Steep Point

StartClick to Reverse the Dynamic Map and Driving NotesUseless Loop Rd
FinishSteep Point
DifficultyDifficulty 4/5
Suitable For4WD 
Distance143.82 km
Minimum Days1
Average Speed45.35 km/hr
Travel Time3 hrs 10 mins
Page Updated: 10 Mar 2023


This Trek starts at the junction of Useless Loop Road & Shark Bay Road. The nearest fuel is at Denham or the Overlander Roadhouse.

It's possible to drive out and back in a day to visit Steep Point to say you've stood on Australia's most western point in a day. There's even a sign, and a camera holder on a pole. However doing this is just ticking up a bucket list and means you miss out on one of the best beach camping locations in Australia. Why not make a camping holiday of your trip to Steep Point? This Trek shows you how.

Getting to Steep Point is a lot easier than it used to be now that it is managed by WA Parks & Wildlife. The track is well defined, there are more visitors, and there is a ranger on site when you get there to help with any queries or issues.

However, with that said, its not a trip for the unprepared. Firstly, you MUST have a high clearance 4WD and know how to drive it in soft sand. You must be prepared to lower tyre pressures and be fully self sufficient as this is a very remote area and there's no assistance or supplies once you leave Shark Bay.

You also have to book your camping before you make the trip. Camping is limited to designated sites and its often fully booked out well in advance of school holidays and peak periods. Make sure you can secure camping dates before heading off on this trip because it's a very long, full day's drive if you have to turn back and there's nowhere along the way to stop or stay enroute.

Avoid travelling overloaded and be conscious that you'll need to deflate tyre pressures a few times during the trip. Make sure you carry an air compressor so you can also reinflate on the return journey. The first deflation point should be at the transition of seal to unsealed road to ensure better vehicle handling, improved comfort, and safer travelling over the heavy corrugations that dominate this route all the way to the national park entrance. Once you reach the self-registration you should air down again in readiness for the very soft, and long steep hill climb on a narrow section of track as you first enter the dune field. This first hill catches out the unprepared. The recommended starting point is to deflate tyres to 20psi and if towing you should also deflate the trailer tyres. Once you enter this section you will not need to reinflate tyres until you exit the national park. So do it right first time and enjoy the trip with confidence. If you intend to load the Dirk Hartog Island barge, they prefer 15psi to ensure no one gets into trouble when reversing back up the beach off the ferry. With that said, once you have the appropriate tyre pressures the trip is easy going.

There are three main camping areas, one on the cliffs at Steep Point itself, and the main camp some 7km back called Shelter Bay and a third at False Entrance. Shelter Bay is the arguably the better area to camp with beautiful white sandy beaches looking out onto the protected waters of the South Passage looking over to Dirk Hartog Island. Many people bring small watercraft and launch directly off the beach, or those with larger boats motor over from Denham and make a mooring in the bay. Fishing, snorkelling, swimming and boating are all enjoyable ways to spend your time at Shelter Bay.

Steep Point itself is a headland at the mouth of South Passage and fronts the Indian Ocean and is very exposed to the roaring south westerly winds that dominate the WA coastline almost year round. It's a destination in itself to visit Steep Point and there is a sign to visit to mark the achievement of your journey here but being so exposed means it is a somewhat unpleasant area to stay too long unless your goal is to fish from the cliffs. The campsite area here is set lower down the headland where it is more protected but unlike Shelter Bay there is no sand, just hard limestone. The Steep Point camping area is certainly more convenient for those that wish to fish from the cliff as it saves driving but from a camping perspective, Shelter Bay is by far the better choice.

Consider the effort of getting to Steep Point when you make your campsite bookings and if dates don't line up consider moving sites to extend your stay. You'll want a minimum of 2 nights but even this won't be enough to see all there is here. Return visitors aim to book for much longer because there's plenty to do here and it's arguable one of the best 4WD camping destinations in Australia.

There is camping area at Steep Point itself but this does not offer sandy beach camping like at Shelter Bay but faces the South Passage. It's a magnificent outlook but is not beach camping. It's not a bad option if its all you can book, but unless you specifically want to spend your time balloon fishing from the cliffs at Steep Point or are happy to drive each day to look around then you're probably better off booking at Shelter Bay where you can sit back and relax. This enormous area has camping room for everyone, even when fully booked you will have space to yourself.

To reach Steep Point you'll take a sandy track that follows the eastern side of the peninsula. Steep Point gives the traveller the opportunity to see a pristine environment and enjoy superb ocean vistas from beaches, bays and high cliff tops. Views from Cloughs Bar to Steep Point include secluded bays, salt pans or birradas, scrub covered dunes, glimpses of Dirk Hartog Island and across the bay to the Peron Peninsula. If you are keen to fish, there are plenty of opportunities to catch a big fish from the beach or the rocks.

