Dirk Hartog Island; a 4WD, camping and fishing paradise

The WA coastline is well known for it’s untouched beauty, with some of the best beaches in the world. Over the years I’ve covered a fair bit of what it has to offer, and loved every minute of it. However, every now and again a place appears that stands head and shoulders above the rest.

I thought Carrarang Station was as good as it got until visiting Steep Point, and then I went to Dirk Hartog Island, which blew them both out of the sky.

Dirk Hartog Island is an incredibly special place; if you haven’t been before, put it on your bucket list!

Think of a huge remote island with some of the best beaches and fishing in the world, linked only by 4WD tracks with stunning views and picture perfect camp sites. Dirk Hartog is well and truly worthy of its place within the 30 best WA Camping options, and was the highlight of our Variety 4WD Challenge.

Dirk Hartogs Beaches
One of Dirk Hartog’s incredible beaches
Cape Inscription at DHI
4WD Tracks taking us to Cape Inscription

Where is Dirk Hartog Island?

Dirk Hartog Island is found in the Shark Bay World Heritage area, some 900km north west of Perth. Its just over 1.5km from Steep Point, and directly west from Denham.

About the island itself

Steep Point is the western most point of Australian mainland. Dirk Hartog though, sticks out further west by a considerable amount.

It’s a mecca for avid fishermen, painters, scientists, 4WDer’s and campers. Dirk Hartog Island has a huge number of secluded beaches, incredible wildlife and a remoteness like no other. The number of 4WD’s on the island is restricted, so you’ll never have to worry about being crowded in by tourists!

The Dirk Hartog Island Camping experience is next level too; not only do you have your own slice of paradise, but there’s no one around you for kilometres!

Tides at Dirk Hartog Island
Watching the tide go out
Western side of DHI
Big swell pounding the western side


In 1616, Captain Dirk Hartog landed at Dirk Hartog Island and left an inscribed plate, at Cape Inscription. Several others visited in the two centuries following. In 1800, the island was used for mining guano and pearling. The lighthouse at Cape Inscription along with stores house and stables started in 1908 and took two years to be completed.

In 1868/1969 a pastrol lease was granted to farm sheep, and the island was sold by the Government to Sir Thomas Wardle. Since then, the island has been managed by the Wardle family, with a focus turning to tourism.


One thing that really shocked me was the size of Dirk Hartog Island. If you are a WA local, you’ll have been to Rottnest Island, which is 19km2. It’s not a super small island, but it is tiny compared to Dirk Hartog, which is 620km2 (roughly 33 times bigger!). For the east coasters, Dirk Hartog is about 3 times as small as Fraser Island, or 3 times as big as Moreton.

The island is roughly 80km long by 7km wide, and takes a full day of driving to do a lap in a 4WD.

Dirk Hartog Island Map

Below is a map of Dirk Hartog Island, with the barge arriving on the southern most tip.

Dirk Hartog Island Map
Dirk Hartog Island Map

Feral animals

Over time, all of the sheep on Dirk Hartog Island were removed, and thousands of goats too. Feral cats have been a huge issue in decimating the native fauna. Traps and baiting have been used in a massive effort to eradicate them.

A huge fence was built segregating the north and south sections of the island. At this stage, no feral cats have been seen in the northern part of the island for nearly 2 years! Trail cameras and sniffing dogs are used on a regular basis to monitor this.

Feral cat fence
The giant feral cat fence

How to get to Dirk Hartog Island

There are 3 was to get to Dirk Hartog Island – by boat, by 4WD on the barge, or you can fly in. By boat, its about a 40km journey from Denham.

If you don’t have your own 4WD, but you still want to see the island, Shark Bay 4WD tours can get you there with a range of different packages, some of which include snorkeling and exploring the great island.

Dirk Hartog Island Barge

The most common way of getting to the island is by putting your 4WD on the barge at Steep Point. This is a short 15 minute trip across onto the southern shore of Dirk Hartog Island.

The Dirk Hartog Island Ferry is run by the Wardle family, and runs as required. It’s big enough to fit a 4WD and average sized trailer. Anything bigger than a normal trailer and you’ll have to do two runs.

Prices range from $340 to $680 return for 4WD’s depending on the time of year, along with $70 per adult (driver excluded) and $35 per child. Trailers are $120 return. Yes, its expensive, but so is the fuel, and you don’t have any other alternatives for getting a 4WD to Dirk Hartog Island.

Dirk Hartog Island Barge
The barge taking a 4WD across to Dirk Hartog Island
Dirk Hartog Island barge
A quick 10 minute trip from Steep Point to Dirk Hartog Island

Prices and deals

Visiting Dirk Hartog Island isn’t cheap, but its unique in many ways, and in my opinion well worth the money. Keep an eye out for deals which are run from time to time and you can save a fair bit of money.

Earlier this year Dirk Hartog Island were running some great specials on camping and Ocean villa accommodation including 4WD and trailer transfers on the barge from Steep Point.

The Dirk Hartog Island Barge Cost ranges from $182.50 to $340 one way per 4WD, plus extra for passengers and trailers. If you arrange to go with a group though, you should get a better deal.

