What to see at Eagle Bluff, Shark Bay, Western Australia

Last Updated on April 15, 2019 by Red Nomad OZ

Eagle Bluff, via Denham, Shark Bay, Western Australia
Eagle Bluff, via Denham, Shark Bay, Western Australia

‘Shark! Everyone out of the water!!’ he yelled, and I involuntarily jumped back from the guardrail high above Eagle Bluff, my movement triggered by that most primeval of Australian fears: Shark Attack!!

Shark below Eagle Bluff, Shark Bay
Shark below Eagle Bluff, Shark Bay

The amphitheatre of crumbling white rock plunging down into the green shallows of the bay below from the tourist brochure HAD to be trick photography, I’d thought upon seeing a photo of Eagle Bluff in Shark Bay. The sea around Denham, closest town 20km up the road from the bluff, was blue. And the distant dunes and cliffs were red!

But the view from the boardwalk was exactly like the pictures – except for the shark, cruising lazily across the glinting green waters of the gigantic lagoon below the bluff. The young man hadn’t been joking about that – but the chances of losing a limb to THIS shark were negligible. The boardwalk upon which we stood was WAAAAAY too far above sea level for anything but a non-existent wingless shark to negotiate.

Looking up the coast from Eagle Bluff
Looking up the coast from Eagle Bluff

The young traveller who’d sounded the alarm was grinning like an idiot at the consternation he’d created. At least I wasn’t the only one torn between two bluffs, looking like a fool.

Although I’m not so much of a fool as to take the snorkelling tour into those shark-infested waters …

It doesn’t require a great leap of imagination to figure out why the Shark Bay World Heritage area is known as Shark Bay!

Although the heritage listed graffiti carved on a rock that announced the 1858 arrival of Captain Henry M Denham, namesake for Shark Bay’s largest town, is no longer above Eagle Bluff. Threatened by erosion, it’s part of Pioneer Park in the Denham township.

The view goes further than the shallow green waters below the bluff. Past the line where the green gives way to the darker blue and deeper ocean, birds nest on the offshore Eagle Islands, once mined for guano. Also visible on a clear day are the mountains of salt awaiting export from Useless Loop, its name derived from Havre Inutile (Useless Harbour), the original name bestowed by French explorer de Freycinet.

Salt stockpile at Useless Loop - and beyond to Steep Point!  Shark Bay, Western Australia
Salt stockpile at Useless Loop – and beyond to Steep Point!  Shark Bay, Western Australia

Beyond Useless Loop, it’d be a lie to say I could see Steep Point – westernmost edge of mainland Australia – through the heat and salt haze. But it’s out there somewhere! And this is as close as I got – this time, anyway!

From the boardwalk running the length of Eagle Bluff, sea creatures like dugongs, rays, turtles and sharks are clearly visible in the waters far below, should they deign to appear. And appear they all did on two separate visits – although we actually spent more time observing the deeply fascinating human behaviours of visitors to this startlingly scenic spot.

Alone at last!  Viewing Eagle Bluff and Boardwalk, via Denham, Shark Bay, Western Australia
Alone at last!  Viewing Eagle Bluff and Boardwalk, via Denham, Shark Bay, Western Australia

Perhaps keeping up with social media IS more important than taking in the astonishing coastal panorama and nearly endless parade of wildlife swimming below. But if that’s the case, why bother coming?

And I didn’t think my Australian accent was so incomprehensible that ‘dugong’ could be mistaken for ‘shark’! But somewhere back in England, a young tourist is probably right now showing off his ‘shark’ photos, his audience none the wiser about the true identity of the dugong shaped blob in the water …

We’ll never understand why we were the only ones to take the rough, but clearly marked track from the car park to a vantage point with magnificent views up and down the coastline. Or why reading interpretive signs has become a lost art. And is getting a photo really worth stepping off the boardwalk onto the eroded and crumbling cliff edge, risking a plunge to the green, shark-laden depths below?

The other side of Eagle Bluff, Shark Bay, Western Australia
The other side of Eagle Bluff, Shark Bay, Western Australia

I see a stint as the tour guide from hell in my future … and although the Shark Attack Alert bluff at Eagle Bluff threw me for a (Useless) Loop, that won’t stop me from paying it forward next time I’m in Denham!!

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  1. It just reminds me of how very remote we are in this part of the world. Those long stretches of deserted beaches – oh and the names, they get me all the time! Useless Loop! Love it 🙂 Fabulous pics.

    1. Useless Loop is my all-time favourite Aussie Place name, Jo! I can think of countless people I’d like to send there too, haha!! But seriously, it’s a magnificent stretch of coastline and what’s NOT to love about a place called ‘Shark Bay’?!?!

