Francois Peron National Park, on the West Coast of Australia, is one of the detours that I will never forget. We came across that brown sign saying ‘Francois Peron N.P., 2 km’ many times. We headed north a few times to visit the more popular bay of Monkey Mia, well-known for the wild dolphins swimming every morning in its shallow water, and the stunning Shell Beach, covered by billions of tiny white shells stretching for over 60 km. It wasn’t until our last road trip in the West Coast that we decided to visit the remote Francois Peron N.P.
Francois Peron National Park: a desert on the edge of the sea
We had plenty of time and a huge Land Rover Discovery named Dirty Diana as our travel companion. The big four-wheel drive was the first car we bought together (a big step huh!) and the best choice ever, as we were planning to drive all the way up to Darwin, Northern Territory. Along the 4.200 km coastal road, many of the natural wonders are only accessible with a 4×4. Above all, the Francois Peron Peninsula.
4×4 Adventure in the Francois Peron National Park:
Preparing for wilderness
After arriving at the start of the red sanded road we had to stop by the tyre pressure station to lower the pressure of Dirty Diana’s tyres. In front of us was a 40 km long sandy track, leading us into the untouched Peron Peninsula – in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area.
Following the main track, we arrived at Cape Peron, where sunburned red dunes meet contrasting white sand that dips into crystal blue waters famous for the abundance of wildlife, like sea turtles, sharks, dolphins, whales and manta rays. We never saw so many colours together. The feeling that this scenery gave us, it’s hard to describe.
Spotting dolphins at sunset in Bottle Bay
(dolphin in the top left picture)
We decided to set up camp by the beach in Bottle Bay. We soon realised we were the only ones there. An entire National Park all for us! While setting up the tent we were approached by a small group of dolphins trying to get our attention, it was magical. The sun was setting on the bay and the only noise we could hear was the breeze of the Indian Ocean. We realised we were guests in this wild arid land.
Discover Francois Peron’s Big Lagoon
Sunset left the place to a sky amazingly full of stars. Too beautiful to go to sleep (and such a perfect occasion to practice night shots with my, at that time new, Nikon camera). The morning after we decided to visit the Big Lagoon – one of the main features of Francois Peron National Park together with Cape Peron, Gregories and Bottle Bay. Canoes, kayaks and paddle boards are the best way to visit this amazing fish nursery. Pity we didn’t have one!
How to visit Francois Peron National Park
Visiting Francois Peron National Park requires a four-wheel drive, but driving on soft sand requires experience, vehicles can get stuck. If you don’t have a 4×4 you can book day tours with guides as well as scenic flights. Campsites inside the park are very basic but they provide toilets and gas BBQs. The peninsula is a good spot for fishing, but not everywhere is allowed. Swimming at the Cape can be dangerous as there are strong currents, be careful.
Monkey Mia Rd | Shark Bay
Park entry fee: $12.00 per car per day
Park camping fee: $7.50 per adult per night
Our 2 days itinerary in the heart of the Francois Peron National Park, Australia