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Cape Range National Park
Exploring from Coral Bay or Exmouth
Exploring the Western Side of the Exmouth Cape:
The western part of the Cape Range National Park, where you'll find the beaches, the Ningaloo Reef, Yardie Gorge, Mandu Gorge and the Milyering Visitor Centre, can be accessed by a sealed road from the north or by a 4WD track from the south.
Exploring western side of the Cape Range National Park is easy to do. The northern boundary is just 36km from the town of Exmouth, Western Australia and the sealed road follows the coastline from Exmouth and the tip of the Cape right the way down the west coast as far as Yardie Gorge. At the Yardie Creek crossing it becomes a 4WD track.
Yardie Gorge is about an hour's drive from Exmouth.
Gravel side roads and 4WD tracks branch off to the various beaches and camp sites along the way. You can get to most of the beaches with a normal 2WD car, but some of the camp sites are for 4WD only.
An alternative route into the western side of the Cape Range National Park is to take the 4WD track from the town of Coral Bay about 3 - 3.5 hours to the south. Along the way, the track passes through Cardabia Station, Ningaloo Station and Commonwealth military land before reaching the southern boundary of the Cape Range National Park.
For anyone with a good 4WD, this is a fun adventure through an environment even more pristine and wild than the Cape Range National Park. As well as too many beautiful deserted beaches to count, with absolutely awesome fishing and snorkelling, places to visit on Ningaloo Station include the ruins of a whaling station in Norwegian Bay and the Point Cloates Lighthouse ruins.
Exploring the Eastern Side of Cape Range National Park
You get to the two accessible canyons on the eastern side of the Cape Range by turning off the main road to Exmouth along the Gulf coast - the Exmouth-Minilya Road.
The tracks that lead into the national park from here are the Charles Knife Canyon Road and the Shothole Canyon Road. Both are unsealed but perfectly fine for 2-wheel-drives.
These two roads make for stunningly scenic drives, with the best views in the Cape Range National Park along the way. There's plenty of opportunity to stop and go for a walk in the canyons (be careful!) or just to admire the views.
A five kilometre-long marked walk trail connects the two canyons. It's worth doing, if you can stand the heat.
You don't need to pay a fee to drive into the eastern side of the Cape Range National Park.
Cape Range National Park Park Entry Fees
One-off Cape Range National Park entry fees are $11 per vehicle. The fees can be paid at the Exmouth or Milyering visitor centers, or at the ranger's office along the main road through the park.
If you're visiting other national parks in Western Australia, it could be cheaper for you to buy the annual national parks pass. It's worth looking into.
There'll be additional fees if you plan on camping in any of the designated camping spots (which are the only places you're officially allowed to camp at).
Visitor Centres in Exmouth and the Cape Range National Park
There is a visitor centre in the town of Exmouth, and another (Milyering) in the Cape Range National Park. You can find out about local conditions (such as which snorkelling sites will be most suitable, or if the Yardie Creek has broken the sand bar), find out more about the nature and wildlife, buy souvenirs and pay national park fees at both of these Visitor Centre.
Exmouth Visitor Centre
Exmouth Visitor Centre is on Murat Road (the main road through town that leads to the top of the Exmouth Cape and continues down into the Cape Range NP), on the west side of the road.
Phone Number: (08) 9949 1176
Milyering Visitor Centre
Milyering Visitor Centre is 52km out of Exmouth, in the northern part of the Cape Range National Park. It's worth stopping in at Milyering because it has an interesting display set up.
What to Take With You
It's important to bring fresh water with you, because there's no drinking water available in the national park. The last place you can buy some is at the general store of the Lighthouse Caravan Park. This is also the last place you can buy petrol and food from.
If you're planning on camping out in the national park, it's worth stocking up on all the food and water you need in Exmouth (or Coral Bay/Carnarvon if you're driving up from the south).
Cape Range National Park Camping and Accommodation
Exmouth is only about an hour's drive from Yardie Creek, the furthest south you can get with an ordinary car. This makes it convenient to base yourself in the comfort and convenience of town, making daytrips to the beaches and gorges of the Cape Range National Park.
Charles Knife Canyon and Shothole Canyon on the eastern side of the park are also an easy drive away from Exmouth.
If you'd prefer to stay the night in the national park and be closer to nature, there are many campsites at various beaches and other spots along the full length of the park. Alternatively, there's the caravan park to the north near the lighthouse which is a good compromise between the options of roughing it and staying in a hotel.
I actually recommend bringing a tent with you and camping out for at least one night in the national park, even if you're basing yourself in Exmouth for most of your holiday.