West Australian - May 6, 2003


Coral Bay - paradise that we're losing - INSIDE COVER with Robert Taylor


GRAFFITI in the public loo on the beach at Coral Bay: "Don't trash the reef. Don't let corporate profits destroy Coral Bay. Stop the Mauds Landing resort."

And underneath in reply: "Trash whose profits? Who is making the money now?"

Not even the vandals can agree on the future of Coral Bay, so in a way the State Government's failure to come up with a decision on Mauds Landing is understandable. Not.

Coral Bay during the school holidays is at bursting point. We spent only three weeks in paradise but some things are bleeding obvious - even to us.

a) Build the sewerage plant: it was promised a year ago but not so much as a sod has been turned. They've got as far as putting a sign up in the main shopping centre.

b) Get the boats out of Coral Bay before some snorkeller is killed and there's no coral left.

c) If the Gallop Government is too scared of the Green lobby to build Mauds Landing, pay off the developer and push future development to Exmouth, obvious centre for the Ningaloo Reef.

Cape Range is not just a nice place to visit in the school hols - it's a world-class attraction. The place is crawling with visitors from Europe, Asia and America but Government indecision is threatening to kill the goose laying the golden eggs. Here's some holiday bouquets and brickbats.

Most bloody-minded act by a government department: Transport officers from Planning and Infrastructure, who decided to conduct a "surprise audit" of the dive ship Ningaloo at 8am - just as 20 paying customers were arriving for a morning's dive. What was the point of the "surprise" visit?

"Bureaucrats are the same the world over," agreed a Swiss couple as we cooled our heels for over an hour while the officers checked the boat's registration papers.

Most professional outfit on the cape: Exmouth Dive Centre - genuinely helpful and professional staff. Full of fun and enthusiasm for the reef, and why wouldn't you be?

Biggest letdown: The restaurant at the Potshot Resort, Exmouth. If you can't cope with the holiday crowds, guys, close the doors. Queuing for 40 minutes to place an order and then waiting for another 90 minutes for $20 snapper and chips is not on.

Most amazing site on the cape: manta rays get our vote over the whale sharks with the hike up Yardie Creek worth an honourable mention.

Memorable moment out of the water: The Coral Bay pub on Western Derby Day. Well-fuelled Dockers and Eagles fans enjoying the holiday spirit

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