Although everyone is coming around to the idea that the West Coast of Australia is a must see, it is still untapped as a tourist trail. Unlike the bustle of the East Coast, the West is a vast expanse of endless coastlines and straight dirt roads. It is certainly true that there are less big stopping points over west and therefore none of the party scene that the East Coast is famous for. But for pure Australian landscapes and some of the best skies you will ever have the pleasure to witness, the West is undoubtedly worth a visit. Here are my top picks and tips for a trip west.
Take a Group
Unless you really want some zen time to yourself or bonding time as a couple this trip is best done in a group. You will spend most if not all of your time altogether as there are not many opportunities to meet other people, so the more the better. If you’re travelling in convoy I would also recommend getting hold of a couple of walkie talkies. If only for the great amusement of ending up on the same channel as some local truckies. Signal is hazy at best so this really is the best way to keep in touch with your group.
There are a few towns on the West Coast where splashing out on a campsite with functioning showers is a treat, but most of the hidden gems come from free campsites found on this app. The West is full of great camping spots which are either free or only require a small fee to the ranger. Have a look on the app for ones in the area and then drive there as a goal. Although some are literally places to pitch a tent and sleep on a dirt track, some become a destination in themselves. If you head along the peninsula to Monkey Mia be sure to stop at Shell Beach and the camping spot nearby. This beach and its partner on the other side of the peninsula are the only two beaches in the world to be entirely made up of broken down cockle shells. This gives the beach the illusion of being made up of a vast stretch of perfectly white sand. When we stayed we were the only group on this deserted stretch and were awestruck by the length of flat beach broken only by a few scrub bushes. The ranger who came to collect our fee in the morning hailed from Wales and was great company to share a coffee and a cigarette with.
The amount of car trouble you have depends entirely on how far up the coast you get. Our trip took us as far as Exmouth, into Karijini and back down and I can safely say you can manage without a four wheel drive. There were some dirt tracks, especially into Karijini and we had a few hairy moments in sand whilst looking for campsites. However my car was as scrappy as they come. We had actually been stopped by the police in Kalbarri who marked it as faulty but managed to power through the dust and dirt emerging only with a light coating of red.
Lancelin Sand Dunes- Just outside Perth these dunes are well worth a visit and a merry couple of hours sand boarding. The boards can be hired on site with ease.
Shell Beach- Truly one of the highlights of the trip and definitely my favourite camping spot; this really is a must see.
Turquoise Bay- Located in Cape Range National Park, just outside Exmouth this beach did live up to its name with fantastically blue water and is a great place for snorkelling.
Karijini National Park- Whether you want a quiet walk, a dip in a waterfall pool or a bit of rock scrambling through a gorge, Karijini is an amazing place to visit. It is a bit of a drive inland but completely worth it and the local town of Tom Price means you won’t be short on supplies.