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Cape Range National Park covers 50,831 hectares and is only thirty-five kilometres from the centre of Exmouth.
The park comprises tranquil beaches, rugged ranges and magnificent canyons and is situated on the western side of the North West Cape. The Cape Range, backbone of the cape, is a huge upward fold of limestone originally formed below the sea. Erosion of the limestone has gouged vast canyons in the sides of the range and subsequent deposition of the eroded material along each side of the range has helped build up coastal plains. These have been modified over the ages by various processes such as wave action at times of higher sea levels and the formation of dunes made from wind-blown sand along the coast.
Two roads run from Learmonth-Exmouth Road into the range from the eastern side. Shothole canyon road winds along the bottom of shothole canyon, while the Charles Knife Road runs along a razor-back ridge head at the end of the road. A five kilometre walking trail connects the two canyons. Camping is not permitted in this area.
The road from Exmouth around the end of the cape passes close to Naval communication towers and Vlaming Head Lighthouse and continues down the western coast for the full length of the National Park.
Normally a sand bar covers the entrance to Yardie Creek, which can only be crossed by four-wheel drive vehicles. However, after a cyclone or heavy rains, the creek can sometimes open up to the ocean, making crossing impossible until the sand bar silts over again.
Short spur roads take you to numerous picnic spots and campsites along the coast and one track leads to the mouth of Mandu Mandu Gorge. Walking up the gorge in the early morning or the evening makes a very pleasant excursion.
A highlight of any visit to this park is Yardie Creek where deep blue water, cut off from the sea by a sandbar on the coast, lies imprisoned between vertical cliffs giving one the impression of a semi-tropical fjord. Take time to walk along the cliff tops and keep an eye open for rock wallabies, and prolific birdlife, which are found in the gorge.
Important: Cape Range is rugged and waterless. Temperatures are high from November to April. Even experienced bushwalkers have underestimated the harshness of this country and succumbed to exhaustion. Accordingly, it is recommended that only the physically fit undertake these walks.
Vegetation in the park includes mangroves, acadia, cossia, spinifex species, minilya lily, grevillea eucalyptus, and venticordia.
Fauna to be found includes rock wallabies, red kangaroo, euros, eighty species of reptiles, and over one hundred species of birds on the cape.
Camping facilities are rudimentary. Although there are toilets at some campsites, you are advised to bring your own chemical toilet. If you require modern facilities, we suggest you camp in one of the excellent caravan parks in the area (information can be obtained at the tourist bureau, Exmouth) and visit the park from there.
Supplies are available from Exmouth. Other accommodation is available from
Potshot Motel, Norcape Lodge, three caravan parks, and Poshot Court Resort.
You may picnic anywhere in the national park.
Walking trails to check out include the Thomas Carter Trail (Shothole Canyon and the Charles Knife area), Mandu Mandu Gorge, Yardie Creek (marked trails), and Lightfoot Heritage Trail
Swimming is suitable on the western side of the park at Ningaloo Reef, Yardie Creek, Bundegi and town beach. The best time to visit is April to October. Remember, walking in summer can be dangerous as temperatures can reach as high as 40 to 50 degrees celcius.
For further information contact:
Department Conservation and Land Management
Exmouth WA 6707
Telephone: 08 9949 1676
Or visit CALM's NatureBase website at www.calm.wa.gov.au.
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