The Dirk Hartog Voyage of Discovery: Shark Bay 1616

2016 marks 400 years since Dutch explorer Dirk Hartog left the Netherlands on his epic journey during which he famously stumbled on the island, now known as Dirk Hartog Island, off the coast of Shark Bay in Western Australia on 25 October 1616.

Long before Captain James Cook landed on the east coast of Australia in 1770, Hartog had left a pewter plate as a mark of his discovery in Western Australia. Hartog’s journey would see him play a major part in the world’s cartography as the first recorded European to leave evidence of contact with Australian soil. As a by-product of spice and commodity trade in the Indonesian islands lying above Australia, a chief cartographer was put in place by Dutch East Indian Trading to have a secret atlas of maps which included Australia or “New Holland” as it was known for 150 years. Although Australia wasn’t seen as a trading opportunity, the Dutch mapped two-thirds of the mysterious continent known as “Terra Australis Incognita”, later renamed Australia by the British.

Today the area is known as the Shark Bay World Heritage Area – a wonderland of world-class natural marine and land-based attractions married with a rich indigenous culture. Land forms include the 100km Shell Beach, the extraordinary Stromatolites (found only in three places globally) and the Zuytdorp Cliffs stretching from Kalbarri to Shark Bay. Marine encounters include the Monkey Mia dolphins, the second largest population of dugongs in the world, migrating humpback whale, rare loggerhead turtles and the occasional whale shark.

Dirk Hartog Island is Western Australia’s largest island and offers a peaceful retreat of beautiful scenery, ideal for four-wheel driving with its white sandy beaches perfect for snorkelling or fishing. The Island has significant biodiversity conservation values with more than 250 native plant species, 81 species of birds and 27 species of reptiles, many of which were on the brink of extinction. It is also a major nesting area for loggerhead turtles with about 400 breeding annually with hatchlings expected in March.

To celebrate the 400 year anniversary of the landing on the island, a four-day festival – the Dirk Hartog Voyage of Discovery: Shark Bay 1616, will held in Shark Bay from Friday October 21 to Tuesday October 25, 2016. The 1606 replica Dutch ship, the Duyfken, will depart Western Australia’s Fremantle Harbour on August 28, 2016 and visit the Coral Coast towns of Jurien Bay, Dongara and Geraldton along the way to Denham, and will be available for public tours at each port of call. Additionally, history and sailing enthusiasts can cruise to the festivities on board the tall-ship Leeuwin II departing Fremantle on Friday 14 October, arriving in Shark Bay Friday October 21, 2016.

Dirk Hartog Island homestead accommodation

For more information on the event series, travel planning or history of Dirk Hartog Island, visit Australia’s Coral Coast

Copyright: Chris Woods photography & Dirk Hartog Island homestead

Kimberley Tourism

The Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson AM MP and the Minister for Environment Protection, Peter Garrett AM MP, today (13 April 2010) announced the Kimberley region will be included in Tourism Australia’s National Landscapes Program and will feature prominently within Australia’s future international tourism marketing.

Broome WAThe Kimberley is Western Australia’s first region in the National Landscapes Program which highlights iconic destinations across Australia.

Landscapes are nominated by local communities, in this case the Kimberley National Landscapes Steering Committee.

With the support of Tourism Australia and Parks Australia, the Steering Committee will now bring together tourism industry and government stakeholders to identify commercial opportunities, environmental management priorities, infrastructure gaps and marketing plans.

Broome Camel Rides WANearly two thirds of international visitors identify an Australian nature experience as a highlight of their visit.

The National Landscapes Program aims to promote Australian landscapes which will be major drawcards for international visitors because of their natural and cultural values.

It also aims to help regional tourism operators develop quality tourism products and services that capitalise on these values, celebrating the environmental significance and importance of the unique landscapes that are part of the program.

Broome Sunset WAMinister Ferguson said: “The Kimberley’s rich Indigenous history and culture, pearling and mining history, ancient gorges, spectacular waterfalls, rugged wilderness and remote beaches make it an obvious choice for the National Landscapes Program.

