Monkey Mia, Australian Geographic

Population 609

On the middle peninsula of Shark Bay, Denham is the most westerly town in Australia. Dirk Hartog, the Dutch navigator, landed on an island at the bay's entrance in 1616, the first known European to land on the continent. Centuries later, in 1858, Captain H. M. Denham surveyed the area and a town bearing his name was established. The Shark Bay region was once known for its pearling and fishing, and the streets of Denham were literally paved with pearl shells. In the 1960s, however, the local roads board poured bitumen over the pearl shells, and so destroyed what could have been a unique tourist attraction. Fortunately, several buildings made from coquina shell block still stand in the town. Today Shark Bay is renowned for the wild dolphins that come inshore at Monkey Mia (pronounced 'my-a'). As a World Heritage area, it also protects dugongs, humpback whales, green and loggerhead turtles, important seagrass feeding grounds and a colony of stromatolites, the world's oldest living fossils.

Visitor Information

65 Knight Tce; (08) 9948 1590

Nearby national parks

Nearby towns

  • Carnarvon

    Carnarvon is a large coastal town at the mouth of the Gascoyne River. The river and the fertile red earth surrounding it are crucial to the...more

  • Gascoyne Junction

    Lying at the junction of the Lyons and Gascoyne rivers, Gascoyne Junction is a small administration centre for the pastoral industry. Sheep...more

  • Kalbarri

    Kalbarri lies at the mouth of the Murchison River, flanked by Kalbarri National Park. Established in 1951, the town is a popular holiday...more

In Town

Shell block buildings: St Andrews Anglican Church, cnr Hughes and Brockman sts, and the Old Pearlers Restaurant, cnr Knight Tce and Durlacher St, were both built from coquina shell block.

Town Bluff: popular walk for beachcombers; from town along beach to bluff.

Pioneer Park: contains the stone on which Captain Denham carved his name in 1858; Hughes St.


Monkey Mia The daily shore visits by the wild bottlenose dolphins at Monkey Mia are a world-famous phenomenon. The dolphins swim into the shallows, providing a unique opportunity for humans to make contact with them. It began in the 1960s when a local woman started feeding the dolphins that followed her husband's fishing boat to the shoreline. Feeding still occurs, although now it is carefully monitored by rangers to ensure that the dolphins maintain their hunting and survival skills. Visiting times, and the number of dolphins, vary. For a total marine encounter, dugong-watching cruises can also be arranged from here. 26 km NE.

Dirk Hartog Island The state's largest and most historically significant island, named after Dutchman Dirk Hartog who landed here in 1616 – 154 years before Captain Cook. Hartog left behind an inscribed pewter plate, which was removed in 1697 by his countryman Willem de Vlamingh and replaced with another plate. The original was returned to Holland; Vlamingh's plate is now housed in the Maritime Museum in Fremantle. Flights and cruises depart daily; bookings at visitor centre. 30 km W.

Hamelin Pool stromatolites The shores of Hamelin Pool are dotted with stromatolites, the world's largest and oldest living fossils. These colonies of micro-organisms resemble the oldest and simplest forms of life on earth, dated at around 3.5 million years old. The Hamelin Pool stromatolites are relatively new colonies however, about 3000 years old. They thrive here because of the extreme salinity of the water, the occurrence of calcium bicarbonate and the limited water circulation. Visitors can view these extraordinary life forms from a boardwalk. Close by is the Flint Cliff Telegraph Station and Post Office Museum (1884) with a history of the region. 88 km SE.Dugongs The Shark Bay World Heritage Area has the largest seagrass meadows in the world, covering about 4000 sq km. These meadows are home to around 10 000 dugongs, 10% of the world's remaining population. An endangered species, the dugong is nature's only vegetarian sea mammal. Also known as a sea cow, the dugong can live for up to 70 years and grow up to 3 m long. Tours are available offering visitors a unique opportunity to see dugongs in the wild. Contact visitor centre for details.

Little Lagoon: ideal fishing and picnic spot; 3 km N.

Francois Peron National Park: Peron Homestead with its 'hot tub' of artesian water; 4WD access only; 7 km N.

Ocean Park: marine park with aquarium and touch pool; 9 km S.

Eagle Bluff: habitat of sea eagle and a good viewing spot for sharks and stingrays; 20 km S.

Blue Lagoon Pearl Farm: working platform where black pearls are harvested; Monkey Mia; 26 km NE.

Shell Beach: 120 km of unique coastline comprising countless tiny coquina shells; 45 km SE.

Steep Point: western-most point on mainland with spectacular scenery; 4WD access only; 260 km W.

Zuytdorp Cliffs: extend from beneath Shark Bay region south to Kalbarri; 4WD access only.

Tours: boat trips and charter flights to historic Dirk Hartog Island, catamaran cruises, safaris and coach tours; contact visitor centre for details.

Fishing spots near town

Shark Bay 1 km

The drive north to Shark Bay takes about ten hours from Perth, but the fishing lure is so strong here that many an east-coast angler has driven across from Sydney or Melbourne. Most anglers head for the old pearling town... Find out more

Steep Point 43 km

One of the most highly regarded destinations for land-based gamefishing is Steep Point. Anglers fishing here catch huge mackerel, trevally, tuna and even sailfish from the rugged cliffs. It is a specialised sport... Find out more

Eco-friendly activities around town

Indigenous tour - Shark Bay area 1 km

To discover the rich cultural heritage of the Shark Bay area, visitors can embark on an award-winning Wula Guda Nyinda morning, afternoon or night tour. There are creation stories, bush-tucker tastings and demonstrations... Find out more

Dolphin-feeding 23 km

Almost without fail, the famous wild bottlenose dolphins visit the beach in front of the Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort several times a day, yearround. Under the watchful gaze of national parks rangers, who provide a... Find out more

Cafes & restaurants around town

The Old Pearler Restaurant

Made almost entirely of shells and with walls decorated with maritime relics, The Old Pearler Restaurant captures the nautical theme in a charming way. As you would expect when dining only a few metres away from the... Find out more

The Boughshed Restaurant

Overlooking Dolphin Bay, diners are in for a treat at the Boughshed Restaurant as they sample the menu’s fresh seafood, beef and vegetarian options. Wherever possible local produce is sourced, and the wholesome... Find out more

Campsites around town

Big Lagoon camping area 18 km

Big Lagoon camping area is 19 km north of the Monkey Mia Rd junction, 4 km north-east of Denham. This camp on the foreshore has basic facilities; you need to bring in your own drinking water and gas/fuel stove.... Find out more

Eagle Bluff camping area 19 km

With 4 sites among coastal vegetation on the foreshore, visitors will find a fine spot for birdwatching here, along with fishing and snorkelling. Bring in your own drinking water and a gas/fuel stove. The camping area is... Find out more

Fowlers Camp camping area 22 km

There are no facilities provided here, but it’s a good spot for beach fishing. You need to bring in a gas/fuel stove and drinking water. The camping area is on Fowlers Camp Rd, off Shark Bay Rd, 22 km south-east of... Find out more

Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort 23 km

Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort is located on Monkey Mia Rd, 25 km north-east of Denham. The complex includes a resort and lodge as well as caravan and camping facilities, with some sites having a beachfront location. Dogs are... Find out more

Whalebone Bay camping area 25 km

There are 4 sites dispersed among coastal vegetation close to the beach at this camping area on Whalebone Rd, off Shark Bay Rd and 25 km south-east of Denham. Stays are limited to 1 night. It is a gas/fuel stove only... Find out more

Herald Bight camping area 34 km

Herald Bight camping area is 27 km north of the Monkey Mia Rd junction, 4 km north-east of Denham. In a coastal setting with basic facilities, camping here is gas/fuel stove only and you need to come equipped with... Find out more

Goulet Bluff camping area 36 km

Goulet Bluff camping area is off Goulet Bluff Rd from Shark Bay Rd, 36 km south-east of Denham. The small area has 4 sites dispersed among coastal vegetation on the foreshore. Stays are limited to 1 night only. A good... Find out more

South Gregories camping area 39 km

Off the main park road, 39 km north of the Monkey Mia Rd junction and 4 km north-east of Denham, this camping area has basic facilities on the foreshore. Bring along a gas/fuel stove and your own drinking water.... Find out more

Gregories camping area 41 km

Facilities are coastal but basic at Gregories camping area, and you need to bring drinking water and a gas/fuel stove. The camping area is 39 km north of the Monkey Mia Rd junction, 4 km north-east of Denham.... Find out more

Bottle Bay camping area 42 km

Bring drinking water and a gas/fuel stove to this camping area, 39 km north of the Monkey Mia Rd junction and 4 km north-east of Denham. Facilities are basic.... Find out more

Caravan parks around town

Blue Dolphin Caravan Park and Holiday Village 1 km

This is a smaller park with good tourist facilities. It is close to the heart of Denham and there is a supermarket right next door. Bookings are required in peak periods.... Find out more

Denham Seaside Tourist Village 1 km

Our favourite place to stay in the area, this well-managed park is located at the end of the main street and has a fabulous panoramic view over the sparkling calm waters of Shark Bay. We recommend this spot to anyone... Find out more

Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort 23 km

Some come to soak up the winter sun, others to catch fish but most to see the famous Monkey Mia dolphins. There are a limited number of powered van sites and these diminish each time additional accommodation is... Find out more

Hotels, motels & B&Bs around town

Bay Lodge Economy Beachfront

Offering beachfront accommodation at affordable rates, the Bay Lodge Economy Beachfront offers self-catering rooms and dormitories with ensuites, a kitchenette and a living room. With the beach a few steps away and the... Find out more

Denham Villas

Situated on the shores of Shark Bay and conveniently located close to the town centre, the Denham Villas are well equipped and simply decorated. The villas have two bedrooms, a separate living area, air-conditioning and... Find out more

Heritage Resort Shark Bay

The Heritage Resort Shark Bay has well-appointed suites, which include all the usual hotel facilities but with the added bonus of magnificent views and gorgeous sunsets. The main attraction is the dolphins but fishing,... Find out more

Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort

The Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort complex includes a resort, a lodge, caravan and camping facilities, and some sites have a beachfront location. In the resort, many of the self-contained villas and hotel rooms have either a... Find out more

Shark Bay Views Bed & Breakfast

With your own private entrance, you can be sure you will be the only guests at the Shark Bay Views Bed and Breakfast. The simple accommodation is ideally suited to a couple or a single traveller, and includes either a... Find out more

Rest areas around town

Edaggee rest area 74 km

81km S of Carnarvon (L) or 43km N of Wooramel (R)

Just off the highway in the scrub.

Scenic Lookout rest area 77 km

25km S of Wooramel (R) or 51km N of Overlander (L)

Well off the highway on top of a small plateau.

comments powered by Disqus