- 11 Breakfasts, 11 Lunches, 11 Dinners
Your Expedition Team may make changes to the itinerary in order to maximize your expedition experience. Below are the key destinations we visit.
THE ABROLHOS ISLANDS
Spend three days in the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, visiting historical sites, birdwatching, diving or snorkeling with the inquisitive Australian sea lions. This archipelago consists of 122 islands, clustered into three main groups. Enriched by the Leeuwin current, the marine environment is home to numerous species including Australian sea lions and bottlenose dolphins, and over 90 species of seabird have been identified. The treacherous reefs around these islands have claimed many wrecks over the centuries, the most famous being the Batavia in 1629 – whose Dutch crew swam ashore only to experience a brutal mutiny.
SHARK BAY REGION
Spend two days exploring the Shark Bay World Heritage Area, the first location in Western Australia to receive UNESCO World Heritage status in 1991. This is a region of colorful landscapes, rare flora and fauna, and home to a staggering 35% of all of Australia’s bird species. On Dirk Hartog Island, visit Dampier’s Landing, where William Dampier came ashore in 1699, making the first scientific collection of Australian plants. Later, snorkel over the coral reef from the beach at Louisa Bay. Cabbage corals dominate this area, but there are also staghorn and massive pocillopora. Spot coral trout, blue-lined emperor, scribbled angelfish and potato cod. The next day, explore Francois Peron National Park, named after the naturalist on explorer Nicholas Baudin’s expeditions. Go ashore by Xplorer to be met by local Indigenous guides and park rangers.
NINGALOO REEF & CAPE RANGE N.P.
The World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef is the turquoise jewel in the crown of the Western Australian coastline. Spanning over 5,000 square kilometers, this is one of the largest fringing reefs in the world. It’s inner and outer reefs create a diverse range of habitats for vibrant corals and more than 500 species of fish including mega marine life such as humpback whales, manta rays, and whale sharks. It is also a coastline with a fascinating heritage, where lonely whalers battled it out against the elements.
Snorkel from the beach and relax at stunning Turquoise Bay, visit Yardie Creek via a 1.2km Nature Walk, or visit Vlamingh Head lighthouse. There will also be free time in Exmouth.
The secluded Muiron Islands are located 10 nautical miles off North West Cape. Well known for an incredible reef, many turtles, and even sightings of manta rays, the islands offer a variety of dive sites. With fantastic bommies and protected reef, snorkelers will appreciate the variety of soft corals and gorgonians as well the incredible fish life. Birdlife is abundant – spot wedge-tail shearwaters, roseate terns, osprey, and black-shouldered kites.
The Montebello Islands are an archipelago of more than 250 limestone islands and islets off the coast of the Pilbara. The islands are considered an Important Bird Area, as they support over 1% of the world populations of fairy and roseate terns, as well as Sooty Oystercatchers. The islands have an ‘explosive’ past as the site of three British atomic weapons tests in the 1950s. Visit the plinth which marks Ground Zero at Trimouille Island, where you will now find a haven for wildlife. Spend a full day exploring this island group, including wildlife spotting opportunities and beautiful beaches to enjoy a swim. You might spot the rare rufous hare-wallaby and lagoon rays in the tidal pools.
The 42 iron-red islands of the Dampier Archipelago stand in bright contrast to the turquoise waters which surround them, offering exceptional natural beauty and significant historic sites, many of which are in National Heritage Listed Areas. The earliest inhabitants, the Yaburara people, left thousands of rock engravings, shell middens and stone arrangements across the islands. Here, search for ancient petroglyphs, swim in the vibrant blue water or paddle out for a leisurely kayak from the remote island beaches. Take some time to enjoy bird and wildlife spotting – bottlenose dolphins are regularly seen in this area, and the archipelago supports the largest hawksbill turtle rookery in the Indo-Pacific region. Birdwatchers will have the opportunity to see several species of migratory waders as well as sea eagles and ospreys. With some luck we may even see the elusive Rothschild’s rock wallaby.