Steep Point and Edel Land
In 1697 the Dutch seafarer William de Vlamingh named the most westerly point of the Australian mainland “Steyle Hock”, or Steep Point in English, when he anchored off the limestone 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.
The landscape at Steep Point is in stark contrast with the red sand dune landscapes found on the neighbouring Peron Peninsula. Here limestone dominates, forming impressive 200 metre high cliffs or sweeping white sand dunes and secluded beaches. Rainfall is very low and the dry and windswept coast looks barren and foreboding but somewhat surprisingly harbours amazing plant and animal life. This is not to mention the prolific marine life of the adjacent seas which are a major drawcard for fishers and divers.
The greater area surrounding Steep Point, here referred to as Edel Land, has been purchased by the state government for conservation purposes and will soon become a national park. The proposed park will protect the spectacular coastline including the Zuytdorp Cliffs, False Entrance and Crayfish Bay.
Vehicle access to Steep Point can be difficult and a high clearance 4WD is required. Find out about four wheel driving in Shark Bay here. It is approximately 185km by road from the Northwest Coastal Highway to Steep Point; the first 41km is sealed, followed by 114km of a formed but unsealed road and the last 30km of the trip is over very soft sand. You must lower your tyre pressure to 20 psi before attempting this last stretch. Failure to do so will mean getting bogged and incurring a costly recovery operation. Remember that the last stop for fuel and other supplies is the Overlander Roadhouse, 181km from Steep Point, or at Denham over 220km away so stock up there!
If you are planning an overnight stay you will need to book ahead and obtain a camping permit. Follow the directions outlined in the permit request form downloadable here.
You can visit Steep Point via boat from Denham. It is a journey of around 50km to South Passage adjacent to Steep Point. Permits still apply if you intend camping ashore as campsites can be fully booked at some times of the year. Download your permit request form here.
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. 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:
Activities and Highlights
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!
Going rock fishing? Get a copy of our rock fishing fact sheet here!
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
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. More details on this site is available below.
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 permit
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 the 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
Saving Shark Bay’s Wildlife - The Heirisson Prong Project
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) set up an innovative habitat restoration project on the narrow peninsula of land called Heirisson Prong. Working in conjunction with the neighbouring salt mining company and the local community, the project aims to reintroduce locally extinct mammals to this remote part of Shark Bay. The starting point for the project was building a vermin-proof fence and then undertaking a large-scale vermin eradication program. A short 1.8km fence created a protected conservation zone of 12 square kilometres. You can read more about this project here
A camping permit is required for overnight stays at all sites in Edel Land including Steep Point, False Entrance and Shelter Bay.
To apply for your camping spot do the following:
- Download the permit 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
- Within 48 hours of sending the permit contact the ranger to organise payment in full
A receipt will be returned to you by email or fax
Ring the ranger 2 days before you arrive to confirm camping arrangements
- Bring your receipt with you as proof of payment.
For a map of the area's key sites and general 4WD track locations click here
For a higher resolution
version of the Steep Point
For a higher resolution
aerial photomap of
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 (downloadable at right). All camping and entry fees are payable in advance. Full details are on the permit.
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 at Department of Parks and Wildlife offices .
Camping fees per night
In addition to the entry fee, campers must pay a fee for each night of their stay. You must first obtain a permit before arrival and pay fees in advance (download the permit request form at right which contains all information on how to pay). Camping fees are:
For full details of all park passes and fees for other parks in the state download our Western Australia Fees Brochure.
(*Concessions include Seniors’ Card, Disability Support, Carer Payment, Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), Age Pension, Disability Support (Blind), Carer Allowance & Companion Card).
Campers who change or cancel proposed camping at short notice effectively limit or prevent others from using the camping facilities. The Department of Parks and Wildlife reserves the right to offer alternative camping arrangements for any reason beyond our control.
Changes to a booking
You are permitted to alter your camping arrangements at no charge - availability permitting.
If you wish to change your booking after full payment is made you will either pay, or be refunded, the difference depending on the change you make. Note that there is no guarantee of availability for an increase in campers.
In cases where the access road is closed due to inclement weather and your stay is shortened, Parks and Wildlife will refund the unused portion of your stay.
Cancellation of a booking
A non-refundable cancellation fee of $25 applies
- If you cancel your booking after paying all fees you will be refunded the total amount MINUS the cancellation fee of $25. The receipt must be
provided to claim this refund.
In cases where the cancellation fee is more than the total amount paid you are not entitled to a refund.
Parks and Wildlife will not give refunds based on circumstances outside of its control eg a decision to change plans, poor weather and / or ill-health not of a lifethreatening
In circumstances of serious injury to you, other camping members or your immediate family (medical certifi cate required) refunds may be given.
Applications must be in writing and include details of the injury / illness and include a copy of the medical certificate. Address applications to
Department of Parks and Wildlife, 63 Knight Tce, Denham WA 6537.
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