Cape Range National Park
Just 40km from Exmouth is the northern boundary of the Cape Range National Park, a spectacular region of rugged limestone ranges, breathtaking deep canyons and 50km of pristine beaches. The park covers some 50,581 hectares inhabited by abundant wildlife of all kinds, varieties of colourful and unusual birds, emus, euros, bustards, red kangaroos, spiny anteaters and giant Bungarra lizards.
In ancient times the range was isolated as rising sea levels inundated lower lying areas. As a result, some species of plants and animals are endemic to the area, including the red centred variety of the Sturt Desert Pea.
All together 630 species of flowering plants have been recorded on the peninsula. Over 400 caves are catalogued in the area and it is believed that many more remain to be discovered.
On the eastern side of the park, accessible from the main road in to Exmouth, are two of the most spectacular canyons, “Mini Grand Canyons,” according to the American visitors.
Shothole Canyon, named for the shot holes left by seismograph explosions during oil searches in the 1950′s, and Charles Knife Gorge. Both are accessible by conventional vehicles – no need for 4 wheel drive. Charles Knife Gorge provides breathtaking downward views into the multicoloured gorges with its steep, sheer drops on either side of the road.
Shot Hole Canyon runs over dry creek beds along the gorge floor, with colourful rock layers in the sheer canyon walls.
On the west side are more canyons – some yet unexplored. One of the main ones is the Mandu-Mandu Gorge where a well marked walk trail takes visitors up to spectacular heights and and around the entire gorge in about three and a half hours.
Yardie Creek, marking the end of the sealed road south is the mouth of another spectacular gorge, with a deep creek running up it for about 2km and where sightseers are taken up by boat. Kangaroos and Rock Wallabies can be seen hopping around on the cliffs and creek edges.