The Ningaloo Marine Park extends for 300 km along the north western cape of Australia, making it the largest fringing reef in the country. You can access the reef directly from the beach in the Cape Range national park. This makes it an excellent location for west coast snorkelling holidays.We hired some snorkelling equipment and headed to the reef to explore. The reef was easy to swim out to and we saw plenty of fish and colourful coral. It was cold in the water and we quickly became tired and needed to head back to the beach to dry off and warm up in the sun.
We decided to stay at Yardie Homestead Caravan Park, a pleasant family run site hidden in the trees. When we arrived the sun was high in the sky and we decided to recover from our tiring morning by spending the afternoon in the sunshine with a glass of pinot gris. Our excitement soon disappeared as we realised to our horror that we were out of wine. As almost professional vineyard goers, this should not have happened. A trip to the camp-site shop revealed plenty of meat and ice cream, but still no wine. We politely purchased a family BBQ pack and two maxi-bons then tentatively asked about acquiring something to drink. The owner confirmed our suspicions, telling us that the only place to buy wine was back in the last town. Our faces must have dropped considerably, or she thought we were alcoholics and took pity on us, either way she revealed there may be another way of sourcing wine on site. One of the permanent residents might have a bottle she could sell us.
We debated it for all of a minute. We couldn’t possibly knock on the door of a caravan and ask to buy a bottle of wine from the residents. Could we? Well what’s the worst that could happen? They say no and we’re a little embarrassed. But if they say yes, we get a nice cold glass of wine in the sunshine. That’s how we found ourselves knocking on the door of Sheila’s caravan.
OK, her name wasn’t Sheila, but it might as well have been. She couldn’t have been more Australian if she was wearing a cork brimmed hat and eating a Vegemite sandwich. Her husband, Bruce (not really), had just come back from a fishing trip when he answered the door in his cut off shorts and navy blue singlet. We came over all British and asked in a very polite way if it was at all possible that they might have a spare bottle of wine and if they did could we possibly purchase it from them, if it wasn’t too much trouble, please. Again, our desperation must have shown through our faces and Bruce and Sheila decided to take pity on us. A bottle of white wine was soon located and we negotiated a price, double shop value but beggars can’t be choosers. We handed our cash over and Sheila pocketed it and picked up the wine to pass to us. A strange look spread across her face before she quickly snatched it out of our grasp. Come back in half an hour when it’s cold, she barked, burying our overpriced wine in a large chest freezer.
We left the caravan feeling confused. We had paid twice the price for a cheap bottle of wine that we didn’t have. It was scam, we thought. They were all in on it. Kylie, the owner of the camp-site would get her cut and Sheila and Bruce would split the rest. They would spend their evening watching Crocodile Dundee, drinking our wine and laughing at the stupid unsuspecting tourists they had conned out of $10.
Half an hour passed and we nervously knocked on Sheila’s door. She invited us in as she rummaged in her enormous chest freezer. Our wine was retrieved and handed over to us. We thanked her and Bruce and swiftly left the caravan, heading back to our van with the spoils. Feeling guilty for our unfounded suspicions we opened the bottle and proposed a toast to our new neighbours. It seems the Australians are right; everybody needs good Neighbours.