Mainland Australia's most Western Point
I knew before we left Melbourne that no 4×4 journey to the west coast is complete without a trip out to Steep Point. The trip out to the most westerly point of the Australian mainland has always been popular with fishermen and more recently with tourists, however this has not changed the feeling of remoteness nor improved the quality of the roads.
WE ARE HERE
Every Steep Point trip starts at the turnoff to Useless Loop Road from the Shark Bay Road. Here there is a sign board with all the information you need to be prepared. The two things that make Steep Point more special are it’s 4×4 only and it’s a bloody long way out there. We love these spots because straight away that halves the amount of tourists in the area, and we want an Ausventure! To summarise the information sign it says camping needs to be booked online before entering, easy done, and there is nothing out there – no water, no fuel, only nature. It also says it takes at least 3 hours from the sign to get out there so we better hurry up as it’s already 3pm.
We have supplies for at least a week most of the time and had filled up with fuel (usually carry 165L) at the Billabong Roadhouse less then 100km beforehand so we were ready to go. The Useless Loop Rd is about 100km all dirt and rough, only maintained for mining access and the couple of stations that are out here. A more common way for people to travel to Steep Point is to day trip it, either from Denham (Shark Bay) or leaving their caravan at one of the stations along the way which offer accomodation. However, people who know our setup will be aware that we hardly ever separate from our van as there is no need and we are not self sufficient without it.
Once the 100km is done, we travelled about 80km/h at 35psi, you then come to the entrance of the park. Here there is a similar sign as before, giving you all the details and you’ll find the track becomes sandy, less maintained, and corrugated (we started at 20psi). A few km down the track is an intersection, left is down to False Entrance, and right is out to Steep Point. We had booked at Sheltered Bay Campsite near Steep Point and it was getting late so on we travelled. The track travels north over corrugated sand for around 10km following large sand dunes on your left, it then turns into the sand heading west. It’s about 50km from here out to Sheltered Bay with the first few km winding their way up the dunes. The crest of the highest dune was the challenge for us and we had to further deflate the tyres (down to 15psi) and use our Maxtrax while the sun was setting. We arrived at the campground, which is just marked spots along the beach and a toilet, just as it was getting dark.
The next day we enjoyed our time at Sheltered Bay. This is also where the barge picks up one car at a time and takes it across to Dirk Hartog Island, which is another adventure in itself but pretty expensive. We always say we have to save something for next time! Anyway, Sheltered Bay is a little bit of a taste of what’s over on the island. During our morning I thought there was a seal heading along the beach, but on closer inspection it turned out to be a large turtle. We quickly stripped off and jumped in and luckily we had flippers because he was pretty quick. He was big with lots of ocean growth on his shell and he had one eye fixed on us the whole time. We enjoyed him for a minute or so but someone gave him four flippers which is cheating and with one big stroke he disappeared into the blue. After that we knew we had finally arrived on the WA coast, this was also the first time I’d been in the ocean in a while.
That afternoon we headed out to Steep Point to get a photo with the ‘Western Most Point’ sign on the cliffs. We stayed at the campground out here, just around the corner from the point, which was full of people fishing off the cliffs with helium balloons. Very interesting and a lot of effort considering we didn’t see them catch anything. The next day we headed south along the western coast of the park towards Thunder Bay Blowholes. This track is a bit more sandy and hilly as it’s less travelled. I wouldn’t think too many trailers make it along here but for us it wasn’t a problem. Scenery was like being back at the Great Australian Bight with huge cliffs heading southward. We arrived at the impressive Thunder Bay Blowholes with a mighty roar. We also ran into someone who had been to the blowholes at False Entrance but said these at Thunder Bay were the better ones.
Looking at the map we thought let’s go for a drive further down the coast towards Crayfish Bay. The Hema shows patchy roads all the way down to False Entrance and we like a challenge. Down we went, a bit more of a challenge and a bit less travelled, to Crayfish Bay. Still towing our Tvan and travelling by ourselves some of the hills required a run up and the Jeep got a few more scratches, but it was fun. From Crayfish Bay you can go all the way down to False Entrance, however we found this only comes out at the top of the beach. The beach, to be honest, was a bit out of our depth, we did drive out on it and it was soft and a proper ocean beach. We would have to drive below the high water mark to get around the rocks and it makes me worried just typing this. There was a track up traversing the dunes across the back of the beach but it was too wind blown and sandy.
Just before the sunset we watched a pod of whales move southward along the cliffs and decided to set up camp for the night.
The next morning we backtracked all the way to the blowholes, around and out the top way back to Useless Loop Road. Here the wild goats watched as we re-inflated our tyres. We had used at least 100L of fuel but had a great time doing so. I hope this area stays the way it is and isn’t spoiled, like other places, by a sealed road and a ton of visitors. Top 5 places in WA for me, but also in the top five worst roads.
Our next blog will be from: Francois Peron National Park
Until our next update - see you on / off the road 😉
Cassie and Micky