones we had definitely would not have done the job. We put the awning up to give us shade from the sun and some wind protection. More deep hammering in of big tent pegs necessary to stop everything from blowing away. There were four other mini camps on the beach in our little area with plenty of space between each site. All the others had boats of various sorts – tinnies and more fancy fishing boats, a zodiac (inflatable with motor), sea kayaks and big camping set-ups with one or more pavilions and large camper trailer tent extensions. It looked as though they were there for a long period of time and had made themselves really comfortable.
Once we got ourselves fully set up we settled in for some serious relaxing. A spot of fishing, lots of reading (and finishing off the third book of the Millennium Trilogy – excellent stuff), some snorkelling in the reef just off the beach… And generally
just taking in this amazing beach at this amazing spot, feeling very lucky to be here. After sunset we dug a hole in the beach and laid ourselves a campfire to sit around and cook our damper… It turned out to be the best damper we have made so far, with an excellent crust on in.
Oh, and the portaloo got a very picturesque spot in the dunes to become our “loo with a view” for the next few days!
There are more photos below