Coral Bay, WA

Nyinggulu – Ningaloo Reef

Ningaloo Reef

Coral Bay town consists of two caravan parks, a pub, a couple of shops and a beautiful beach with Ningaloo Reef on the beach.

All sites at either caravan park are sold out 12 months in advance. When we called one park was booked out completely while the other, Ningaloo Coral Bay, had one site left, so we took it.

Coral Bay’s water supply comes from bores into the Carnarvon Artesian Basin. There are limited taps with drinking water which is cooled and treated. All other taps have water directly from the bore, untreated and which comes out of the tap at at 60oC, too hot to put your hand into. This water is very corrosive and not suitable to fill the van with. However we did fill buckets and use it for washing dishes. We showered at the amenities blocks which also used the bore water.

Bore water pipes. Water comes out about 60oC

We would often see people at the fish cleaning station in the park, after a day out fishing, often from the fishing charter boats.

Bill’s Bay

Opposite the caravan parks is Bill’s Bay. A beautiful spot for swimming and snorkelling with Ningaloo Reef right on the beach. At low tide it is possible to sit on the sand with our feet hanging over the edge of the reef, about a 5 metre drop off.

Sadly the reef had been impacted by 2022s coral spawning event and a one square kilometre of the reef had died. On the night of the 2022 coral spawning, the current and wind direction meant that the coral spawn was trapped in Bill’s Bay, depleting the bay of oxygen and sunlight. Thousands of fish died and washed up on the shore and the coral, deprived of oxygen also died. Here are a couple of links on the phenomena for anyone interested.

News article on the 2022 spawning.

Governmental Reef Recovery Plan from the 1989 spawning event which also killed the reef.

Even though the coral was still dead, marine life have come back and we saw plenty of beautiful fish and other marine life. (If I have named any of the fish incorrectly please let me know)

This cone snail kept me entrained for a while as it moved over the coral. It was about 40 cm long, the largest I have ever seen.

Five Finger Reef

A half hour drive from Coral Bay is Five Finger Reef where the coral was not effected by the 2022 spawning event, and is alive and marine life abundant. We put our tyre pressure down to 15 psi for the track in.

This Blue Spotted Fantail Ray was in very shallow water digging for food. They eat shrimps, crabs and worms.

Blue Spotted Fantail Ray digging for food

Each time we went to Five Finger Reef we encountered large schools of colourful fish of various species. So magical. Tim put this video to music.

Boat Trip on the Coral Breeze

The weather was perfect for a day of snorkelling on the “Coral Breeze” sailing catamaran.

They stopped at three different sites inside the reef. One was fantastic, lots of turtles and a couple of reef sharks.

One area had lots of turtles, it must have been siesta time as quite a few were hiding under coral sleeping.

Oyster Bridge

A half hour drive from Coral Bay (in the opposite direction to Five Finger Reef) is Oyster Bridge and the Lagoon. Again we put our tyre pressure down to 15 psi due to the deep soft sand.

The ‘bridge is a rock formation covered with oyster shells, running parallel to the beach. At one end it meets the beach the other end is open. Its a relatively small area but has lots of interesting marine life. It’s possible to go around to the ocean side of the ‘bridge’ but we found the current was so strong we didn’t venture out.

Excited to see an Egg Cowrie, the only other time we have seen them is on the outer reef of Heron Island Qld.

Our first ever sighting of Sea Slugs aka Sea Hares. So well camouflaged, about 30 cm long. Fascinating to watch.

A compilation of the beautiful underwater world of Ningaloo Reef at Coral Bay, compiled by Tim. Best with sound on.

Cheers til next time, Helen & Tim