Francois Peron National Park

Barbecue Diving Fishing Park entry fee Swimming Toilets Watersports Wildflowers Wildlife Camping area Four-wheel drive touring Picnic area Walking
Francois Peron National Park, Jean-Paul Ferrero / Auscape International

Introduction

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.

Fact file

Access

From north or south via North West Coastal Hwy, Shark Bay Rd to Denham then Monkey Mia Rd

Best season

April to October; temperatures can be extremely hot in summer

Location

835 km north of Perth; 4 km north of Denham

Park information

  • DEC Denham (08) 9948 1208
  • www.sharkbay.org

Size

52 529 ha

Visitor information

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

See Also

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.

Natural features

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.

Native plants

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.

Wildlife

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.

Introduction

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.

Boating

Dinghies can be launched from the beach at Big Lagoon, Bottle Bay and Herald Bight.

Fishing

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).

Four-wheel driving

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.

Heritage sites

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.

Campsites

Big Lagoon camping area

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


Bottle Bay camping area

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


Gregories camping area

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


Herald Bight camping area

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


South Gregories camping area

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


See Also

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