Francois Peron National Park lies 10 kilometres from Denham, 340 kilometres from Carnarvon and 410 kilometres from Geraldton. Named after the French zoologist who accompanied the Nicolas Baudin scientific expedition to southern and western Australia in 1801, the Francois Peron National Park covers some 52,500 hectares at the northern extreme of the Peron Peninsula. Under the care of the Department of Conservation and Land Management, this area has become one of the most important natural areas in Australia and is home to many rare and endangered species. The park is in the midst of the Shark Bay World Heritage Area and is adjacent to the Shark Bay Marine Park. The park was once a pastoral station, and you can reach the old homestead by two-wheel-drive (entry fees are payable) to experience what life would have been like on a remote sheep station. Beyond the homestead is a wilderness area. You need a four-wheel-drive to visit Peron’s scenic coastline with dramatic contrasts of red cliffs, blue water and white beaches. From the cliffs of Cape Peron visitors may see bottlenose dolphins playing, dugongs feeding, green and loggerhead turtles surfacing for air and large manta rays gliding past just beneath the surface. The park and the rest of the peninsula is interspersed with gypsum claypans known as birridas. Most birridas were landlocked saline lakes when sea levels were much higher than at present, and gypsum was deposited on the lake floors. In some places the sea has invaded the claypans, such as at Big Lagoon, to form a shallow inland bay. The area was used by pearlers in the late 1800s and old pearl shells still litter the beach at Herald Bight, the site of a pearling camp.