Monday 4th May 2015, 24 degrees and very windy
Coral Bay to Exmouth
We drive for an hour through Cardabia Station and only see a handful of sheep but thousands of termite mounds in undulating grasslands.
We wonder why Exmouth looks so modern but then learn that it was only established in the 1960’s. The streets are lined with trees that are very tightly pruned. Like Carnarvon all of the metal roofs are bolted down and the older ones have long blocks of concrete laid across them. Like Sydney’s western suburbs all the windows have grilles but here they are for cyclone safety. Cyclone Quan missed the town by 150kms but still they suffered 120kmh wind shears. The Exmouth coast is the most cyclone prone in Australia. In 1999 cyclone Vance damaged 70% of the town’s buildings and was clocked at 267kmh. Any wonder the town looks new.
In the heart of town there is a water park for the kids and imaginative rock gardens for this difficult climate. On the beach side there is a new marina with attractive two storey homes built on canals, most have game fishing boats tied to their jetties because this town is famous for sport fishing. “Game fishing is going fishing on your wife’s birthday.” Says the sign outside the tackle shop.
Just out of town is the Harold E Holt Naval Base which controls the world’s largest Very Low Frequency transmitter for communication with Australian and U.S. submarines whilst submerged. The landscape is dotted with very tall radio masts, one of which is the second tallest ‘thing’ in the Southern Hemisphere. Even taller than the bloke Woody saw in the dunny in Carnarvon.
In the afternoon we go exploring. The Cape Range rises steeply behind Exmouth and the Charles Knife Road is steep, windy and rough but what a ride especially on the way back down. The views of the canyons are gobsmacking and we made an awful mess of the BT50.
Accom: Exmouth Big 4 $46.40
Travelling Kms: 152Kms
Note: While exploring the Cape Range area we came across a capped oil well. Known as Cape Range No. 2 it was drilled during oil exploration in 1955. Not being commercially viable it was plugged. Nearby Cape Range No.1 produced Australia’s first flowing oil well in 1953. Oil and gas in commercial quantities was found 50Kms offshore on Barrow Island in 1964.