On the western side of the Steep Point area are the Zuytdorp Cliffs (pronounced Zurtoff). The Indian Ocean smashes against these cliffs some 170m above the waterline and provides sightseers with fantastic photography opportunities at almost every turn. On the eastern side (Shark Bay side) are numerous sandy beaches, where one can see fish swimming in the shallows or rock pools. From a fishing point of view, Steep Point itself, is arguably the best rock fishing platform in Australia, with the main catch being mackerel and snapper.

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The terrain of Edel Land/Steep Point is rugged sand dune country and in places is very sandy. In places tracks are overgrown and vehicle scratching is to be expected.

From Shelter Bay the sandy tracks make way to rocky limestone as you climb the headland to Steep Point. From here you can pick up a cliff-top trail called the Zurtydorph Track that gently meanders south along the top of the cliffs with spectacular views the entire way down to Thunder Bay and beyond.

Along this route you'll find some bays and tracks to blow holes. Take care, these are dangerous and unpatrolled places.


Evidence of aboriginal occupation has been found in this region going back to around 30,000 years. It is the traditional lands of the Malgana people. Tools were created using stone from a natural quarry at Crayfish Bay. Fresh water was sourced from Willyah Mia, on the eastern shore of the peninsula and fish was plentiful.

The earliest European exploration of the region was by the Dutch explorer Dirk Hartog in 1616. Hartog landed on the nearby island, now named Dirk Hartog Island. Hartog was the first recorded European to land on the western coastline of Australia and he was followed by many others including de Vlamingh in 1697 who was a Dutch seafarer that named the headland 'Steyle Hock' (Steep Point) when anchored off the cliffs near the southern tip of Dirk Hartog Island. William Dampier named Shark Bay in 1699; St. Alouaran visited in 1772, Baudin in 1801 and 1803, De Freycinet in 1818, King in 1822, Grey in 1839 and Denham in 1858.

TrekID: 129


MUST READ: You are strongly encouraged to read the following articles prepared by the knowledge experts at ExplorOz for your safety and preparation before undertaking any published ExplorOz Trek - Outback Safety, Outback Driving Tips, Outback Communications, and Vehicle Setup for the Outback.


Please refer to Road Reports published by the local shire and/or main roads for the area you intend to visit. Road/Track conditions can change significantly after weather events. Travellers must be responsible for their own research on current conditions and track suitability.
Fuel, water and recovery gear is essential. Ensure you book in advance and make a call to the Ranger before you come if you have special considerations.

The track to Steep Point can be accessed by 2WD and AWD vehicles but only as far as Cloughs Bar which is the area where the National Park self-registration station is setup and where you'll see warning signs advising a reduction of tyre pressures to at least 20psi. Don't hesitate to take this advice or you'll be sorry. You should have already reduced your tyre pressures back at the start of the unsealed section to assist with the heavy corrugations but you will also need to reduce them here again for sand driving.

Be very conscious of what you tow. The unprepared and overloaded will come unstuck in the sand section. Heavily laden trailers, especially boats on trailers should be avoided due to the risk of suspension damage so bring spares and welding equipment if you decide to push the limits. Caravans are not permitted here.

Some experienced visitors split their group into separate travel convoy groups sending some to Denham to launch their boats from Denham to motor over to Shelter Bay where they setup beach or deep water moorings, whilst the rest of the group will drive the camping gear in up this track.

Ideally you'll camp in a roof top tent, swag, tent, or light weight offroad camper trailer.
Make sure you have a quality tyre pressure gauge and pump.

The recommended tyre pressures posted on the signage at the national parks self registration station is 20psi but as a guide, the operator of DHI barge prefers that passengers set tyres to 15psi all round to avoid bogging when reversing off the barge onto the beach. This pressure is then suitable for all areas on the island and for returning to Useless Loop Road.


The Steep Point area is now managed by the Parks WA. You will need to book campsites before entering the area. This is a very popular area and you are unlikely to get a site without prior booking well in advance. Use the Parks Stay website -

Another option to consider is taking the barge over to Dirk Hartog Island. Dirk Hartog Island offers camping areas in both National Park and at the privately owned Dirk Hartog Lodge and Campground. To justify the cost of your barge passage you'd want to allocate at least 5 days on the island if not more. For DHI visitors, you don't need to book a site at Shelter Bay the night before your departure as 1 night stay at the ferry departure point is included in the cost of your ferry ticket. The barge only operates in the early morning before the wind pick up so it's not possible to drive from Shark Bay to Shelter Bay in daylight hours to catch the morning departure. Bookings for campsites and barge must be made on the Dirk Hartog Island website:

Fuel Usage

Fuel is available Overlander Roadhouse, Denham and on Dirk Hartog Island. Plan your fuel range carefully factoring in day trips and sand driving. There is no fuel available at Shelter Bay or Steep Point. However, if you choose to extend your trip by taking the barge from Shelter Bay to Dirk Hartog Island you can buy fuel from the DHI Homestead.
4cyl 20 litres4cyl 23 litres4cyl 29 litres
6cyl 22 litres6cyl 26 litres6cyl 25 litres
8cyl 22 litres8cyl 24 litres
Usage is averaged from recorded data (* specific to this trek) and calculated based on trek distance.

