Coral Bay

A small resort town on The Coral Coast catering for the increasing number of tourists visiting the North West Cape area. Lying just north of the Tropic of Capricorn (it is Western Australia's equivalent to Rockhampton), its waters are warm for most of the year and clear, and the beaches are white, hard and beautifully clean.

Coral Bay is a beautiful and popular tourist spot with many calling it pure paradise. It has good facilities, all within walking distance from the main beach, which include a shopping complex with supermarket, tour desk, bakery, newsagent and gift shop. There's also another general store, petrol station, tour desk, fish and chip shop and cafes nearby.

The bay itself lies at the southern end of the Ningaloo Marine Park which runs along the coast from Amherst Point (50 km south) to Bundegi on North West Cape to the north of Exmouth. It includes all the coastline of the Cape Range National Park as well as Point Cloates.

Ningaloo Reef

Ningaloo Reef is one of the rare places on earth where you are able to walk from the beach straight onto a coral reef. A protected marine park area on the ocean side of North West Cape in Western Australia, Ningaloo is a virtually untouched barrier reef of 260km length protecting a shallow, brilliant white sandy lagoon of clear tropical waters. More than 500 species of tropical fish and 220 species of coral make up the Ningaloo Reef.

Ningaloo Marine Park

The Marine Park offers visitors a rare opportunity to inspect the reef and its fauna at close quarters. It stretches south along 260 km of coastline from Bundegi Beach, near Exmouth. At points the reef is no more than 100 metres from the shore and its waters are home to such spectacular creatures as the huge whale shark, the humpback whale, green turtles, dolphins and dugongs.

The Marine Park was declared in 1987 in an attempt to protect Western Australia's largest coral reef and to control public access to it. It is a unique area because the reef is so close to the dry landmass and because it is here that the Australian continent is closest to the continental shelf. The reef boasts 170 hard corals, 11 soft corals and 475 species of fish. In its own way it is as good as the Great Barrier Reef and it is much more accessible.


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Where is it?

234 km north of Carnarvon, 154 km south of Exmouth and 1131 km north of Perth

Point Cloates

Point Cloates (48 km north) was established as a whaling station in 1912. By the mid-1920s over 1000 whales per annum were being caught and processed. After being destroyed by a cyclone in 1945, it was opened again in 1949 but ceased operations permanently in 1963 when a worldwide campaign led to a ban on the slaughter of the world's ever-decreasing population of humpback whales.

The first Europeans to report seeing the point, in 1618, were Captain Lenaert Jacobszoon and supercargo Willem Janszoon, in the Dutch East India Company ship Mauritius. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the first European mariners to see Pt Cloates believed the area between the point and North West Cape to be a small island, which became known to them as Cloat's Island. In 1827, Phillip Parker King declared that the island was in fact a peninsula.

Point Cloates can be reached by 4WD vehicles travelling along the coast road which runs from Cape Range National Park to Coral Bay. The wrecks of the Zvir, Fin, Perth and Rapid all lie on the reef just off Point Cloates.

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