Western Australia is so far our favourite place in Australia. How can one state be so diverse? The north half is filled with gorges, waterfalls, desert landscapes, pristine beaches, tons of marine life, coral reefs, surf and more! And the south half is made up of forests, wineries, surf, lakes, and some of the best beaches in the world. We road tripped WA for 5 months, in a 4x4 Troop Carrier Landcruiser. We entered north WA from the NT, and drove down the coast heading towards South australia. Even if you’re not doing a huge road trip like us, you can still visit these places by flying in to a certain area and hiring a car. This is the first blog post on Western Australia, and the next one will be about the middle of WA, and third about the south coast.
Road Trip Western Australia Tips:
- The best months to visit North WA are May- October in the dry season. The earlier in the season the better, because the waterfalls may still be flowing from the wet season rainfall. The later you go in the dry season, the more chance that the waterfalls won't be flowing.
- Avoid the school holidays if you can, as it gets extremely busy, overcrowded and you need to start booking places in advance.
- If you’re wanting to roadtrip the whole state, I recommend allowing at least 4 months, as its a huge diverse area and even we wish we stayed longer!
- If you're flying in and renting a car, focus on a certain area and do it well. For example: 1. Fly into Broome and explore all the beautiful camp spots north of Broome. Or tackle the Gibb River road then loop around back on the highway.
- A 4x4 is definitely recommended to explore North Western Australia. The roads are rough up north, and a lot of places are off road and badly corrugated. There’s a handful of spots that are only accessible by 4x4, so don’t miss out!
- Download the ‘WikiCamps’ app to find camp spots, caravan park, attractions and more.
- BE A RESPONSIBLE CAMPER – Pick up all rubbish after camping, and ladies put your toilet paper in the bin.
- Be aware of sacred sites and areas where you need a permit.
- Budget in places like Exmouth, Lake Argyle, Cape Leveque, Rottnest Island and Esperance, since they are more expensive than most places in WA.
- Beware of saltwater crocodiles in the north! Read every sign before going swimming, and make sure it’s definitely a designated swimming spot. This is extremely important.
- Flies will drive you crazy!! Make sure you have a fly net and some mosquito coils/bug spray.
We drove from Katherine (Northern Territory) to Kununnura in a day, going through a very strict quarantine check through the border (make sure you have no fresh food, honey etc. in the car) It was a 5.5 hour drive (535km) so check the fuel app if you need fuel. Because we didnt have any fresh food left, we stocked up in Kununnura, but Lake Argyle is the first epic location as you enter WA.
Lake Argyle is a must visit! You dont need a 4WD, and if you want to make the most of your time we recommend staying at the caravan park. Its probably the best caravan park in Western Australia, with an infinity pool overlooking Lake Argyle. If you're wanting to do a heli flight in WA, this is the spot (its around $200). They also have cruises on the lake that are worth checking out. Below photo featuring the Sunrise Rug
Kangaroo Haven - Kangaroo Sanctuary
This is a must do! Mandy and Marc save and protect baby joeys that have lost their mothers, and raise them until they are old enough to release back into the wild. It's a gold coin donation to visit this amazing family owned kangaroo sanctuary, and you can hold and feed baby joeys.
Kununurra is the first small town you reach in WA, and has most essentials you need to stock up on things. There is a supermarket and camping stores, a nice grassy park, caravan parks, local swimming pool (with showers) and a few small cafes. There is no free camping close to town, but we found a place on wikicamps called 'button's crossing' on the river (2WD accessible). This is where Jake and Callum caught their first Barra! If you have a 4WD, also have a shot at going across Ivanhoe Crossing! After Kununurra you can eaither head south along the highway to Broome, or tackle the Gibb River Road (4WD only). If you have a 2WD, definitely check out Emma Gorge, Zebedee Springs and El Questro Gorge. If you have a 4WD and will be doing the Gibb River Road, we recommend still driving down to Purnululu National Park to check that out. Below photo featuring the Sunrise Rug
Purnululu National Park
If you have a 4WD you cant miss Purnululu National Park. The Bungle Bungle ranges are absolutely incredible, with bee hive like dome formations scatted across the landscape. Its a world heritage listed site with Indigenous cultural significance dating back 20,000 years. The road in is very rough, so check the conditions before you go. If you are towing, you can leave your caravan or trailer at the highway caravan park for a small fee. If you don't have a 4WD, there are day trips you can pay to join so you can still experience whats there.
