Ningaloo Marine Park
Directions - Located about 65km from Exmouth, head north out of town on Murat Road and take a left onto Yardie Creek Road. Follow the signs for Cape Range National Park and keeping driving until you see the turnoff for Oyster Stacks on your right. Turn here and follow the road until you reach the carpark. Entry into the water is off a rocky platform so care must be taken when the conditions are a bit choppy.
The Snorkel - Exmouth had treated us pretty well weather wise for the first half of our weeklong trip but things weren't looking so great for the last few days. I still had two snorkelling sites I wanted to check out while we were here and the Saturday morning was really the best it was going to get. Oyster Stacks is one of the only spots that is really tide dependant and to make sure you aren't bashing into the coral reef, it's best to do this at high tide. This was our penultimate day in Exmouth and I wanted to get in at least one more snorkel while I had the opportunity.
With the tide being best during the middle of the morning to just after midday, we had a long breakfast before driving out along what was now a very familiar road into Cape Range National Park. I knew from our previous day snorkelling at Turquoise Bay that the jellyfish were here in force but was kind of hoping Oyster Stacks was going to be sheltered from these drifting menaces. We could see the clouds rolling in slowly as we arrived at the car park but the good part was that the wind was not as fierce as it had been for the earlier part of the week. Oyster Stacks is different from a lot of the other snorkelling spots because there is no direct beach access from the car park, instead you enter the water via a rocky ledge that can be tricky if the swell is up. It also means that there is no easing into the water, just a quick plunge and you're straight into the action. Caris elected not to do this one so stayed with the gear but Candy and Hal had come with us as they hadn't done much snorkelling this trip. I was first in the water while Candy and Hal faffed and was excited to see what I would find here after spotting some excellent marine life at Turquoise Bay and Lakeside.
The name Oyster Stacks refers to exactly that, a series of rocky formations where over time the oysters have stacked on each other to create this sharp and solid structure. From where the path heads down from the car park there are a series of them heading south and depending on the tide, you might see a couple poking their head above water. The best way to see them is to follow one side heading south and then head back north on the other side. Along with the Oyster Stacks there is some great coral reef here extending out to the west and I deviated between that and the stacks depending on what marine life I saw. Heading out to the first of the Oyster Stacks, this snorkel would be a case of avoiding the jellyfish at all costs (they do sting), something that was quite difficult at times due to the sheer number of them and the currents around the Oyster Stacks. Early on I spotted a large school of either Bream or Drummers that to me seem to be the happiest fish in the world as most photos always have a few of them smiling brightly at the camera. I was pleased to see that the fish like to attack the jellyfish as I'm not a big fan of them either, with the Threadfin Butterflyfish really getting stuck in.