TOM: In stark contrast to the almost totally denuded, single story and weed infested landscapes of the Quobba and Waroora sheep station country, Cape Range National Park displays an insight into what the Pilbara Coast once looked like. As you leave the awkwardly sparse marina developments of Exmouth and round the Cape towards the coral lagoons and reef passes of the west coast, the landscape begins to show some long lost diversity. Now, multi story vegetation runs from hill to beach with more than just Buffell Grass and the odd shrub to show. Wild flowers abound as does the dense health-like thickets. Ahhh national parks, I do kind of miss them, both working and visiting. But with any good ‘lock the gate’ conservation style comes with rules, regulations and restrictions. After spending any amount of time in the Kimberley, especially when that means working with Aboriginal Rangers on their native title areas, on Country, you forget that unique feeling you get when entering a national park. Turn a corner, pass through a gate and pay your money... BOOM, nature! It’s just different when you’re on Country and the starkest contradiction is how people use the natural world, especially when compared to the ‘look but don’t touch’ status quo of national parks.
But anyway, here we are at Cape Range National Park: it’s stunning, it’s pumping and we are camping on small patch of dirt with no fireplace, a designated beach walkway and every rule, regulation and restriction possible. The 3rd swell of the trip (That's right!!! 3 swells in two weeks all in perfect time) has kicked in, the arvo onshore has given us a natural break to unpack and set up for a final time and get the bloody tinny in the water after dragging her about 3000kms just for this one wave!