Best Time To Visit

The best months to visit if sightseeing and generally exploring the area are Spring and Autumn. Summer can get too hot over 40 degrees.

Closest Climatic Station

Distance from Trek Mid Point 43.78km N
Mean Max. °C30.631.831.128.525.822.921.722.423.825.527.729.1
Mean Min. °C22.022.822.019.716.513.912.713.214.816.518.620.5
Mean Rain mm7.715.314.214.037.454.840.
    Best time to travel      Ok time to travel      Travel NOT recommended


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Useless Loop Rd to Junction Useless Loop Road
Driving: 98 km
Heading: 283°
Avg Speed: 45.35 km/hr
EST Time: 02:09:39
  • Drive north on Denham Hamelin Road. for: 0.1 km time: 00:03
  • Turn left onto Useless Loop Road. for: 97.89 km time: 02:09:36
Junction Useless Loop Road to National Park Entry Self Registration
Driving: 1.42 km
Heading: 252°
Avg Speed: 45.35 km/hr
EST Time: 01:52
  • Head west on Steep Point 4wd only for: 1.42 km time: 01:52
National Park Entry Self Registration to 3-Way Junction
Driving: 5.07 km
Heading: 271°
Avg Speed: 45.35 km/hr
EST Time: 06:42
  • Head southwest on Steep Point 4wd only for: 5.06 km time: 06:42
  • Turn right at the end of the road, onto Steep Point Track for: 0 km time: 00:01
3-Way Junction to Start/End Sandhills
Driving: 8.87 km
Heading: 358°
Avg Speed: 45.35 km/hr
EST Time: 11:44
  • Head north on Steep Point Track for: 4.01 km time: 05:18
  • Turn left to stay on Steep Point Track for: 4.86 km time: 06:26
Start/End Sandhills to Thunder Bay Track
Driving: 8.61 km
Heading: 294°
Avg Speed: 45.35 km/hr
EST Time: 11:23
  • Head north on Steep Point Track for: 7.02 km time: 09:13
  • Go straight onto Steep Point Track for: 1.59 km time: 02:10
  • Make a sharp left onto Thunder Bay Track for: 0.01 km time: 00:01
Thunder Bay Track to Mangrove Track
Driving: 5.47 km
Heading: 338°
Avg Speed: 45.35 km/hr
EST Time: 07:14
  • Head north on Thunder Bay Track for: 0.01 km time: 00:01
  • Turn left onto Steep Point Track for: 5.46 km time: 07:13
  • Keep left onto Steep Point Track for: 0 km time: 00:00
Mangrove Track to Mangrove Track
Driving: 3.81 km
Heading: 324°
Avg Speed: 45.35 km/hr
EST Time: 05:02
  • Head north on Steep Point Track for: 3.8 km time: 05:02
  • Make a sharp right onto Mangrove Track for: 0.01 km time: 00:00
Mangrove Track to Ranger
Driving: 3.35 km
Heading: 288°
Avg Speed: 45.35 km/hr
EST Time: 04:25
  • Head west on Mangrove Track for: 0.01 km time: 00:00
  • Go straight onto Steep Point Track for: 3.25 km time: 04:18
  • Turn right for: 0.09 km time: 00:07
Ranger to Steep Point
Driving: 9.22 km
Heading: 303°
Avg Speed: 45.35 km/hr
EST Time: 12:11
  • Head south for: 0.09 km time: 00:07
  • Turn right at the end of the road, onto Steep Point Track for: 0.14 km time: 00:11
  • Keep right onto Steep Point Track for: 0.87 km time: 01:09
  • Turn left to stay on Steep Point Track for: 1.44 km time: 01:54
  • Keep right onto Steep Point Track for: 1.24 km time: 01:39
  • Turn left to stay on Steep Point Track for: 0.26 km time: 00:20
  • Keep left onto Steep Point Track for: 1.74 km time: 02:19
  • Turn left to stay on Steep Point Track for: 1.42 km time: 01:53
  • Turn right to stay on Steep Point Track for: 1.87 km time: 02:28
  • Keep left onto Steep Point Sign Access for: 0.13 km time: 00:11
  • Turn right for: 0.02 km time: 00:01
Distance is based on the travel mode shown (Driving, Straight, Cycling, Walking etc), Direction is straight line from start to end, Avg Speed & EST Time is calculated from GPS data.

What to See


Where to Stay

Camping is available at Steep Point but if you are not fishing, it's best to camp back at Shelter Bay. These camp spots are on the beach and each one has a bit of space between them. The campsites have all been upgraded and there are good quality eco-toilet shelters in a number of locations - some are a good walk from the campsites (or short drive).

Services & Supplies

There are no outlets offering supplies of food, water, fuel or medical assistance anywhere along this route. You must be fully self-sufficient.


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