Ningaloo Coast Cape Range Gorges Photo: Jen Hollis / Parks and Wildlife Ningaloo Coast Cape Range Gorges -
Photo: © Jen Hollis / Parks and Wildlife

The Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area (NCWHA) was inscribed on the World Heritage list on the 24 June 2011 for the following Outstanding Universal Value criteria:

  1. Contains superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.
  2. To contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.

These criteria are represented by the outstanding natural features of the Ningaloo Coast:

  • Land and sea contrast − the arid earth colours of Cape Range provide an unusual stark and striking contrast to the sparkling white beaches, liquid turquoise colours and vibrant underwater scenery of Ningaloo Reef.
  • Habitat diversity – the rare mix of intact and diverse terrestrial, coastal and marine habitats form an incredible interconnected ecosystem.
  • Cape Range diversity − the rugged, limestone range with its stunning wave cut peninsula and deep canyons host a remarkable array of plants, birds, reptiles and other wildlife. An extensive number of these plants and animals are found nowhere else in the world.
  • Cape Range karst system − under the Cape Range peninsula lies a complex limestone karst system. With over 500 caves, the karst system is home to a diverse group of weird, wonderful and unique cave- dwelling animals. Some of the aquatic stygobites which live in the fresh water and terrestrial troglobites which live in the dry parts of the cave are found nowhere else in the world.
  • Ningaloo reef diversity − one of the longest, complex and most pristine fringing reefs in the world. Ningaloo reef has an unusually narrow continental shelf so deep oceanic waters, the reef and coastline communities are in close proximity resulting in a huge array of internationally significant and healthy marine life coexisting in one area. The reef’s extraordinary biodiversity includes more than 200 kinds of coral, more than 500 fish species, plus hundreds of other animal species including crustaceans, molluscs, echinoderms and sponges.
  • Whale sharks and marine megafauna – the area hosts one of the world’s largest and most reliable whale shark aggregations. Here the ecotourism industry is considered world’s best practice. Other internationally important and rare marine megafauna are also found here including whales, dolphins, manta rays, dugongs, sharks, turtles and large fish such as tuna and billfish.
  • Turtle diversity and nesting – three of the world’s seven species of marine turtle mate in the shallows and nest along the Ningaloo coast. The area is one of the most important turtle rookeries in the Indian Ocean for the loggerhead; the green and the hawksbill turtle. The loggerhead turtle is listed globally as vulnerable, the green as endangered and the hawksbill as critically endangered.
  • The Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area covers 6045km2 and stretches more than 300km along the coast. The area encompasses the Muiron Islands to the north, the Bundegi and Jurabi coastal parks at the tip of the Cape, Ningaloo Marine Park (which extends up to 22km offshore), the adjoining Learmonth Air Weapons Range and Cape Range National Park, including Shothole and Charles Knife canyons on the eastern side. To the south of the air weapons range the World Heritage area hugs the coastline down to its southernmost point at Red Bluff.

Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Advisory Committee

Each World Heritage area is overseen by a State Cabinet appointed advisory committee. These committees provide advice to managing agencies and State and Australian Government ministers to assist in protecting the areas Outstanding Universal Values.

More details about the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Advisory Committee.