Highway One: turtle mating season

By Catherine Lawson November 7, 2013
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The pristine beaches of Exmouth, on Western Australia’s mid-coast are home to nesting green sea turtles.

Catherine Lawson and David Bristow, along with baby Maya, are doing a lap of Highway One, the road that circles Australia.

SOUTH OF BROOME, HIGHWAY ONE wraps along WA’s sparsely populated coastline, providing access to some of my favourite destinations – the Pilbara’s Dampier Archipelago, Cape Range National Park near Exmouth, Coral Bay and Point Quobba north of Carnarvon.

The travel distances are huge along this stretch, with little more than the odd roadhouse or rest area to break up the drive, forcing us to clock up some long, hot days on the bitumen. All is forgotten when we reach Exmouth and travel west to a beachfront campground in Cape Range National Park overlooking a bright blue bay and the edge of Ningaloo Reef.

Trekking across the dunes, we discover a nearby beach where hundreds of green sea turtles have gathered to mate in the shallows, just metres from the water’s edge. When they tire, female green turtles rest on the sand, giving us a good look at their high-domed, heart-shaped shells that measure up to a metre and a half.

On previous visits to Ningaloo Reef we’ve raved about the clear water and pristine coral reefs, the drift snorkeling and calm seas, perfect for kayaking. But watching the turtles mate tops it all.

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