It’s a long way to Denham in Shark Bay, but the drive is certainly worth it.
There can be no doubt that Shark Bay, which is located about halfway up the Western Australia coastline, is one of the most pristine and beautiful places in the world.
Now listed as a World Heritage area it covers a large area of 2.2 million hectares. Shark Bay was chosen as a World Heritage area because it fulfilled all four of the natural criteria that are used to determine suitability. Those four criteria are natural beauty, biological diversity, ecological process and Earth’s history.
One of the reasons for Shark Bay’s importance is that it is where three climatic zones and two botanical provinces converge making it rich in marine, land and plant life.
The largest town on Shark Bay is Denham, which is also the administrative and population centre for the area. This town of 600 is located on the western shore of the Peron Peninsular. It is linked to the Northwest Coastal Highway by a 128-kilometre sealed road. The distance to Perth is 840 kms, to Carnarvon 330 kms and it is 420 kms to Geraldton, the biggest town north of Perth.
Denham was originally a disorganised pearling camp, but it is now not only functional but attractive as well.
The town is, quite literally, surrounded by World Heritage Area, and its more famous neighbour, Monkey Mia, where dolphins come into shore to be fed, is 24kms further east and reached by a good, sealed road.
There is a wealth of accommodation for visitors to Denham, ranging from camping facilities to resort-style hotels. Within the town are restaurants and a hotel.
At Denham in Shark Bay one of those restaurants, the Old Pearler Restaurant, is made entirely from shells and is thought to be the only restaurant in the world that is constructed from shells.
Many people go to Shark Bay to fish, and the town has tackle shops, jetties, boat hire and fishing charters to cater to the fisherfolk. Denham overlooks Dirk Hartog Island, where fishing is regarded to be superb, so the town is an ideal base for those who wish to fish the Shark Bay waters, including Dirk Hartog Island and the waters off Steep Point, which is the most westerly point of the Australian continent.
To glean a lot of interesting and important information about Shark Bay, it is worthwhile visiting the Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery Centre which is right opposite the shore. The Discovery Centre is part museum and part Visitor’s Centre where bookings can be made for tours, accommodation and fishing trips.
Among the artefacts on display in the Discovery Centre are relics of a French expedition of 1772. When they reached Shark Bay they annexed it for France, but never returned to take up their claim.
Denham in Shark Bay is a splendid town that would be a perfect place to base yourself when visiting the magnificent and very special World Heritage area.