A short stint on the road got us to Coral Bay a tiny town at the southern tip of Ningaloo reef. It's famous for exceptional snorkelling and fishing and its sweeping soft sandy beaches. We arrived in the rain and as we pulled into our pitch, their was a thump and a quick jolt to a halt, uh-oh. We jumped out of the van to find ourselves half a tyre deep in soft sand. As we stood either scratching our head or with hands on hips an old Aussie bloke came over "Welcome to Coral bay". Within a few seconds, he was in his 4x4 and hooking up a tow line to pull us out.
Our second choice of pitch was much more solid.
The sun was doing its best to come out and we headed across the road to the beach. Even with the grey sky, the view was impressive, the tide was in and the beach was narrow but, swept in a shallow arc in both directions.
As we walked along the shore line we could see the huge disc shapes of stingrays as they patrolled the shallows looking for a meal, these were far bigger than any we'd seen snorkelling or diving elsewhere. We walked until we were met with an outcrop of red sandstone that jutted out into the sea and as we started to turn back, a passing lady told us that if we were prepared to wade a little, there was another long stretch of beach beyond the cliff. We hoisted our bags high on our backs and made the short walk round the rocks, the beach on the other side was backed by some good sized dunes and was deserted. Out at sea we could see enormous waves crashing on the reef or rocks, the white caps looked monstrous and about as different to the glassy water of the bay as you could get. Seagulls glided over us, their heads turning left and right searching for a smash and grab opportunity for food and apart from a whisper from the wind, it was silent and wondrous.
As we got back to the van, the sky went black and the rain came down again. Once the sun had set behind thick clouds, the temperature plummeted and it no longer felt like we were in Australia, more like autumn in the Scottish highlands.
Morning came and the weather hadn't relented, we were cold, damp and a little miserable, only one thing for it, lets go fishing. We drove ten minutes down the road and walked along the rocks to a suitably exposed spot, I fished for a little over an hour without a bite, it was going to be the vegetarian option for dinner again tonight. Jan has been amazing while I fish, she has the attention span of a goldfish herself and yet she stood with me in the rain and wind, tried to be encouraging when in reality we both knew this was a lost cause.
I spent most of the time fishing, either from the beach or from the rocks, I managed to land a beautiful looking stingray but got snapped off by another (opens arms as wide as possible), it was HUGE. Jan lounged on the beach in her sun shield read a little and jumped up at every twitch of the fishing rod, I now know how my dad felt when he took me fishing when I was little.
Our last day was spent chilling on the pristine beach, no fishing just relaxing and snorkelling and soon our thoughts turned to home. Where were we going to live? Where would we work? How on earth were we going to get by in the reality of life? Should we study, volunteer, learn a language or instrument? We didn't come up with too many answers in truth, but what we decided to do was not worry about it too much.
Carnarvon and then to Monkey Mia.