The Shark Bay World Heritage site is a large area in WA that includes the westernmost point of the continent, although we didn't make it out that far. Instead, we spent our time within the bay, on the water and driving around the Peron Peninsula. Shark Bay is rich in sea life, most famous for its resident dolphins and one of the world's largest populations of dugongs.
The weather wasn’t great on the day that we drove west and then north, onto the peninsula, headed for Denham. It was a rare grey day in Australia for us - overall, we’d been very lucky with the weather.
We stopped at a few of the points of interest, including Shell Beach, a bay beach covered entirely in tiny, white shells courtesy of cockles. Apparently it's one of only two beaches in the world made entirely from shells! Also worth a stop was the Eagle Bluff viewpoint, a walking path 100 m or so above the western side of the peninsula, where you can spot sharks, turtles and rays in the clear water below. We saw what we think was a small nervous shark, a large shovel nosed ray and ancient looking loggerhead turtle.
When we got to the tiny town of Denham, we realized there wasn’t much to do. A guy we talked to in the visitor centre advised that we go straight to Monkey Mia, 20 km away.
We’d heard about Monkey Mia, a resort property famous for its daily dolphin feeding, during which wild dolphins that live in the bay come in within a few feet of shore to accept the fish offering.
So, we parked the van and boarded a catamaran to go out looking for dugongs. Turns out that it was a bit of a sham, as almost all of the dugongs had already migrated north for the winter. But we did see plenty of big turtles, dolphins, a scary brown sea snake.
We stayed on boat for the sunset cruise, hanging out in the catamaran's netting, finishing off the 12 beers we'd brought on board.
The next morning, we did what many people visit Monkey Mia exclusively to do: we attended the dolphin feeding.
It was definitely touristy, with somewhere around 200 people there to see the dolphins. Luckily, we'd made friends with one of the volunteers the night before, so we had an in. He motioned to us to come up and I was one of four people who hand-fed one of the playful dolphins a fish! (Sadly, the camera settings had been messed up, so we only got blurry photos!)
On the way out, we stopped at the Hamelin Pool stromatolites. The sun had finally come out, and the water was so clear you almost couldn’t see that it was there, making it look like the small fish were suspended in the air, their shadows tiny but distinct on the flat sand below.