  2. @mick – Well … stick around! There’s lots more comments about the foibles of human nature to come!
    @East of SGV DP – We’re SO lucky downunder!
    @Joyful – Thanx!
    @Molly – I never thought of it as the meeting of two worlds! Well put!!
    @Sallie – Correct! And THIS boardwalk was WAAAAY above the sea, anyway!! Come on down anytime …
    @Iris – Dolphins are plentiful in the area,especially over the peninsula at Monkey Mia! If you visit again, you won’t need MY blog – you’ll be able to do one for yourself!
    @Aleah – The water looks VERY inviting!! So clear, and such an amazing shade of green … but I’d always ask the locals first. When it looks too good to be true, it probably is!
    @Jenny – I’m so jealous!! Steep Pt is on the list for next time … and Useless Loop is now closed to the public, I believe!! So its name is even more accurate than ever!!!

  3. @Carraol – Thank you!
    @Kath – Only if people didn’t mind my being rude to them … I wondered myself about the dugong/shark thing – maybe it sounds the same if you say it REALLY quickly?? Or maybe he just thought ANYTHING in the Oceans of OZ would be a shark??!!
    @PDP – Everything living has good years and bad years – it’s just a tragedy when our worlds intersect with those of our predators, I guess! It’d be hard to take a bad shot of the Denham coastline …
    @LONDONLULU – Thank you! And I could think of worse ways to go, but not many!
    @Mama Zen – Thanx for dropping by!
    @SFlaGuy – I think factors like a) lack of fresh water; b) harsh climate and c) distance from major towns/cities might have more to do with the unspoiled coastline than sensibility about development!

  4. It’s such a beautiful part of the country. We spent a week camping at Steep Point many years ago. It was heaven. For a bit of fun we headed into into Useless Loop but the name was the most exciting part of the trip!!

  5. Denham… I´m quite sure I saw a Dolphin there???
    Anyhows… would´ve been great to have had your blog before we went there! Great infos! And pics 🙂
    I´d so want to go on a plane, get my car back (Nissan Patrol LWB) and head off again in your beautiful country!
    Instead… gah. Nasty weather in Germany.

  6. We were standing on a high boardwalk looking down at birds and stuff when we saw a lazy alligator swimming parallel to the walk (6 feet or more below and not paying any attention to the walk above )…one mother screamed and grabbed her little kid and ran back to her car. Yikes! Probably traumatized the kid for life. (I wouldn’t swim with alligators — or sharks — but that’s why the boardwalks are there, to keep us safe, right?)

    The area that you show here is beautiful…I’d love to see it.

  7. All that beautiful beach and not a single hotel or beach umbrella. What a wonderful place you live in where your nature is still so natural.

  8. The sharks are no joke around Perth these days, not sure what’s going on but we’ve had more shark attacks and alarms this last year than I can ever remember! Your shots of the Denham coastline are fabulous Red.

  9. @diane b – Well … you WERE on a tour, right? I couldn’t believe it actually looked like the pix!
    @TMWH – Just goes to show there’s a lot of CUBs out there (OZ acronym for ‘Cashed-Up Bogans)!!!
    @Windsmoke – Thank you! It is indeed both of those things!!
    @Are We There Yet – I thought my camera was defective when I first took photos – all the colours seemed WAY too bright and clear! But it really DOES look like that!
    @eileeninmd – I think it’d only be dangerous to swim with them! The boardwalk is at least 50m (~50 yards) above the water!! Hope you’ve recovered from Sandy!!

  10. @Dusty Soles – Haha, but there was no actual danger, except to my ego!!
    @River – It’s my pleasure to continue to do the hard yards – just for you!!!
    @Dina – Stick around! There’s a lot more wild OZ to come!!
    @Filip – It’s a LONG way down to the water from the boardwalk – but the water is so clear it’s easy to spot!
    @Carole – Ho hum, another day, another spectacular landscape!!!
    @Andrew – I’ve clearly exaggerated the ‘danger’ – we were SO far above the water (like at least 50m) my only danger would have been if I’d made like a REAL idiot, stepped over the barrier and fallen down the bluff into the sea!
    @Avignon – Thank you so much! Maybe one day … in the meantime, you can enjoy my virtual travels!
    @Kate – Of COURSE you should! OZ/NZ are ready and waiting for you!!

  11. To my delight you added a good deal of history to this post. I’ve been to so many places on the globe but never NZ or Australia. Perhaps I should remedy that?

  12. What a beautiful place and yet it is dangerous with the sharks around? Love the gorgeous views and the water is a pretty color. Wonderful photos and post!

  13. It has been my experience that tourists tend to leave their brains at home, possibly so they have more room for packing. How else to explain their lack of attention to those gorgeous vistas?

  14. ‘but the chances of losing a limb to THIS shark were negligible’. Are you absolutely sure? You don’t get a second chance you know.

  15. What a beautiful area!
    This is such a great country.
    I’m glad I live in it and I’m REALLY glad you travel and take photos for us to see.

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