With the cruise in the outer reef behind us, we settled for a day of snorkelling from shore. The coral in Coral Bay comes within a few feet of the beach. In fact as we put on our masks and tucked our heads under water we were startled to see huge, almost transparent fish staring back curiously at us. We had not noticed them against the white of the sand.

Further from shore, maybe 20 feet, the coral started and what a variety of it there was. Stuff that looked like giant cabbages, stuff that looked like brain matter, pink and purple coral that looked like amethyst, great heaps of almost circular mounds and long spaghetti strands. And among the coral all manner of fish; tiny little electric blue neon fish, stately angel fish and brightly striped clown fish, fish that looked like they had been painted by an interior designer, with chevron stripes meeting each other on different angles, bright yellow fish with bright pale blue tails, thin yellow fish with dark eye spots on their tails, charcoal black fish with body length fins along their backs. It was wondrous.

Fortunately we had kept our wet suits from yesterday, as the water even close to the shore was too cool for our tropically adjusted skin. Even then we could stand no more than 30 minutes before we would have to get out and warm up in the sun before we could go back. And go back we did, for most of the day. Finally at around 3 we had to stop for lunch and reluctantly returned the wetsuits. We bought some Aussie beef at the local supermarket – the cheapest meat by far – and cooked it up with some potatoes and peppers on the campsite’s grill; a very nice meal at a reasonable price for a change. We had an early night as we are facing the longest drive of our trip tomorrow: 700 clicks to Geraldton.

There is a cyclone playing havoc with the north coast around Broome, and the effects of it could be felt in the waves and the wind at Coral Bay. So far we have managed to avoid any really nasty weather, and we are hoping that the cyclone doesn’t move any further south. We heard news that a trailer camp up the coast had been totally wiped out, but there is nothing to be done and nowhere else to go at this time of day. The cyclone is still 600 clicks further north, so we hope to be gone tomorrow before it gets this far south.

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