The freedom of four wheels, a tent and an open road is one of the greatest joys of life in Australia. Most of us have childhood memories filled with family camping trips; games of ‘I spy with my little eye’ for hours on end followed by sandy sleeping bags after a day at the beach.
It’s time to take a trip back in time and relive those camping memories. Stargazing and campfires are the perfect recipe for dreaming. Add in red dirt, majestic gorges, turquoise waters and white sandy beaches and you will be wondering if you are awake or asleep with those dreams.
Here are the best camping spots up north in WA.
Purnalulu National Park
The Bungle Bungles are one of those places you have probably heard of but not yet visited. It’s time to change that. Get your four-wheel driving skills up to speed and take your pick from one of the two campgrounds in the park. These massive stripy, beehive type mounds are one of the most striking geological icons of WA. Make sure you take all the food and water you need for a few days; there is no corner store nearby.
Western Australia’s second largest park, Karrijini is one of the jewels in the crown of northern WA. A tropical, semi-desert climate; take your pick from late autumn, winter or early spring to visit for ideal weather conditions. Gorges have been eroded out of land that is over 2,500 million years old and you will find all sorts of flora and fauna while exploring its 627,422 hectares. Take your pick from a number of different campsites in the park and get those hiking boots on.
A great base to discover the fascinating history of the Northern Goldfields. Set base camp up at the indigenous station stay at Morapoin Station and get set to learn all about the rich heritage of the region. Don’t forget to pop out to see the famous sculptures by world-renowned sculpture Antony Gormley at Lake Ballard.
Cliff Head | North, South And Central
Head up the Indian Ocean Road for a few hours and you will hit the free camp spot at Cliff Head. Stay for three nights at no cost and enjoy the pristine beaches, limestone cliffs and the peace and quiet of a few nights out camping on the coast. Of course, be sure to pop into Dongara on the way home; the bakery is well loved as one of the best in the state.
With 700,000 acres there is plenty to see at El Questro. Thermal springs, mountains, gorges, salt flats, mud flats, waterfalls and rainforests… it’s all here. Stay at the station or the Emma Gorge resort for a little bit of extra help or camp out under the stars at the campsite. The Black Cockatoo campsite has architect designed shower block, powered sites, camp kitchens and laundries. Can’t be bothered to cook after a day in the sun? Pop next door to the Steakhouse Restaurant or the Swinging Arm Bar and Grill and let someone else do dinner.
Yeo Lake Homestead
Great Victoria Desert
When travelling on a budget there is one thing better than a cheap camping site; a free one. Yeo Lake Homestead, an old sheep station, is only accessible by four-wheel drive, located about 200km north-east of Laverton. When Spring hits, the homestead is filled with colourful wildflowers and has a wealth of biodiversity thanks to the wetlands in the semi-arid landscape.
The Mitchell Falls
There are waterfalls galore way up in the Kimberley, but the Mitchell Falls on the Mitchell Plateau are some of the most incredible to see up close. Be sure to make sure you have your permit sorted before heading off on your adventure as this is required for each person visiting. The campsite is pretty basic but what more do you need when surrounded by so much beauty? Separated into two areas, take your pick from the quiet area and the generator section.
Yardie Homestead Caravan Park
There is a reason that we have included a pile of picks up near Exmouth; it really is a special spot. With the Ningaloo Marine Park on one side and the Cape Range National Park to the south, Yardie Homestead is the perfect base to explore. Pull the tent out and camp proper, or make life a little easier with self-contained chalets, shearers quarters and cabins. There are so many ways to keep busy up here, but be sure to put aside plenty of time to explore the beaches, starting with famed Turquoise bay and its crystal clear waters.
Gibb River Road
Not exactly just one camping spot, the Gibb River Road is a 660km track through the Kimberley. One of the most famed features of the region, take this road trip for a lifetime of insta-worthy images. Intense colours, stunning gorges, red dirt and spectacular waterfalls and natures best swimming holes. It’s way more accessible than it used to be, but do be sure to prepare properly and get a few jerry cans ready for fuel top ups.
Ask any surfer where to head to on your next camping trip up north and guaranteed the answer will be ‘The Bluff’. Located on Quobba Station, the King Waves Kill sign is one of WA’s most iconic spots in surf history. Camp from $15 per person or upgrade with a shack, a bungalow or take the luxe option of one of their two retreats, complete with queen bed, kitchenette and 24 hour solar power.
Want more? Here are the best camping spots down south.
Image credit: El Questro