Top Trail: Shark Bay World Heritage Drive
This self-drive trail takes in all the significant features that give Shark Bay its World Heritage Listing. Unique features include the largest sea grass beds in the world - providing food for the dugong (sea cow), the tiny cockleshells of Shell Beach, the stromatolites of Hamelin Bay and the dolphins at Monkey Mia.
About the Trail
Shark Bay is the most western point of the coast of Australia and is made up of two peninsulas jutting out into the Indian Ocean.
The 160 kilometre trail runs between the Overlander Roadhouse to Monkey Mia which is home to a pod of dolphins that freely interact with visitors. Interpretive signage exists at the sites along the drive that relate to the World Heritage listing.Visit the Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery Centre for information on the trail, whales, manta rays, turtles, sharks, fish species, walk trails and the World Heritage features throughout the Shark Bay area.
Specific interests of the drive include the stories of the early Dutch, French and English explorers of the area, the endangered species reintroduced with Project Eden, the views of Eagle Bluff and Shell Beach and the beautiful Ocean Park, Nanga Bay, Hamelin Bay and Peron Peninsula.
Need to Know
Wild dolphins have been visiting the shoreline at Monkey Mia virtually every day for over 40 years, making this spot in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area one of the best and most reliable places for dolphin interaction in the world. A 30 minute drive from Denham will bring you to Monkey Mia for a magical face-to-bottlenose encounter with these gentle creatures. And to get to Denham, you can take a two-hour flight from Perth, opt to do the day's drive from Perth, or join an extended guided tour. The story of the Monkey Mia dolphins begins in the early 1960s, when a pod of wild dolphins started making a regular appearance in the clear waters of the bay to interact with humans - delighting visitors with their intelligence, playfulness and grace. As the dolphins are wild, numbers and the time of their visits can vary from day to day, but they usually come to the shore several times a day and more frequently in the mornings. Today, the dolphin interactions are regulated by rangers, with a few lucky visitors selected to hand-feed the dolphins a small amount of fish. When the dolphins are fishing or playing off shore, drop into the Dolphin Information Centre and get to know your new-found friends a little better. Interpretive displays share insights into dolphin biology, behaviour, as well as the Shark Bay World Heritage Area. Venture beyond the beach and you'll discover a huge variety of animal and bird life nearby. One of the best ways to discover this unique environment is through the eyes of one of the oldest surviving cultures on Earth by joining an Indigenous cultural tour. A visitor fee is charged for entry to Monkey Mia Reserve. And if you choose to stay overnight at Monkey Mia and breakfast with the dolphins, you'll find a wide variety of accommodation options, facilities and activities. Some visitors opt to base themselves in nearby Denham, where the calm blue waters of the sweeping bay provide ideal conditions for swimming, fishing, boating and water skiing.