Shell Beach

Experience : Shark Bay

In 1991, Shark Bay was recognised by UNESCO as one of the most remarkable places on Earth after it ticked off each item on the natural World Heritage site criteria list.   It displays major stages in the evolutionary history of the world, as well as geological and biological processes, it is the home of significant and unique flora and fauna, and it is also a place of natural beauty.

 

Whalebone Bay

 

The area was first discovered by Dutch Captain Dirk Hartog in 1616, making him the first European to set foot on Western Australian soil.  Years later in 1697, Dutch sailor William de Vlamingh came through and then another visitor two years later, Captain William Dampier from England.  The French came next with Captain Louis-Francois Saint Alouaran in 1772 landing at the northern tip of Dirk Hartog Island and declaring Australia as French, even though two years earlier the English had arrived in Botany Bay.  Thirty years later, French Captain Nicolas Baudin was sent to Australia by Napoleon and sailed past Shark Bay on his way towards the southern coast of Western Australia.

 

Shark Bay covers more than 2 million hectares and 1500km of coastline and is filled with immaculate bays and swimming beaches, blue lagoons and offshore islands.  It’s home to a huge variety of animals, including 26 of Australia’s endangered mammal species and 35% of Australia’s bird species.  The waters are filled with turtles, dolphins, whales and sharks, as well as a variety of sea grasses, and Shark Bay is also the home of 10% of the world’s population of dugong.

 

POINTS OF INTEREST

Denham

This little town was established by pearlers and farmers after the area was charted in 1858 by Captain Henry Mangles Denham.  The pearling industry was started by an American, who first noticed oysters in the area.  Word got around and pearlers from the surrounding areas and neighbouring countries arrived to work the sandbanks and collect the pearls.  After a while, pearl numbers began to decline and the depression caused the pearl industry to make way for fishing and salt farming.

 

Complete with safe swimming beaches, various accommodation options, supermarkets, restaurants and the westernmost pub in Australia, the Shark Bay Hotel, Denham is the perfect hub for your adventures around Shark Bay.

 

 

François Péron National Park

A short drive north of Denham, this park takes up 52,500 hectares on the tip of Péron Peninsula and is edged by striking cliffs, white beaches and deep red soil.

 

Within the park is the Peron Homestead, an old sheep station that you can walk through.  They also have BBQs, a picnic area and a ‘hot tub’ full of 40 degree water from an artesian well.

 

If you have a 4WD, let your tyres down at the deflation/inflation station and head north up the sandy track towards Cape Péron. There are heaps of places to stop and check out the coastline – you might even see a turtle, shark or stingray.

 

Check out our post on François Péron National Park here.

 

 

Ocean Park

This was a fantastic stop and we loved every minute of the tour.  Our guide was a marine biologist and she provided an incredible amount of information about the animals at the park.  We got to learn about squid, sea snakes, clown fish, sharks and more.

 

Check out our post on Ocean Park.

 

Eagle Bluff & Whalebone Bay

One of the camping areas just south of Denham, Eagle Bluff also has a brilliant lookout over the bay.  If you’re lucky enough, you might be able to spot a shark or sting ray.

 

Whalebone Bay is located about 30km south of Denham.  We camped here on the first night and watched the sun set over this beautiful location.  Camping is allowed for 24 hours only at $10 per vehicle, there are no facilities and it can get pretty windy, but the scenery is fantastic.

 

 

Shell Beach

This naturally created beach extends 120km along the coast and is made up of teeny tiny cockle shells.  It is believed that the shells date back around 4000 years and can be up to 10 metres deep.  The beach itself is perfect for swimming – the water is crystal clear and gently laps at the shore.

 

 

Hamelin Pool

Hamelin Pool is home to the most diverse example of stromatolites in the world.  Stromatolites are ancient colonies of cyanobacteria (blue green algae) that form hard deposits over themselves in shallow waters.

 

We arrived at a beautiful moment when a storm was coming in but the sun still managed to shine through gaps in the clouds.  There was a boardwalk that led out over the stromatolites, and we were fascinated by the very strange seascape they created under the water.

 

 

Steep Point

If you have a 4WD, this is a absolute MUST!  Steep Point is the westernmost point of Australia, and you can only get there by driving over unsealed road and sand dunes.  The track is fairly corrugated so it’s slow going most of the way, but once you get to Steep Point, you will be struck with awe at the terrifying yet beautiful landscape.  Make sure you’re fully stocked with water and supplies because the area is fairly remote.

 

Check out our post on Steep Point here.

 

Monkey Mia

About 24km east of Denham is the place to go if you want to get close to dolphins.  Monkey Mia is a huge tourist attraction with friendly dolphins visiting the area since the 1960s. Over the last 15 years, interaction with the dolphins has been regulated so that they don’t get too domesticated.  They’re fed at irregular times between 8am and noon under the supervision of a DEC officer, and you’re not allowed to touch the dolphins (but they can touch you).

 

We pulled up at the gate to the Monkey Mia Conservation Park, paid $8 each to enter the Conservation Park, then proceeded down to the beach to watch the dolphins come in.  There was already over a hundred people there, all lined up along the beach.  About eight dolphins turned up for the feeding, and if you were one of the lucky ones to get picked, you can have the pleasure of putting the fish into the dolphin’s mouth.  We watched from the jetty and noticed that a green turtle had come to visit as well.

 

 

After the dolphins retreated back into deeper waters, we went for a quick stroll around the resort and realised there really wasn’t anything left to see so we got in the Troopy and left.  Snorkelling and swimming is allowed outside of the dolphin interaction area, but we had a big day ahead of us so we moved on.

