To genuinely understand the Australian outback spirit, see the wildlife, explore the natural parks and enjoy the remote coastlines, you need four-wheel drive, a campervan (or a tent) and a few superb insider tips on good camping locations. After a month of roaming through Australia’s wild west, here’s our pick in one-of-a-kind camping spots that will surely get you delighted and excited!
1/ The farm experience Bullara Station near Exmouth & Coral Bay
1/ The farm experienceBullara Station near Exmouth & Coral Bay
You haven’t properly been in the outback if you haven’t spent at least one night on an active cattle station or farm. Here’s a tip if you’re ever around the Coral Coast (near Coral Bay & Exmouth): Bullara Station. The owners are very welcoming, you’re free to pick your own spot on their land, there’s a one-of-a-kind outdoor bathroom and a lovely BBQ & outdoor kitchen. Bear in mind you might have a few extra mouths to feed… 🙂 There’s plenty of ‘stations’ to choose from in the West of Australia, but just make sure that they’re active ones because those they provide the best animal and wildlife fun. Some homesteads or stations quit their farming business and focus on tourism only, which leaves you with a nice looking station but no action whatsoever. At Bullara you’ll have a definite encounter with cockatoos and eagles, there are cute little lambs running around, cows, pony’s and horses. Especially the horses aren’t afraid to invite themselves for breakfast.
2/ The beach experienceSouth Gregories camp at François Péron
Western Australia treats you with a lot of desolate places. If you want to wake up next to a remote and pristine beach, François Péron National Park in Shark Bay is the place to be. One of the reasons why it’s so desolate, is because you need a 4WD to get there. Most tourists book an excursion to visit the National Park for the day and return to their hotels in the evening. The François Péron national park has three ‘rough’ camp sites scattered around the shorelines: Bottle Bay, Gregories and South Gregories. We stayed at South Gregories, with basically no facilities apart from a toilet and a spot in the sand. But it’s all you need! We were surrounded with nothing but greens, blues and oranges, enjoyed a romantic walk and dinner on the beach and were all alone at the camping for the day and night (it was mid September). Well, not entirely alone, given the many animal tracks in the fresh morning sand… It’s an experience no five star hotel room can match.
3/ The wallaby experience Katherine Gorge camping spot at Nitmiluk NP
3/ The wallaby experienceKatherine Gorge camping spot at Nitmiluk NP
In the Top End of Australia’s Northern Territory lies the Nitmiluk (or Katherine Gorge) National Park with just one camping around. The camping itself isn’t all that (quite crowded and standard facilities) but it’s the wallabies that make the difference. During our whole time in Australia, this is the only place we had a very close encounter with so many wallabies. They’re wild of course and a bit hesitant to approach, but some of them are curious enough to come closer. They’re so much fun to observe!
4/ The roadhouse experience Pardoo Roadhouse near Broome and Port Headland
4/ The roadhouse experiencePardoo Roadhouse near Broome and Port Headland
Roadhouses are as common as dirt in the west of Australia. They’re nothing more than a gas station with camping facilities (sometimes there are sleeping cabins, too) but it’s their quirky style that make it all worthwhile and they’re perfect if all you want is a shower and a good night’s sleep and you want to be back on the road by dawn. Off all roadhouses we stayed at, Pardoo stood out because of the many road trains (= huge trucks pulling several trailers) that you see when you spend the night here. The reason for their growing presence around this area is the proximity of Port Headland, a huge industrial mining city. Since the road is straight and endless and the landscape is flat, you can spot a road train from a very far distance after dark: the high beam headlights fill up the sky like a fireball floating in the air. Just remember to cover up your ears as the giant trucks pass you by 😉
5/ The bush camping experience Cooliman Camp along the Ord River near Kununurra
5/ The bush camping experienceCooliman Camp along the Ord River near Kununurra
Imagine being in the Australian outback and sleeping in the bush under the open sky after a full day of gliding through pristine emerald waters in a Canadian canoe. No people, no sounds but the birds playing, the goannas crawling, frogs leaping and an occasional plop from a crocodile, sliding off the river bank to seek refreshment in the river. That’s what you get at the Cooliman camping spot along the Ord river in the Kimberley Region. There are about five wooden platforms at the camp to put on a tent, but if you’re lucky like us, you’r the only ones there for the night. Set up the tent, light a campfire (don’t forget to bring matches) and raise your tent slash mosquito net on one of the constructions under the open sky. After sunset, it’s just you and nature… Oh and if you’re thirsty: just drink from the river. The water is as pure as can be! The canoeing tours are organized by the Eco-Noeing company ‘‘Go Wild Adventure Tours’.
6/ The crocodile experience Windjana Gorge in the Kimberley Region
6/ The crocodile experienceWindjana Gorge in the Kimberley Region
There’s no greater outback experience than tackling the 665 km long Gibb River Road in a 4WD and spend the night at one of the many show-stoppers along the way. One of those highlights is the impressive Windjana Gorge, the best place in Australia to see freshwater crocodiles in the wild. We got as close as 5 meters… What’s awesome about this camping area is that it’s right next to the huge gorge walls. What a view! The best time to see the crocodiles is in the early morning, so wake up before sunrise and head straight from the camping to the gorge, way ahead of tourists who didn’t spend the night here. You won’t regret it!