New venture aims to showcase Shark Bay’s cultural history

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Liam BeattyMidwest Times
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Camel trainer Paul Ellis with Rasheeda, Marla, Sali and Mocha who will travel to Denham from South Australia this week.
Camera IconCamel trainer Paul Ellis with Rasheeda, Marla, Sali and Mocha who will travel to Denham from South Australia this week. Credit: Supplied

A new tourism venture in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area is preparing to offer an unique experience along the Coral Coast — camel tours to showcase the area’s cultural history.

Drawing on more than a decade working with the “majestic” and “misunderstood” creatures, Shark Bay locals Taylah Smith and her father Mark are preparing to receive four camels on Monday.

“My dad and I have been working on this for over a year now,” Ms Smith said.

“They are giant, big, misunderstood creatures that I absolutely fell in love with.”

Planning to launch in the latter half of this year, she said camel treks across the bay would become a unique experience not available anywhere else in the Mid West and Gascoyne.

“Shark Bay is a gorgeous place and one of the world’s greatest wilderness treasures,” she said.

“Camels played a huge part in the foundation of the settlement here, and we’re hoping to showcase the cultural history of the region in our tours.”

Taylah Smith with her father Mark are keen to get the venture operating.
Camera IconTaylah Smith with her father Mark are keen to get the venture operating. Credit: Supplied

Today, the Shire of Shark Bay is set to meet to hold a special council meeting to vote on supporting a permit to allow the camels to walk along a stretch of unallocated crown land, including beaches near Denham.

Ms Smith says the Shire and community have been “very supportive” of the project and are excited about the prospect of adding new tourism experiences to the region.

However, she has yet to receive a commercial licence to operate the tourism business, which will need approval from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions and the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage.

Ms Smith said their business case was being prepared.

Travelling from the Flinders Range in South Australia, the four camels — Rasheeda, Marla, Sali and Mocha — will need to take some time getting used to the new environment, according to Ms Smith.

“We had a bunch of delays with the border closures last year which prevented us from bringing them over earlier,” she said.

“But it’s very exciting to be so close to meeting the girls we’ll be working with.”

Plans for the routes and itineraries for the tours have yet to be finalised, but the Smiths are working with the Malgana Aboriginal Corporation to offer a cultural experience of the region.

Previously Ms Smith worked for Henk Van Eek who operated Shark Bay Camel Safaris in Monkey Mia from 2003 until he retired in 2019.

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