Steep Point and Edel Land
Steep Point is the most westerly point of Australia. It is situated in the proposed Edel Land National Park which extends from Steep Point to just south of False Entrance and encompasses much of Belefin Prong. It was named “Steyle Hock” (Steep Point in English) in 1697 by the Dutch seafarer William de Vlamingh when he anchored off the cliffs near the southern tip of Dirk Hartog Island. Today Steep Point is a popular ‘get away from it all’ destination, particularly for fishers chasing some of the best shore-based game fishing in Australia.
Limestone cliffs rising 200 metres above the Indian Ocean are outstanding features of natural beauty. These cliffs are backed by sweeping white sand dunes and secluded beaches hosting resilient plant and animal life. The prolific marine life of the adjacent seas draw in fishers, kayakers, and divers from all over the globe.
Steep Point can only be accessed by high clearance four-wheel drive vehicles or by boat. Find out about four wheel driving in Shark Bay here.
It is about 185km by road from the Northwest Coastal Highway to Steep Point, including 140km of unsealed road. The last 30km is a single lane of soft track winding around sand dunes. You must lower your tyre pressure to 20 psi before attempting this last stretch. Failure to do so will damage the track and could get you bogged and incurring a costly recovery operation. The journey to Steep Point from Denham by car takes roughly three to four hours.
The journey to Shelter Bay from Denham by boat is about 50km via the South Passage.
Facilities are very basic with pit toilets at the Steep Point and Shelter Bay camping areas. You will therefore need to be self-sufficient and take your rubbish out with you. Remember to take lots of water and fuel in with you, the closest place for amenities is the overlander roadhouse (181km from Steep Point) or Denham! Pets are not allowed at Steep Point and Edel Land. For details see our Pets in Parks section.
Fires are not permitted, as explained here.
For all other regulations consult your permit conditions here.
Click here for a copy of a suggested equipment list for a camping trip to Steep Point
For Your Safety
This area is remote and has some inherent dangers including variable weather conditions — especially in summer when the park is hot, dry and windy — and a hazardous coastline with large surf, 200 metre high cliffs, blowholes and dangerous marine animals in surrounding waters. For your safety:
Bookings are required to camp at a number of locations across the Edel Land / Steep Point area. All sites can only be accessed by 4WD vehicles and have very basic facilities including a limited number of pit toilets. Remember to take all supplies and equipment with you including water and sufficient fuel. Access to all camping sites is controlled by a permit system.
You can download your camping permit request form here.
- Read the conditions of entry on the permit carefully
- Fill out the required information
- Fax or email the completed permit to the ranger at Steep Point
The majority of camping sites are located in the Shelter Bay area which, as its name suggests, offers the best shelter from the prevailing southerly winds. Sites here are very popular so booking well in advance is required. Camping sites located out at Steep Point are most popular with people wishing to fish from the cliffs. Most campers avoid these sites because of their exposed and rocky nature. Camping is also possible at False Entrance.
Camping at 'The Oven', Steep Point cliffs.
Arguably some of the best land based fishing in Australia occurs at Steep Point. Huge mackerel, trevally and even sailfish are caught off Steep Point’s cliffs especially during summer. This sort of fishing is not for everyone however, as special equipment is required to land the big one. Fishing from the cliffs means floating your bait up to several hundred metres offshore using helium balloons and when retrieving fish using special gaffs to haul fish up the cliffs. Read more about the fishing at Steep Point here
Boat based fishing is also popular around Steep Point and many people launch their boats from Shelter Bay to fish inside South Passage or outside along the Zuytdorp Cliffs and Dirk Hartog Island. Remember that South Passage is particularly treacherous for boating as it experiences strong currents and tidal movements. Take all necessary precautions and ensure you have all the required safety equipment.
Going Rock Fishing at Steep Point or Dirk Hartog Island?
