Ever hear ye tale of Captain Dirk Hartog, the first pilgrim to make landfall in Western Australia? Well neither had our Explorer Chris. That was until his recent visit to Dirk Hartog Island, where this scoundrel of a Dutchman landed some 400 years ago.


  • Being blown away by MotherN’s blowholes
  • Dune Cruisin’
  • Using the stars and moon as a nightlight
  • Searching for gold in belief that Cpt Hartog buried his treasure on the island

The Lowdown

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to go on a weeklong work trip to WA’s Coral Coast and help out with a 4WD fundraiser – the Variety 4WD Challenge.

To provide some background, Variety is an international children’s charity who hold these amazing motoring fundraisers in order to raise money for kids who are sick, disadvantaged or have special needs.

The events are a tonne of fun but a lot of work goes into making sure participants get the most out of visiting these awesome destinations around WA.

With the event covering a large amount of ground I could write a whole piece on all of the charismatic little towns we passed through. But to keep it short I want to focus on the holy grail of our trip. The angler’s mecca of the west. Dirk Hartog Island.

Dirk Hartog Island

Teamed up with an experienced videographer, whose new weapon of choice was the DJ Phantom4 Drone, I knew I was going to be in for an amazing three days.

Located off the coast of Shark Bay, Dirk Hartog Island falls smack bang in the middle of a world heritage site, home to the largest fringing reef on Earth. The remote land is home to under five people and takes about three hours of 4WDing off the main highway just to get to the crossing point. So even this was an adventure in itself.

The only way onto the island is by a single car barge. Lucky our inexperience in precision driving was met by a windless day, making the crossing slightly less nerve wracking. Driving onto the island was like rolling onto another planet. A dry and desolate centre, surrounded by sheering cliffs and crystal blue waters.

Dirk Hartog Homestead

Home for the next two nights was the Dirk Hartog Homestead, where we perched our swags upon a hill overlooking a picturesque bay and back towards the main land. Ahead of us was a day full of filming and 4WDing, so rest was the only activity on our minds.

Up before the sun, we were ready for a day of off-road, rough and tough action. Our aim; to film a convoy of thirty cars over distance of the island (80km). This was achieved by maintaining a constant lead on the group, being ready for them to roll on by and capture the money shot.

As we headed north on the island to gain this lead, the ride felt similar to a race car simulation. Foot to floor, no care for scratches or dings and little knowledge of what was around each bend. The beauty of this was everyone on the island was behind us, heading in the same direction.

Our first driving challenge was a sketchy stretch of eroding beach. Pounding waves and thirty 2.5 tonne cars slowly broke away the built up track beneath us, making for an interesting ride. Easy done!

Onwards to the north end of the island for lunch, where an isolated lighthouse stood facing the open Indian. What a lonely lighthouse keeper. Final stop for the day was the blowholes, a favourite of mine The raw power of the ocean pushed through these tiny holes is something else.

The three days passed in no time. One broken axle, seven busted tyres and a handful of bruised egos, the adventure was just what the participants asked for. Mission accomplished. We managed to capture all the footage needed for a ripper of a promo video.

You can see why Dirk decided to land here based on the island’s beauty alone. If you ever get a chance to visit this amazing part of Australia, do yourself a favour!

Check out the video!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKQQXDb0_L0?rel=0]

Chris McDiarmid Dirk Hartog Island WA 4WD
Essential Gear

  • 4WD with all the trimmings
  • Fishing rod
  • Camera capable of capturing star shots + tripod
  • Boy like sense of adventure
  • Plenty of snacks
  • A jerry of extra fuel in preparation for the worst

How To Get There

[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d459710.0872372951!2d112.79861793675234!3d-25.820557292076632!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x2be1b75be176e589%3A0xf00f639078ad490!2sDirk+Hartog+Island!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sau!4v1504491361487&w=400&h=300]

881km north of Perth or just under 14hrs drive

Visit the Dirk Hartog Island website for transfer and accommodation rates.


  • Star Gazing with next to nil light pollution
  • Fishing
  • 4WDing
  • Camping
  • Swimming

Skill Level 

Ranges: Beginner


Check out these other 4WD shenanigans…

Alice to Uluru… The Fun Way (NT)

Shells and Fish Aplenty! // 80 Mile Beach (WA)

Escape to Red Head Beach, Lake Macquarie (NSW)

Escape to Double Island (QLD)

Smoky Cape Microadventure (NSW)