Twenty-two Holiday Destinations For Campervans In Western Australia
Perth and its surrounding region
1. Perth, Capital of Western Australia
The coastal city of Perth can be everything to everyone. Just for starters, you can spend time savouring the sophisticated delights of the Perth Cultural Centre; picnic in one of the largest and most beautiful inner-city parks in the world, Kings Park; or visit with animals unique to Western Australia at the Perth Zoo. Within an easy drive of the city are coastal towns and the Swan Valley, with galleries, weekend markets, world-class wineries and wildlife. Depending on when you want to take your holiday, there are festivals in Perth and the surrounding region all year around. This makes Perth the perfect starting point to begin your Western Australian Campervan Adventure, whether you want to just relax on a beach or to go exploring.
Fremantle is a shining gem of a port city, offering a lot to see and do. It has a rich heritage of well-preserved historical buildings, like the Round House, open to the public. The Fremantle Markets have been running since 1897, and provide an opportunity to shop for handicrafts, specialty foods and fresh produce, and to enjoy food and live street entertainment on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The Maritime Museum houses the iconic Australia II, the winner of the America's Cup in 1983, as well as other exhibits relating to Fremantle's economic importance as a port. It would take more than a day to see and experience everything.
3. Rottnest Island
Rottnest Island is situated west of Perth and is easily reached by boat or ferry. The ferry from Fremantle can have you on the island in 25 minutes, or it takes 90 minutes from Barrack Street Jetty in Perth. The island is a Class A reserve and all flora and fauna are protected. The waters around the island are a marine park. There are a wide range of accommodation and camping facilities available on the on the island, perfect for either the romantic retreat or a family getaway. If you are lucky, you might even see a Quokker.
An hour's leisurely drive south of Perth brings you to Mandurah, famous for its glorious beaches and waterfront activities. Most of the action is centered on the water. Unfortunately, the Australian Sailing Museum has been closed down, but there is still a lot to see and do. Just south of the city is the Yalgorup National Park, which doesn't allow camping, but does offer the opportunity to see some of the most unique wildlife in the world, such as the boardwalk trail to see the Lake Clifton thrombolites, a chance to watch the bird life from a hide, and there is fishing and swimming.
5. The Swan Valley
The Swan Valley is equivalent to the Barossa region of Adelaide, as it is a region with an abundance of wineries, art galleries, breweries and boutique bars, gourmet eateries, and quirky gift shops. Want to cruise the Swan River? You can arrange that. Want to ride in a horse-drawn wagon? You can arrange that. If you would prefer to get away from it all and go hiking, there is the John Forrest National Park, the oldest park in Western Australia, with its Jarrah forest and five hundred species of wildflowers. The Swan Valley is just inland from the city of Perth.
Kalgoorlie-Boulder is a mining town, and has been from its inception in the late 1890's. As a gold-mining town, it has plenty of historic pubs and hotels, as well as modern hotels with all up-to-date trimmings. The Western Australian Museum - Kalgoorlie-Boulder showcases the history of the Eastern Goldfields and the city's mining heritage. The surrounding area abounds in picturesque ghost towns left over from the gold boom, like Gwalia, which had its own museum and tours. Kalgoorie-Boulder is a six-and-a-half hour drive east of Perth.
Heading North of Perth
Geraldton is situated just 400km north of Perth, situated on Champion Bay. Champion by name and champion by nature, Geraldton offers a wide range of water sports for the athletic and adventurous, such as windsurfing, kitesurfing and diving. But water sports aren't the only thing on offer; Geraldton boasts several historical attractions featuring listed heritage buildings, such as the Greenough Museum & Gardens, Central Greenough Historic Settlement, the Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage, The Walkaway Railway Station Museum, and the Chapman Valley Historical Society Museum. The memorial to the HMAS Sydney is well worth inspecting. Geraldton gave its name to the Geraldton Wax Flower, and the region is famous for its wildflower displays during the Australian spring - from late July to November. There is so much to see and do all year round.
