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Shark Bay: Nature's West Australian Playground
eaglebluffindenhamThe coastline of Western Australian is extremely breathtaking but a certain points it can be harsh and unforgiving, desolate and barren. However, certain parts of it will jump out at you with a beauty and extravagance that will surprise you no matter how many times you visit.

This coastline will remind you exactly why our nation is so beautiful. The most stunning areas of the coast are along the West Coast, with Shark Bay perhaps the most magnificent of these. This bay stretches for 1500 kilometres and is an oasis of pure blue waters that are dotted with numerous islands which are home to an incredible array of marine and bird life.

The main buzz of activity in Shark Bay occurs in Denham, which is located on the Peron Peninsula. This stunning town is a useful base from which to explore other attractions in the Bay. Just thirty minutes north of Denham you will come across Monkey Mia, the famous dolphin resort that draws most of Shark Bay's visitors in.

The main attraction here is of course, the unique pod of dolphins, who daily make their way to the shores near the resort and interact and play with the people waiting there for them. Seven dolphins grace tourists with their presence daily. There are seven dolphins that do this daily, and a group of about twenty that join them on different occasions. This is an attraction thousands of tourists have been thrilled by and a visit to Shark Bay would simply not be complete without a frolic with the dolphins of Monkey Mia.

Dolphins surely aren't the only thing that Shark Bay has to offer. This World Heritage listed site offers so much more! Make sure you pack your goggles and flippers so that you can enjoy the brilliant colours of the marine life that inhabits the bays and inlets of the region.

The waters of Shark Bay are sure to give you thrilling encounters with manta rays, sea turtles and large numbers of tropical fish. The Wooramel Seagrass Banks span for a total of 1000 square kilometres, making them the largest of their kind in the world. These limestone sands are formed from calcium deposits, creating a pleasant home for the graceful and unique dugong. Almost 14000 of these remarkable creatures call Shark Bay home, making it one of the most stable populations in the world. Tours are available to guarantee a sighting of these unique animals and an experience you will never forget.

Another great geographical attraction of the Bay are the stromatolites of Hamelin Pool. These are hard, dome shaped deposits formed by colonies of algae. These amazing natural formations resemble mounds of hard rock, and are actually the worlds oldest known living organisms. A 200 metre walkway extends out amongst the stromatolites, so you can view them without causing any damage.

Another unusual attraction in a similar vein is Shell Beach, which is situated about forty five kilometres south of Denham. This striking white beach consists entirely of a build up of tiny white coquina shells, some twenty five feet deep. Stretching for a total of 110 kilometres, there are numerous swimming, fishing and relaxing spots you can take full advantage of on this beach.

The rich diversity of the marine life in Shark Bay makes it any keen fisherman's dream.There are several fishing tours available where you can try your hand at pulling in snapper, cod, coral trout, spanish mackerel and other kinds of fish. A pleasant surprise on your trip will occur when you bump into the bottlenose dolphins, dugongs, or if you are there in the right season, a pod of humpback whales.

Also be sure to stop in at Shark Bays new eight million dollar interpretive centre, which is a great destination for the whole family. The displays here will take you on an amazing journey through the history of the region, and the unique ecosytem of the Bay. By bringing together historic treasures and marine, terrestrial and aboriginal heritage, this centre promises to educate, inform and entertain you. It will also be essential in helping you plan the holiday ahead of you in Shark Bay.

When it comes to places to stay around Shark Bay, there is a range of options available to suit all budgets and all groups. The famous Monkey Mia lodge also caters to those on a budget, with backpacker rooms and camping available as well as larger beachfront villas suitable for families. Situated 850 kilometres north of Perth, why not use a hire car or campervan to get to Shark Bay, and enjoy the freedom of exploration this option provides you with.

Christine Barton

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