We camped at Walardi, and woke up for sunrise to explore the Piccaninny walks. We did the domes, cathedral gorge and creek lookout. Then at Kurrajong camp ($13 each a night) , we explored Mini Palms Gorge and Echidna Chasm. The chasm glowed around 11:30am. We spent 3 days there, and recommend getting a WA annual parks pass if you’re travelling WA for longer than two months.
Gibb River Road
The Gibb River Road is a 660km 4WD track, taking you on an ultimate adventure filled with gorges, waterfalls, stations, river crossings, crocodiles and more. Its best to go straight after a really good wet season, so the waterfalls are still running. We went after a really dry year, but it was still 100% worth it. The track took us 5 days to complete, with no complications. our favourite spots were:
Emma Gorge: Stunning swimming hole/waterfall. See if you can find the trickle of a small thermal spring amongst the rocks. Get there early to beat the crowds.
Zebedee Springs: Our favourite spot on the Gibb. A permanent natural thermal spring amongst a palm tree oasis. Also get here early to beat the crowds.
El Questro Gorge: This was definitely our favourite hike with a picture perfect waterfall at the end. There is a deep water crossing to get to the start of the walk, however if you're in a 2WD, park up and theres a track to the side to walk across. Its a grade 5 hike and takes around 4 hours return, including time to swim.
Mitchell Falls: A crazy long 4x4track to get there, but worth it if the falls are really flowing. We sadly missed out on going here. Read more about it here
Mt Elizabeth Station: To access Barnett River Gorge, you need to get a $15 pass from the station. They have camping there for $22 each a night. The track to the gorge is very rough and rocky, but the waterhole at the end is beautiful.
Manning River Gorge: Stunning! You pay at the fuel station entrance, and theres camping there.
Bell Gorge: Beautiful swimming hole/waterfall
Windjana Gorge: If you want to see fresh water crocodiles, this is the place to go!
Tunnel Creek: You can walk 750m into the tunnel, but make sure you bring a torch and sneakers. There are spots you need to walk through water, but check the water level (wikicamps or guide) before you go. There are also bats and fresh water crocs in there! Harmless but watch where you step
After being in the outback for so long Broome is so refreshing! The first thing we did was jump in the water after months of no ocean swimming due to the salt water crocs! The most iconic spot to visit is Cable Beach at sunset. You can drive onto the beach and watch the camels pass you by. When we went the beach was hard enough to handle 2WDs. just watch for the tides! In these parts of Australia the tides are HUGE, so don't let your car get washed away. Gantheume Point is another great spot, with rock pools, cliff jumping and dinosaur prints. Roebuck Bay is a must see, with red sand contrasting with bright blue water on the beach. Streeters jetty at high tide is also nice to have a look at. If you're in Broome on a full moon, you can also catch the 'staircase to the moon', a stunning view of the moons reflection on the mud flats at low tide. Most people watch it at the town beach night markets, but get there early to scope out a better spot as it gets very busy.
James Price Point
We absolutely loved this free camp spot! Parked up with friends amongst the incredible red cliffs, with a stunning beach right below us with bright blue water. Picture long walks along the beach every day followed by fishing, snorkelling, and scouting rock pools and thousands of shells. Just remember to be a responsible camper, and leave every camp spot better than you found it. Below photo featuring the Leila and Willow Rug
Pender Bay Escape
This was such an epic camp spot. If you book in advance, make sure you ask for the one with 2 outdoor baths! When you check in, they give you a map so you can find the beach caves and rock pools. Its around $20 each a night.
This was another stunning campspot that we highly recommend. At the time we pretty much had the place to ourselves, with beach front views. Stunning beach to relax on, and if you have a tinny its a great fishing spot.
kooljaman at cape leveque
The higher along the Dampier Peninsular you get the better! This spot is breathtaking, one of the best beaches i have ever seen. Its a little pricey ($50 for 2 a night) but its definitely worth staying for a couple of nights. If you have a boat its one of the best spots to fish in Australia. You can drive along the beach and set up for the whole day. A great spot for snorkelling and spear fishing.
We hope this blog post will help you plan your ultimate north WA road trip! Australia has so much to offer, and with international travel on pause, theres no better time to explore our home.