You can now enjoy a hot shower at the end of a day's snorkelling or surfing at WA's Gnaraloo Station, but the isolated spot still retains its natural appeal.
A hot shower after snorkelling the southern tip of Ningaloo Reef can now be enjoyed as Gnaraloo Station finishes up a busy few summer months renovating its 3 Mile Camp and Homestead stays.
Once a tightly held secret among surfers and fishermen, the wilderness destination is now appealing to a broader market with renovations making accommodation more comfortable.
A hot shower can be a big drawcard for those who aren’t willing to totally rough it and for the increasing number of families visiting during the peak school holiday season.
“Gnaraloo is not your five-star retreat but a wilderness retreat where people go to get away from everyday life,” Gnaraloo marketing officer Michelle Kiry says. “I’ve sat there and watched a kangaroo go past, followed by a goat then a sheep. You then go down to the beach and you are the only one on it.”
The working sheep station sits 150km north of Carnarvon. The 90 sites at 3 Mile Beach and the 26 self-contained stone cabins, fishing lodge, shearing shed and quarters at the Homestead are on an escarpment between desert and sea.
With 60km of coastline to itself, Gnaraloo offers fantastic wildlife, fishing, swimming, snorkelling and diving. The surf and wind are legendary. The marine sanctuary zone at Gnaraloo Bay begins 7km north of the homestead.
Over the summer months, Gnaraloo owner Paul Richardson and workers have added three new toilet blocks with hot showers at 3 Mile Camp. At the Homestead, the shearing quarters that sleep 13 adults have been renovated following cyclone damage, and fresh water is now supplied to the fishing lodge.
Plans are also under way to renovate and expand beyond the basic offerings at the shop to offer hot food and coffee, which can be enjoyed overlooking 3 Mile Lagoon.
Gnaraloo is also about the isolation. As the brochure reads: “Gnaraloo is at the end of the road.”
The wilderness is raw, the surf is pumping and the wildlife is, well, wild.
The station has won awards for its work conserving endangered loggerhead, green and hawksbill turtles. October to February is the time to see the turtles hatching, with volunteers in the tagging and testing program offering to take groups to see hatching at night.
The time of year to come to Gnaraloo depends on your interests. May to September is popular with experienced surfers, followed by September to February for kitesurfers and windsurfers. Fishing is great all year. Humpback and southern right whales can be seen from June to November. There’s even a time range for “fish feeding frenzies”. That’s May and June.
Gnaraloo’s travellers are varied too. During the school holidays (friendly) gangs of kids roam, enjoying the freedom the station offers. The station is popular with “locals” — well, those from Carnarvon and Geraldton.
There are plenty of Perth people, and surfers come up from Margaret River, Denmark and the like. There are overseas visitors, too, with keen environmentalists joining the turtle program. One engineer from Germany spends five months of his year windsurfing at Gnaraloo.
- Ordinary rates (March 29-October 13) at 3 Mile Camp cost from $20 per adult, per night ($10 per child) for a basic site.
- Ordinary rates at Gnaraloo Homestead cost $180 for up to three adults per night ($35 per additional adult and $17.50 per additional child) for a new cabin and $200 for up to five adults per night ($30 per additional adult and $15 per additional child) for the shearing quarters.
- See gnaraloo.com.au or phone 9315 4809.