Home' Caravanning Australia : Summer 2010-2011 Contents Western Australia
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(only one need be met) criteria for a heritage listing: having an
important evolutionary and biological history, unique formations,
and natural habitats where threatened species survive.
This important evolutionary history is evident in the Hamelin
Pool stromatolites – the oldest living fossils in the world. The
mystery surrounding their origin has attracted scientists from
across the globe, who have compared the find to that of a
zoologist discovering a living dinosaur. These resilient rock-like
formations are said to give scientists a window into the
beginnings of life on earth billions of years ago. The unique
conditions of Shark Bay’s waters allow these relics to prosper
– stromatolites flourish in only two other places on earth, both in
Covering 2.2 million hectares, Shark Bay is larger than some
European nations, but has a population of under 1,000 people.
The name Shark Bay doesn’t exactly evoke visions of sprinting
across the sands to frolic about in the warm blue waters; maybe
something more akin to a scene from Jaws, but one of the
biggest attractions in all of WA is the dolphins at Monkey Mia –
man’s best friend of the aquatic kind. These friendly dolphins are
famous for their almost daily ritual of swimming to the shore to
interact with humans.
Dirk Hartog Island, WA’s largest and most western island, is
also located in the historic Shark Bay region. The area was the
first part of WA’s coastline discovered by European sailors in
1616. A pewter plate fixed to a post and hammered into the
rocky cliff edge was left by the Dutch explorer, Dirk Hartog, to
signify his discovery. Although this plate has long since been
removed and replaced, you can view this historic site at Cape
Now an eco-tourism site, Hartog Island is famous for its
marlin game fishing and snorkelling. Visitors can stay in the
restored island homestead or utilise the camping grounds. Great
4WD tours of the island are available and, much like all of the
Coral Coast, the native plants and wildlife are spectacular.
Transfers to Hartog Island are available from Denham.
Denham is not only the gateway to Dirk Hartog Island, but all
of Shark Bay; ideally located to drop anchor in your explorations,
and the westernmost town in Australia. A great hub to book
charters via sky, water and land, it contains great caravan parks,
restaurants and a golf course – if you fancy hitting a few balls
Carnarvon, 350km north of Shark Bay, home to the world
famous Nigaloo Reef, is known for its tropical fruit plantations,
including bananas, mangos, papaya and melons. You can
sample the fruits of this region’s fertile red earth as well as the
labours of the local seafood industry at the Carnarvon grower’s
market. Or, take an extensive tour of the area’s gastric delights
on the Gascoyne food trail – brochures can be downloaded from
the website or picked up from visitor information centres.
Romantics might like to take a long stroll down an even
longer pier along One Mile Jetty with a red Carnarvon sunset as
Tourists come from the world over to experience the coral
gardens and marine life of Ningaloo Marine Park, which extends
260km north to Coral Bay. The park protects Australia’s largest
and most accessible fringing reef, which comes within metres of
the shore. Activities include snorkelling through its abundant
coral gardens and swimming with whale sharks – the biggest fish
in the ocean – which feed there from March to June.
Exmouth, where rugged gorges give way to white sand
beaches, crystal blue waters, and clear blue skies, sits at the
northernmost tip of the Coral Coast. It’s also another suitable
base for visitors of Nigaloo Reef, with great eateries, resorts,
caravan parks and charters – for those not wanting to get their
feet wet, glass-bottom boat tours can be booked here. For
inland adventure, head to Cape Range National Park – a striking
contrast of coast and rugged bushland.
The life-giving energy that bursts from the Coral Coast makes
it home to life forms ancient and new, and a great place to
enliven the senses and reinvigorate the spirit.
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