Steep Point; the ultimate adventure in WA
Steep Point is the Western most point of Australian mainland, located in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area, some 900km north of Perth. It’s known as one of the best land based fishing locations in the world, and has some of Western Australia’s most impressive coastline.
With massive cliffs, beautiful beaches and an incredible isolation you’ll be sure to have an amazing time. Steep point is most certainly included in our 30 unbelievable camp sites in WA.
If you want to see some more photos, check this out – 2 weeks at Steep Point and Denham.
Where is Steep Point?
You’ll find Steep Point south east of Denham, on its own little peninsula in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area. It’s roughly 50km from Carrarang Station, and 100km from Tamala Station.
By road, its 232km from Steep Point to Denham, as you need to do a big loop down one peninsula and up the other.
Driving from Perth to Steep Point
You can drive from Perth to Steep Point in one day, but it is pushing it. With minimal stops, you can be on the gravel in around 9 hours, and then another 3 or so to get out to the Point.
We found it was much nicer to break the drive into two days, and spend a night at Hamelin Station Stay, which is 724km from Perth and only 160km from Steep Point.
We comfortably did this with Oliver, who’s just under 11 months old. A quick stop in Jurien for breakfast, then lunch at the 440 in Geraldton and fueling up at the Overlander before 25km to Hamelin Station Stay.
You then arrive at Steep Point late morning/early afternoon and have plenty of time to relax and set up!
Fee’s to access Steep Point
Steep Point is a National Park, so you either need an Annual or 4 week parks pass, or you have to pay $12 per vehicle. Camping fee’s are on top of this.
Steep Point 4WD track
Getting to Steep Point can only be done by boat, or 4WD.
Turning onto Useless Loop Road from Shark Bay Road, you drive down bitumen for some time before it turns to gravel. The road is usually in pretty good condition, and is graded from time to time.
The further you travel, the worse the road gets, but its still pretty good up until the turn off to Useless Loop (which is a closed mining town).
We stopped and dropped air out of our tyres about half way along the gravel track as it was getting pretty muddy and corrugated, and with trailers in tow we didn’t want to do any damage.
We then aired down even further at the information station just after Useless Loop. If you need more information on tackling gravel roads safely, check this out; the ultimate guide to gravel driving.
From the Useless Loop information bay to the first sand dune are some of the worst corrugations you’ll do – 15km of bone jarring fun. However, once you get to the first sand dune, the track is actually pretty good. The first two times I visited Steep Point this dune was badly chopped up with huge offset holes that made idling up the only option.
However, on our most recent trip, the dune was perfect and easy to drive up with tyres down below 20 PSI. Make sure you drop your tyres down to at least 20 PSI, or you’ll wreck the track for everyone and likely get stuck.
The first time we visited we had our tyres down to 12 PSI as it was so rough.
The rest of the track is easy; its got a few corrugations, a couple of dunes and has had lots of work done recently to make it easy.
You’ll go past the turnoff to the blowholes, around a couple of salt pans and eventually end up on the beach at Steep Point. From there, it takes you back inland to the Rangers house, where you ‘sign in’, say G’day and proceed to one of the most amazing places in WA.
Please note Useless Loop Road gets closed after any rain, and you can get stranded out there if the weather turns bad.
Keen on more 4WD tracks in the area? Check out the post we wrote on Shark Bay 4WD tracks.
No 4WD? No worries
If you haven’t got access to a 4WD, there are still options out there for you. Shark Bay 4WD Tours run a range of tours to Steep Point, Dirk Hartog Island and Francois Peron National Park, and can even take you snorkeling in the areas.
Is Steep Point family friendly?
In the back of my mind I always thought of Steep Point as a rough, wild sort of place that would be no good for young children and families.
I couldn’t have been further off the mark. Sure, there are some insane cliffs on the western point, big waves and swell that are suited only to the keenest fishermen, but on the other side is some of the best beaches in WA with no waves, crystal clear water and plenty of space to relax.
We spent 9 days at Steep Point with our 11 month old, and had a ball.
Steep Point Camping
Camping here has become so popular that it is now a booking only system, and it is often booked out 8 – 10 months in advance. You can make bookings up to 10 months in advance, so set a date and lock it in!
Most of the camp sites are located along Shelter Bay, set back a few metres from the beach with amazing views and fairly good protection from the wind. You can camp out on the cliffs too, which those keen on fishing often do, but its a much harsher environment.
It’s $11 per adult, $7 concession and $3 per child between 5 and 16 to camp at Steep Point, and worth every cent.
Best time to visit Steep Point
The most popular time to visit Steep Point is between March and August. This is when the weather is nicest, winds lower on average and the fishing is good.
