The town was established in 1964 to support the nearby United States Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt. Nowadays the town relies more on tourism than the station for its existence. The current resident population is approximately 2,400 between April and October, swelling to 6000 at the height of the tourist season.
Exmouth is one of the few areas in Australia that can boast the “Range to Reef” experience. The Cape Range National Park which has some spectacular gorges is an area of 506 square kilometres and its main area is focused on the west coast of the Cape which provides a large variety of camp sites on the coastal fringe of the Park.
On 22 March 1999, Tropical Cyclone Vance reached category 5 status as it made landfall near Exmouth. This resulted in the highest ever wind gust reported on the Australian mainland of 267 km/h at Learmonth, only 35 km to the south. Vance caused significant flooding and property damage but there were no deaths.
Exmouth Gulf is a rich marine environment. It is a nursery for humpback whales, dugong and turtles. The mangrove systems on the eastern margins are areas of high primary productivity feeding and restocking both the Gulf and the famed nearby Ningaloo Reef.
A proposed 411 square kilometre salt mine would stretch more than 70 kilometres along the south-west gulf line. This would be one of the world’s biggest salt mines, and has given rise to heated debate on possible environmental impacts on the area.
The Gulf and off-shore waters beyond the Ningaloo fringing reef are home to some of Australia’s greatest sport fish including Marlin, Spanish Mackeral, and several sub-species of Tuna. The Gulf sustains one of Western Australia’s largest prawn fisheries, managed by the Kailis Fishing Group, which operates under license from the Western Australian Government.