Zuytdorp Cliffs near Steep Point from the airZuytdorp Cliffs

The Zuytdorp Cliffs mark the western edge of the Shark Bay World Heritage Area – and the continent. Towering up to 200 m high and stretching more than 200 km, they are the longest fault scarp in Australia. Pounded by the Indian Ocean, with wave-cut benches, blowholes, spouts and slips, these dramatic cliffs are a World Heritage value.

Want to visit the Zuytdorp Cliffs? Click here to find out how. 

How the cliffs were formed

The Zuytdorp Cliffs are made of Tamala Limestone, a common rock formation that stretches around much of the West Australian coastline. They were formed about 5,000–10,000 years ago when the Earth’s crust shifted along a fault line during an earthquake. These sheer cliffs are among the highest in Australia and stretch from Steep Point to Kalbarri, a distance of more than 200 km. A scenic flight of the area is perhaps the best way to take in their rugged beauty.

Zuytdorp Cliffs

The Zuytdorp wreck

The cliffs are named after the Dutch East Indies merchant ship Zuytdorp (“South Land”), wrecked in 1712 en route to Batavia (Jakarta, Indonesia). You can read more about the shipwreck here. Artefacts from the wreck can be seen in the Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery Centre in Denham.

Want to know where the Zuytdorp rests? Click on this map. Want to search for the wreck? Be warned: massive swells and treacherous currents mean the cliffs remain hazardous to boaters.

The wreck of the Zuytdorp left an interesting cultural legacy. Learn more about the Zuytdorp’s survivors here.