A short drive north from Denham will bring you to the turn off for François Péron National Park. The area takes up 52,500 hectares on the tip of Péron Peninsula in the Shark Bay World Heritage area and is edged by striking cliffs, white beaches and deep red soil. There are many rare and endangered animals that live in the park, like euros, thorny devils and thick-billed grass wrens.
The park was named after François Péron, a French naturalist and explorer who travelled with Nicolas Baudin in 1801. Baudin was sent to Australia by Napoleon to explore and map out Australia’s western and southern coastline.
The Péron Homestead makes for a great short visit. The self-guided tour around the former sheep station, which ceased operation in 1990, gives you an idea of what life was like in the area in the early days. If you have a 4WD, there is a great track that leads all the way to Cape Péron. If you don’t have the appropriate means of transport, Ocean Park offers 4WD tours through the dunes of the park so you don’t miss out.
Camping is available at designated sites around the park but campfires are strictly prohibited. Entry and camping fees apply.
The Péron Homestead & Heritage Precinct
A former sheep station that has been preserved to give visitors an historical experience. You can walk through the old shearing shed that has a great diagram of how the sheep were processed. There was a certain routine to shearing sheep and a ‘gun shearer’ would be able to complete the entire routine in 2 minutes. We also got to see the old living quarters, complete with kitchen, beds and a bathroom with ironing board.
A picnic area and BBQ facilities are available, as well as the ‘hot tub’, a circular bath filled with artesian water that comes from over half a kilometre underground. The water is naturally heated to 40 degrees, which was uncomfortably hot but we got in anyway. After a few minutes, we started to feel a bit woozy so we rinsed off and headed for Cape Péron.
At the beginning of the 4WD track are tyre deflators so you can bring your tyres down to about 20 psi. The track cuts straight through the middle of the park, all the way up to Cape Péron. There are a few offshoots towards the Big Lagoon, the Gregories and Skipjack Point, just to name a few.
We went to Cape Péron first and worked our way backwards. All around us was this beautiful red dirt, which contrasted beautifully with the deep blue ocean. At the very tip of the cape was a beach lined with cormorants, bathing and socialising in the afternoon sun.
Skipjack Point was fantastic! There are two lookouts that provide an incredible view of the sea life below. We saw a massive sting ray, a pair of manta rays, a shark and a few turtles.
The track is a mixture of a few firm, flat clay pans, or birridas, in between long stretches of relatively soft sand. The clay pans are the remains of what used to be lakes many, many years ago. The sandy track was easily manageable in the Troopy, even the one or two hairy bits didn’t require the low range gears. Overall, the 4WDriving through the park was really enjoyable and we loved every minute of it.
The wildlife on the Péron Peninsula are under threat from feral animals and what Project Eden aims to do is control the number of foxes and cats in the area and reintroduce native wildlife so that their population can be brought back to a healthy number. Two ways they are achieving this is with the Feral Proof Fence and removal of large stock like goats, sheep and cows so that the vegetation can rejuvenate.
Since the beginning of the Project, they have seen fantastic improvements, with the successful reintroduction of bilbies and mallee fowl. They hope that the same results will happen with the bandicoot and hare wallaby populations, and continue to educate people about the importance of conserving the Peron Peninsula ecosystem.