A wonderland of world-class natural attractions, the Shark Bay World Heritage Area was the first location in Western Australia to receive UNESCO status in 1991. The area meets four of the ten required natural criteria and remains one of only a handful of places in the world to achieve this high criteria status level.
The colourful and diverse landscapes, rare flora and fauna and world-class examples of Earth’s ecological processes all contribute to the region being World Heritage listed. The area contains plant species that are unique and considered new to science, five of Australia's 26 species of endangered Australian mammals, as well as 35% of all of Australia's bird species.
The 12 species of seagrass found in Shark Bay cover over 4,000 square kilometres (approximately the size of the Perth metropolitan area), and support a high diversity of fauna such as dolphins, fish, turtles and crustaceans. This sea grass is a vital food source for one of the most stable dugong populations in the world, with over 10,000 dugongs inhabiting the Shark Bay region.
Learn more about the area by visiting the Shark Bay Discovery Centre.
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- See: Oldest living fossils on Earth; the Hamelin Pool Stromatolites and world-famous Shell Beach
- Meet: World’s smartest wild dolphins at Monkey Mia
- Drive: Francois Peron National Park by 4WD
- Learn: History of the Indigenous Malgana people
- Experience: Dirk Hartog Island offering stunning natural beauty and untamed wilderness.
For those who like a little seclusion, Dirk Hartog Island offers a peaceful retreat of beautiful scenery and private white sandy beaches. The Island was the site of the first recorded landing on Australian soil by the Dutch (long before British Captain James Cook 'found' Sydney) and celebrated its 400 year anniversary in 2016.
And those with a four-wheel drive and a passion for fishing will love Steep Point, the most Westerly point on mainland Australia, and for a four-wheel driving adventure along a scenic coastline with dramatic red cliffs and white sandy beaches, head to Francois Peron National Park.
Shark Bay is approximately 850 kilometres north of Perth (10 hours drive) or a 2-hour flight to Monkey Mia airport, which is a 10-minute drive from the popular holiday destination of Denham.