Hamelin Bay is in the heart of Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park in Western Australia’s South West Region. About 30kms south of Margaret River. The bay was once the shipping hub of the Karridale timber industry. The ruins of the Hamelin Bay Jetty can still be found along the foreshore.
A Little Touch of Paradise
The bay also includes reefs, white sandy beaches, tiny islands, a small lake, a boat ramp, a camping area shaded by Peppermint trees (which was previously the site of the timber yards), and the Hamelin Bay Caravan Park which has on-site accommodation.
The bay is protected from the south by Hamelin Island but is virtually unprotected from storms coming off the Indian Ocean.
The area is also well known for its friendly Hamelin Bay stingrays. These creatures often come in close to the boat ramp to feed from the scraps left by fishermen. They are also quite inquisitive and like to swim near and sometimes with snorkelers. Beware, however, as stingrays can deliver a painful sting if stepped on.
Brief History of Hamelin Bay
The first Europeans to have explored the area were believed to be the Dutch, in 1622. Having sighted the southwestern tip in 1622 they named it ‘t Landt van de Leeuwin’, meaning land of the lioness.
It was Matthew Flinders in 1801, who gave the name Cape Leeuwin to the southwestern tip. Hamelin Bay was named in honour of Captain Hamelin who explored the coast in his ships, Naturaliste and Geographe, in the early 19th century.
Hamelin Bay Jetty
One of the must-sees at Hamelin Bay is the ruins of the Hamelin Bay Jetty. The jetty was built by M.C. Davies to service the local timbers mills which were located in what is now known as Old Karridale. The timbers would be loaded onto ships berthed at the jetty and from there transported around the world.
In its heydays the area was also a popular recreational destination for the timber workers who would swim and fish off the jetty. Click for more history of Hamelin Bay Jetty.
Today only a few timbers remain but it provides a spectacular backdrop during sunset.
The Storm of 1900
On July 22nd, 1900, a fierce storm lashed the coast of Western Australia, from Fremantle to Albany. During the storm, five ships were wrecked, three of those ships were moored in Hamelin Bay. Five souls were lost from those ships that fateful night. Click here for more on the Hamelin Bay Storm of 1900.
During the 1940s salmon fishing was established in the bay. During the peak salmon season, it wasn’t unusual to have between 10-15 ton hauls a day. The salmon was cleaned locally before being packed in straw and sent to Perth for sale.
During the 1950s a salmon fishery was opened on the beaches between Hamelin Bay and Busselton.
Today the fishery is run by the Fisheries Department who supplies a limited number of licensees. Boats were originally used to herd the schools of salmon into nets within the bay, later replaced by surf skis and then to spotter planes.