Exmouth, Western Australia
In the northern region of Western Australia, about 1250 kilometers north of Perth and 280 kilometres off the main highway is a hidden gem, the town of Exmouth.
Exmouth is a gateway to the stunning Ningaloo Reef which stretches over 260 kilometers of the Western Australian coast. The Ningaloo Reef is a playground for over 200 species of coral, around 500 species of fish, turtles, sharks, Mantarays all year around also whale sharks and whales in certain seasons.
The main reason why people flock to this beautiful town is because of the very elusive whale sharks that migrate to the Ningaloo Reef between the months of March and September in search of food. Whale sharks are the largest fish in the ocean, usually measuring between 5 and 12 meters. Don't let this scare you, although being so large they are gentle giants only feeding on krill and plankton. This is when we have an opportunity to see them from the surface and even swim with them.
Whale shark tours depart daily in the seasonal months, which include snorkelling on the reef and swimming with these wondrous animals.
Cape range national park is another reason why Exmouth is a hot spot. Cape range is full of gorges made from ancient river systems.
Part of the park is Yardie Creek which is one of the most accessible gorges which flows through sheer red cliffs that drop off into calm water below.
Boat tours are available so you can witness the tranquillity and wildlife in its natural setting.
Walking trails are available for all levels of fitness and black footed wallabies are often spotted.
At the bottom of the national park is a coastline full of stunning beaches and coral gardens.
Turquoise Bay is arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in Australia. A perfect place for a picnic and the pristine Ningaloo Reef is only a few steps away from the shore line.
If you love turtles then the Jurabi turtle center is well worth a visit. It is also located in the national park but is addressable by a two wheel drive. The center is open all year round. Take a walk through the interpretive displays, learn everything you want to know about turtles, their lifecycle, location, nesting and breeding. Learn how to observe a nesting turtle the right way, and what their threats are.
From December through to early March guided turtle eco-education tours run. You have the opportunity to go on the lookout for female turtles climbing the beach to find a nesting site and watch them lay their eggs. Towards the end of the season you may have the chance to see baby turtles emerge from the nests and make their way to the shore line to start their life in the ocean.
If you are wanting to see this beautiful life cycle, joining one of the guided tours is recommended. You will be shown how to interact with these animals without disturbing or frightening them in their natural habitat.
If you are planning on staying in Exmouth for a decent amount of time during the season there is even a chance to volunteer at the Jurabi Center as a turtle tracker. This can include taking data from nesting females, camping out and monitoring beaches, turtle rescues and data entry.
So if you're crazy for turtles there is definitely plenty for you in Exmouth.
Exmouth has a very rich history, the town was first used as an American naval base in World War II. A huge airport and submarine base were built. Also the Learmonth RAAF communications base which is still in use by the navy to this day.
American and Australian military personnel were withdrawn from the town in 1992. A lot of the street names in Exmouth are in honour of Australian and British men that served in the war. A gesture that recognises the importance of the history in the town.