Two hours north of Geraldton is the township of Kalbarri. There is a variety of accommodation in Kalbarri, as it is a pretty beachside town great for a holiday in itself. In town is the Rainbow Jungle, also known as The Australian Parrot Breeding Centre; you can walk into an aviary and interact with the feathered occupants. The town is a central base to the Kalbarri National Park, famous for the Murchison Gorge and for the spectacular stone arch known as Nature's Window. If you like to fish, the town is situated on the Murchison River.
9. Monkey Mia
Monkey Mia is one of those magical places where humankind can interact with wild dolphins. Monkey Mia is perched on the edge of the Francois Peron National Park and the waters surrounding it are a marine park. It has a range of accommodation and facilities on site, including a caravan park and a restaurant. There is also a science laboratory situated there to study the bottle-nosed natives. Endless white-shell beaches, and bright orange dunes topped with foliage, frame the spectacular ocean views. Monkey Mia is a ten to eleven hour drive north from Perth, and a five hour drive from Geraldton.
10. Shark Bay
Shark Bay was listed as a world heritage site in 1991. It is of major environmental importance, home to dugongs, whale sharks, and dolphins, and many other species threatened elsewhere with extinction. The diversity of the flora and fauna is exceptional, for example, there are twelve species of sea grass inhabiting the Shark Bay Heritage Park. This makes it an area of unparalleled natural beauty. The main township of the region is Denham, which is also the westernmost town in mainland Australia and only a short hop from Monkey Mia. There are all types of accommodation scattered along the coastline of Shark Bay, for those who want to explore the area in depth.
What makes Carnarvon unique is it's tramway. You can travel on a tram on One Mile Jetty out into the Indian Ocean. The Carnarvon Port and Heritage Precinct houses several museums, and permanent exhibits include a fully restored steam train. Modern technology is represented by the Big Dish, once used by NASA as a tracking station during the Apollo and Gemini mission. This photogenic coastal town sits in the midst of banana plantations, but all types of tropical fruits are grown in the region. With seafood equally abundant, it is a foodie paradise. The spectacular Carnarvon Blowholes are located 75km north of the township, and are reached by a bitumen road. The town of Carnarvon is situated between Monkey Mia and the town of Coral Bay.
12. Kennedy Range National Park
Situated about 150 east of Carnarvon is the Kennedy Range National Park. This park can offer a wilderness experience like no other, as the Kennedy Range is ruggedly beautiful with panoramic vistas of wind-sculpted red rock. During the spring, it is carpeted with wildflowers. There is no water available in the park, so you must bring your own. There is a camp onsite with a bush toilet, but there are no other facilities. Camping in the Kennedy Range National Park really is roughing it.
13. Coral Bay
Approximately seven-and-a-half hours drive north of Monkey Mia is the delightful seaside town of Coral Bay. It is a fisherman's paradise, with the opportunity to go after marlin and sailfish, or to catch a coral trout for supper. If fishing isn't your style, Coral Bay sits on the Ningaloo Reef, the only fringing reef in Australia. This means the reef is accessible from the beach, making it the idea snorkelling opportunity. If you prefer diving to snorkelling, you might catch a glimpse of a whale shark or a dugong. Three different species of turtles nest on the local beaches from November to February. If you don't feel that active, Coral Bay hosts some of the most untouched white beaches in the world. The town has both resorts and caravan parks.
A leisurely drive over a couple of hours from Coral Bay is Exmouth, home to the Big Prawn. Exmouth started life as a military base in WWII. Now the town can offer the complete 'Reef to Range' experience, as it situated between the Ningaloo Marine Park and the Cape Range National Park. In the park is the Yardie Creek, a spectacular gorge and over 600 natural limestone caves, so there is plenty to see and explore. There are plenty of campsites in the park, but as the park is so popular it is best to check availability before your trip. Activities in the park include hiking, kayaking, canoeing, snorkelling, swimming, diving and fishing.
15. Ningaloo Marine Park
The Ningaloo Reef is one of the largest reefs in the world that can be reached simply by stepping off the beach and is a world-heritage listed marine park. The Jurabi Turtle Centre is situated just 13km from Exmouth, is open to the public 24/7, and admission is free (fees for tours do apply); turtle nesting season is from November to March every year. The marine park is also home to the whale shark, the gentle giant of the reef, and a full range of exciting marine wildlife. You can also arrange reef tours.
