Surfing the Menu: Shark Bay, Carnarvon, Wooramel Station, Exmouth

Daniel Churchill and Hayden Quinn experience the west coast of Australia, stopping off at Carnarvon and Wooramel for a true Australian outback experience, and Shark Bay and Exmouth for some of the country's best coastal adventures. Surfing the Menu: Shark Bay, Carnarvon, Wooramel Station, Exmouth
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Surfing the Menu: Shark Bay, Carnarvon, Wooramel Station, Exmouth

Daniel Churchill and Hayden Quinn experience the west coast of Australia, stopping off at Carnarvon and Wooramel for a true Australian outback experience, and Shark Bay and Exmouth for some of the country's best coastal adventures. 

As part of the new ABC TV cooking series Surfing the Menu - Next Generation, MasterChef alumni Dan Churchill and Hayden Quinn have set off on an adventure to explore what's cooking across the west of Australia. On the ultimate road trip, the boys have travelled from the west to the east coasts, discovering everything from watching humpback whales on the Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia to Sailing around the Whitsundays, Queensland. 

In this part of the series, the boys are travelling the west coast of Australia – Shark Bay, Carnarvon, Wooramel and Exmouth – and have shared with us their favourite experiences from each destination.  

Surfing the Menu - Next Generation Watch Dan Churchill and Hayden Quinn experience the west coast of Australia

Shark Bay 

“We took a trip on a catamaran and learned about the dolphin research facility & program. I usually see dolphins out in the surf or when I am on top of headland on the northern beaches… but seeing them in this environment was pretty wicked.”  – Dan Churchill

“I loved touring the coastal dunes and saltbush. The real highlight was coming across a Thorny Devil lizard which we saw just as the sun was starting to go down and I got to pick it up and hold it in my hand.” – Hayden Quinn

One of only a few sites in the world to meet all four of the natural criteria for World Heritage listing, the enormous 2.2 million hectare Shark Bay World Heritage area is the place to go if you want to see marine life in abundance.

The dolphins of Monkey Mia are one of the most enchanting experiences of the Shark Bay World Heritage Area. If you want to get up close and personal with the dolphins you have a few options:

You can visit the Monkey Mia Reserve where wild dolphins have been visiting the shoreline for over 40 years – everyday between 7.30am and midday, around five adult female dolphins and their calves swim to the beach to be fed. Or you can get out on the sea and watch them play in the water around your boat – plus get the opportunity to see other marine life along the way. For this, we recommend trying a nature cruise. 

Apart from water-based activities there are plenty of other attractions including swimming, four wheel drive trips, Aboriginal cultural tours, fishing charters, and camel rides which can be booked through the Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort or in Denham.

Denham is a good base for visiting all the local attractions including nearby François Peron National Park. At Steep Point you can stand on the most westerly point of Australia, and see the magnificent Zuytdorp Cliffs that stretch for more than 150 kilometres (93 miles) along the coastline. Join a sightseeing cruise or take a scenic flight for a birds-eye view of the whole panorama.

Take cue from Hayden and tour the rugged red sands of the outback of the Francois Peron National Park, where the ocean meets the coast. 


Canarvon and Wooramel Station

“Considering my backyard is the beach, I loved being able to wake up in the bush. It's something I have always wanted to do. Starting the day in a tent ‘glamping’ jumping in the springs to moving onto a hearty outback breakfast. These are all aspects of life that should be experienced.” – Dan Churchill

"This was the real bush! And being able to experience the real aussie country was pretty special. It was the red dirt, the dust, the smell of cattle."– Hayden Quinn

Famous for its banana plantations, Carnarvon on Australia’s Coral Coast is the southern gateway to Ningaloo Reef and provides the ideal base for exploring Mount Augustus and the Kennedy Ranges to the east and coastal stations to the north. For hikers, the Kennedy Range National Park is the ultimate wilderness experience camping beneath the stars beside the stark sandstone cliffs.

While you’re in Carnarvon, don’t miss theCarnarvon blowholes. The powerful ocean swells force water through sea caves and up out of narrow holes in the rocks, creating high pressure jets of water that erupt into the air. Then, travel just one kilometre south and you’ll find a calm coral-filled rock-pool filled with fish and shells that is ideal for snorkelling. 

If you’re a bit of a foodie, follow the new Gascoyne Food Trail and visit some great food locations throughout the region.

