Francois Peron National Park
Francois Peron National Park, situated on the northernmost tip of the Peron Peninsula, offers a 4WD wilderness area edged by a coastline of low red cliffs and white-sand beaches. Lapping its shores are the azure waters of Shark Bay Marine Park, a World Heritage area internationally famous for the wild bottlenose dolphins at Monkey Mia.
From north or south via North West Coastal Hwy, Shark Bay Rd to Denham then Monkey Mia Rd
April to October; temperatures can be extremely hot in summer
835 km north of Perth; 4 km north of Denham
- DEC Denham (08) 9948 1208
52 529 ha
Denham 1300 135 887
Featured Activities in the National Park
Take a dip in the ‘hot tub’ at Peron Homestead
Spot dugongs, turtles and manta rays from the cliffs of Cape Peron
See the unusual gypsum claypans known as birridas at Big Lagoon
Watch the dolphins at Monkey Mia
- Francois Peron National Park, Eco-friendly activity
A look at the past
This park is named after the French naturalist Francois Péron, who visited Shark Bay as part of Nicolas Baudin’s Le Géographe expeditions in 1801 and 1803. Péron later described the plants and animals he encountered in A Voyage of Discovery to the Southern Hemisphere (1809).
From the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s, pearling became the mainstay of Shark Bay’s economy; at Herald Bight, on the park’s eastern side, old pearl shells scattered along the beach are evidence of a pearlers’ camp. From the late 1880s until 1990, the Peron Peninsula was managed as a sheep station; today the historic Peron Homestead provides information for visitors about this early pastoral life.
Beyond the Peron Homestead is a wilderness area, and coastal bush camping sites accessible only by 4WD. One of the park’s most striking features is its gypsum claypans, known locally as birridas. More than 100 birridas can be found along the east coast of the peninsula. Some of these have been ﬂooded by rising sea levels to form shallow inlets such as Big Lagoon. Along the coast, the low scrublands give way to red sand dunes rimmed by white sand beaches and the blue waters of Shark Bay.
The characteristic low scrubland of the park’s arid landscape is dominated by wattles, hakeas, grevilleas and myrtles. Shark Bay daisy, a creeper with striking purple ﬂowers, thrives here, along with a number of blue ﬂowering plants, such as dampiera, halganias and wild tomato bushes. Growing near the birridas are samphire and other salt-tolerant plants such as frankenia and silver saltbush. Sandalwood can be seen on the surrounding slopes.
After years of habitat destruction by sheep and other introduced animals, the most commonly seen wildlife species in the park are reptiles, rodents and birds. However, as part of DEC’s Project Eden, foxes, feral cats, goats and rabbits are being eradicated to allow the gradual reintroduction of endangered wildlife. To date, bilbies, brush-tailed bettongs and malleefowl have been successfully released, with other species to follow.
Just off the park’s shores are the waters of the Shark Bay Marine Park, teeming with marine life such as humpback whales resting on their long migrations, manta rays, green and loggerhead turtles and, most famously, wild bottlenose dolphins. The daily shore visits by these creatures at Monkey Mia, just outside the eastern edge of the national park, attract thousands of visitors every year. Shark Bay also has the largest seagrass meadows in the world, home to around 10 000 dugongs, which is 10 per cent of the world’s total number. In addition, Shark Bay boasts the world’s most diverse and abundant examples of stromatolites – the world’s oldest and oldest-living fossils – which dot the shores of Hamelin Pool in rocky lumps.
This park offers a wilderness experience for bush campers, swimmers, anglers, boating enthusiasts and wildlife-watchers. Nearby in the Shark Bay Marine Park, visitors can hand feed the dolphins at Monkey Mia.
Dinghies can be launched from the beach at Big Lagoon, Bottle Bay and Herald Bight.
The beaches of Peron Peninsula provide excellent ﬁshing all year round, with snapper, kingﬁsh, bream, mackerel and whiting among the catch. Fishing restrictions apply to ﬁshing in Shark Bay Marine Park so check with DEC Denham (08) 9948 1208 for rules and regulations, or contact the Department of Fisheries Western Australia (08) 9482 7333, or visit their website (www.ﬁsh.wa.gov.au).
The 6-kilometre sandy road that leads from the national park entrance to Peron Homestead is suitable for conventional vehicles but to explore the park further requires a 4WD vehicle. However, stay on existing tracks and do not drive across the claypans as you are likely to get bogged.
The 45-minute Pastoral Lifestyle Walktrail enables visitors to explore the Peron Homestead and outbuildings, giving an insight into life on a remote sheep station in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A popular feature at the homestead is a hot-water artesian bore, which now pumps the water 390 metres into a ‘hot tub’ for weary travellers to enjoy. Nearby is a grass-covered picnic area with barbecues and tables.
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