Shark Bay and Monkey Mia

StartClick to Reverse the Dynamic Map and Driving NotesOverlander Roadhouse
FinishMonkey Mia
DifficultyDifficulty 1/5
Suitable For4WD AWD 2WD Caravan Camper Motorhome Bike 
Distance165.99 km
Minimum Days1
Average Speed85.11 km/hr
Travel Time1 hr 57 mins
Page Updated: 10 Feb 2018


World Heritage listed Shark Bay, covers many protected areas and conservation reserves, including Shark Bay Marine Park, Francois Peron National Park, and Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve. The Peron Peninsula, which this trek note heads up, takes in many attractions such as the stromatolites at Hamelin Pool, the historic Telegraph Station Museum, Shell Beach, Denham, and one of the biggest tourist attractions in the region - Monkey Mia.

Monkey Mia is a tourist hotspot with flawless blue-skies and a Mediterranean-style feel, providing accommodation and plenty of things to do like: camel rides, cruising, sailing, snorkelling, 4WDriving and not to mention dolphin feeding. Located at the aptly named Dolphin Beach, and famous for its kilometres of secluded crystal blue waters and pristine white-shell beaches, Monkey Mia has attracted schools of dolphins to its tranquil shores daily for more than forty years. These bottlenose dolphins (part of a pod of around 300 wild dolphins in the bay) have visited everyday in the last five years - excluding only four times, and it’s the only place in Australia where dolphins visit daily.

Denham, Australia's most westerly town was traditionally a pearling and fishing town. It is now the gateway to the famous bottlenose dolphins at nearby Monkey Mia (25.5km). There are a couple of free camps around the Denham area although you need to contact the Denham council for permission. These are Whalebone Bay, Fowlers Camp and Eagle Bluff, which you'll pass on your left on the way into Denham.

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The bay itself covers an area of 10,000 square kilometres, and has an average depth of 10 metres. It is divided by shallow banks and has many peninsulas and islands. The coastline is over 1,500 km long and is located in the transition zone between three major climatic regions and between two major botanical provinces. The waters within the bay are home to over 320 fish species, thousands of dugongs (sea cows), dolphins, sharks and rays. It is an important breeding and nursery ground for fish, crustaceans, and coelenterates. The region supports 26 threatened Australian mammal species, over 230 species of bird, and nearly 150 species of reptile.

Hamelin Pool contains the most diverse and abundant examples of stromatolite forms in the world. Stromatolites were formed by algae, sediment and sand, binding and forming hard rock for millions of years. They have survived in this area because of the high salt content of the water which is trapped by a sandbar at the mouth of the bay which traps the salt in the pool when rapid evaporation occurs in hot conditions. Predators and other marine life which feed on the bacteria and algae of which stromatolites are composed of, cannot tolerate the salinity of Hamelin Pool, which is usually twice that of sea water.


Although, Dirk Hartog sailed in the Shark Bay area in 1616, Shark Bay was named by William Dampier in 1699. Shark Bay was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1991. Monkey Mia is two names, whereby ‘Monkey’ is allegedly derived from a pearling boat called Monkey that anchored at the now Monkey Mia in the late 19th century, and ‘Mia’ - being the Aboriginal term for home or shelter. Other sources conclude that the most likely origins are either from; pet monkeys owned by early Malay pearlers who camped at the location, a colloquialism for ‘sheep, or the name of a schooner called Monkey that arrived in 1834.

The surrounding area was originally gazetted in 1890 and used as a base for the pearling and fishing industries. In 1964 a lady from one of the nearby fishing camps befriended the dolphins, regularly feeding them. Generations of wild dolphins have enjoyed the regular human contact which has now become a part of their daily lives. In 1985, an information centre was built, and in 1988, a special state government grant was provided to develop roads, carparks, and facilities. It was not until November 1990, that the waters adjoining Monkey Mia was declared a Marine Park managed by the Department of Conservation and Land Management, CALM (now Department of Environment and Conservation, DEC). In more recent years, closer attention has been given to the Aboriginal roots of the area and their knowledge of the local land. For visitors, the most visible evidence of this change is the culture walks, where visitors are taught to respect the land.