Fishing from the steep cliffs along Shark Bay's western edge is a thrilling, yet dangerous pastime. Serious accidents can and do occur! To make sure you aren't putting your life in danger grab a copy of our information sheet here and be prepared!
The Zuytdorp Cliffs
The Zuytdorp Cliffs are some of Australia’s least known yet most spectacular cliffs, forming an almost unbroken arc between Steep Point and the township of Kalbarri, a distance of some 200 kilometres. The cliffs, rising ominously out of the Indian Ocean to heights of up to 200 metres, were named after the Dutch ship the Zuytdorp
, wrecked against the base of the cliffs in 1712.
It is a powerful experience standing atop of these cliffs with the surf pounding hundreds of metres below you. From Steep Point you can easily visit the cliffs by 4WD along the most westerly edge of Edel Land. You can drive for more than 20 kilometres along the edge of these cliffs, watching for whales or just admiring the sweeping views.
South Passage and Shelter Bay
In stark contrast to the dramatic cliff-lined western side of Edel Land, the leeward side features crescent shaped beaches and harbours protected camping spots. Shelter Bay, a few kilometres inside the passage from Steep Point is probably the most popular location. Access to the water is one of the main attractions here and boats can be launched directly from the beach providing access to South Passage for fishing and diving.
The winter months from May to October are the most popular months as the lighter winds and calmer conditions are more amenable to camping and boating. Unfortunately, due to the area’s popularity during these months it can be difficult to get a camping spot so book your spot early.
A number of bays, including False Entrance, provide the only break in the seemingly endless cliffs between Kalbarri and Steep Point. False Entrance was appropriately named because early mariners mistakenly thought it was the entrance to Shark Bay between Dirk Hartog Island and Steep Point.
Again the feature of this site is the fishing and coastal scenery. Anglers fish from the exposed point for mackerel and other pelagic species, in much the same way as at Steep Point. The very jagged limestone here however makes it harder on the feet and the larger swell means fishing can be more difficult and dangerous. During summer in particular, anglers flock to this remote location.
Access is via 4WD and permits are required just as at Steep Point. Take all the necessary safety equipment and please ensure you follow the regulations on your permit.
Along the coastal cliffs erosion holes in the limestone come to life when the swell starts to run. ‘Blowholes’, as they are commonly known, are formed by years of pounding surf, which has eroded its way up through the cliffs to the surface. When large waves hit the coast the water surges up through these holes and is forced out, sometimes with enormous power, to form a plume of seawater and mist that can be tens of metres high.
You can visit blowholes at several locations in Shark Bay including False Entrance, and north of Thunder Bay on Edel Land and
north of Surf Point on Dirk Hartog Island. Listen to the blowholes here
There are fees for access and camping at all locations across Edel Land including Steep Point, False Entrance, Crayfish Bay and Shelter Bay. Note that you must obtain a camping permit before entering the area if you intend to stay overnight. All camping and entry fees are payable in advance.
An entry fee applies for all vehicles entering the Edel Land/Steep Point area. When camping, entry fees are only payable on the first day.
- $12 per car (up to 12 legally seated people)
The Department of Parks and Wildlife’s Holiday, Annual Local Park, Annual All Park and Goldstar passes cover entry into Steep Point. They are available from Department of Parks and Wildlife offices .
Camping fees apply, per person, per night. You must first obtain a permit
before arrival and pay fees in advance.
$7.50 per adult
$5.50 for concession* cardholders
$2.20 for school aged children 6-15 years
(*Concessions include Seniors’ Card, Disability Support, Carer Payment, Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), Age Pension, Disability Support (Blind), Carer Allowance & Companion Card).
For full details of all park passes and fees for other parks in the state download our Western Australia Fees Brochure.
Take a Virtual Tour
Steep Point Ranger
PMB Useless Loop WA 6537
Ph: 08 9948 3993
Fax: 08 9948 3963
Radio channels: UHF 16, 27 Meg 68, VHF 16