Water temperatures here vary a lot from year to year, and this influences the fishing considerably. You can visit outside of these months, but it gets warmer and the wind can be absolutely shocking.
The only thing at Steep Point is drop toilets. You need to bring absolutely everything; fuel for the vehicles and boats, drinking, washing and cooking water, food, first aid, fishing, diving and any other gear you’ll use.
Pay careful attention to how much weight you bring, and where you put it as there have been plenty of broken 4WD’s and trailers!
When you fill in the camping forms, it says that you must bring 10 litres of fresh water per person, per day. If you are staying there for a while, this amounts to a logistical nightmare. For 3 people staying 9 days, we ‘needed’ 270 litres of water.
This requirement is probably fairly accurate for the warmer months, but we wouldn’t have used anywhere near that amount. We took about 230L of water, and had plenty left over.
However, better to have more than less, as its a good 4 hour drive into Denham for more!
Camping away from Steep Point
A lot of people visit Steep Point for a day trip, and we did this on our first visit. Carrarang Station is about 50km away from Steep Point, and Tamala around 100km.
If you get up early and head out you will have a good time. We dragged the boat in, and it was a big day. Carrarang was absolutely amazing, but we were disappointed we hadn’t stayed at Steep Point; it blew us away.
Steep Point Fishing
To be known as one of the best land based fishing places in the world says something. Steep Point Fishing is amazing at a number of locations. Fishing from the cliffs is most popular and yields Spanish Mackerel, Tuna, Wahoo, Sail fish and lots of sharks.
You’ll also get plenty of bottom dwelling species like Baldchin Groper, Pink Snapper, Spangled Emperor, Coral Trout and Rankin Cod.
To me, fishing from a cliff offers little appeal; its too much work. We prefer to use a boat, and with a tinny and trailer that’s been built and designed to go to places like Steep Point, we make use of it. We did very well trolling for fish, reasonably bottom bouncing and very well spearing.
Expect to see a LOT of sharks; we would head out 200m from our campsite at Shelter Bay and within a minute or two have at least a couple of sharks circling our tinny, looking for fish frames. They are all docile and friendly enough, although we weren’t game enough to jump in with them!
Taking a boat into Steep Point
You’ll see a lot of boats at Steep Point. You have two ways of getting them there – tow them in on a well built, robust trailer (and suitable boat!), or drive them over from Denham.
The drive over from Denham is roughly 50km and can be done in under an hour with a bigger boat if it is calm and the tides are right. However, I know of those who have taken 3 – 4 hours to do the trip when its rough. Watch the tides and plan your route too; a bloke got stuck on a sand bar and had to wait for the tides to turn around not long ago!
Also, remember you need to bring a fair bit of fuel if you are going this route.
The other option is to tow your boat in, which many people do. I’ve seen a variety of fibreglass and aluminium boats go in from the 3 – 6 metre mark. It all comes down to your tyre pressures, tow vehicle, boat and trailer strength and how you drive it. There have been many trailers and boats damaged on the track in!
Our little tinny and trailer runs big 33″ tyres, and we let them down to 5 – 7 PSI. The tyres take most of the punishment, with the springs taking the rest.
You can launch the boat at the bay you are camping at with relative ease. The water doesn’t drop off that steeply, but its enough to beach launch a boat and pull the trailer up with a winch or snatch strap.
We left our boats in the water for the whole 9 days, with an anchor out the front (bow of the boat facing away from the beach) and one on the beach. Make sure you do this properly, or you’ll wake up to no boat!
Dirk Hartog Island
I thought Steep Point was unreal, and then I went across to Dirk Hartog Island on the barge. This place is truly amazing. With a wild west coast and incredible beaches and bays on the eastern side, there’s somewhere for everyone.
The Island is huge – roughly 80km long and 12km wide, making it 32 times the size of Rottnest Island! The only way around the island is by boat or 4WD, with lots of 4WD tracks around the place.
You can camp at various places around the Island through the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DBCA), or you can stay at the homestead in rooms or camp.
It takes a good 4 hours to drive from top to bottom by 4WD on rocky and sandy tracks, so be prepared.
There are two ways to get to DHI – by boat, or with your 4WD on the barge. This leaves from Steep Point, and operates when ever anyone needs to travel. It ranges from about $350 to $600 return, with some good deals on camping available from time to time.
On the way into Steep Point you’ll turn right at a T junction, away from False Entrance. This is a pretty amazing spot, with blowholes and a big beach. A lot of people fish off the cliffs here too, and I believe you are allowed to camp here as well.
Have you been to Steep Point?
We love Steep Point, and highly recommend it as an awesome adventure. Have you guys been there? What did you think of it? Let us know below!
I don’t know of any names or places like that; is it a camp ground or something?
