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Dirk Hartog Island Guide – your next 4WD adventure

April 17, 2019

It’s Western Australia’s version of Fraser Island but a whole lot quieter. You will find Dirk Hartog Island (DHI) off of the most westerly point in Australia. Amazing beaches, fishing, four wheel driving and camping (...oh and scones. Yum.) are waiting for you at DHI.


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Preparation

DHI is super remote and even though the homestead can offer you some assistance (at a cost) with fuel and water, don’t depend on it. Carry enough water, fuel and food for your intended length of stay and kilometres. The nearest fuel station is at the Overlander Roadhouse on the highway at the turnoff to Steep Point. And the nearest place to get water and buy groceries is at Kalbarri in the south or Carnarvon in the north.

Ensure your vehicle is good mechanical condition and your recovery gear is on board. Most sites have no facilities so if you're not into digging, a porta-loo might be a good idea. And lastly, don’t forget to pack your fishing rods.


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Getting there

It’s not an easy journey out here, let’s get that very clear from the get go. First you’ll need to make it to Steep Point which is a journey in itself. The corrugations are the biggest killer of dreams on this trip and then there’s a few soft sand dunes thrown in for good measure.

You’ll have to stay overnight at Steep Point the day before your barge journey. If you’re going to stay more than one night, we’d recommend Kels 1 (East) for good wind protection and amazing reef right out front. If you only intend to stay one night on the mainland you’ll need to contact DPAW (the link is on the same page as the Steep Point bookings) and they will fit you in to a reserved site for DHI travellers.

The DHI ferry leaves from the beach at Blackies, with room enough for one vehicle and whatever you are towing (up to a total length of 10.6m). The sand is a bit soft on both sides and you drive on one side and reverse off the other.

We considered towing our tinny but decided not to because she doesn’t always travel in the direction we want her to and would probably have gotten us bogged straight off the bat. There are also some tracks that change or are hard to find in the shifting sand dunes. The worst of these (or most fun, depending on who you ask) are through the centre of the island from east to west. We don’t think our boat trailer would have loved tackling those.

You can also access DHI by private boat. You can access various sites on the east coast by boat with the journey from Denham being about 35km.


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When to visit

DHI is gorgeous year round, any time is a good time. Off-peak barge prices have a significant price difference to peak times, so travelling before March will save you plenty of money. We’d suggest spending 5-7 days on DHI to explore the whole island.


Where to stay

All bookings, barge and camping, need to be made through the Dirk Hartog Island Homestead’s website.


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Turtle Bay

In the far north-eastern corner, the campsite is set high above the beach overlooking spectacular reef that encircles clear pools of water. Depending on what time of year you visit the beach may be covered, and I mean COVERED, in turtle nests. The sunsets from Turtle Bay Campsite are also amazing.


Withnell Point

This beautiful bay is well protected from those southerly winds. It is great for swimming, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding.


Urchin Point

Urchin Point and The Block both have cool little shacks that you can use as you please, with respect of course. They also both have eco-toilets and a stall to set up your own shower out of the elements. Urchin Point is good for the fisherman/woman and also has a tiny coral beach which is good for a bathe.


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Louisa Bay

Similar to Withnell Point, another sheltered bay with calm, clear waters. Very picturesque. Again, no facilities. Access to the camp spot is through some pretty soft sand.


The Homestead

Save the homestead till last, cause you won’t want to leave. With hot showers and a camp kitchen with ocean views, this feels like glamping. There are also other accommodation types available including the lodge if you don’t feel like camping. They can also cater all your meals if cooking isn’t your thing either. Kieran and Tori who run the homestead do 4WD tours of the island, check their website for more details.


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Things to do


Turtles hatching

Over 3000 turtles come to Turtle Bay each year to lay their eggs, that gives it the title “the Loggerhead’s absolute favourite Australian beach”. You’ll be able to see mumma turtles coming ashore at night and babies hatching in the early morning. I have to admit, this has been one of my favourite experiences.


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Explore rock pools

Turtle Bay also has some stunning rock pools to discover. Straight out the front of camp are few nestled in the reef, these are best for swimming at on a low tide with little swell. If you venture further down the beach heading west you will find a few amongst the limestone. Just watch your step, there are holes everywhere.


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SUP or Kayak at Dirk Hartog Homestead

The Homestead sits in the middle of a long beach. Dolphins and baby sharks are often cruising around throughout the day. You can hire kayaks and stand up paddle boards here to cruise the ocean.


Snorkel Surf Point

A marine sanctuary zone on the far southern end of the island, Surf Point is home to various tropical fish and dense colourful coral. You’ll see plate corals and staghorns, and the parrot fish and nemos that call this place home.


History at the lighthouse

Dirk Hartog Island is the location of first European landfall in Western Australia. Dirk Hartog left an inscribed pewter plate at Cape Inscription when he visited in 1616. You can see this pewter plate and other information including the pewter of DHI’s next visitor Willem de Vlamigh at the Cape Inscription Lighthouse. The recently restored lighthouse keeper’s quarters once again stand beautifully on the cliffs.


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Shark Nursery

There are few places that you will spot baby sharks swimming in the shallows. We found they were most dense at the beach at Quoin Bluff South. There was not a moment that went by when we couldn’t see one. They are very skittish and bolt at the slightest noise of movement.


Fishing The Block, Notch Point & our secret spot

If you're into fishing off some very high cliffs, there are no shortage of spots between the Block and Notch Point. We caught a couple of Red Throat Emperors with in half an hour and called it quits, dinner was served. If you’d prefer to be closer the water, we found an awesome spot for snapper just near Quoin Bluff South. From the beach there you need to walk over the headland to the next bay.

There are no marked tracks and the limestone cliffs are pretty unstable and undercut, so watch your step and wear good shoes. At the far end of the rocky beach is where we caught some beautiful legal size snapper on white soft plastics.


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Australia’s most Westerly Beach

Just a super cute, teeny, tiny coral beach at Notch Point. Perfect for a cool off between fishing.


Natural Bridge, Mystery Beach

Kieran told us about the Natural Bridge on our barge trip over. He drew an X on the map gave us a few instructions. This place is a sweet find and not many people have visited it before. As you head towards Mystery Beach, about 400m before you arrive you’ll see a turn off to your right. Take the track through the dunes where the sand gets pretty soft. You’ll come to a spot that looks a bit like a dried up creek bed with some sharp looking rocks. Here follow the track to your right until you can go no further. From here it’s a walk. Looking at the ocean travel in a 45° angle to your right for about 400m. There she will be, a beautiful natural bridge, blowholes down on the left. The powerful force of nature.


Spearfishing Sunday Bay

If you wouldn’t mind getting the spear out, Sunday Bay is a good spot. It’s also a great place if you just want to snorkel off the beach. We picked up an amazing Tuskfish that fed us for a few days. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as living off the ocean.


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Where to stay on the way


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