ABORIGINAL & NON-ABORIGINAL HERITAGE AND CULTURE
Ocean Eco Adventures operates on Jinigudira, Baiyungu and Thalanyji country. We acknowledge the Jinigudira, Baiyungu and Thalanyji peoples as the traditional custodians of the North West Cape and Nyinggulu (Ningaloo) Coast and pay our respects to the Elders past and present. We are committed to a positive future for the Aboriginal community.
ABORIGINAL HERITAGE AND CULTURE
The name Nyinggulu (Ningaloo) means ‘promontory or cape’ in the local indigenous language. The Jinigudira, Baiyungu and Thalanyji people were peaceful coastal dwellers and hunter-gatherers and evidence suggests they have lived in the area for over 32,000 years. Nyinggulu (Ningaloo) and the surrounding areas are part of their spiritual life and their culture and civilisation fitted into the world around them. One of the oldest beaded neck laces in the world was found at Mandu - Mandu Gorge in the Cape Range National Park among other archeologically significant sites such as, burial grounds, caves, campsites, middens and fish traps. The Aboriginal people of the area predominantly camped in open air sites in the dunes along the coastline which provided majority of their food and resources such as Turtles, turtle eggs, fish and shellfish. Along the Cape Range also provided Caves and Rock shelters that would have been used for camps and a refuge in inclement weather.
The close proximity of North West Cape to colonial shipping routes means the Aboriginal people may have been familiar with the sites of European ships long before first contact was made. The First known contact with Europeans on the North West Cape was in 1875. There was a number of shipwrecked sailors off of the Barque Stefano, which was wrecked off the Coast of Point Cloates during a cyclone. The local Aboriginal people provided the two surviving sailors food, water and shelter and after several months helped them get to Bundegi beach where they were saved.
The 1870's brought pastoralism, a pearling industry and European Settlers to the North West Cape and the larger Gascoyne Area. Foreign animals, fenced lands and the soliciting of able bodied Aboriginal people to work for the white station owners or the pearling industry (often forced) displaced many local Aboriginal people and restricted access to traditional runs, hunting places and ceremonial sites. The introduction of new diseases that the European settlers brought with them was often fatal for the Aboriginal people in particular the population of the Jinigudira people was severely impacted through the introduction of disease and other aspects associated with colonisation.
The Traditional lands of the Jinigudira, Baiyungu and Thalanyji are currently covered by the Gnulli Native Title Claim, which after 22 years of deliberation was finally recognised on the 17th December 2019. The Term Gnulli does not refer to a specific tribe of the area but comes from the Thudgari language and means 'all of us'. The Gnulli label accounts for a complex dispersion and intermingling that has taken place throughout this region since the onset of colonisation.
All information has been sourced from Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions Nyinggulu (Ningaloo) coastal reserves Joint Management plan 2022
Vlamingh Head Lighthouse
Exmouth Diving Centre
Ningaloo Reef Dive
Kings Ningaloo Reef
Ningaloo Whale Shark Swim
Ningaloo Whale Shark n Dive
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Bare boat charter
The North West Cape has a history abundant with shipwrecks with over 21 known shipwrecks in the area surrounding Exmouth and the Ningaloo Reef.
The SS Mildura was wrecked at the tip of the North West Cape here in 1907. The SS Mildura was a cattle ship coming from the Kimberley’s heading south but was caught in a cyclone and ran aground on the reef. Fortunately no lives were lost. After the wreck the timbers from the ship were used for renovations to the Yardie Creek Homestead, which was severely damaged in the same cyclone. The hull of the wreck was also used for bombing practice in World War II. Due to the wreck of the SS Mildura there was call for a lighthouse to be erected in the area and in 1910 construction started on the Vlamingh Head Lighthouse on the Northern most tip of the Cape Range. Construction on the Lighthouse was finished on the 10th December 1912 and was a fully functioning working lighthouse until it was decommissioned in 1967. This is when the VLF towers were built and now the lighthouse light is halfway up tower 11. It is also one of the only places in Australia where you can see the sunrise and the sunset over the ocean.
Where does the name Exmouth come from?
The Famous Australian explorer Phillip Parker King on the vessel HMS Mermaid was forced into the Exmouth Gulf in February 1818. He spent a week exploring the area and in the process named the Gulf of Exmouth, after Admiral Edward Pellew, 1st Viscount Exmouth, which he served under in the Napoleonic wars. Later, the Towns name was adopted from the Gulf of Exmouth.
THE NAVAL BASE, THE NAVY PIER AND THE VLF TOWERS
Harold Holt was the Prime Minister of Australia in the 1960’s during part of the cold war. He was a very Interesting man because firstly, he is the only non-American to have an American base named after him. The reason for this is because he had formed a very strong relationship with the Americans and helped to organise the agreement to have an American base and build the VLF towers situated on the Northern most tip of the North West Cape. He also went swimming one day off the Victorian coast in December 1967 and he never returned. Nobody really knows what happened that day but there are a few theories.
The first theory, which is probably the most likely, is that he went for a swim maybe had a heart attack and drowned. Another theory is that he went for a swim and was attacked by a shark. Not quite as likely as the first theory but a good Australian story nonetheless. The last theory is that he went for a swim and had a lift ready for him and lived on a tropical island somewhere and spent his days sipping cocktails and enjoying the sun.
The Naval communication base was finished in 1967 and the Americans stationed at the base had all of the comforts of home. They had a Base Bar & Grill, a Baseball Diamond, Indoor Basketball Court, cars imported from the U.S with –left-hand drive and even had their national anthem played twice a day and public holidays such as, the Fourth of July, Halloween and Thanksgiving. Most of the U.S involvement finished around the 1990’s after the Cold War and the base and operations were handed over to the Australian Navy and in 2002 were then handed over to the Defence Material Organisation to be maintained, which is now contracted to Raytheon. There are now approximately 25 Federal Police and 85 Raytheon personnel maintain the base.
The Naval base was built because of the VLF towers. VLF stands for Very Low Frequency, which is what the towers were built for. They were built to communicate with underwater submarines by transmitting through very low frequencies. There are 13 towers in total numbered from zero through to twelve. The reason we believe they are not numbered one to thirteen is that the Americans at the time were a little bit superstitious and didn’t want a tower labelled number thirteen. Tower Zero stands in the middle with a ring of six towers around it with another ring of six towers around all of them. Tower zero at its time was the tallest man-made structure in the southern hemisphere and it stands at 387.9m tall. There are 6 generators that can generate up to 3 million watts of power to send out a signal. Its believed if you go into the generator room with a fluorescent light bulb at the time a signal is being generated, the excess energy in the room will light up the bulb!
The towers were also built to withstand cyclonic winds. Exmouth and the North West Cape are prone to cyclones over the summer period. If you have a look at the closest tower you can see that the towers come down to a pivot. This allows them to sway in the wind. The guy wires attached to all of the towers keep them standing up right. The VLF towers withstood one of Australia’s strongest cyclones (Cyclone Vance in 1999) with winds exceeding 267km’s and hour!