The Atlantis Marine Park can be found about 30 minutes north of Perth in a fishing town area called Two Rocks.
In 1970 Alan Bond purchased a significant amount of land in the Yanchep area with ideas for development. Together with Tokyu Corporation (a Japanese Company), Atlantis Marine Park was designed, created and developed with the purpose to create a Western Australian Coastal Theme Park. The park was opened in 1981. Six month prior to its opening, 7 dolphins were caught locally for training and shows. In early 1990, 3 calves were born which meant that the dolphin area needed to be expanded, and with the park losing money meant that they had no other choice but to close.
With the closure, Tokyu Corporation agreed to fund the rehabilitation of the dolphins for release into the wild.
Of the 10 dolphins, 4 were unable to be released due to the inability to hunt for themselves. One of these died in the rehabilitation process, while the other 3 were relocated to AQWA, a marine facility found at Hillary Boat Harbor, Perth. However, in 1999 all 3 of these dolphins died from an alleged poisoning. A statue of the dolphins, in their honor, were erected at Hillary Harbor which you can still see today.
Only 6 dolphins managed to adjust to their former natural habitat. These 6 dolphins can be seen occasionally swimming near the Yanchep beach area.
Looking at the remnants of park, one can spend a great deal of time trying to figure out where everything would have been. Apart from the massive Neptune sculpture, there is very left of the original park left. I spent a large majority of the day trying to figure out where the dolphin enclosure would have been, with the main concern of what would have happened to the dolphins after the enclosure. Notably, I found out most of this information at days end.
Upon arrival, one can see a very sleek and inviting harbor. I initially presumed that the dolphins would have been kept in this area. However, with a obvious water pump left in ruin, it would be a logical deduction that the dolphin enclosure would be closer to this structure than to the harbor. From observation, the dolphin pump was a considerable distance from the harbor which sent me into uncovering the original location. Why the original designers would build a dolphin enclosure so far from the sea is beyond my reasoning.
I followed a range of trails around the Neptune Sculpture. Some of these trails were original pathways covered in layers of sand, others were just sand trails created by years of trampers either creating a shortcut to the beach or on a day of discovery ~ much like the one I was on.
I reasoned that any dolphin enclosure would require a concrete type structure with strong retaining walls. Because dolphins jump in a show, I would need to locate an area which has enough depth. And the only area I could find was a grass type ‘bunker’ short of the dolphin pump. There were no visible gallery constructions or any form of concrete slabs. So, this dusty bush covered bunker seemed to be only solution, although the location was significantly further from the sea front.
Throughout the abandoned park, there were scatterings of sculptures. Some still in good condition, however most were scared and damaged.
Overall, this little adventure lasted about 2 hours. Gates that were once closed are torn open, making it an easy entry to anyone who is keen to investigate that “Which Was!”. Of course, with a lot of sculptures destroyed by graffiti artists, the city has installed cameras to monitor activities.
On a closing note, there is talk of restoring the whole park. I am not sure on the financial viability, however I hope that the plans will be more of a water park than a marine park.