16. Port Headland
Situated seven hours drive south of Broome, Port Headland is a natural deep anchorage harbour that makes it ideal as an export port for the mines in the Pialba region. There is a rail line running from the mines to the town, and the train enthusiasts can visit the Open Air Train Museum. A visit to the Dalgety House Museum will educate you on how colonial settlement impacted upon the indigenous people of the Pilbara. After the sun goes down, on nights of the full moon from March to October, you can see the phenomenon known as the Staircase of the Moon. As a busy port, there is a plentiful array of accommodation options.
A fifteen hour drive north from Coral Bay, and you reach Broome, the Gateway to the Kimberley. If you prefer to fly, it is a two and a half hour flight from Perth. Broome is the fastest growing city in Australia, and has a lot to offer, from the city's pearling heritage to its local natural attractions, such as the dinosaur footprints at Gantheaume Point. Broome is the natural starting place for an exploration of the Northwest of Australia. Inland from Broome are all the natural wonders of the Bungle Bungle range and the Kimberley, while south is the Pialba region.
As you drive into town, you might experience a feeling of déjà vu, and then recognise Kununurra from Baz Luhrmann's movie 'Australia'. The town is the far north-eastern reaches of Western Australia, just 37km from the border into the Northern Territory. It is a picturesque farming district that is surrounded by a wilderness of natural attractions - such as the City Of Ruins that is located just four kilometres out of town. The Argyle diamond mine is open to visitors on guided day tours, departing from Kununurra. These are only some of the attractions of the town, which has a large range of accommodation available.
Heading South of Perth
Margaret River is a region where you can indulge in the luxurious or the adventurous. You can visit eight wineries a day for week, and not run out of new wines to sample. If you prefer chocolate to wine, the Margaret River Chocolate Company's factory and tasting centre is open every day of the year (except Christmas Day) from 9 am - 5 pm and entry is free. For the adventurous, there is the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park with six caves open to the public, including the famous Mammoth Cave where the beaches are a surfing paradise. If you love to hike, there is a network of walks that make up the Margaret River Heritage Trail. The region has so much to offer, that this list just scratches the surface of what is available to see and do.
Historical Albany was founded in 1826, making it the oldest permanently settled town in Western Australia. The Patrick Taylor Cottage Museum is the oldest surviving building in Western Australia, an eleven room wattle-and-daub building, cared for by the Albany Historical Society. The Society also maintains and manages the Brig Amity, a reconstruction of one of the original ships to occupy the Albany Harbour. The Amity Heritage Trail is one of the best ways to see the city, winding past historical buildings and other interesting landmarks. The Albany farmers market, held every Saturday, was voted the best in Australia. Just south of the city is the Torndirrup National Park, with its dramatic granite formations of the Gap, Natural Bridge and the Blowholes. Albany is a five hour drive from the Margaret River region.
Esperance had an unpromising start as a mining port, but it has come into its own as a tourist destination. Esperance often wins awards for having Australia's best beaches and is home to the Cyclops wave, said to be the world's heaviest and most challenging surfing wave. Have you heard about the Pink Lake? Lake Hillier is a pink-coloured lake on Middle Island, the largest of the islands in the Recherche Archipelago, just off the coast of Esperance. As well as its outstanding coastline, there are five major national parks within easy travelling distance of the town. All-in-all, Esperance is a town of unsurpassed natural attractions. And if that doesn't win you over, you can always check out the remains of Skylab in the local museum. Esperance is a nine hour direct drive from Perth or a five hour drive from Albany, with plenty of accommodation options.
22. Hyden - on the route between Perth and Esperance
Hyden is famous for Wave Rock, one of the most well-known natural rock formations in Australia. It is situated in the nature reserve, the Hyden Wildlife Park. Most people only hear of Wave Rock, but in the vicinity of Hyden is Mulka's Cave, the Hippo's Yawn and the Humps. Tafoni (rocks hollowed out into bizarre shapes) are sprinkled through this weird landscape. Hyden isn't a big town, but has plenty of accommodation thanks to Wave Rock tourism.