Dirk Hartog Island, covering 63,000 hectares, is Western Australia’s largest island. Forming a protective barrier to the shallow... more » waters of Shark Bay, the island is 76 kilometres long and between three and 11 kilometres wide.
As the site of the first recorded European landing in Western Australia, Dirk Hartog Island holds a pre-eminent place in Australian history. It is named after the Dutch sea captain who landed at Cape Inscription in 1616 (152 years before the voyage of Captain Cook) aboard the Eendracht, leaving an inscribed pewter plate nailed to a post.
The island was used for pastoral purposes from the 1860s to 2007. The purchase of the pastoral lease and creation of Dirk Hartog Island National Park by the State Government in November 2009 marked the beginning of a new era and a change in focus towards conservation and recreation.
The island is particularly popular with fishing enthusiasts but also provides superb opportunities for driving, photography, wildlife viewing, beach walking, diving and snorkelling. Visitors can access the island by vehicular barge from Steep Point or by boat from Denham and Steep Point. Limited numbers of vehicles are allowed on the island at any one time to help protect the fragile landscape.
A large variety of landscapes from sweeping sand dunes to magnificent 200 metre-high cliffs await those with a penchant for exploration. Marine animals such as whales, sharks, manta rays and turtles can be seen from higher vantage points.
Dirk Hartog Island lies within a scientifically important World Heritage Area. Most of the sheep and a large proportion of the feral goats have been removed from the island to allow native vegetation to regenerate. This is part of a large project aimed at restoring the island’s natural ecosystems, including re-establishing locally extinct mammals. less «