There is wildlife in abundance along Margaret River’s Cape to Cape Track but the Hamelin Bay stingrays are sure to rank as one of the highlights.
And this summer they’ve been wowing visitors who can see and interact with the rays most mornings in the crystals-clear waters of this popular beach just south of Margaret River.
Like stealth bombers of the underwater world, the Hamelin Bay stingrays gracefully glide over the sandy bottom as they forage for molluscs and crustaceans.
Three different species – smooth stingrays, black stingrays and eagle rays – frequent the area. And they’re protected within the Ngari Capes Marine Park.
These majestic creatures sense electrical currents produced by their prey’s muscles and nerves.
When it finds a tasty morsel, the stingray sucks its prey into its mouth and crushes it using grinding plates.
It then swallows the food and expels the unwanted shell fragments through its gill slits.
Interacting with the Hamelin Bay stingrays
On calm clear days, the local stingrays are easily visible as they search for food around the old jetty pylons and in the shallows along the beach.
It means visitors can stand on the sandy beach or in ankle-deep water and be just centimetres away from the rays, some which measure more than two-metres across.
Western Australia’s Parks and Wildlife Service urges visitors to look but don’t touch. Keep a safe distance from the rays. And don’t feed the creatures.
While they are generally very friendly, the stingrays and eagle rays are wild animals. And they’ll defend themselves with the dangerous barb on their tail if disturbed.
Giving shelter to the stingrays, the wooden pylons are all that remain of the Hamelin Bay jetty, built in 1882 to service the timber industry.
However, Hamelin Bay is exposed to storms from the north, which caused the loss of five vessels in 1900, including three in one storm on July 22, 1900. Hamelin Bay was abandoned as a timber port a few years later.
More than just stingrays at Hamelin Bay
Hamelin Bay is on the Margaret River region’s iconic 124km walking trail, the Cape to Cape Track.
Hikers generally take seven days to walk the entire trail. But shorter sections can also be done from Hamelin Bay.
Heading south, you can walk part of the Cape to Cape Track to Cosy Corner and enjoy excellent views. This is a 6.5km, half-day walk one way or a 13km, full-day return walk.
Or, head north from Hamelin Bay along a 7km sweep of Boranup Beach. It’s a stunning white-sand beach with great waves for surfing.
For the avid snorkeller, there is plenty of interesting plant and fish life within Hamelin Bay to check out. And several underwater shipwrecks and caves to explore.
According to the Parks and Wildlife Service, there are 11 wrecks concentrated at Hamelin Bay in the Ngari Capes Marine Park.
The WA Maritime Museum’s Hamelin Bay Wreck Trail features four visible wrecks: the Agincourt (1882), Chaudiere (1883), Katinka (1900) and Toba (1930s/1940s).
The four wrecks are visible from the coast at times and accessible by snorkel and scuba in good weather.
Meanwhile, beach fishing is popular in the bay, particularly in autumn when large schools of salmon are running.
And there is also a boat launching ramp if you want to explore the open ocean.
Hamelin Bay is just north of the riverside town of Augusta. If time permits, continue your journey into Augusta and visit the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet!