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Jurien Bay, WA

Peaceful seaside holiday town known for its fishing and crayfish

Jurien Bay is a seaside resort town devoted to recreational fishing, tourism and professional cray fishing. It was a very sleepy coastal village until the 1950s when the town became a major port from rock lobster fishing. This led, inevitably, to holiday makers and today it is home to an impressive marina and popular with travellers wanting to enjoy the attractions of the area. The town is situated at the southern end of Jurien Bay which stretches over 9 km from Island Point at the south to North Head. The waters of the bay are sheltered by a string of islands and reefs which lie just off the coast. The town has been built on low lying sand ridges beside the beach and is characterised by cottages built for holidaymakers and weekend anglers.


 Jurien Bay is located 220 km north of Perth via State Route 60, the Indian Ocean Drive.


Origin of Name

In 1801 a French expedition led by Thomas Nicholas Baudin and Louis-Claude Desaules de Freycinet mapped and named much of the coastline. Two ships - Le Geographe and the Casuarina - sailed up the coast of Western Australia mapping and collecting samples of the local fauna and flora as they progressed. Freycinet, a brilliant cartographic surveyor, took soundings and surveyed Jurien Bay which he named after Charles Marie, Vicomte Jurien, of the French Naval Administration.


Things to See and Do

Beach Activities
This is a town where holidaymakers come to fish, swim on the superb and peaceful beaches and enjoy time away from more crowded holiday resorts. For swimmers there is the quiet option of the beach at the marina/harbour and the more adventurous option of the surf beaches which stretch to the north and south of the town. The area is characterised by beautiful white sandy beaches and a quietness which is ideal for families and those not wanting the hustle and bustle of more high profile beach destinations.

Jurien Bay Snorkel Trail
Located at the Old Jetty on the foreshore this is an unusual underwater interpretative trail which was completed in 2013. It is an artificial reef which has produced its own ecosystem.


Other Attractions in the Area

Jurien Bay Marine Park
The Jurien Bay Marine Park, which was officially declared in 2003, extends south from Green Head to the Southern boundary of Nambung National Park. It is a mixture of sanctuary zones (where no activities can take place) and areas where fishing, swimming and diving are permitted. The marine park is also an ideal places for whale spotting as it is on their migration route up and down the Western Australian coast.  
The highlights of the marine park are a major sea lion and seabird breeding area, temperate zone reefs which are populated by a combination of temperate and tropical plants and animals due to the effect of the warm Leeuwin current. The area is also home to extensive seagrass meadows, which are vital nursery habitats for juvenile western rock lobsters. The main appeal of the park is the opportunity to interact with seals, sea lions and dolphins and to go swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving and fishing. For organised tours of the Marine Park check out http://www.jurienbayadventuretours.com.au/snorkeling.

Lesueur National Park
Located 27 km north-east of Jurien Bay, Lesueur National Park covers 26,987 hectares and is one of the best places to experience the full spectacle that is the Western Australian wildflower season. The park is home to over 900 plant species – 10 per cent of Western Australia’s known flora – including acacias, hibbertias, leschenaultias,  melaleucas, gastrolobiums. As well it has a diverse range of orchids including pink enamel, purple enamel, cowslip, blue lady, white spider and donkey orchids. In spring several varieties of kangaroo paw are common. In terms of larger plants there are stands of low heath and woodlands of wandoo, redgum and banksia which inhabit coastal dunes, laterite ridges and laterite mesa like Mount Lesueur and Mount Michaud. 122 species of native bird are found in the park and there are 52 reptile species. The park is particularly rich is geckoes and legless lizards. 
The best way to experience the richness of the park it to take the one-way 18.5 kim scenic drive which loops around from Cockleshell Gully Road. In spring this drive is a perfect way to experience the vast array of wildflowers in the park. There are a number of bushwalks off the drive
* Botanical Path - 400 m return - with interpretative signs identifying local plants and indigenous culture. It leads to the Iain Wilson Lookout.
* Lesueur Trail - 400 m return - from the Iain Wilson Lookout to the summit of Mount Lesueur which offers panoramic views of the surrounding heath land and woodland.
* Gairdner Ridge - 2.5 km loop from Drummond car park through heath and low woodlands to the sandstone outcrops of Gairdner Ridge. There are organised tours of the National Park. Check out http://www.jurienbayadventuretours.com.au/mt-lesueur.

Fishing at Jurien Bay
Jurien Bay is recognised as the finest location on the central WA coast for catching snapper, dhufish and baldchin groper. The excellent Fishing Spots website (check out https://www.fishingspots.com.au/s/jurien-bay/#) has detailed information on the all the best spots in the area. It notes: "The land based fishing spots at Jurien Bay extend from Green Head to Cervantes. There are numerous beaches and headlands to explore for the travelling angler. Some essential lures for fishing around Jurien Bay are Metal Slices, medium to small poppers, Mulloway lures and soft plastics of all sizes for Bream to Mulloway. The best tackle is a medium weight beach rod at least 8ft in length combined with 3000+ plus size reel. This setup will cover most species in Jurien Bay such as Tailor, Herring, school Mulloway, Bream and whiting. For anglers targeting big Mulloway, an upgrade in tackle is necessary ... Offshore anglers can expect some fantastic fishing for Pink Snapper, Mackerel, Dhufish, Samson Fish, Baldchin Groper and more. The marina provides a sheltered boat ramp and beach launching a boat from Jurien Bay is also possible. There are several semi sheltered locations around Boullanger, Tern Island, and Favorite Islands. Please note to the east of Boluanger Island is a Sanctuary Zone and no fishing allowed."

