Four wheel driving in Shark Bay
Many of the spectacular natural attractions of Shark Bay are only accessible by 4WD. Steep Point, Dirk Hartog Island and most of Francois Peron National Park are all 4WD destinations of high renown and worthy of days of exploration. Visit each of these destinations in out visitor guide for more information on access, permits and highlights for each site. Our 4WD itineraries below outline some of the better sites to investigate.
Remote travel and being prepared
Shark Bay is in a remote part of Australia. The 4WD destinations in Shark Bay are fantastic holiday locations but can be inherently risky especially if you are poorly prepared or inexperienced. The aridity of the area and high summer temperatures could mean a few hours stuck in a remote destination could turn into a catastrophe. Make sure you are well prepared!
|Please study the 'Four wheel driving in Shark Bay' information sheet and remember these key considerations when visiting Shark Bay:
- Tyre pressure is a key factor. Dropping your tyre pressure will prevent you from getting bogged, give a smoother ride and help protect the tracks. Know your vehicle and the best tyre pressure for sand driving before you go.
- Facilities are limited across Shark Bay and there is virtually no water except in the main tourist areas of Denham and Monkey Mia. Take all your own supplies with you.
- The remoteness of many sites means that you will need recovery equipment, sufficient spares and a good communication system.
Download a checklist of camping equipment
for a 4WD trip to Shark Bay here.
Shark Bay is an excellent 4WD destination and there are numerous locations only accessible by 4WD including some of the area’s most spectacular places.
Francois Peron – the top spots of the tip!
In Francois Peron National Park, anywhere north of the homestead is 4WD country. You can easily spend several days in this area camping and exploring beaches, coastline and the rolling red dune landscapes. Camp at Bottle Bay or one of the other campsites nearby and try a spot of fishing for whiting or tailor. Head a few kilometres further north to Cape Peron, the tip of Peron Peninsula, where two nutrient rich currents meet, attracting a plethora of wildlife. Close by is Skipjack Point where viewing platforms perched on the dune top provide great views of local marine life. Further south in the park is Big Lagoon, a spectacular estuary that can be explored by kayak, canoe or boat. Campsites here and on the eastern side of the peninsula at Herald Bight are conveniently located on the water to allow easy access for boating and fishing. Check out our Francois Peron National Park pages for all the necessary information on visiting this beautiful area.
Western explorer – week or more. A trip to Edel Land’s spectacular sites.
On the western side of Shark Bay lie some of Shark Bay’s most spectacular sites. With a week or so up your sleeve you will find plenty of things to do around the Steep Point and Edel Land area. Here the landscape is dominated by limestone, and spectacular cliffs, blowholes and small beaches wait to be explored. Allow for a day's travel in and out of the area as the tracks are rough and slow going.
Many people will head straight for the Steep Point area where some of the best land based fishing can be found. This also marks the most westerly point of the Australian mainland which for some is an attraction in its own right.
Camping is permitted at both Shelter Bay and Steep Point, and they are a good base from which to explore the surrounding area. Shelter Bay, on the peninsula’s eastern side provides some protection from the southerly wind and offers access to the waters of South Passage for fishing and boating. Visitors generally spend their time fishing from the cliffs or exploring by boat but you can easily spend a full day exploring the Zuytdorp Cliffs along a vehicle track that traverses the cliff top. The views are spectacular and when the swell is running spectacular ‘blowholes’ start to become active. Further south are two nice bays, Crayfish Bay and False Entrance. Explore these areas for some fishing or just to walk the beach and watch the surf.
A permit is required to access these areas – visit our Steep Point pages.
Grand tour – Edel Land and Dirk Hartog Island explorer
With some time up your sleeve and some careful planning you can visit remote and spectacular Dirk Hartog Island. You should dedicate at least a week to this trip to give the island the time it deserves and because of the effort required to get there. Vehicle access is via Steep Point (permit required) where the soft sand tracks are quite rough, so ensure you are well prepared. The barge from Steep Point arrives at Cape Ransonnet and needs to be booked through Dirk Hartog Island.
Once on the island there are many places to explore. At the most northerly tip (2 – 3 hours drive from the barge landing) is Cape Inscription one of Australia’s most significant historic sites. It marks the landing point of several early European explorers, including Dirk Hartog way back in 1616, the earliest recorded landing of a European in Western Australia. A lighthouse now sits atop the cape and the views from this area are spectacular.
Camping is permitted at several basic sites around the northern half of the island which are popular for fisherman and offer excellent shore-based fishing. More formal accommodation is available at the Dirk Hartog Island Homestead on the sheltered eastern side of the island. Sandy beaches along this section of the coastline are also excellent for exploring and snorkelling is possible at some sites close to shore.
Along the western edge of the island lie spectacular cliffs that withstand the battering of the Indian Ocean swells. Blowholes surge into life when the swell is running.
Australian National 4WD Council's Code of Ethics
You can assist the Department of Parks and Wildlife to protect our natural heritage by observing and applying this code of ethics:
- Obey the laws and regulations for recreational vehicles that apply to public lands.
- Respect the cultural, heritage and environmental values of private/public land, by obeying restrictions that may apply.
- Respect our flora and fauna. Stop and look, but never disturb.
- Keep to formed vehicle tracks.
- Keep the environment clean. Carry your own, and any other, rubbish out.
- Keep your vehicle mechanically sound and clean to reduce the environmental impact.
- Adopt minimal impact camping and driving practices.
- Seek permission before driving on private land. Do not disturb livestock or watering points, leave gates as found.
- Take adequate water, food, fuel, basic spares and a first aid kit on trips. In remote areas travel with another vehicle and have Royal Flying Doctor Service, or equivalent, radio contact.
- Enjoy your recreation and respect the rights of others.
- Plan ahead and lodge trip details with a responsible person.
- Support 4WD touring as a responsible and legitimate family recreational activity. Consider joining an affiliated 4WD club.