We take the journey to the most westerly point of Australia’s mainland.
Magical Steep Point perks itself directly south of Dirk Hartog Island in the world famous Shark Bay Heritage Site in Western Australia on an area of land known as Edel Land. Dutch seafarer William de Vlamingh named Steep Point in 1697 when he anchored off the southern tip of Dirk Hartog Island.
The Journey to Steep Point begins at the turnoff of Useless Loop Rd, off Shark Bay Rd. The drive starts as a fairly easy going drive on a well maintained unsealed road. This road is used to service the Useless Loop mine site and nearby Aboriginal communities. The road would become very slippery in wet conditions. After 115km’s on this road, lower your tyre pressures and engage 4wd and carefully follow the designated track. From here you start to travel over sandy ridges and traverse baron sandy dunes that in places resemble a Sahara like desert. There are numerous peaks where you can catch ocean glimpses and stunning views back over Shark Bay and the Peron Peninsula. As you get closer to the point, you start to realise just how high you are. You can take advantage of many spots along the track to capture some great photos of the scenery and in particular, Dirk Hartog Island in the background.
You will need to stop by the Rangers residence. You will need to pay a visitor fee and advise them of your plans. From here you will continue further along past some of the best remote, beach side campsites you will ever find (bookings required). The mud map available from the Rangers residence will help guide you to Steep Point itself and the nearby blowholes.
The cliffs at Steep Point are predominantly limestone and are up to 200m above the ocean. The dramatic cliff faces together with the rugged rocky landscape set an atmosphere of complete seclusion. The thundering roars of the ocean lashing the cliffs below can at times send chills down your spine as you can almost feel them shake the ground where you stand. As you look around, you take in the amazing Indian Ocean and watch the fish jump. You can see Dirk Hartog Island to the north, to south more rugged cliff faces and the waves pounding at the base. You look back to the east and you see the challenging soft sand dunes you just conquered and you instantly think to yourself- It was worth it! You are now standing on the most westerly point of the Australian mainland. A visitor’s book is in place and you are invited to record your visit and browse the list of other lucky visitors who also made it to this great spot.
If you follow the tracks and signs and refer to your mud map, you will make your way to Zuytdorp Cliffs and the amazing blowholes. As you look straight down you will see a rock ledge sitting out of the water. As the waves crash against the cliffs, water surges up through the blowholes on the rock ledge and creates quite a spectacle, surges of water sometimes up to tens of meters high, and just as amazing is watching the water funnel back down like a drain in a bathtub. The track along these cliffs is quite rocky and care must be taken to avoid driving over sharp rocks.
The Zuytdorp Cliffs were named after a Dutch ship (Zuytdorp) which wrecked against the cliffs in 1712. These cliffs are one of the most spectacular cliffs in Australia and yet probably the least known. They stretch a length of nearly 200km’s south to Kalbarri. They provide a fantastic vantage point for whale watching or simply a place to rest and admire the sweeping views.
In contrast to the western side of the peninsula, the eastern side boasts low-level sheltered bays, ideal for, fishing and swimming. Boat launching is possible from some of these protected bays. This area can get very busy during school holidays and in particular May to October when the temperatures and wind are a little kinder.
It is a great idea to have the telephone numbers of the ranger’s station if you require help; there is basic telephone coverage on the higher peaks in the area. Also keep your UHF radio tuned to ch16 in case you need talk with the ranger or the ranger needs to talk with you.
The most important thing to remember when entering this area is that the tracks are very soft in places and moderate to high clearance on your vehicle is a necessity. You must keep to the designated tracks and use high and low range appropriately to avoid unnecessary damage to the tracks and to avoid getting bogged. Be familiar with your vehicles capabilities and do not attempt to tackle tracks that appear too tricky and that may compromise your safety by getting stuck. You must lower your tyre pressures and ensure you have a well-equipped recovery kit including a snatch-strap, a shovel, an air compressor and a tyre repair kit. It is also advisable that you take plenty of drinking water and a fully stocked first aid kit.
Be able to boast that you have stood on the most westerly point of the mainland. But be wary during busy times it can take a bit longer to travel the tracks. Because the area is located in a world heritage area, no pets are allowed.
Steep Point is located approximately 894km north west of Perth in the Shark Bay World Heritage Site. It is located off Useless Loop Rd, 181km’s from the Northwest Coastal Highway turnoff at the Overlander Roadhouse.
Many visitors to Steep Point choose to day visit and travel down from Denham or Monkey Mia where there are a few caravan parks to choose from or they choose to stay closer by at Hamelin Pools Caravan Park.
Things to do nearby
Monkey Mia and the famous dolphin feeding
swimming and snorkeling in the turquoise waters
scuba diving and fishing.
The Stromatolites at Hamelin Pools (also known as “living rocks”)
CONTACTS AND INFORMATION:
Steep Point Ranger
Phone: 08 9948 3993
UHF Ch 16