Exmouth
Known as the gateway to Ningaloo, Exmouth didn't disappoint.

Exploring Exmouth and surrounds

Being able to go off the grid was very important to us – we wanted that down time, which in turn led to family time.

Our setup with the JB Scorpion allowed us to easily spend a week in remote areas, which we did along Cape Range National Park.

Water and power are the main constraints when planning extended time off grid.

Exmouth
Nothing better than a silly family photo. You know you’re having fun when you can laugh at yourself.

 

Though if managed well, a couple of weeks away without too much concern is certainly possible, particularly if there’s plenty of sun.

We made the conscious decision to not take a generator because it meant an additional fuel type, extra oil and extra weight.

Instead, we opted for a couple of solar blankets to add to the 510kW we had on the roof of the van.

Exmouth
We certainly did a little work on our core strength, with lots of balancing.

 

As much as it’s great having lots of solar on top of your van – and I would consider ours as adequate for the 300amp/h lithium battery – the drawback is that they work only once the sun gets to a certain angle in the sky.

Conversely, there’s plenty of sun they don’t catch, hence the need for solar blankets and a couple of extension cords.

We would often have our blankets either hanging off the side of the car or the awning of the caravan to catch the early morning sun.

Exmouth
Obligatory photo in front of the big prawn in Exmouth.

 

These would then be moved as the sun rose higher, ensuring we had plenty of power on hand – which, as it turned out, we needed to run our big thirsty Thetford 274-litre fridge.

As this fridge is on the large side, we didn’t need a second one, however it likes to drink, so we needed to keep the battery supply up for it.

Thankfully, there was heaps of sun, so it wasn’t a major concern.

Great food, refreshments and atmosphere at the legendary Whalebone.

Exmouth

As explained previously, the basis of our travel was some time off the grid followed by a little time in a town.

This meant we could restock and attend to any issues, plus it gave the kids time to meet new friends.

Our next stop was the beautiful resort-style town of Exmouth, which is on the western side of the Cape Range National Park and the eastern side of the gulf.

Exmouth
Despite appearing to move through the water slowly with a slight waft of their tail, you need to put the afterburners on to keep up when snorkeling with these magical creatures.

 

For a little tourist town, Exmouth has plenty to keep you busy.

Our base there was the Ningaloo Caravan and Holiday Resort, which had a pool and onsite restaurant, both of which got a bit of use.

The town also has various watering holes, with our picks being Froth Craft Brewery and Whalebone Brewing Company.

Exmouth
Amaya’s selfie with a whale shark.

 

Aside from the refreshing drinks, both places had awesome food and a warm atmosphere, and were very popular with tourists and locals alike.

However, our time in Exmouth was not all spent simply lazing by the pool or dining out, we also had one of the best experiences of our trip – swimming with whale sharks.

When we set off, this was a bucket list activity of ours, and thankfully the weather played the game so we could get out.

Exmouth
The author and a whale shark.

 

While there’s no guarantee you’ll see a whale shark, our captain and crew were very confident – there had been a few around the day before and, on the morning of our trip, a couple had been sighted by plane.

To say the excitement level was high was an understatement.

In order to gauge how competent at snorkelling we were and to get used to the gear, our trip started off at a shallow reef, which held a host of fish life and a reef shark.

Once the formalities were done, we went off to find a whale shark.

Matia’s selfie with a whale shark. The crew were amazing and ensured the kids got the perfect photo.

 

Thankfully we didn’t have to wait too long and, after hearing cries from the captain, the first group of snorkellers were escorted on their magical encounter.

The way it worked was everyone had to stay in a line and keep a set distance away from the whale sharks.

You couldn’t go in front of them, though once these majestic creatures had slowly glided by, you could swim after them.

Even with the breeze, we had an awesome time on our whale shark adventure.

 

Our whole family was able to enjoy this amazing experience – a memory that will last a lifetime.

Exmouth is also a great place to wet a line.

There are loads of land-based possibilities or, if you have a tinnie, the options are endless.

If you don’t have a boat, there are some you can hire if the weather is good.

Low range is needed when climbing Jarndunmunha.

 

Unfortunately, due to wind and availability, my fishing was strictly land based, which consisted of throwing lures at a few different places.

On the top of the Exmouth Cape, there are various shallow rocks that house small reef fish.

I didn’t manage to land a keeper here, but it was still fun.

The highlight of my land-based action came from the ocean side of the marina wall, when throwing a surface lure.

From the peak there is a magnificent view.

 

After seeing a school of bait shower the Berkley Pro-Tech Slurp lure, I cast to the edge of the school and it was instantly engulfed by a nice mangrove jack – the water was so clear, I could easily make the fish out.

It was always going to be an interesting battle because I was a little under gunned for a jack.

Long story short, the jack was eventually landed – not without a fair amount of carnage between hook-up and photo, though I’ll leave that tale for another time.

The author with his surface-caught mangrove jack. Unfortunately, the fish swam into the rocks and cut the line off. Thankfully one of our touring friends was happy to dive in and grab it!

Tom Price

Known as the Pilbara’s ‘top’ town, due to the fact is it 747m above sea level, Tom Price can be used as a springboard for exploring Karijini National Park.

However, we used it as a base for a couple of days before heading to the national park.

The caravan park in town was very clean and had the necessary facilities, which meant we could catch up on any extra washing and top up the water tanks before hitting the road again.

While in Tom Price, we drove up Jarndunmunha, also known as Mount Nameless.

Jumping for joy!

 

You need a four-wheel-drive to do this and while the track itself wasn’t too bad, it has loose shale-like rocks on it that move a lot as you drive on them.

The peak of the mountain, which provides a spectacular view of Hamersley Range and Tom Price, is 1128m above sea level.

If you’re a train buff, it’s possible to buy a pass and check out the world’s largest private rail network, which consists of 1400km of tracks connecting the mines at Tom Price and Pannawonica with the ports at Dampier and Cape Lambert.

Our free camp at Hamersley Gorge – not a bad view either.

Hamersley Gorge free camp

Our first night before exploring Hamersley Gorge was spent in a free camp off the side of the road.

We were one of the first there, so had the pick of the spots, though there were only about three to four other campers in this area – who we had to look to find because there was plenty of space between everyone.

Fondly referred to as the bush television, we were permitted to have a fire at this spot.

After a long day, either exploring on foot or behind the wheel, a good feed and a fire is just the tonic to unwind.

About Bush 'n Beach Fishing mag

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