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  • Writer's pictureRiver Rambler

Ningaloo Reef 5 day paddle, Western Australia

The World Heritage listed Ningaloo Marine Park is located on the north-west coast of Western Australia. The Ningaloo Reef is unique as it is a fringing reef, meaning it hugs the coast and can be accessed easily by a short swim from the beach or by slipping from a kayak. The trip averages 3 to 4 paddling hours per day, with shore based sightseeing and loads of snorkelling.

This 5 day paddle undertaken in May 2022 was expertly organised by Southern Sea Ventures

in collaboration with Exmouth Adventure Company

with all equipment and meals provided. All you need is your clothes and personal items.

Click here to watch video footage of this paddle

Day 1 - Exmouth to Ningaloo Station

This first day involves meeting the other expedition members in Exmouth (10 paddlers & 2 guides), getting your gear together and travelling by mini bus 1.5 hrs south to our start location within the Nyinggulu Coastal Reserve, formerly Ningaloo Station. Once at our camp on the dunes, final gear checks are made and our sensational guides, Keely and Kayleigh, gave the team a briefing before preparing a hearty meal.

Day 2 - Ningaloo Station to Point Edgar (via Fraser Island ~17km)

This day started with some serious stuffing; it is amazing how much you can fit into these two-man sea kayaks! After a further briefing, and an on water competency test, the guides led us some 6.5 km offshore through beautiful azure waters to a shipwreck for our first snorkel from the boats. After setting anchor in the sand, and with all boats tethered together, we were shown how to gear up and get into the water without sinking our kayaks. The snorkel around the shipwreck and a collapsed lighthouse was amazing, with unexpected diversity of coral and sea life. Our first attempts at re-entry to our kayaks was effective if not graceful. We then headed back to shore for lunch and a wander around the old Norwegian Bay Whaling Station before paddling on to our first nights camp at Point Edgar, a beautiful secluded dune campsite amongst the spinifex.

Day 3 - Point Edgar to Winderabandi Point (~13km)

This day mostly hugged the coast with amazing snorkelling on the reefs just off the beaches. We saw lots of turtles (Green and Loggerhead), small reef sharks, innumerable colourful fish species, stingrays, a rage of corals and bomboras. Gourmet lunches are prepared on the beach and our lunchtime entertainment included a visit from dolphins passing by just 20m off the beach. We completed the days paddle with a broad pass of the shallow sand spit off Winderabandi Point, where we sighted numerous stingrays feeding on the flats. The Winderabandi Campsite is a public campsite accessed by 4WD, but we still enjoyed relatively secluded camping on the foredune/beach amongst the Coastal Saltbush.

Day 4 - Winderabandi Point to Yardi Creek (~23km)

This was our longest day, and despite the photos below, we did have some relatively rough seas. Great snorkelling again off the beach, but we did need to be careful to avoid the small stinging Red Bell jellyfish (Crambione mastigophora). Awesome snorkelling and paddling today however we were relieved to get into the Yardi Creek Campground, a public and easily accessible (2WD) campsite. Exmouth Adventure Co. staff met at this campsite with renewed supplies and empty poo tubes! After setting up camp we went for a walk up the Yardi Creek Gorge where we were treated to beers, rock wallaby's, fruit bats, a range of birds and superb sunset over the Indian Ocean.

Day 5 - Yardi Creek to Pilgramunna (~12km)

Our guides described today as a 'Triple Glam Day' (calm, warm, clear water), and this was truly a very special day on still, clear turquoise seas. While having lunch on the beach we were treated by a ray shark feeding along the edge of the shoreline

A highlight of this 5th day was pulling up for a snorkel at the Osprey Sanctuary kayak moorings, located about a 1km offshore from the Osprey Campground. The snorkelling from these 'kayak only' moorings was amazing, with a variety of corals and massive schools of fish, including Convict Surgeonfish and Barracoota. Our kayak only campsite at Pilgramunna was a favourite. Beautifully secluded within elevated dunes from which we could take in the views and sunset on our final evening together.

Day 6 - Pilgramunna exit (~ 1km)

Today we had a short paddle to the pickup point at Pilgramunna. After loading up the boats and gear into the bus we had a short 10 minute drive north to the Oyster Stacks, a popular snorkelling spot and for good reason. The diversity of corals and fish here amongst the stacks (bomboras) had wow factor! We can highly recommend this easily accessed shore based snorkel. The highlight here was watching a Loggerhead Turtle feeding on the coral. Another short drive brought us to Turquoise Bay where again we had a fantastic drift snorkel from the beach. When there is a current, just walk up the beach, swim out and drift back across the reef.

Fabulous trip with terrific company, faultless organisation and beautiful guides. Again, we cannot recommend this trip highly enough.

Thanks to our wonderful guides: Keely (Perth/Exmouth) and Kayleigh (Scotland/Exmouth), and to our fellow paddlers: Pete and Gin (Wangaratta), V and Sue (Sydney), Fiona and Ted (Brisbane), Kate and John (Melbourne), Jamie and Jane (Glenrowan).

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