The Pinnacles
The Pinnacles are one of the natural wonders of Australia. These strange, much photographed, limestone pillars are unique. They have the quality of a moonscape and, without geological understanding, seem completely otherworldly. 
The first Europeans to discover them were Major Logue and his stockmen in 1849. They had camped near the Nambung River and during the night their cattle strayed. While searching for the cattle the next morning the stockmen came across the Pinnacle Desert.
Today access from Jurien Bay is south via the Indian Ocean Drive for 42 km and then a 5 km drive inland to the Pinnacles Desert Discovery Centre.
The Pinnacles Desert Discovery Centre explains, through displays, soundscapes, videos and images, the geology of the area and how the pinnacles were formed. There is a Pinnacles View Lookout over the entire site and a Desert View Trail which is an easy 1.5 km walk and allows visitors to get up close to these strange and magical formations. Check out https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/site/pinnacles-desert-discovery-centre for more details.

How did the pinnacles form? 
The coast of Western Australia, stretching from Shark Bay all the way south to Albany, has a near continuous belt of tamala limestone or aerolian calcarenite - ie. wind blown calcium carbonate - which has been created by the combination of wind, rain and the cementing agent of calcium.
A set of rare circumstances produced the pinnacles. Firstly the huge sand dunes stabilised. The rains which fell on the dunes leached down through the sand carrying the calcium. This resulted in the lower levels of the dune solidifying into a soft limestone. As this stabilisation occurred a layer of soil formed on top of the dune which allowed plants to grow and further cemented the limestone below. Gradually the lowest layer of soil, which lay between the surface and the limestone, formed into a hard cap which resulted in the old dunes having three levels - a soil and plant level near the surface, a hard cap below the surface, and a thick layer of soft limestone at the bottom of the dune.
Inevitably the roots from the plants on the top level found cracks and broke up the hard cap and the layer of soft limestone. The result was that under a surface covered with plants and soil the pinnacles developed. No one knows for sure how long ago this process occurred. It may have started as long ago as 500,000 years but equally it may only be a few thousand years old and it may still be continuing today. The Western Australian Museum believes it occurred some time in the last 80 000 years. 
The advent of drier weather in the region resulted in the top layer of plants and soil being removed and gradually the pinnacles were exposed so that today they stand like strange sentinels on a plain of wind blown sand.



* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area was home to the Yuat Aboriginal people.

* The coastline around Jurien had been known to Europeans since the 17th century - to Dutch and British sailors.

* In 1801 the French expedition led by Nicolas Thomas Baudin mapped and named much of the area. 

* In early 1803 two ships - Le Geographe and the Casuarina - sailed up the coast of Western Australia mapping and collecting samples of the local fauna and flora as they progressed. Louis de Freycinet, a brilliant cartographic surveyor, took soundings and surveyed Jurien Bay which he named after Charles Marie Jurien of the French Naval Administration. 

* Similarly Mount Lesueur, east of Jurien Bay, was named after Charles Alexandre Lesueur, the ship's artist on Le Geographe and Mount Peron was named after the ship's naturalist and botanist, Francois Peron.

* The coast was explored by Phillip Parker King in 1817. 

* There were three major wrecks off the coast in the 1890s and the boiler of the steamship Lubra, which sank in January 1898, can still be seen at low tide between Favourite and Osprey Islands.

* First settlement of the Jurien area occurred in the mid 1850s when Walter Padbury, a self made millionaire, took land around Jurien Bay. 

* The success of pastoralism led to the construction of a jetty in 1885. Wool, bat manure, skins and hides, grain and some manna gum were shipped from the jetty.

* By the early 1900s the coastal waters were being fished for dhufish, snapper and groper. This led to the establishment of a fishing village around the Jurien jetty. 

* In the 1950s people began to build corrugated iron shanties as holiday homes.

* The townsite was surveyed in 1956 and officially named Jurien Bay on 21 December that year.

* By the 1960s the crayfish industry had taken off. New jetties were erected, an airstrip was constructed, and factories were built.

* The town's new marina (the only one between Perth and Geraldton) was completed in 1988.

* Today Jurien's continued success depends on crayfishing and tourism. 


Visitor Information

Turquoise Coast Visitor Centre, 67 Bashford Street, tel: (08) 9652 0870.


Useful Websites

There is a useful local website at http://www.australiascoralcoast.com/destinations/cervantes-jurien-bay-region/jurien-bay.

Got something to add?

Have we missed something or got a top tip for this town? Have your say below.

3 suggestions
  • What is the closest airport to Jurien Bay?

  • You need to consider information for people who would want to fly in their own planes, land and have lunch in town. You have not mentioned an airstrip near town or how far it is. Can we fly in and walk there and back or is there a taxi service to go to town for lunch and back to the plane?

    Lyn Lawrence
    • I steer clear of a lot of information because it is very hard to keep everything up to date … and some information is too complex to access. Sorry about that but airstrips are a bridge too far. The site is already over 2.6 million words long.
      Bruce Elder – Aussie Towns

      Bruce Elder