Whalebone Beach is located about 20km south of Denham in the Shark Bay region of Western Australia. Located between Shell beach and Eagle Bluff it is often overlooked but in my opinion it is one of the greatest wilderness treasures I’ve ever encountered.
Shark Bay has a semi-arid climate which means its has hot, dry summers (December- February) and pretty mild winters (june-august). The average yearly temperature is 26.5º C. When we visited in October (spring time) the weather was warm (about 28c) and we were able to wear shorts and tshirts during the day and a thin jumper at night. The winds between October and January can pick up quite a speed however down in the sheltered bays, you are frequently protected.
World heritage area
In 1991 Shark Bay became a world heritage area, inscribed for its natural values. The area covers 2.2 million hectares of the coast and hinterland and provides refuge for numerous rare and threatened flora and fauna. Shark Bay’s sheltered coves provide a haven for humpback whales and green turtles. The world’s largest dugong population also lives in the waters and it is one of Australia’s most important nesting areas for the loggerhead turtle which you can see from the cliff tops of Whalebone.
Whalebone Beach has a shallow bay with a shell-sand beach surrounded by the porous cliffs of tamala limestone. The limestone was formed about 125,000 years ago from shells and marine skeletons.
The area is home to a diverse range of plants that are found no where else in the world. They include an orcid and a plant called Beards Mallee. Sadly I didn’t see these two plants but the cove area is covered in lots of different flowers and bushes.
Even when the winds on top of the cliff pick up, the cove is sheltered and protects against them.
When we visited (October 2012) the waters were warm and the winds slight. The shallow bay is perfect for swimmers, snorkeling and canoeists alike. You do share the water with small sharks however they tend to bask in the sands away from people. It is critical to remember that we, as humans, are entering their habitat. So long as you pay a mindful respect to them and are aware of their existence, they don’t want to come near you!
The water remains shallow for a good 50m before suddenly dropping to a depth of about 2m. It was perfect for our kids, who at that time were small and liked to paddle.
All of the children spent a number of hours exploring the rocks and the beach; finding shells, jumping over the rocks, spotting rays. Because the beach is often overlooked and not that busy in October, we had the entire cove to ourselves.
Whilst you have to remember that your child can drown in a puddle, we found the waters safe enough to leave them alone at the shore’s edge whilst we snorkeled. Teaching our children to swim has been one of our best achievements and they’ve been water borne since they were born.
The cliff tops
On the cliffs you’ll encounter lizards and birds of prey and you have an amazing view of the water and turtles coming up for air, rays fishing in the warm waters and small reef sharks basking in the sun.
The definition of wilderness is a natural environment on Earth that has not been significantly modified by civilized human activity. I think this fits that description perfectly!