We decided to stop at Nanga Bay Station Resort as it was a perfect base for us to visit Shell Beach that is a part of the Shark Bay World Heritage area.
How do you get to Shell Beach?
Shell Beach is located in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area in Western Australia. It can be reached by car via the Shark Bay Road, which runs off the North West Coastal Highway between Carnarvon and Overlander Roadhouse. From the road, there is a turnoff to the beach and a car park for visitors.
Nanga Bay Station
Nanga Bay Station is a remote cattle station located on the coast of Western Australia. Despite its picturesque location, the station has a somewhat forlorn atmosphere. Its heyday was likely in the 1960s, but since then, it got a sense of emptiness and transience permeating the air.
Despite this, Nanga Bay Station still offers a unique and authentic glimpse into the rugged and independent spirit of rural Australia. The vast, open landscape and turquoise coastline provide a stark contrast to the urban centres of the country, offering a chance to connect with nature and experience the Australian wilderness.
We had a stunning camping spot with a beautiful view of the ocean. However, the location also exposed us to strong gusts of cold wind. As soon as the sun disappeared behind the clouds, the temperature plummeted and we had to bundle up to stay warm.
In the evening, Marius went fishing and managed to hook a massive stingray that resembled a shark. He had to cut the line as there was no way to unhook it. Ironically, we ended up having canned tuna sandwiches for dinner as luck was not on our side.
Feral Proof Fence
Shell Beach is a unique and stunning attraction located in the Shark Bay area of Western Australia. It is one of only a few beaches in the world made entirely of shells. The beach extends for about 110 kilometers and is composed of millions of tiny white cockle shells that are up to 10 meters deep.
This natural wonder is not only beautiful but also holds scientific value as it provides evidence of the geological changes that have occurred in the region over the last several thousand years.
As we headed towards the Francois Peron Peninsula, we came across a fence that demarcated it from the rest of the mainland. We slowed down, and we could hear the sound of barking dogs. It turns out that the noise was pre-recorded and triggered by motion, meant to deter cats and foxes from infiltrating the protected zones.
The Peron Peninsula is home to several areas dedicated to the conservation and regeneration of endangered species, which makes this precaution necessary.
Shell Beach – where you walk on shells
After we passed the ‘barking fence’, we made our way to Shell Beach. It was absolutely stunning! The entire beach was covered in tiny white shells called Fragum Erugatum, which made it look like the sand had been replaced. It was such a unique sight and we couldn’t resist taking a bunch of photos.
These humble cockles, known for their ability to thrive in the harsh saltwater environment of Shark Bay, have created a unique spectacle on the beach. As the tides recede, the sound of waves and wind tosses thousands of shells ashore, forming a breathtaking vista of accumulated shells that dates back an astonishing 4,000 years. The clusters of these tenacious creatures are so massive that they create entire mounds, rising to an impressive depth of around 5 meters, a true testament to the resilience of nature.
Rainwater erodes the lime from the shells, which then cement together to form a hard and durable rock over time. This rock was once mined for construction purposes, and many buildings in Denham were constructed using this material. However, mining of this rock ceased in 1991 when Shark Bay was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, highlighting the need to preserve this unique natural wonder for future generations.
Water in the bay looks great but swimming is not recommended as the water is extremely salty and can be harmful to human health. Additionally, the beach is known for its sharp and numerous shells, which can be hazardous to walk on or swim around.
And lets not forget about potential hungry sharks… just saying.
Nanga was once a thriving sheep station. However, over time, the focus has shifted to tourism, and Nanga Bay is now a popular holiday destination for those seeking a peaceful and remote retreat.
Fishing enthusiasts come from far and wide to try their luck in the abundant waters, with a variety of fish species including whiting, snapper, and squid. Visitors can also enjoy the breathtaking natural scenery, with pristine beaches and uneven coastline providing the perfect backdrop for a relaxing getaway.
Despite its transformation into a holiday destination, Nanga Bay Station has managed to maintain its rustic charm, with many of the original buildings and structures still standing, providing a glimpse into the area’s rich history.
Goulet Bluff and Eagle Bluff
Later on, we drove along the coast towards the town to see Goulet Bluff and Eagle Bluff. These two lookouts offered breathtaking views of Henri Freycinet Harbour. Walking along the boardwalk, we were able to appreciate the beauty of the white, high cliffs, which appeared even more magnificent up close.
As we drove further, we came across some salt flats that appeared to be a great spot for a 4WD adventure, but that assumption was far from the truth.
The surface layer was dry and seemed stable, but beneath it lay a treacherous mixture of salt and sand that could easily immobilize a vehicle within seconds.
As we made our way to the caravan park, we were welcomed by bluetongue lizards. Nell affectionately called them ‘strappy’ due to their strikingly beautiful pattern. Bluetongue lizards are often found in the Australian outback.
The next day we are leaving Nanga Bay Station Resort to visit Kalbarri National Park – the best red cliffs in Australia.
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4WD Equipment Checklist
Tire Repair Kit – to fix the tire by yourself when you don’t have access to the tire shop (we use Oztrail)
UHF Radio – for communication with your mates and in emergency
Full Recovery Kit (with Dampener Blanket) – must-have if you are going on real off-road
High Lift Jack – useful if you do serious 4WD tracks
Shovel – useful if you get bogged, also good for campfire cooking
Fuel funnel with water filter – additional protection when fueling up in dodgy places