Coral up close
Coral Bay Travel Blog› entry 8 of 16 › view all entries
As we make our way North with Easyrider we only stay one night at each location before the bus heads away to the next. We have the option to leap off and hang where we are until another comes in the future but, apart from losing Bryn a couple of days back, we wanted to stay together 'till the end, that included Paddy too of course. If we were to jump off his bus, more than likely we'd be with another driver coming through next time as the drivers only rotated through the tour ever 9 days or so.
As I've said though, Coral Bay was a great spot. I wanted to stay, but the pull of Terry, Petra and Adi won me over. It was my birthday in a couple of days and we were already planning a bit of a do for the big event.
First thing in the morning we grabbed some snorkeling gear and went out on a glass bottomed boat to see some coral.
Looking down through the bottom of the boat was pretty ho hum I have to say. I'd never been on one before and although we were able to see down to the coral and the fish beneath, the glass was a little dirty and I still felt a bit like I was at an aquarium.
Finally the Captain got to the point he was heading for and we stopped.
Out of the boat and in the water everything was very different. No aquarium feel now! I was in amongst the little fish and had a perfect view of the seabed covered in all the pretty coloured coral.
I marveled at sea cucumbers, starfish and giant clams. It didn't take me long to blast off my 24exp disposable camera but when the result were returned to me I have to say the old adage applies, "Y' gits whats y' pays for".
I cast my mind back to when I worked in the photo lab and we had a Nikonus IV underwater camera to sell. My boss made me take all the cameras home and run a film through them so I could learn all about them and advise potential buyers correctly.
When I took the Nikonus I spent a couple of hours in a swimming pool with a ball. If only I had that camera now!
Now I hesitate to tell you this, in case word gets out and the whole world descends on Western Aus, but Coral Bay coral belongs to the Ningaloo Reef. The reef runs miles up the edge of Western Australia, so close to the shore that you can swim out easily from most of the beaches.
I have never been to Great Barrier (on the Eastern side of Aus) but I have heard that it's a long, expensive boat ride, and a scuba ticket to check it out.
The 4 of us (after our trip on the glass-bottomed boat) sat on the beach, pulled on our flippers, looked for boats moving up and down just off shore and swam no more than a minute before we were over the fascinating reef.
One of the reasons why Coral Bay is not as popular as it could be is because there is very little fresh water there. All the building that has been done is all the council wants to see done (though 8 years on I doubt it's still the same today). Coral Bay is a hostel, a pub and a motley collection of fishing huts.
There was a plan to turn the pub into a massive hotel complex but that fell through because of the water problem. So in August 2000 the two places you could find a bed meant that all up, no more than a hundred or so tourists could visit at one time. So not only does it have some of the best coral, close to the shore, but there is room to move and time to see it at your leisure - please don't tell anyone!
After lunch we left the bay and headed north to Exmouth. From there I telephoned the boss of Easyrider asking if I could be dropped back at Coral Bay on the return journey.
She wasn't too excited about that as it wasn't part of the plan. I was able to convince her that the 10 minute drive from the main road to the bay wasn't going to be too much of a problem for Paddy dropping me off or for the next driver picking me up. Finally she relented and after Exmouth I was going to return to Coral Bay for a few days.
Terry, Petra and Adi thought that was a good idea too and in the end we all went back there for a couple more days. Petra and Adi were continuing North/East around to Broome and Darwin so they caught a coach from the bay the day before Terry and I returned to Perth.