All the best
What do you know of Kels Place? (Kelvin Wright)
We have bash plates on our 2016 Dmax, for the simple reason that one mistake off road, or slip can cost you thousands of dollars in damage.
Whether you need one depends on what sort of 4WDing you plan on doing, and what risk you are prepared to take. Also consider the weight addition as they are not light.
I wouldn’t worry about them for Dirk Hartog Island. Most of the tracks are sandy, corrugated or rocky, but without anything that I can recall which would do underbody damage.
All the best
Hi Aaron, love your articles.
I would appreciate your advice regards after market bash plates for my 22 Dmax.
Are these recommended for a trip to Dirk Hartog?
You’ll be fine; they are light weight and go just about anywhere. They are probably more capable than most 4WD’s out today!
I’d go down to around 20 PSI for the corrugations, and a bit less for when the sand starts. Low range for the hills, and high range for everything else.
Have a great time!
Me and my partner are planning on heading up to Steep point in a couple of weeks, we have a ’89 Daihatsu Rocky, haven’t done much 4WDing before.
I am wondering how it will fair on the track and over the dunes, it’s clearance isn’t the highest (I can crawl under the car to change the oil)
Cheers for any advice.
Congratulations on the new camper. What is it? The first dune can be very easy, but I’ve also seen it extremely chopped up. It’s not a bad idea to walk it first if you are unsure, and adjust your tyre pressures accordingly. If its not got big holes in it you’ll be fine to just cruise up gently. If there are offset holes you’ll have to let tyres down further (including the camper) and get a bit of momentum in between the holes (subject to their size etc).
I would say its probably in good condition though, and sand driving is one of the more forgiving types of 4WDing; I wouldn’t be worried about damaging the vehicle. Low range, low tyre pressures and you’ll be fine.
All the best
Thanks Aaron, some great info here.
A quick question… we are planning a trip to Steep point in School holidays. We have a fairly new Prado and a Brand New 4wd camper… so ok about travelling on the rough track… slowly, but wondering about the first sandhill… 750mtrs. Is it a steep sandhill or just a long slow incline? Is it advisable to walk it first? This will be our ‘maiden voyage’ with the camper, and whilst we are confident in the campers ability, we don’t want to wreck the 4wd in the process. We’ve been to a few rough spots, but not huge amounts of sandy hills towing a heavy trailer. Your thoughts…???
Sorry to hear that. The mechanic at Denham was very helpful when we had issues out there, and came and got us, although I have heard he won’t take his tow truck in very often anymore because its suffered too much damage on the road. At the end of the day though, cash talks.
Otherwise, you can try RAC, or probably the cheapest method is to get someone to tow him out with a snatch strap carefully, until he can get onto a normal tow truck
All the best
Hi loved hearing all the stories! My sons currently broken down at steep point with major mechanical gear box damage. Any idea of vehicle recovery help in the area? Thanks in advance for any advice
You’ll have an amazing time over there. I did write an article a while back that you may not have seen, which is useful – https://www.4wdingaustralia.com/camping/camping-with-a-toddler-35-ways-to-make-it-easier/
Other than that, just be flexible and take it as it comes. You’ll have some slow, relaxing days around camp and that’s just fine
All the best
Hey! We are headed to steep point to camp for 1 night before heading over to DHI. We have a 9 month old baby. Any tips as I see you also had an 11 month old at the time. Thanks.
Awesome; it certainly holds some great memories then. Such a great place.
All the best
I took a day trip out there in August last year with my girlfriend, left with my Fiancé.
Looking forward to going there again and staying out there for a day or 2.
Yep, you’ve nailed it. I remember when they repaired the track, and someone arrived at Steep Point in a Holden Commodore. I couldn’t believe how much it changes between trips though. Slow, and low tyre pressures is the key
I have been to Steep Point many times. Holden Rodeo 3lt diesel towing a 5.25mt
Stacer alum boat with 750kgs of our camping gear in it and a tonne in the ute.
Tyre pressure sometimes down to 8psi ute and 15psi boat trailer. All about the
day of travel as it changers so much. The first sand hill is 750 mts and then all is good.
The second sandhill (tin can hill) has been upgraded to limestone but was a challenge.
The 15 kms before that can wreck your trailer so go slow is the word.
Yep, you’ll be fine. It’s all about tyre pressures (and fuel range if you are over at DHI). There’s only one nasty dune, which may be in perfect condition, or it could be a bit of fun.
All the best
We are wanting to head out to Steep Point and DHI in September.
Will our 2018 Holden Trailblazer with standard suspension and AT tires be ok to take out on the track?
It really depends on the track conditions, but I would allow at least 3 hours.
All the best
We have booked DHI villa on the 22 of March 2021
How long does it take from Hamelin station to the barge roughly as we need to be there at 8am