Read on to find out more about our iconic as well as natural attractions and to learn what makes Mandurah so unique and special.
Peel Harvey Estuary
The Peel Harvey Estuary is a large system of shallow estuarine and saline, brackish and freshwater lakes and covers 134 km², twice the size of Sydney Harbour!
The estuary is comprised of the Peel Inlet which is connected to the Indian Ocean via the Dawesville Channel in Mandurah and the Harvey Estuary further south.
The Dawesville Cut, a man-made channel between the Peel-Harvey Estuary and the Indian Ocean, was constructed between 1990 and April 1994 to alleviate a serious environmental problem by allowing seawater from the Indian Ocean to move in and out of the estuarine system using the daily tidal movements, preventing the build-up of algae. The channel is about 2.5 kilometres long, 200 metres wide and between 6 and 6.5 metres deep.
In 1990, the Peel Harvey Estuary was listed under the Ramsar Convention as a wetland and ecosystem of international significance.
Many tens of thousands of waterbirds, including large numbers of migrant shorebirds from the northern hemisphere, use the estuary and lakes each year.
The Aboriginal creation story of how the estuary was formed says that all across the land there was a terrible drought, so three Elders went down to the sea to pray to their creator for water. The creator came out of the water. It was in the form of a snake, which they called Wagyl (rainbow serpent). It came out of the sea and along its path the inlet was formed.
The curved design of Mandurah’s Eastern Foreshore seawall actually reflects the shape of the Wagyl Serpent.
Mandurah is home to the largest residential population of Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins in Western Australia. When compared to the common bottlenose dolphin the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin has a longer slimmer “beak” and more streamlined body.
The Peel Harvey Estuary is lucky enough to be home to more than 100 resident dolphins. The large population of dolphins in the region shows how healthy our waterways are.
Mandurah’s waterways are the ideal home for dolphins due to the abundance of fish. In addition, the shallow, warm, protected water is great for birthing.
Whether you are on or by the water, it will be hard to miss our friendly locals. The Dawesville Cut, Mandjar Bay, Mandurah Estuary and Mandurah Ocean Marina are considered particularly good spots to see dolphins.
The size of an adult dolphin in Mandurah ranges from 2.3 to 2.6 metres long and they weigh up to 220kg. At birth they are approximately 1 metre in length, weighing up to 20kg.
Bottlenose dolphins can live to over 40 years of age. In fact, we have a number of dolphins in Mandurah older than 25 years.
Our Mandurah dolphins are really social and inquisitive. Their foraging behaviour is especially amazing to observe. Mandurah seems to be an excellent environment for them to forage because of all the canals and rock walls; they use these to trap several species of fish, like mullet and salmon, which they often herd to the dead ends of the canals for an easier catch and feed.
The juvenile dolphins are the most playful and these are the ones you’ll most often see frolicking alongside boats.
(Photo by Mandurah Cruises)
Blue Swimmer Crabs
Blue swimmer crabs are native to Mandurah and the area is renowned for its excellent crabbing. As the weather warms up for summer, crabbing season opens every year on 1 December through to end of July.
By January, the Peel Inlet-Harvey Estuary is swimming with full size crabs ready to be caught.
Despite the name, blue swimmer crabs’ colours can be anything from brown to purple, with flat bodies and long slender claws and can be found in sandy, muddy and seaweed covered areas.
Those that are the brilliant blue look magnificent out of the water and in the sunlight.
Crabbing is of economic and social importance to the region, which was recognised in 2016 when the local recreational and commercial fishery was the first in the world to be jointly certified for its ecological sustainable fishing.
If you plan to have a crabbing adventure, check out our best tips on going crabbing in Mandurah.
Peel Yalgorup Wetland System and Creery Wetlands
The Peel Yalgorup Wetland System is the largest and most diverse estuarine complex in south west Australia and provides a habitat and breeding ground for thousands of plants and animals.
Declared a Wetland of International Importance in 1990 by the Ramsar Convention, this diverse and productive ecosystem covers over 26,000 hectares and is comprised of estuaries, lakes, rivers and conservation reserves, including Yalgorup National Park, Lake Mealup Nature Reserve and Lake McLarty Nature Reserve, Austin Bay Nature Reserve and Creery Wetlands Nature Reserve.
This 29-hectare nature reserve has a series of connected boardwalks and pathways with informative signage and bird-watching areas.
The Red-Necked Stint is one of these amazing birds you can spot there. Weighing approximately 25 grams (less than a Tim Tam), Red-necked Stints fly along a migratory path from the Arctic to Australia twice a year, a return journey of up to a staggering 25,000 km.
The best way to discover what makes these stunning wetlands and remarkable wildlife so special is on a guided walking tour with Sarah Way from Ways to Nature or Jamie and Base from Salt & Bush Eco Tours.
The wetlands are not only important to the natural environment, they support threatened ecological species and communities, such as the Lake Clifton Thrombolites, they are also culturally significant, include great spots for recreational activities and provide a wealth of educational and scientific research opportunities.
The wetlands have special significance for the Noongar people as they are important sources of food, used for ceremonial purposes and are part of the dreaming and their natural beliefs. Whilst all waterways are important to the Noongar people, some significant Aboriginal heritage sites include campsites at the Serpentine River mouth and Island Point and a ceremonial site at Egg Island. Please respect the cultural significance of these sites.
Lake Clifton Thrombolites
Some things clearly get better with age! Located at Yalgorup National Park, the thrombolite reef at Lake Clifton offers you a glimpse of what life was like when the earth began.
Found in only a few places in the world, scientists believe that thrombolites are one of the first life forms on earth, dating back approximately 570 million years, producing oxygen that made all subsequent life possible.
The Lake Clifton thrombolites are approximately 2,000 years old and the largest in the southern hemisphere. You can view them from above on a boardwalk over the lake with January to May being the best time to see them, when the water levels are low.
Our tip: The best way to experience the thrombolites is on a tour with Mandjoogoordap Dreaming, where George Walley will share with you the dreaming story of the thrombolites and other cultural knowledge and memories of the region’s first people, the Bindjareb people.
The Mandurah Christmas Lights is definitely an experience not to be missed. Every December to the first week of January, the luxury homes in the canals are decorated with thousands of colourful Christmas lights which illuminate and reflect onto the water.
The best way to watch this spectacle is from a boat. Join in the Christmas cheer and sing along to your favourite carols as you cruise through a magical wonderland on a cruise or a hire boat. Make sure you book early.
(Photo by Mandurah Cruises)