“It is a vast wilderness area more than twice the size of my home State, Victoria.

“The National Landscapes Program offers great opportunities for Indigenous training, employment and business development in both tourism and conservation.

“Tourism is a major source of employment across the Kimberley with more than 1500 tourism organisations providing jobs for rangers, pilots, cruise ship crews, chefs and many other trades and professions.

Minister Garrett said: “The Kimberley is a stunning part of Australia, internationally renowned for its vibrant Indigenous culture and unique environment and of course, the world famous Cable Beach.

The Kimberley Tanami Track WA“The inclusion of the Kimberley in the National Landscapes Program recognises the extraordinary environmental importance of the Kimberley, from the beauty and incredible diversity of the marine environment to the ecological diversity of this huge north-western landscape.

“The Kimberley region now joins destinations such as Australia’s Red Centre, Kakadu and the Australian Alps as part of a program which sees tourism and conservation working in partnership to promote some of the extraordinary natural landscapes that make our country both so unique and such an international tourism drawcard.”

The Kimberley Western AustraliaThe Ministers made the announcement on a visit to Broome before travelling to Kununurra for the first Kimberley Land Council Ranger Forum, celebrating the important role Indigenous Rangers play in the management and environmental protection of the region.

Through the Government’s Working on Country Program, supported by the Kimberley Land Council, 65 Indigenous Ranger positions at eight communities across the Kimberley, including the Miriuwung Gajerrong Rangers in Kununurra, have been supported, creating employment opportunities for Indigenous people working on country and protecting the unique natural values of the region.

The Kimberley Fitzroy CrossingThe Ministers congratulated Parks Australia, Tourism Australia, the Kimberley National Landscapes Steering Committee (chaired by Marilynne Paspaley AM), tourism operators and conservation groups for all the hard work they have put in to get the Kimberley ready for inclusion in the Program.

Tourism is a $40 billion industry employing nearly 500,000 Australians and contributing nearly 4 per cent to annual GDP. In Western Australia, tourism directly employs more than 45,000 people and contributes $3 billion to the Western Australian economy each year.

Photos Credit: Tourism Australia

Great Southern Rail

The mighty Indian Pacific celebrates its 40th Anniversary in February 2010. A train acclaimed not only as an Australian icon but as one of the worlds greatest train journeys.

Great Southern RailHistory was made when the Indian Pacific departed Sydney Central Station on the first direct rail journey across the continent, forty years ago. Tens of thousands of people lined the track to witness what was said to be a symbol of nationhood; the first solid connection between the cities of the east and the isolated west coast.

More than 55,000 people now experience the vastness and beauty of the Australian outback on board the Indian Pacific each year. The train has earned its place as one of Australia’s most precious tourism entities.

“The Indian Pacific is so much more than a mode of transport,” said Commercial Director of Great Southern Rail, Russell Westmoreland. “It is a journey of a lifetime as guests experience some of the country’s most breathtaking scenery, make new friends and enjoy fine dining in the comfort of an iconic train,” he said.

Great Southern RailThe Indian Pacific provides a rare window into the outback of Australia.

From the stunning Blue Mountains with lush tree canopies and spectacular valley views the train winds through the Great Dividing Range, the salt lakes and sand dunes of South Australia and over the longest straight stretch of rail track in the world as it crosses the Nullarbor Plain.

“Australia is the only continent in the world that can be crossed coast-to-coast by train. The wedge-tailed eagle is the symbol of the Indian Pacific – its massive two metre wingspan symbolises the epic journey of an adventure that spans a continent,” said Russell.

Great Southern railThere is no better time to travel on the Indian Pacific than during its historic 40th year. To celebrate the occasion, Great Southern Rail has a special package available for travel before 31 August.

Guests booking a journey on the Indian Pacific in Red Sleeper Service, with two nights accommodation and one day of touring, will be entitled to a free upgrade to Gold Service. To avoid missing out on this fantastic offer, contact Great Southern Rail on 13 21 47 or

The Indian Pacific departs from both Sydney and Perth twice a week during the high season. During low season the journey is limited to one return service each week.

Australian Convict Sites

There are 11 convict sites (known as the Australian Convict Sites) that make up Australia’s World Heritage. The sites are:

  • New South Wales: Old Government House and Domain (Parramatta), Hyde Park Barracks (Sydney), Cockatoo Island Convict Site (Sydney) and Old Great North Road (near Wiseman’s Ferry).
  • Norfolk Island: Kingston and Arthur’s Vale Historic Area (KAVHA).
  • Tasmania: Port Arthur Historic Site (Tasman Peninsula), Cascades Female Factory (Hobart), Darlington Probation Station (Maria Island), Coal Mines Historic Site (via Premadeyna) and Brickendon-Woolmers Estates (near Longford).
  • Western Australia: Fremantle Prison.

The Australian Convict Sites were listed under criteria (iv) and (vi) under the UNESCO Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention  for its outstanding global significance.

In July 2010 the World Heritage Convention’s announced that Kingston and Arthurs Vale on Norfolk Island and the other 10 Australian convict sites to be listed on the World Heritage List.

Contact Heritage Tourism for KAVHA tour details

The Ningaloo Coast has been nominated for World Heritage listing

The Ningaloo Coast has been nominated for World Heritage listing by the Australian Government with the support of the Western Australia Government. It has also been included in the National Heritage List,  Australia’s most prestigious heritage recognition.

The announcement that the nomination is being sent to the World Heritage Centre in Paris was made today in Perth by the Australian Government Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, Peter Garrett and WA Environment Minister Donna Faragher.

The nomination, recognising the outstanding biological diversity of the region, is for an area of 708,000ha in midwest Western Australia, and includes Cape Range on Exmouth Peninsula, a coastal strip extending about 260km south to Red Bluff, as well as adjacent dunefields, marine areas, reefs and islands. Mr Garrett said he took great pleasure in both the National Heritage listing of the area and submission of the World Heritage nomination.

“This is a major achievement for both governments and I am very pleased that the Rudd Government is able to deliver on this important commitment,” Mr Garrett said.

“The Ningaloo Coast tells an extraordinary story of biogeography, climate change, the assembling of continents and the opening of oceans, biological richness and environmental conservation.

“The world renowned Ningaloo Reef stretches hundreds of kilometres along the arid coastline. The present day reef mirrors much earlier reefs that are preserved in the ancient limestone terraces of Cape Range, recording evidence of changing sea levels over time.

“The World Heritage nomination reflects that Ningaloo is internationally significant for its role in the protection of an exceptional number of marine and terrestrial species.

“From its spectacular coral reefs to the beautiful sponge gardens of the continental slope, the richness of the area’s biodiversity is awesome in the true sense of the word.”

The Minister said the extraordinary Ningaloo area is home to some of Australia’s most iconic marine megafauna: manta rays, dugongs, marine turtles, whales and dolphins, rays and sharks, along with the magnificent whale shark, the world’s largest fish, which aggregates in higher numbers than anywhere else on Earth.

The nomination document is being sent to the World Heritage Centre in Paris, where it will be assessed over the next 18 months.

Australia currently has 17 World Heritage properties, including the Great Barrier Reef, Sydney Opera House and Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park. In addition to the Ningaloo Coast nomination, the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage nomination of 11 sites around the country, is also under consideration by the World Heritage Centre, with a decision expected later in the year.

Ningaloo becomes the 89th place to be included in the National Heritage List.

Ningaloo Reef photos: Tony Howard and Cathy Zwick, DEWHA
Jan 2010

Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse

The historic Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse which is over 100 years old in  loacted in southern Western Australia. A climb to the top of the lighthouse offers panoramic 360 degree views across Geographe Bay, the Indian Ocean and Cape Naturaliste.

In season, watch migratory whales pass the Cape. The fascinating maritime museum provides stories and pictures of the past; and also offers refreshments and souvenirs. Other features include walk trails of Bunker Bay, whale watch platform, wildflowers (in season) and native birds.

Tours of the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse are available every day of the year, except Christmas day, with tours operating from 9.30am to 4.30pm.