We’d heard so much about Ningaloo Reef and it was a part of our trip we were all looking forward to.
All up and down the WA coast, actually all over WA and the NT, are pastoral leases which have usually been held in families for generations. Some of these are lucky enough to border pristine coast lines and Ningaloo Station is one. It’s fairly basic bushcamping where you need to bring EVERYTHING in with you. There is no water, no showers, toilets, rubbish bins, a very ordinary 30 odd kms of corrugated sand road to get to the Homestead (about one and a half hours of driving), followed by another 14kms to get out to the camp ground with no mobile coverage whatsoever. We had pre arranged to meet here with the Maher’s, the Cooper’s and the Lindon’s.
The camping spot was magical. All to ourselves, right on the top of the sand dunes, looking out over stunning waters so clear you could see the turtles and fish swimming past.
It was gorgeous…until it all went per shaped. All 11 kids had been running all over the sand dunes for a couple of days, sand surfing down the hills, playing murder in the dark and tip, until we heard the screams of “SNAKE BITE!”
It took a moment to register that Ciara had trodden on a snake and it had flicked up and bitten her on the foot. We were all a bit shell shocked but First Aid kicked in and she was immediately strapped up and fortunately we were able to contact the Homestead by UHF radio, who arranged an ambulance and the Royal Flying Doctors to meet the ambulance up near Exmouth. It was pretty agonizing particularly for Ciara, Marissa and Damion as the remoteness of the situation hit us. At that stage we weren’t sure what type of snake it was, but later it was confirmed to be a brown snake. I have to say, Ciara was incredibly brave and she was able to stay pretty calm given the circumstances. I’m not so sure I would have managed that.
She was airlifted up to the hospital in Port Headland and I am happy to report that despite having an anaphylactic reaction to the anti venom and it being pretty touch and go there for a while, Ciara is one super lucky and a super brave little girl.
If ever you have the opportunity to support the Royal Flying Doctor Service, please do. You just never know when you might need them and they certainly made a difference to Ciara’s life that day.
There wasn’t much more we could do once Ciara and Marissa had left and we weren’t sure at that point where they would take her. We kept the UHF on to listen out for any updates.
Meanwhile back at the camp….it was also Dan’s birthday! The wind had begun to pick up but we went ahead as planned with our birthday bonfire and decided to let off some fireworks that Dan had acquired in the NT, got to love no rules NT!
No sooner had we let them off when we heard a cranky old nomad fire up on the UHF, which we had left on for updates on Ciara, to report that fireworks had been let off and it must have come from where we were camped. “Oh no, it wouldn’t have been them, not today,” was the response we heard from the station manager. Bloody nosey nomads. We couldn’t see or hear them but they still manage to have a whinge about us!
Western Australia is apparently famous for it’s ferocious winds and we felt the full brunt of them in the next few days. Walking between our camper trailers, or sneaking off for a loo trip was like being sandblasted. The pristine waters looked ominous and it was not at all pleasant to be outside. Paradise had turned into torture. To top things off over the next few days we saw not only the snake that may have bitten Ciara, but also about half a dozen others. Sean and Cassie watched as a brown snake made it’s way right through the middle of the campsite. Jamie made short work of it by hacking it up with an axe, which I don’t think made anyone feel any better.
Fortunately we had access to other areas on the station (about 60km of coastline) and were able to find a pristine little bay, protected from the winds. We spent the next few days there swimming, fishing, wakeboarding on surfboards and only heading back to the campsite to sleep. We gave outdoor cooking and campfires a red hot shot, but I think everyone was relieved to get out of the wind come bedtime!
After a week of being sandblasted, no showers or toilets and the trauma of snakes, as beautiful as it was, I think we were all pretty happy to leave Ningaloo Station.