August 5, 2020

PhotographyBobby Bense

EditingHelen Janneson Bense

Where to stay – we found this perfect Airbnb called Surfside Getaway. It was a good halfway stop from Perth to Coral Bay to break up the long drive. A comfortable and immaculately clean stay on the beach with incredible sunset views. We’ll be checking out Ningaloo Bay Villas on our next trip.

LocationNingaloo Reef | Kalbarri | Hutt Lagoon – Western Australia

Please supportProtect Ningaloo

Outfit details – Spell Portobello Road Dress | Swim (similar)

Firstly today as I share this post, my heart is heavy for my fellow Victorians. For my family. For my friends. For the community. They have already been through so much with the bushfires and this second wave of Covid is just heartbreaking. I’m with you guys every day sending love. I know this will pass and how strong you all are.

It’s difficult to share the beauty and freedom we have here in WA, while all of this is happening here in our country, and around the world. Life does feel somewhat normal for us in our WA bubble, yet we know this could change in an instant. We’re not taking anything for granted and making the most of our freedom to explore nature and connect with one another. I’ve come to realise that Covid won’t be over for anyone until it’s over for everyone. We’re all in this together. And right now we need to stay well together and support one another.

I also think we all need a little hope right now, to see that it will get better and we will all get back to exploring the beauty of this world once again. Or simply being able to hug our loved ones again or get back to work to make a living and support our families. It is times like these I’ve never been more aware of my privilege in life. I know many are struggling to keep their business afloat, find enough food, a warm bed, or a safe space. If you are in a position to help, please find ways to share the love and help support others that are suffering right now. If you’re not doing ok, please reach out for help.

It was about a month ago now we decided to escape the cold and head north on a 13 hour road trip to our favourite snorkelling spot in Australia. It had been zero Covid cases for awhile here and the intrastate borders had just opened up. It was the first real venture out from our local bubble. We stayed walking distance to the ocean in Coral bay, where you can snorkel right from the beach. Ningaloo is a world heritage listed site and has the largest fringing reef in the world and an abundance of sea life; tropical fish, dolphins, turtles, rays, sharks, whales, dugongs, and the majestic whale sharks. We spent our days salty and sun drenched from sunrise to sunset in the water, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking and snorkelling. We brought along our own sup and kayak even though you can hire them by the hour from the beach. It allowed us to paddle anywhere anytime, and sunrise is the best time to go out.

To make this trip easier for me as a mum, I meticulously meal planned 10 days worth of incredible plant based cuisine. We brought a huge ice fridge with frozen meals and fresh produce. We ate likes kings and queens and it worked out so well I’ll definitely do that again. The kids were so happy playing in the ocean with us every day. It helps they are 14 and 11 and like doing the same things as us. We stayed at the Ningaloo Reef Resort and I’m not sure I would recommend this spot for everyone. Though it is perfectly located so close to the beach/reef, it is in dire need of refurbishment and our experience was very noisy. If you’re a light sleeper and need a lot of privacy it might not be the best option. Even our children couldn’t sleep well due to noisy neighbours. We’ve already booked Ningaloo again for next year and we’re going to try the Ningaloo bayside villas this time. Will keep you posted on how they are.

We learnt a lot about this beautiful place while we were there; how the Traditional Owners‘ cultural knowledge is crucial to maintaining the land. The Traditional Owners are the Yinigudura, the West Thalanyji People, who have lived sustainably on this land for over 30000 years. Evidence dating back 32000 years show their sophistication and specialised use of the resources of this coast. The Yinigudura name Ningaloo means ‘deep water’ or ‘promontory.’ When we holiday on this beautiful land we must respect, preserve and protect the natural environment and honour the history and culture of this sacred place.

Ningaloo is an untouched paradise that supports a lot of small businesses and sustainable tourism and we want to keep it that way. Protect Ningaloo work hard to stay on top of gas and oil companies and the government who have been trying to industrialise this area. This poses a huge risk to the entire Ningaloo area, the coral reefs, the marine life and to small businesses that rely on tourism and have already struggled due to Covid. Drilling anywhere around the reef would mean deafening underwater sounds to the marine life. The risk of an oil spill or rig blowout would damage this delicate ecosystem. Recently there has been has been yet another threat – Subsea 7 an international company wanting to build gas pipelines through the Exmouth Gulf, in a sanctuary area for dugongs, and where humpback whales nurse their calves. This is a vital area for nurseries and foraging grounds and why the World Heritage committee recommended Exmouth Gulf be included in the Ningaloo World Heritage area. There is a strong ecological link between the Ningaloo reef and the Gulf. To show your support and learn more please head HERE. A simple email to the WA government using the template form will take only a few minutes but will go a long way to help. Thank you as always for your support, caring for our environment, and protecting pristine places like this so we can enjoy them for future generations to come.

During our road trip we also stopped at a couple of places that I would definitely include on your adventure; Hutt Lagoon and Kalbarri. There are so many more spots too so check out my previous post ‘A Land Before Time‘ for a more in depth road trip journey of the Coral Coast. Hutt Lagoon is the pink lake you’ve probably seen all over instagram. The colours are always slightly different shades of pink each time we visit. The pink colour of the lake is caused by the presence of a beta carotene rich algae called Dunaliella salina. Close by to this beautiful pink lake is the town of Kalbarri. It is my favourite road trip stop because I always see whales here in July when we visit. The best viewing spot is the Natural Bridge. We watched 2 humpback calves splashing about for around 20 minutes so close to the cliffs. It was absolutely majestic! The entire coast is mesmerising with its red cliffs and turquoise water. Blue Holes is a great snorkelling spot and Murchison river gorge is ideal for hiking, kayaking and exploration. Nature’s window is a beautiful walk with incredible views.

After spending 10 days connecting with nature I realised the more time I spend in nature, the harder it is to return to city life. There is such a basic human need to get back to our natural state. Every cell in my body yearns for it. The healing gifts we receive when we spend time outdoors are immeasurable. The parts of me that need healing receive all the nourishment they need. In a time when our feelings of safety are more challenged than ever, when restrictions are in place to both protect us, yet also prevent us from experiencing nature, it is so crucial for self care and awareness. When you can and it’s safe to do so (masked up, social distancing depending on your location restrictions), take whatever small moments in nature you can get. Breathe it all in, know you are safe, and our world will heal. We will heal together when we care for one another and work together with compassion for all.

With love and gratitude, Helen x

Copyright images and text Helen Janneson Bense 2020

1 comment

  • Bobby Bense

    This has got to be one of the most potent posts I’ve read. Wow. Your words and your spirit are beautifully captured here. Love you and am amazed.

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