MUST READ: You are strongly encouraged to read the following articles prepared by the knowledge experts at ExplorOz for your safety and preparation before undertaking any published ExplorOz Trek - Outback Safety, Outback Driving Tips, Outback Communications, and Vehicle Setup for the Outback.

If you are only heading up to Denham and Monkey Mia, then minimal preparation is required. If you are continuing on to Steep Point, then that is a different kettle of fish, so please read the Steep Point preparation notes.

Although there are many fuel outlets along this route for filling up your vehicle, such as Overlander Roadhouse, make sure you have ample fuel to get to Denham. Accommodation is plentiful and most towns will provide either caravan parks or motels if you wish to stay overnight. There is camping at various locations on the coast toward Denham, but please call the Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery and Visitor Centre for permission before doing so.


No permits are required for this trek note, as the route follows public roads and highways. Camping in the Shire of Shark Bay is restricted and permission must be obtained from the Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery and Visitor Centre by phone or in person during office hours. Camping is allowed overnight only. There are few designated camping areas with some ideal for caravans - they are: Eagle Bluff, Fowlers Camp, Whalebone, and Goulet Bluff.

For more information on camping in the Shark Bay region, please contact:

Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery and Visitor Centre

Address: Knight Street, Denham WA 6537
Phone: (08) 9948 1590

Fuel Supplies & Usage

Fuel SymbolOverlander Roadhouse.
4cyl 23 litres4cyl 27 litres4cyl 33 litres
6cyl 25 litres6cyl 30 litres6cyl 29 litres
8cyl 25 litres8cyl 28 litres
Usage is averaged from recorded data (* specific to this trek) and calculated based on trek distance.

Best Time To Visit

The best months to visit if sightseeing and generally exploring the area are Spring and Autumn. Summer can get very hot (i.e. in the high 30’s or higher).

Closest Climatic Station

Shark Bay Airport
Distance from Trek Mid Point 56.41km NW
Mean Max. °C33.734.434.230.927.623.922.724.025.828.230.332.2
Mean Min. °C21.422.
Mean Rain mm10.
    Best time to travel      Ok time to travel      Travel NOT recommended

Services & Supplies

The following locations have various services And supplies:Hamelin Pool


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What to See

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This is just a selection. We recommend also browsing the map for other Places nearby.
Steep Point is Australia's most westerly point. Nearby is World Heritage listed Shark Bay where the Monkey Mia dolphins can be observed in the wild daily. An amazing area with much to explore.

Showing 3 Places

Where to Stay

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Showing 3 Places


Overlander Roadhouse to Hamelin Pool
Driving: 34.15 km
Heading: 272°
Avg Speed: 87.33 km/hr
EST Time: 23:27
Hamelin Pool to Telegraph Station Museum
Driving: 0.72 km
Heading: 332°
Avg Speed: 87.33 km/hr
EST Time: 00:29
Telegraph Station Museum to Useless Loop Rd & Shark Bay Rd
Driving: 16.86 km
Heading: 226°
Avg Speed: 80.68 km/hr
EST Time: 12:32
Useless Loop Rd & Shark Bay Rd to Shell Beach
Driving: 43.04 km
Heading: 315°
Shell Beach to Taillefer Isthmus
Driving: 7.88 km
Heading: 281°
Taillefer Isthmus to Denham
Driving: 37.1 km
Heading: 332°
Denham to Monkey Mia
Driving: 26.24 km
Heading: 51°
Distance is GPS recorded distance based on the travel mode shown (Driving, Straight, Cycling, Walking etc), Direction is straight line from start to end, Avg Speed & EST Time is calculated from GPS data.


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