I visited the beautifully remote Francois Peron National Park while on a road trip up the coast of Western Australia. Driving a car from Perth to Monkey Mia and Shark Bay and back is still one of the better road trips I’ve ever done. The national park is located approximately 725 kilometers north of Perth and, allowing for some stops on the way, it took me two full days to get there. The park lies at the very tip of Peron Peninsula and is part of the world-famous Shark Bay World Heritage Area.
It is an arid place consisting of shrublands, red sand dunes and vast sand plains. The coastline is absolutely stunning and the waters of the Indian Ocean crystal clear, shallow and teeming with life. Where the sand plains meet the ocean there are several blue lagoons. Come spring, the entire area is covered in a spectacular carpet of blooming wildflowers. Animal life in Francois Peron National Park is abundant and includes high-profile species such as kangaroos, sea turtles, snakes, dolphins, dugongs, sharks, manta rays and whales.
What to Do in Francois Peron National Park
I explored the park by car, sea kayak and plane, which was fabulous. I heard about the possibility to book scenic flights over the area in a B&B I stayed at and I was determined to check that out. The plane ride didn’t last longer than thirty minutes, but was unforgettable, one of the best spontaneous things I’ve ever done on my travels. It was fairly expensive, but I don’t regret it for a second.
Francois Peron National Park and its sand plains is a paradise for four-wheel drivers. There are several off-road tracks throughout the park, leading to remote and scenic beaches and campgrounds. It is, however, important to be prepared when going off-road driving, as the sands are soft and vehicles can get stuck. Experience is required. Some companies in Denham also offer guided 4WD tours.
Campsites in the park are generally very basic. They all have access to the ocean, though, and offer great fishing opportunities. Pets aren’t allowed and campervans are obliged to take their trash home, which in my opinion is only logical. Swimming is allowed at all campgrounds. Besides fishing and swimming, boating is a hugely popular activity as well. The calm and sheltered bays can be explored by sea kayak or canoe, a great way to get closer to wildlife.
For history, you can visit Peron Homestead, a former sheep station. It’s open to the public and offers a look into the life on a station in the Western Australian Outback. A walking trail with information boards runs past the stock yard and sheering shed.
The main natural features of Francois Peron National Park are stunning Big Lagoon, Cape Peron, Bottle Bay, Gregories and Bottle Bay, among several others. Monkey Mia and Shark Bay lie only a short drive north.
I loved seeing this beautiful area and exploring it by various means of transport. I had never sea kayaked before, nor had I been on a scenic flights in a small Cessna plane. It was fantastic.
One tip: if you’re ever in the region, rent a car and start driving around. There’s no other way to see (Western) Australia than on four wheels.