The biggest wildflower collection on earth calls Western Australia home. More than 12,000 species of flora burst into brilliant bloom across the state each season, delivering a botanical display like no other. It’s a diverse and unique show, with 60 percent of the flowering species found nowhere else on the planet.
In the far western reaches of mainland Australia, an extraordinary marine wilderness thrives, amidst a landscape so parched it creates its own water. Shark Bay boasts World Heritage status and safeguards an astonishing array of marine life, including 10 percent of the world's dugongs, over 6000 sea turtles, and wild Monkey Mia dolphins. Even before the wildlife encounters commence, the gin-clear lagoons and opalescent seas captivate visitors, washing over cockle shell-strewn beaches and carving shell middens against crimson dunes. The remoteness of the area, though challenging, is precisely the allure that draws adventurers seeking proximity to Shark Bay's marine life. Denham, a coastal town 830 kilometers from Perth, serves as the gateway to this captivating realm. Surrounding the town lies a beach composed entirely of seashells, a rare ancient stromatolite garden, and Dirk Hartog Island, which holds historical significance for Australia's exploration. Shark Bay caters to both outdoor enthusiasts and those seeking relaxation. It offers diverse experiences from boat exploration to kayaking, hiking, and underwater discovery. For those favoring relaxation, the area tempts with artesian hot tub soaks, sunsets over the Indian Ocean, cultural immersion, and dolphin interactions. Venturing out on sea kayaks, adventurers encounter shovel-nosed rays and blacktip reef sharks as they paddle through crystalline waters. The kayaks carry provisions for days of exploration, allowing the duo to skirt the shores of Francois Peron National Park and revel in encounters with marine life, including green sea turtles and bottlenose dolphins. Monkey Mia stands out as a hub for dolphin interaction. While named after them, the site is more famous for its dolphins. A fisherman's generosity in the 1960s spurred a daily ritual, and a small pod of wild females now create enchanting encounters, overseen by national parks staff. The scenes are controlled, yet captivating, with young dolphins joining the spectacle. Beyond Monkey Mia, the coastal wilderness offers remarkable sights. A pod of female bottlenose dolphins near Cape Peron showcases a unique hunting technique – herding sea mullet onto the sandbanks and hydroplaning in shallow waters to secure their prey. This spectacle, rarely captured on film, reveals the dolphins' ingenuity. Before reaching Cape Peron, the journey takes a detour to Gregories Beach, offering snorkeling and the opportunity to observe coral-fringed walls. Climbing the rust-red dunes leads to discoveries of pearling relics and Indigenous shell middens that echo with history. Efforts to restore the ecosystem within Francois Peron National Park face challenges, but success stories on Faure Island hint at possible solutions. The Wanamalu Trail traces a knife-edge of sandstone cliffs, providing stunning views and insights into the region's history. Shark Bay's wonders continue with Shell Beach's white cockle shells, the Edel Peninsula's rugged beauty, and the historic Zuytdorp Cliffs. The journey concludes with a soothing soak in mineral-rich waters that provide the perfect end to a Shark Bay adventure. This remote and diverse paradise, brimming with marine life and natural wonders, offers a unique opportunity to connect deeply with Australia's wild beauty.