Cape Range National Park Western Australia

cpnpbchTake a coastline that is 1,100 kilometres in length that is about midway up the Western Australian coast and call it the Coral Coast. Most people would think it was nothing but a clever marketing name, but that attitude would be wrong as the Coral Coast is an extraordinarily special and unique place that has natural environs which are found nowhere else in the world.

At the northern tip of the Coral Coast, near the town of Exmouth, is Cape Range National Park. This enormous park covers an area of 50,581 hectares of the Cape Range Peninsula a large spit of land which spreads out towards the Indian Ocean. Just offshore from the park is amazing Ningaloo Marine Park which encompasses the Ningaloo Reef; the largest fringing coral reef in Australia, and which is the only large reef in the world to be located so close to a continental land mass.

Within Cape Range National Park are some brilliant landscapes, ranging from impressive gorges to stunning beaches and even a fascinating mangrove lake. Heading south from Exmouth you have the rugged Cape Range on your left and the horizon of white-capped surf breaking over Ningaloo Reef on your right.

One of the best features of the park is the fact that you are able to camp at many places inside the park. The most popular camping spots are close to beaches, but all of the campsites have basic facilities and cater for just a few tents or caravans. In order to camp inside the park you must be self-reliant as there are no powered sites, no showers, no local shops, and no organised activities.

Although there are places from which you can launch boats within the park, there are only a few places where you can fish from a boat, as most of the coastline is locked up as marine sanctuaries, although fishing from the beach is allowed.

Within the sanctuaries you see a tremendous variety of marine life, including dozens of varieties of fish, several species of turtles, dugongs and sharks. Offshore, during migrating season, you can see whales and whale sharks.

On land you witness an enormous range of birdlife, and seeing kangaroos, emus, echidnas and large lizards called bungarras is quite common.

The southern boundary of the park is 70 kilometres north of Coral Bay and the northern limit is 39 kilometres south of Exmouth. To drive the full distance through the park is possible, but you do need a 4WD all terrain vehicle.

The most popular time to visit is between May and September each year, when the daytime temperature normally hovers around the low to mid 20s (Celcius), and the days are generally sunny.

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