Yardie Gorge Trail
Cape Range National park
yardie creek rd
Directions - Located about 90km from Exmouth, head north out of town on Murat Road and take a left on Yardie Creek Road. Follow the signs for Cape Range National Park and drive all the way to the end of Yardie Creek Road where you will find a large car park. The trail starts on the south side of the car park with an information board for the two walks in the area.
The Hike - With the depths of winter descending on Perth and one of the wettest Julys on record, it was a blessed relief that another family holiday had been planned with the in-laws for early August at the sunny location of Exmouth. This is starting to become a bit of an annual tradition with Grannam wanting to escape the cold of Perth and the north of the state providing warm relief. Given my visits to "Australia's Coral Coast" have been limited to a few visits to Lancelin and Jurien Bay, I was keen to explore one of the last big areas not covered on the website, plus snorkel some of the best coral reef in the world along Ningaloo.
With a week long trip on the cards, I had roughly planned out what I wanted to do but would adjust plans to suit the weather and what everyone was keen to do. First up on the agenda, the day after we arrived, was a bucket list item for many travellers to this part of the world and one thing I was looking forward to the most, a swim with the Whale Sharks. The full day excursion with Ningaloo Blue was really enjoyable but just as luck would have it, it was only the second day of the season where they didn't have a Whale Shark come through. While it was slightly disappointing that we didn't get to swim with the gentle giants of the ocean, we had a great day out spotting an Orca pack as they successfully hunted a baby Humpback (was an exciting but sad experience to witness) and I got to swim with some Manta Rays. Given there were no Whale Sharks, we have a coupon for a return visit and this is a good excuse to plan a road trip next year for more Coral Coast adventures.
With that adventure in the books, the following day was set aside to explore Cape Range National Park and some of the area that is part of Caris' family history. Back in the '60s, her family had the pastoral lease for a significant part of this region, including parts of what is now the township of Exmouth. Her mother and aunt, who were both on this trip, grew up on the Yardie Homestead (now a caravan park) with Grannam as the matriarch of the family. They sold the lease a while after the Americans arrived to build their military bases and the radio towers that dominate the northern part of the cape. As part of today's expedition we would be visiting Yardie Creek to do the boat tour but I also had my sights set on the walk trail that takes you along the edge of the creek. Caris, Candy and Hal were all keen to join me so we set off a little earlier than everyone else so we could get in the hike well before the boat tour and while it was still relatively cool.
The drive up and around the cape into the national park is a really enjoyable one with the range to one side and Ningaloo Reef to the other. While I was excited to get in the crystal clear waters and explore the reef, this wasn't a bad day to be out hiking thanks to the cooler temperatures and the wind being a bit blowy. Arriving at the car park, we all faffed around getting our gear ready before departing along the Yardie Nature Walk, a short trail that leads to the longer Yardie Gorge Trail and takes you to a nice lookout. This an easier option for those not comfortable with rocky terrain as the path is wide and relatively flat. From the get-go I was happy to see a number of wildflowers lining the trail and immediately began snapping away while the others ventured up ahead. This gave me time to enjoy the start of the trail and get some shots of everyone walking towards the dramatic looking cliffs in the distance that line Yardie Creek. In such a dry area of the state, Yardie Creek is a bit of an oasis when the summer rains have been generous and with a recent downpour, the creek was looking pretty full (although as the tour guide said later, the creek has cycles that change conditions for all the wildlife that live here).
Meandering along and enjoying the many different views along the way, I caught up to the other at the end of the Yardie Nature Walk where there is a lookout right next to the water. Starting the Yardie Gorge Trail requires a slight backtrack to an information board and from here it is a bit less manicured as you follow white poles up and over the rocky valleys. At the top of the first little hill I was looking back towards the ocean and noticed something perched on one of the smaller bushes. Using my camera to zoom in, I saw that it was an Osprey just chilling on a branch so quickly snapped a few photos and alerted the others so they could admire the bird of prey. This whole area is a haven for wildlife with the water providing a life source that so many creatures depend on. As we made our way into the first of a couple of valleys where seasonal creeks flow, we could see some others looking towards the cliffs near the water and sure enough, there were some Black-flanked Rock Wallabies lounging around in the morning sunshine. There are signs letting you know not to venture past a certain point so as not to disturb their habitat so it was a case of squinting hard to make out where they were.