Dirk Hartog transport
It’s a big expense to get onto Dirk Hartog Island

Best time to visit Dirk Hartog Island

The most popular time to visit Dirk Hartog Island is between March and September, when the weather is best, winds are least and many of the marine animals are out and about. From May – July seems to be the better fishing period.

4WD at Dirk Hartog
Huge cliffs on the western side of Dirk Hartog Island; look closely and you’ll see a two 4WD’s in the distance

Accommodation at Dirk Hartog Island

There are 4 ways you can stay at Dirk Hartog Island:

Homestead Eco lodge

The Eco Lodge is located at the homestead on Dirk Hartog Island, on one of the most beautiful bays it has to offer.

The lodge doors are literally 30 metres from the water, and accommodation includes all meals. The lodge itself is a rustic but luxury retreat and has a bar area, pool table, outdoor dining and a private library. It has 6 twin rooms with ensuites.

Eco Lodge Dirk Hartog
The Eco Lodge at Dirk Hartog Island
Incredible beaches at Dirk hartog
Amazing views and metres from the beach

Ocean Villa

The Ocean villa is more suited to small groups of friends and families, and has 3 rooms sleeping up to 8 people. There’s a kitchenette, toilet and bathroom, eating area and big outdoor decked area metres from the beach. It’s also located at the homestead, about 100 metres away from the Eco lodge.

Homestead camping

If you want to camp near the beach, while maintaining access to flushing toilets and hot showers, the homestead camping option is for you. Located about 200 metres away from the Eco Lodge, there are a number of camp sites set back a few metres from the beach.

Homestead camping DHI
Homestead camping in the distance, set back a few metres from the pristine beach

National Park Camping

If you are self sufficient, the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPAW) manage a number of camp sites spread around Dirk Hartog island. These have no facilities (some have minor shelter and tables etc) so you need to bring in everything, and take it all out too.

4WD Tracks around Dirk Hartog Island

The Island is covered in 4WD tracks, heading to the major bays, beaches and attractions. Most of the tracks are hard sand with some corrugations, but there are a number of rocky sections and a number of beaches and dunes to drive through or around.

There’s nothing too difficult or that requires substantial clearance, but tyre pressures are key to ensuring you don’t get stuck on the beaches and that you don’t damage your tyres on the sharp rocks.

Please stick to the existing tracks, and ensure the gate through the feral cat fence is kept closed when you’ve gone through.

Take plenty of extra fuel too, as the slow speed tracks (15 – 60km/h) will chew a fair bit of extra juice.

Dirk Hartog island rugged west coast
Exploring the rugged west coast of Dirk Hartog
4WD puncture at Dirk Hartog
Take two spares if you plan on doing much driving!
Sandy tracks around Dirk Hartog
Lots of sandy tracks
Dirk Hartog Island signs
There is a reasonable amount of signage at major intersections

Fuel, water and food

I can’t stress enough that Dirk Hartog is remote. There’s no fuel, no fresh water and no shops. You need to bring everything required. If you run out, you are in trouble; it can be a good 4 – 5 hour drive to the homestead, and they can’t be providing visitors with things that weren’t brought.

Dirk Hartog 4WD Tracks
Once you are on the island, you need to be self sufficient

Dirk Hartog Island Fishing

Thousands of people visit Steep Point every year for the fishing, and Dirk Hartog is easily as good, if not better. Being harder to get to means its fished by even less people, and you can catch anything from Spanish Mackerel, Wahoo and Marlin to Pink Snapper, Bluebone, Spangled Emperor and Tuna.

The west coast seems to be more popular for fishing, but its also much harder to fish; you’ll either be doing it off rocks or cliffs. Take care, do it safely and wear a life jacket as required. You wouldn’t be the first person to die fishing the WA coastline.

Fishing at Dirk Hartog Island
You can literally see the fish swimming around

Steep Point

If you are taking your 4WD to Dirk Hartog, you’ll have to head out to Steep Point to get on the barge. It’s an amazing place, with great beaches, awesome fishing and a couple of other attractions to see in the area.

Shelter Bay Camping
Camping at Steep Point

Francois Peron National Park

Lastly, I will make mention of Francois Peron National Park, which is the northern part of Shark Bay, and is truly incredible. If you have time and are in the area, visit it!

To get to Francois Peron National Park, you have to head into Denham, and continue north, as its on a different peninsula to Steep Point.

Sunset at Francois Peron
Stunning sunsets on the orange dunes
Skipjack Point
Incredible viewing from Skipjack Point

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  1. Hey Bradley,

    Thanks for the comment. Quobba and Wagoe are amazing. Steep Point is another step up, and Dirk Hartog trumps them all by a long shot. It is expensive though, as you say.

    They do have some good packages from time to time though, especially if you are going with a group of people.

    All the best

  2. bradley sparg says:

    stunning place I would love to go fishing there as I have been to Quobba and Wagoe 3 times before .it does seem very expensive though as I am from South Africa …Lol. lovely interesting web page . thank you