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Saturday 11 Oct 2003
Coral Coast, Australia

Coral Bay - a real-life aquarium!

Just before I start this entry allow me to apologise for the misspellings which may come around due to the CRAP keyboard Im using.... still 6 dollars an hour in the middle of nowhere is still a good deal.

Coral Bay is much better under the surface than Turquoise Bay since the water is deeper; the fish and coral are far more varied and populous as a result. Turquoise Bay still has it in terms of beach beauty and the "Paradise-Turquoise water" effect though. Coral Bays beach is pleasant and long, but can get quite crowded in the vicinity of the entrance way.. you can walk along the beach and find a nice spot to yourself quite easily. Ironically this quiet area seems to be the best spot for snorkling too along the beach called "Paradise Beach". Also another problem with this beach is that boats are allowed to sail amongst the snorklers which can get a bit annoying (and dangerous!) at times since it churns up the sand messing up the visibility.

Once again, unlike Great Barrier Reef, it is not the coral that distinguishes Ningaloo Reef, but the fish-life. This is true in Coral Bay too. The coral can sometimes be interesting, but rarely is it colourful because the water tends to be cooler along this part of the Indian Ocean.

Yesterday alone, in 2 hours of constant snorkling (yep thats right) I saw hundreds of fish, clouds of tiny baby cat-fish that swim along the surface of the sand looking like a moving rock. Also saw 2-3 turtles, several rays (stinging and the edible sort that have faces resembling penguins) and a reef shark or two (not the biting sort).

I also did a little exploring yesterday and walked down the beach about 2 km across various sanddunes where no other people seemed to be - in the boiling sun too! Thank God for my kangaroo leather hat - its a life saver. Anyhoo I came across an beach area called "Five-Finger Bay".. my intention was to swim out the 500 metres to the "outer-reef", and this place was the closest point to it in the entire Ningaloo Reef.

Sure enough when I got down there, the place was empty, not even a boat in sight: this proved to be pure gold since the visibility was fantastic! Easily 20-25 metres and the colour/variety of fish was the best Ive seen in Australia (even Yongala Wreck dive in Townsville had little colour since it was quite deep.. here the fish were as shallow as 2 metres).

While trying to wade out to the outer reef I got so distracted taking photos every 5 seconds that I spent about 2 hours in there and only got out about 300 metres.. Then it was around 4pm so I thought it better to wade back in since it was getting a bit chilly. The water in this area got about 6 metres max depth too so wasnt too scary wading out that far. The photos I got though, are some of my best (on a par with Yongala). I felt like such a lucky sod havig all of this beauty to myself while others had to suffer with poor visibility. Ah well, "when people dare they will be rewarded", is my latest saying!

A lot of people Ive met in the past few weeks are quite new to snorkling and this is an alien concept to me. Id always grown up with swimming pools and using snorkles on a regular basis in Saudi in the Red Sea or whatever, but Id never considered that most people havent had this opportunity... Even quite a lot of Aussies havent done it before.

There are even "snorkling schools" here where people are taught how to breathe while their head is underwater!

Like Skydiving, Surfing and Scua-diving, a lot of foreigners come to Australia to try sorkling for the first time.

On the way to Coral Bay on the 9th Oct, I took Juergen as my passenger since hes sound and easy-going. It was a bit of a laugh taking someone along (to share the fuel costs too!) so I might take another person along with me sometime later too...

Juergen is heading on south to Carnarvon today along with 3 Dutch girls we have been travelling with for the past week. Im gonna stay on here relishing the sights for another few days... Plus the weather is nice and cool, unlike Exmouth, and with softer winds.

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    Coral Bay
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