According to the lovely couple managing the caravan park I stayed at in Exmouth, the town triples in size between March and May because of the whale sharks. It is amazing to see that the industry of an entire town can turn on the back of a giant fish. Still, this town is an amazing little seaside getaway from everything else in the world. It is no wonder people come here to retire.
In my previous post on the Ningaloo Reef it is easy to see why people come to holiday and never leave. The caravan parks fill up, motel and hotel signs display ‘no vacancy’, and the Wicked Vans are parked on side streets or in parks with weary travellers sleeping inside.
While tourism is a fundamental aspect of this town, chances are if you have ever eaten a prawn in Australia; then it was from Exmouth. The same goes for soft shell crab, of which there is a huge farm east of Exmouth that breeds crabs genetically raised with a soft shell and exports them as a foreign delicacy. This sleepy little town is also a major supplier of pearls, with the millionaire family Kailis ruling the roost on pearl farms and prawn trawlers.
Driving into Exmouth is scenic at the worst of times as it is etched into the bay side area with stooping hills lingering behind the town. On the drive in tourists are quickly familiarised with the strong defence presence with an air force base near the entrance and satellite system on the other side of the road. The town itself was built to support the American Navy centre just north of Exmouth, of which is host to an eclectic base with a baseball pitch, bowling alley and diner. This is built next to the communications towers, which are the strongest in the southern hemisphere.
On the southern side of the town is the premiere Ningaloo Novotel Resort, which caters for the more classy visitors. As far as hotels go this one has had careful planning as staff showed me where plants native to other areas of Australia had been imported specifically to provide a full Australian feel in one place. The resort backs onto the beach with a pool in the centre of it. Essentially it is just a more luxurious version of everything else, and still backing the beach.
I spent time as a kid in Exmouth, going to school, cycling through the main street and learning to surf and fish on the weekends. I have always had a soft spot for the place but whenever I visit it is hard to see it as so many tourists do. Perhaps after travelling the world, seeing city after city, sight after sight, I will be able to come back and appreciate the beach dynasty that has long left its print on this beautiful part of the world.