Steep Point and Edel Land
- Most Western Point of Australia
- Thunderbay blowholes
- 200 metre high Zuytdorp Cliffs
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.
In 1697, the Dutch seafarer Willem 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 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.
Shelter Bay / South Passage
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 early.
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 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.
There are camp sites at Shelter Bay, The Oven (Steep Point) and False Entrance. Permits are required and are very popular so book as soon as possible. You can book over the internet at www.sharkbay.org, by email on email@example.com or by phone directly by calling 08 99483993.
Shelter Bay – Beautiful beach camping with views of Dirk Hartog Island. Very popular from April to October when it is not so windy and the water is calmer.
Steep Point/The Oven – The most westerly point of Australia, making this camping spot popular year round, also a very popular fishing spot.
False Entrance – Popular with the nearby blowholes, this camp site attracts people year round to fish, camp and enjoy the open stretch of white sandy beach.
You do need a 4WD vehicle to access these and must have your own pressure pump as there is not one available out in the park. There is also nowhere to purchase supplies so please remember to bring enough, fuel, food and water.
Tamala Station is located in the southern part of Edel Land/Steep Point in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area. There are several points you can choose from to camp and you must book by calling the rangers on 08 99483994 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. They are open 9:00am – 6:00pm Monday to Saturday.
Please see below for the prices:
$15.20 per adult
$8.60 per child (6-16years)
$10.80 per retiree
There is a $50.00 deposit for the key, which you get back upon returning the key to the homestead.
EFTPOS & Credit Card facilities are NOT available. Cash only.
Fires are not permitted between October 1st and April 30th but are allowed from the 1st of May to the 30th of September, so if you wish to have a fire remember to book for this time.
The Edel Land Peninsula including Steep Point can be visited by self drive 4WD. There are also guided tours by land, air and sea which can be booked at the Shark Bay Discovery & Visitor Centre, 53 Knight Tce, Denham (08) 9948 1590 or online