Shark Bay's History

European Settlement of Shark Bay

Shark Bay was first settled by Europeans in the 1850s and became an important centre for pioneer industries during Western Australia’s colonial days. Activities such as guano mining, pearling and pastoralism meant Shark Bay played a significant role in the social and economic development of the remote regions of the State. These activities also helped shape the cultural history of Shark Bay.

  • Guano icon

    Guano was the region’s first industry, mined on the islands around Shark Bay. What’s guano? Find out here!

  • Pearling icon

    Pearling developed alongside guano mining, and numerous pearling camps were established around the coast. Learn more about the ‘pearl rush’ here.

  • Pastoralism icon

    The first sheep were grazed in Shark Bay in the 1860s. Find out how they fared in the arid conditions.

  • Sandalwood icon

    Sandalwood was first exported from the region in 1890 and was still being cut 100 years later! Discover how it was harvested here.

  • Fishing icon

    Fishing has been Shark Bay’s economic mainstay since the early twentieth century. Catch some more information here.

  • Hamelin Pool Telegraph Station icon

    The Hamelin Pool Telegraph Station provided the first telecommunications in Shark Bay. Get in touch with the outside world here.

In more recent times tourism has emerged as a major enterprise – and one completely dependent on Shark Bay’s unique natural values. The tourism industry is increasingly managed from a conservation perspective, ensuring visitors to the Shark Bay World Heritage Area continue to have a world-class experience. Learn more about tourism, conservation and the future of Shark Bay here.

You can discover more about Shark Bay’s cultural heritage at the Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery Centre in Denham.