Wooramel Station at Wooramel River Retreat is a must-do if you want to get the true Aussie outback esperience. Wooramel Station is a family owned working cattle, sheep and goat station. It backs onto the Shark Bay World Heritage area, and has 60 kilometres (37 miles) of coastline frontage to the Indian Ocean. There are three different types of accommodation you can choose from – campsites, riverside eco-tents and Jackeroo quarters.

One of the highlights at Wooramel River Retreat is the artesian bore baths. Here, water from the Birdrong aquifer travel from a depth 240 metres (787 feet) below the ground to the surface and is piped into free flowing pools for you to sit in and relax. The water is approximately 33 degrees with a high mineral content. A must-do luxury in the middle of the outback. 



“The west coast has 50,000 humpback whales swimming along the coast during the migrating season. Guess what we got to experience out by the Ningaloo Reef? Being on the boat out on the reef and being literally five meters from these amazing creatures was phenomenal. We were fortunate to see a whale breach too."  – Dan Churchill

“Oh I just LOVED Exmouth. It’s an ocean lovers playground. All the things you can love about the ocean is here in Exmouth, the fishing, the surfing, the diving, the seafood, the amazing reefs! I just want to go back.” – Hayden Quinn

Exmouth is one of the highlights along Western Australia’s Coral Coast, and its proximity to Ningaloo Reef makes it a hot spot for divers and snorkelers. Exmouth is one of the beautiful examples of the outback meeting the sea with the rugged gorges of Cape Range National Park giving way to the white beaches, clear blue waters and vibrant coral reefs of the Ningaloo Marine Park.

In the Ningaloo Marine Park you can dive and snorkel with the tropical fish over coral gardens, beaches and swim with the world’s largest fish, the whale sharkNingaloo Whaleshark Swim operates tours from mid-March until mid-September.

Exmouth also offers an amazing opportunity to watch the migrating humpback whales between June and November. To see the whales, you can join a whale watching tour or even sea kayak from Exmouth to spot the migrating whales.

If you want to spend some time exploring what is on land, we recommend spending time exploring the craggy, weather-beaten landscapes of Cape Range National Park. Hire a four wheel drive and drive along a twisting road to the precipice of Shothole and Charles Knife canyons, where the views are breathtaking. From Charles Knife canyon, you can see beyond the deep red canyons to green bushland and the deep blue sea of the Exmouth Gulf. If you’re keen to get some walking in, do the 5 kilometre (3 mile) hike between the two canyons and explore the hidden network of caves and tunnels beneath the rocky plateaus.

A great land-based wildlife experience is to watch the turtles hatching on a night tour in Cape Range National Park

Turtle nesting season is from November to April when the green turtles, loggerhead turtles and hawksbill turtles nest on mainland beaches. Turtle hatching season is from late January to March and suring this time, the hatchlings will make their journey to the beach. 


Take a look at what else you can do on Australia's Coral Coast. 

Indian Ocean Drive

Indian Ocean Drive

Discover white beaches, coral reefs, salty fishing towns and rugged national parks on this spectacular journey along Western Australia’s Coral Coast. Head north to taste fresh crayfish in Geraldton and mouth-watering tropical fruits in Carnarvon. Swim with the huge whale shark on Ningaloo Reef and four wheel drive through the canyons of nearby Cape Range National Park. On your way back down the coast, meet the dolphins of Monkey Mia, along with whales, manta rays, turtles, sharks, dugongs and fish in the wider Shark Bay World Heritage Area. See seasonal wildflowers break out their brightest colours all along the coast, from Cape Range to the cliffs and gorges of Kalbarri National Park.

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Cape Range National Park

Cape Range National Park

Around 1100 kilometres north of Perth, Western Australia’s Cape Range National Park is a landscape of rugged limestone ridges, deep rocky canyons, pristine beaches and one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. The nearest town is Exmouth, gateway to the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef Marine Park. Cape Range National Park’s traditional custodians are the Baiyunga and Jinigudira people.

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Monkey Mia

Monkey Mia

With blue skies and sunshine almost every day of the year, Monkey Mia, approximately 850 kilometres north of Perth, is ideal for a leisurely getaway or exciting outback adventure.

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Western Australia

Western Australia

Explore Western Australia from beach-blessed Perth. Visit Rottnest Island and Freemantle heading south for Margaret River wineries, Kalgoorlie's goldfields and pink lake and Albany's dramatic coastline. Head north for the rugged Pinnacles and Karijini National Park, and Ningaloo and Monkey Mia's marine treasures. North in the Kimberley, an epic 4WD links Broome's Cable Beach with Kununurra and El Questro Station.

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