They say the best things in life are free, but we all know you don’t get much for free these days. Then again, when it comes to camping we can’t help but feel a freebie or two is in order. After all, nature shouldn’t come at a price, right?
Here’s where to find WA’s best free campgrounds.
Nestled among a granite outcrop that acts as a natural catchment area, the Karalee Dam was originally constructed to provide water for steam trains heading to Kalgoorlie in the 1890s. And while the dam itself is a feat of old-timey engineering and worthy of a visit on its own merit, there are also a number of bush trails surrounding the campgrounds, and a walk along the old aqueduct is always a good time. Campsites are easily accessible by 2WD, and fire pits are available for cooking.
Located on Indian Ocean Road between Leeman and Dongara, Cliff Head is home to three campsites surrounded by limestone cliffs and stunning coastline. Campers are permitted to stay up to three days within a 28-day period for free, and you’ll be pleased to know that dogs are also welcome. Cliff Head Central has access to an undercover area with a sink, tables and communal fire pit, along with eco toilets, while the north and south sites are smaller with access to eco toilets only.
Wolfe Creek Crater
If you’ve seen Wolf Creek the film, you’ll probably be giving the Wolfe Creek Crater a miss, but for those of you not horribly scarred for life it could just be the adventure of a lifetime. After all, it’s not every day you get to set up camp near the second largest meteorite crater in the world. A climb to the top of the crater is well worth the effort, and there’s also plenty of wildlife to see on the many walks throughout the national park. Cleared campsites with toilets are available.
Rowles Lagoon Conservation Park
Rowles Lagoon is a scenic camping spot and bird-watching haven located in the Goldfields Region. The Lagoon and neighbouring lakes rely on rainfall runoff to maintain their depth, but when the season has been kind the area is perfect for splashing about and spying on the wetland wildlife. Sites are equipped with toilets, picnic tables and fire pits.
Step back in time and immerse yourself in diverse Goldfields’ history of Burra Rock. Here you’ll find a catchment wall and dam built in the 1920s, sprawling woodlands, and a collection of abandoned machinery from the pioneering days located at the picnic ground. Alongside the dam is a day use area and campground with toilet facilities.
One for the pro-campers, Mt. Ragged is located in WA’s beautiful south east and accessible only by 4WD, with 60km of gravel and sandy roads to navigate. But once you’re in, you’re in for a treat. The area is known for its diverse wildlife, particularly birds, and the difficult-but-rewarding walk to the top of Tower Peak is well worth the views. Campsites are available on a first come, first served basis, and there are toilet and BBQ facilities available.
Another one for the 4W-Drivers out there, Shoal Cape is located in the Stokes National Park and is best known for its excellent fishing and snorkelling. Being just metres from the beach you can expect spectacular views of the coastline between autumn and spring, and beach access is provided via a staircase with viewing platform. Note that the campground is very small with just three sites available, along with a bush loo.
Prepared to pay the price for beauty? Here are some stunning spots to camp in WA's north.
Image credit: Jonathan Forage