Today I drove north again, to a place called Coral Bay, a lovely little tourist spot with an idyllic beach and tourist prices to match. My current project is to plan a route that will cost me just A$5 per day (plus petrol), which is perfectly possible with a bit of camping in the scrub and staying in National Parks as much as possible, using creeks and the sea instead of expensive amenities. I'm going through a minor financial crisis, but if everything was free, there'd be no challenge, would there? I can't rely on finding a job when I reach Sydney, but I can hope...
I'd been led to believe by some backpackers I'd met that Coral Bay was a paradise, and indeed it has a cute little bay with a pleasant enough sandy beach, and the Ningaloo Reef passes quite close to the shore so you can snorkel the reef from the beach. But it is a bit of a tourist spot, and it didn't take me long to figure out why it had been recommended: there's a hostel, a big – and very expensive – caravan park, and it's not too far from the northwest coastal highway. It's perfect if you're a coach traveller or a city dweller in search of a family holiday on the coast. But it was far from perfect for me.
For a start, the whole area seemed to be full of building sites, which made it particularly noisy, with power generators churning all night, and the relaxing sounds of builders building wafted across the beach during the day; the caravan park, which cost as much as the one in Adelaide for goodness sake, didn't even have taps for drinking water near the sites (I had to traipse across to the office for water); and the beach turned out to be right next to loads of moored boats, which was hardly a beautiful sight.
I wasn't terribly impressed, to be honest, and wondered if the Northwest Cape was going to be worth exploring further. Luckily, it most definitely was, and Coral Bay proved to be the exception rather than the rule.