Cape Range National Park

Cape Range National Park and Ningaloo Marine Park, ©iStockphoto.com
Caravan Disabled Diving Fishing Park entry fee Swimming Toilets Watersports Wildflowers Wildlife Camping area Information Picnic area Ranger Walking

Introduction

Cape Range National Park, on the western side of North West Cape, is a rugged landscape of rocky gorges edged by the stunning coastal environment of Ningaloo Marine Park. Ningaloo, the longest fringing coral reef in Australia, is a mecca for scuba divers, snorkellers and whale-watchers.

Fact file

Access

From south via North West Coastal Hwy, Minilya Exmouth Rd and Yardie Creek Rd; from north via North West Coastal Hwy then Burnett Rd and Minilya Exmouth Rd

Best season

All seasons, especially April to October

Location

400 km north of Carnarvon

Park information

  • DEC Exmouth (08) 9947 8000
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Size

50 581 ha

Visitor information

Exmouth (08) 9949 1176

Featured Activities in the National Park

  • Cruise down Yardie Creek to see the gorge

    Stop at Charles Knife Canyon for awesome views

    Snorkel over the blue waters of Ningaloo Reef

    Swim with whale sharks, the world’s biggest fish species, for the experience of a lifetime

See Also

A look at the past

North West Cape, a finger of land jutting north into the Indian Ocean, was given its name in 1818 by Captain Phillip Parker King. King’s report that the whole area was desert, unsuitable for settlement, was so persuasive that it was not until 1899 that the fi rst settler, Thomas Carter, took up land on the peninsula. Exmouth, now a tourist destination, was founded in 1967 as a support town for the nearby Harold E. Holt US Naval Communications Station.

Natural features

The arid limestone landscape of Cape Range, which forms the backbone of North West Cape, has plateaus up to 314 metres high and is cut by deep, rocky gorges. On the eastern side of the park are Shothole Canyon, an impressive gorge, and Charles Knife Canyon, with spectacular views. To the west is Mangrove Bay, a sanctuary zone with a bird hide overlooking a lagoon, and Mandu Mandu Gorge, where you can walk along an ancient riverbed. Yardie Creek is the only gorge in the area with permanent water – salt water fed from the ocean.

Ningaloo Marine Park stretches from Bundegi Beach, north of Exmouth, to Amherst Point, south of Coral Bay. The 260-kilometre-long Ningaloo Reef is the only large reef in the world found so close to a continental landmass, ranging from about 100 metres offshore to less than 7 kilometres.

Native plants

While Cape Range’s harsh environment is dominated by sparse, hardy vegetation such as spinifex and bloodwood, over 630 flowering plant species have been recorded. Some, such as the red-centred variety of Sturt’s desert pea, are endemic to the area.

Wildlife

Emus, euros, black-footed rock-wallabies and red kangaroos are a common sight in the park. Around 160 species of birds have been recorded, including white-bellied sea-eagles, brahminy kites, ospreys and spotted harriers. Ningaloo Marine Park is home to over 500 species of fish, 250 species of coral, and manta rays, turtles and other marine creatures, with seasonal visits from humpback whales, dolphins and whale sharks. The latter is the world’s biggest fish species, reaching up to 12 metres long and weighing more than 11 tonnes. Ningaloo Reef is the only easily accessible place in the world where whale sharks appear in large numbers at predictable times of the year (April to June).

Introduction

The Milyering Visitor Centre offers interpretive displays, audio-visual facilities and a library.

Bushwalking

Shothole Canyon walk is short but steep (250 metres, 1 hour) and leads to the edge of the canyon. Badjirrajirra Trail (4 km one way, medium difficulty) leads from Shothole Canyon to Thomas Carter Lookout, with great views along the way. Mandu Mandu Gorge trail (3 km, 2 hours return) and Yardie Creek Gorge trail (2 km, 1 hour return) are both medium-grade walks.

Cruises

The DEC runs a daily gorge tour along Yardie Creek, with explanations about the gorge and its wildlife; call (08) 9949 2808.

Diving

There are world-class diving sites, accessible on boat tours from Exmouth and Coral Bay. Navy Pier is the location of one of the best pier dives in the world.

Fishing

Ningaloo is an angler’s delight, with beach and reef fishing. It is also one of the top destinations in the state for game fishing, with marlin, mahi mahi, Spanish mackerel and sailfish hooked regularly. However, there are eight sanctuary zones where fishing is not allowed (details from visitor centre).

Swimming and snorkelling

The close proximity of the reef to the land means that even novice snorkellers and children can swim over coral gardens and brightly coloured tropical fish. Turquoise Bay is one of the most popular beaches for swimming and snorkelling. Boat tours taking swimmers to snorkel with the whale sharks depart daily during the season from Exmouth and Coral Bay.

Campsites

Boat Harbour camping area

Boat Harbour camping area is 500 m west of Yardie Creek Rd, 5.2 km south of Yardie Creek crossing. Access is 4WD only, and you need to bring along a gas/fuel stove and drinking water.... Find out more


Lakeside camping area

To get to Lakeside, take the turn-off at the Milyering Visitor Centre and travel 11 km from the park boundary to Yardie Creek Rd, then travel for a further 1.6 km. You will need to come equipped with a gas/fuel stove and... Find out more


Mesa Camp camping area

Flat coastal scrub surrounds this campsite 1.6 km west of Yardie Creek Rd. Bring a gas/fuel stove and drinking water to this camping area, 8 km south of the park boundary, where there is a self-registration station.... Find out more


Neds Camp camping area

Carry a gas/fuel stove and plenty of drinking water with you when you come to camp at Neds, 600 m west of Yardie Creek Rd. It is 8 km south of the park boundary.... Find out more


North Mandu camping area

A gas/fuel stove and drinking water are essential equipment when you camp at North Mandu, 400 m west of Yardie Creek Rd. Milyering Visitor Centre is 14 km away to the south.... Find out more


North T Bone Bay camping area

Pack a gas/fuel stove and drinking water to camp here, and take the turn-off at the Milyering Visitor Centre. This campsite is 1.2 km west of Yardie Creek Rd and 11 km south from the park boundary.... Find out more


One K Camp camping area

Access to One K Camp is 4.2 km north of the Boat Harbour track by 4WD only. Bring a gas/fuel stove and drinking water. The camping area is 100 m west of Yardie Creek Rd.... Find out more


Osprey Bay camping area

Osprey Bay camping area is 800 m west of Yardie Creek Rd, 26 km south of Milyering Visitor Centre. Bring along a gas/fuel stove and drinking water. Bookings are required for peak season, Apr–Oct.... Find out more


Pilgramunna camping area

Pack a gas/fuel stove and drinking water when you head to Pilgramunna camping area, 500 m west of Yardie Creek Rd and 20 km south of Milyering Visitor Centre. Bookings are required for peak season, Apr–Oct.... Find out more


Tulki Beach camping area

Bring a gas/fuel stove and drinking water to Tulki Beach camping area, 800 m west of Yardie Creek Rd and 6 km south of the Milyering Visitor Centre. Bookings are required for peak season, Apr–Oct.... Find out more


Yardie Creek camping area

Yardie Creek camping area is off Yardie Creek Rd, 36 km south of the Milyering Visitor Centre. Come equipped with a gas/fuel stove and drinking water. Bookings are required for peak season, Apr–Oct.... Find out more


See Also

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