“Where the range meets the reef” – so reads the pitted sign on the two-lane road to Ningaloo, in the deep reaches of Western Australia. Ningaloo’s 700,000 hectares of empty red bush and electric-blue-green water have a harsh, otherworldly beauty, and its reefs are famous for their March-to-October whale shark and humpback migrations.
My visit fell in late November, alas, but I still rated my stay at Sal Salis (salsalis.com.au; from about £460), a beach camp that makes its seriously remote coordinates the star of the show. No fawning or frippery – just a breezy tent with an alfresco bathroom and a huge jarrah-wood bed layered in cool cotton; a deck with a hammock; and endless sea views, the soundtrack of surf and constant breeze broken occasionally by the staccato beat of a wallaby thumping along one of the wood boardwalks. That the deceptively modest-looking mess tent turned out succulent, subtly spiced steaks, an outrageously good crumble and top-shelf wines from McLaren Vale was a bonus.