 

A birds nest near Hamelin Pool

 

Graffiti hidden in Melbourne's laneways

City Profile : Melbourne

Melbourne is a trendy city full of excellent restaurants, cafés and bars, artsy laneways, galleries and fashion boutiques, parks and gardens.   Melbournians love sport, festivals and food, live entertainment, shopping and art.

 

 

Fast Facts

  • Capital city of Victoria in the south east of Australia
  • Second most populated city in Australia
  • Founded in 1835 by Batman… John Batman
  • Population of 4.1 million Melbournians
  • Extends from the Dandenong Ranges in the east to Werribee in the west
  • Awarded Most Livable City 2011 by The Economist Intelligence Unit
  • It’s tramway system is the fourth largest in the world
  • Home of the world’s oldest amusement park, Melbourne’s Luna Park in St Kilda
  • The central business district is arranged in a grid, called the Hoddle Grid

 

History

The first foreigners arrived in 1803 at a place near Sorrento but this settlement was abandoned due to a lack of resources.

 

In 1835, John Batman met with aboriginal elders of the Wurudjeri tribe and negotiated the purchase of 600,000 acres so that he could build a village.  Two years later in 1837, plans for the Hoddle Grid were drawn up and Melbourne was officially named.

 

Prior to European settlement, the area was inhabited by three aboriginal tribes.  Unfortunately, as Melbourne grew, the aboriginal tribes were pushed out to live in camps with terrible living conditions around Melbourne.

 

In 1847, Melbourne was officially declared a city by Queen Victoria.

 

Weather

If you like pleasant weather, the best time to visit is between October and April while the temperature wafts between 14°C and 30°C.  The cold sets in at the beginning of May in preparation for chilly winter, which doesn’t ease off until mid to late September.

 

The weather is often unpredictable, with regular displays of four seasons in one day.  Make sure you check the Bureau of Meteorology before heading out for the day and always be prepared!

 

Points of Interest

Parks and Gardens

  • Royal Botanic Gardens – covers about 38 hectares and includes the Shrine of Remembrance, Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Queen Victoria Gardens and Alexander Gardens.
  • Carlton Gardens – a World Heritage site located to the north of the city.  It’s the home of the Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne Museum and IMAX Cinemas.
  • Royal Park – The biggest park in Melbourne at 181 hectares and includes the Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens, as well as a golf course, soccer and footy field, cricket pitch and the State Netball and Hockey Centre.
  • Fitzroy Gardens – 26 hectares of parkland located to the east of the city.  Cook’s Cottage is one of the biggest attractions to the park, as well as Ola Cohn’s Fairies Tree and the Conservatory.

Historic buildings

  • Royal Exhibition Building – completed in 1880, it is a World Heritage Listed building and one of the world’s oldest exhibition pavilions.
  • Melbourne Town Hall – officially opened in 1870, the Town Hall becomes a venue during the International Comedy Festival.
  • Parliament House – located at the intersection of Spring Street and Bourke Street, the building was fully completed in 1929 after nearly 70 years of construction.
  • The Mitre Tavern – built in 1837, it is the oldest building in Melbourne, and is now a great pub and steakhouse.

 

Activities & Attractions

Crown Entertainment Complex – http://www.crownmelbourne.com.au/
Eureka Skydeck  – http://www.eurekaskydeck.com.au/
Federation Square – http://www.fedsquare.com/
Docklands – http://www.thatsmelbourne.com.au/Placestogo/Docklands/
Melbourne Comedy Festival (March to April) – http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/
Queen Victoria Market – http://www.qvm.com.au
Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens – http://www.zoo.org.au/melbourne
Melbourne Aquarium – http://www.melbourneaquarium.com.au/home
Melbourne Museum – http://museumvictoria.com.au/melbournemuseum/

Cultural Precincts

The Greek Strip – Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
The Italian Strip – Lygon Street, Carlton
The Middle Eastern Strip – Sydney Road, Brunswick
Chinatown – Little Bourke Street, Melbourne

Active Nightlife

Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Fitzroy Street, St Kilda
Chapel Street, South Yarra

Shopping Districts

Bridge Road, Richmond
Chapel Street, South Yarra
Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Acland Street, St Kilda
Collins Street & Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne

Accommodation

Visitor Information Centres

Melbourne Visitor Centre, Federation Square
Melbourne Visitor Booth, Bourke Street

 

Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

 

Getting Around

Public Transport System

Melbourne’s public transport system includes the world’s largest tram network, as well as bus and coach services and a railway network.  You can also take advantage of the free city circle trams that travel around Melbourne, passing major tourist attractions and serve as a connection between other tram, train and bus routes.  The trams run every 12 minutes from 10am to 6pm from Sunday to Wednesday and 10am to 9pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

 

For information on how to get where and timetables, visit Public Transport Victoria http://ptv.vic.gov.au/

 

 

Ticketing System

Myki is Melbourne’s public transport ticketing system, and it involves a little plastic card that you ‘top up’ with your money.  You have to ‘touch on’ or swipe the myki reader when you get on public transport to validate your myki, and you have to ‘touch off’ at the end of your journey to get the lowest fare.

 

You can get a myki card from any ‘premium’ train station, 7-Eleven outlet or the myki discovery centre at Southern Cross Station, and they cost $6 for a full fare card.  You then have to ‘top up’ with some dollars before you travel.

 

For more information on myki and travel fares, visit http://www.myki.com.au/

 

Other ways to get around…

Melbourne Bike Share: a new form of public transport within the Melbourne CBD http://www.melbournebikeshare.com.au/

 

 


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