13 Issues You Ought to Know About Tenting in Western Australia

An Australian camping trip might not be planned for a while for residents of the UK, but when you finally get back in the country, Western Australia has an amazing coastline to explore, fantastic walks, incredible panoramic scenery and of course lots of camping opportunities!

Located at RAC Exmouth Cape Holiday Park

We spent an entire month on the street camping this summer, living in heaps of different campsites across Western Australia. Based on our experience, these are our 13 top tips to ensure you have the best time on your travels …

1. Keep the tent closed

You probably do anyway, but this is even more important in Australia as you have the fun addition of snakes, spiders and all sorts of creepy crawly animals to deal with.

Don't let this thought put you off too much. We camped all over Western Australia for a month this summer and during that time only a few spiders climbed into the tent (not fatal, I should add!), But the campsites we had helpful posters at all, giving advice on how to deal with things like snake bites gave, which is uh, comforting.

Tent in Kalbarri Tudor Holiday ParkOur tent at Kalbarri Tudor Holiday Park

2. Be aware of the constantly changing weather

In the UK, changeable weather in summer is a given and while WA can be beautiful and sunny most of the time, it can also provide a fantastic display of storms, winds, rains and so-called "Willy Willies" – mini-tornadoes – that can come out of nowhere come and disappear immediately. So make sure you have your earplugs with you because when the wind and rain start you can stay up all night!

Swimming in Hamersley Gorge, Karijini National Park Swimming in Hamersley Gorge, Karijini National Park

3. Rent a 4 × 4 and consider a rooftop tent

While the roads in WA are often brilliant, there are also plenty of unpaved, wavy roads that you can only ride in a 4 × 4, and of course, these are the roads that lead to the best spots!

Take Karijini National Park, for example – you can often drive over 50 km on dirt roads to get to the best canyons – like Hamersley Gorge, Joffre Falls, and Handrail Gorg.

Having a 4 × 4 also gives you the best opportunity to go beach driving which I thought was completely insane from the UK. Aussies just drive straight to the beach, get out their camping chairs, grab some zinnies (in a stubby, of course) and watch the sunset.

Likewise, Francois Peron National Park in Shark Bay is made up of all sand roads, which means you have to put those tires down and enjoy the bumps that come your way!

Many people also opt for a rooftop tent to protect themselves from moisture and the creepy crawlies mentioned above. You will need a 4 × 4 for this, but be sure to be safe to walk up and down a ladder at night!

Driving on sandy roads, Francois Peron National Park, Shark Bay Driving on sandy roads, Francois Peron National Park, Shark Bay

4. Be prepared!

The vastness of WA means that if something goes wrong, you will have to fix yourself or wait a VERY long time for rescue.

Make sure you have a good quality spare tire with you, a spare gas tank (especially for national parks where you won't see a gas station – aka servo – for hours), and some Matrax salvage tracks to help you – or any other unsuspecting European tourist – out the sand if they get stuck!

Sandfire Roadhouse Sandfire Roadhouse

5. The roadhouse is your friend

Entering many Australian rest stops felt like being immersed in an experimental movie experience – colorful in every way! After six hours of driving, they're the epitome of Australian sanctuaries where everyone has to stop, be it for gasoline, food or just a well-deserved break.

Always rustic but always friendly, they are a huge melting pot of truckies, miners and vacationers – not to mention the staff who are usually Europeans who work hard to extend their visa for a few months!

Our tent at RAC Exmouth Cape Holiday Park Our tent at RAC Exmouth Cape Holiday Park

6. RAC doesn't just repair cars

RAC recently acquired many campsites in WA and did an excellent job. After you've invested a lot of money in renovations, the facilities are top notch, especially the kitchens and game rooms.

7. Most Washington campsites have pools

Thankfully, most of the campsites we traveled to had their own really well-maintained pools big enough to avoid the splashing kids – or play with splashing kids if you were with a family!

Swimming pool at the Cable Beach Caravan Park Swimming pool at the Cable Beach Caravan Park

8. Don't be afraid of adventures!

WA embraces adventure. Their national parks have incredible hikes that they help balance out by number, with 5 being the most difficult. These often involve a bit of rock climbing and rock climbing, so a good level of fitness is required, but it's worth it if you can swim in empty water holes next to beautiful canyons.

Not to mention swimming in the ocean – take a boat ride and snorkel with sharks, manta rays, whales and watch sea turtles, dolphins and dugongs lead their best lives. Seize every opportunity!

Swimming in Hamersley Gorge, Karijini National Park Swimming in Hamersley Gorge, Karijini National Park

9. Be prepared to overtake!

WA is a huge hit in the RV and RV market. And boy do the motorhomes know how to do it? Hordes of baby boomers travel to the coast from Perth each year to stop at their favorite holiday parks and make homes for two to twelve weeks!

Literally a home away from home, it sometimes felt like a competition figuring out who to put up the best – with outdoor HD televisions, dining areas, solar panels, and even plants. But be prepared for some overtaking for those in a 4 × 4.

While the speed limit is 110 for most vehicles, it is 100 for RVs and RVs, but there is a strong sense of respect on the road.

Wild swimming, Millstream National ParkWild swimming, Millstream National Park

10. Camp wild

There are many options for camping on beaches or in national parks
WA. Sometimes you need to pre-book these online so check them out in case they are fully booked. We stayed at Millstream National Park for one night where they had a brilliant camp kitchen and a couple of loos (aka dunnies).

We swam in a wild river and hiked the cliffs and as the sun went down you could see the Milky Way galaxy, the stars were so clear!

Depending on the weather, you can get an amazing rendering of the stars every night while camping in WA. So if you have a camera good enough to photograph the night sky, bring it with you!

11. Don't forget your flip flops / thongs

While the plumbing is usually pretty good, mud and sand can get dirty. So make sure you have your flip flops on hand to take with you to the bathroom.

Sunset on Cable Beach, Broome Sunset on Cable Beach, Broome

12. Embrace the sunset

The sunset is an important part of your day. Campsites are usually well located near the sea for sunset watch, which is a big event. Every evening, people gather on their camping chairs, burly holders full of beer and wine to watch the sunset on another amazing day in WA.

The best sunsets we've seen have been on Cable Beach in Broome, Karijini National Park, and Eighty Mile Beach Beach, but it's truly amazing wherever you are on the west coast.

13. Watch out for red sand and spinifex!

Australian red sand goes anywhere when camping and is a huge pain to get out of. Spinifex is an animal's best friend, the perfect hideout for snakes, goannas, kangaroos, and mice, and you will see so much of them by the roadside when you travel. Just make sure you don't fall in as it is so sharp it can pierce your skin!

Tent Selfie, RAC Exmouth Cape Holiday Park Tent Selfie, RAC Exmouth Cape Holiday Park

Ultimately, camping in WA is a great experience. Be prepared for long journeys of course, but it's always worth it and every campsite is unique, with friendly staff who are keen to ensure you have a great time.

The campsites we stayed at

Where to go next

Kat Adams is a freelance British journalist who has traveled extensively in Australia and has written for a wide variety of publications including The London Economic.

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