Once a sleepy camping ground, Coral Bay, on WA’s north-west coast, is the target of five-star redevelopment. With annual visit­­or numbers around 300,000, and increasing at 10 per cent each year, further infra­structure seems a given for the wild and pristine Ningaloo Reef.

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    The unexpected limestone cliffs of Yardie Creek gorge in Cape Range NP are one of the biggest attractions for visitors to Ningaloo Reef. Glowing ochre at dawn, the ancient walls – studded with fossilised marine life – taper and finally kiss the beach.

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    Unforgettable life experience. Ningaloo is one of the few places worldwide where you can swim alongside the gentle whale shark. Measuring 12 m, the great fish plies the waters annually from April to July.

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    A green turtle finning over a bed of branching coral.

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    Brain corals, Ningaloo Reef.

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    Blue-green chromis, Ningaloo Reef

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    Baby boomers and silver nomads revel in Ningaloo’s remoteness, open space and few rules. Many haul hulking caravans, equipped to stay for months, across the cape’s unkempt and sandy tracks.

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    Writer James Woodford and photographer Andrew Gregory’s camp at Lefroy Bay, although baked by the harsh midday sun and irritated by swarms of native wasps, was just metres from Ningaloo’s cool blue.

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    At dusk, “It felt as though the rest of the world ceased to exist,” James says of Moncks Head, 70km to the south.

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    Hailing from Mandurah, 65 km south of Perth, Greg and Robyn Peak (at left) and Bernice and Ken Sellick have come to Lefroy Bay to fish and toast the sunset.

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    Turquoise Bay, 50 km to the north.

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    Sunset, Coral Bay. For decades, Ningaloo has been WA’s best-kept secret – an exquisite amalgam of plentiful space, pristine reef and a plethora of marine species. Its modern-day ‘discovery’ has inevitably resulted in a sneaking infiltration of resorts, marinas and ever-climbing visitor numbers.

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Gallery: Ningaloo Reef

By AG STAFF | January 28, 2014

Even with its long empty beaches, glistening turquoise waters and world-renowned wildlife, WA’s Ningaloo Reef remained a closely guarded secret. Now, it faces an uncertain future…