Camping along the Indian Ocean Drive in Western Australia

No Comments
Denham Seaside Tourist Village, Lyndon Sparrow

Denham Seaside Tourist Village, Lyndon Sparrow

Do you want to watch the sun go down over the Indian Ocean every night? Get a campsite with a view without breaking the bank at these affordable caravan parks and campsites. We’ve followed the Indian Ocean Drive (Australia’s newest highway) all the way up the Western Australian coast from Perth to Exmouth, picking out our favourite places to stay along the way.

Cervantes

Pinnacles Caravan Park  

Pinnacles Caravan Park is your best option if you want to camp near the famous Pinnacles Desert. There’s no camping in Nambung National Park, and this caravan park has good facilities and easy access to the national park.

Geraldton

Sunset Holiday Beach Park

In a quiet spot north of town, this popular caravan park has everything you need: good facilities, good access to the historic sites of Geraldton, and a tremendous position for watching the sun go down on the Indian Ocean.

Kalbarri

Murchison River Caravan Park

Located in the centre of town and just opposite the beach, Murchison River Caravan Park has the facilities you’d expect at a caravan park  along this popular holiday route, such as toilets and showers (disabled access), laundry, dump point, camp kitchen, barbecues, pool and a playground

Denham

Denham Seaside Tourist Village

With a position near the beach fit for a king, and the views to match, Denham Seaside Tourist Village is your best option in the area. It has good facilities and the fishing opportunities are famous.

Francois Peron National Park

Francois Peron has a range of camping areas with good facilities and great views – but you do need a 4WD to access any of the campgrounds in this national park.

Carnarvon

Quobba Station

You’ll find Quobba Station north of Carnarvon. There are two options for camping at Quobba Station – the campground next to the station or the far more isolated Red Bluff, which allegedly has the best sunsets this side of Australia.

Coral Bay

Peoples Park Caravan Resort

At $50 a night for an ocean-front basic site, Peoples Park Tourist Park is on the expensive side. But it offers a great position in the extremely popular Coral Bay, with good facilities – so you might think it’s worth a bit of extra cash.

Exmouth

Ningaloo Caravan and Holiday Resort

If you’re all about the location, you can’t do much better than this centrally located caravan park, which has accommodation ranging from cabins to campsites.

Ningaloo Lighthouse Caravan Park

This caravan park has ocean views, which is a top requirement when travelling along the Indian Ocean Drive.

Cape Range National Park

Unlike its southern neighbour, Francois Peron National Park, you don’t need a 4WD to access many of the campsites in Cape Range National Park. While the campsites facing the Indian Ocean are often windblown and exposed, the views are worth it. Sites book out at popular times of the year, so make sure to get in quick.

Bush Bay camping area

The trade-off for this campsite being free is that you have to be entirely self-sufficient – there are no facilities here. But there are fantastic views of the Indian Ocean, as this campsite faces Shark Bay Marine Park.

 

25 Free Campsites That Will Save Your Wallet This Easter

No Comments
Free camping in Kosciuszko National Park, Tom Simpson

Free camping in Kosciuszko National Park, Tom Simpson

Free yourself from budget worries by staying at these free campsites.

You can camp for free at more places than you’d expect around the country. And aside from being free, many of these campsites are also dog-friendly – talk about hitting the jackpot. Here are 25 free campsites around the country.

New South Wales

Acacia Flat camping area (walk-in camping), Blue Mountains National Park

Experience one of the best bush camping sites in New South Wales – for free. Hidden in the famous Grose Valley (it’s a steep walk down), you’ll sleep underneath the blue gums. There are toilets, and you can drink the creek water, after you’ve treated it.

Bendeela Recreation Area, Kangaroo Valley

Bendeela Recreation Area is a large, grassy area surrounded by trees and next to Kangaroo River. There are toilets, but that’s about all there is to the site and probably all you really need.

Ben Halls camping area, Weddin Mountains National Park

As the main campground in the national park, you’ll find a good range of facilities here. Situated on the western side of the park next to the historic Seatons Farm, the sites are grassy and shaded.

Lobs Hole Ravine camping area (northern section), Kosciuszko National Park

Ain’t no mountain high enough to keep you from getting to a campsite this good. This free campsite is only accessible for those in 4WDs, and you’ll need to be completely self-sufficient, but the trade-offs are great trout fishing, swimming and that fresh mountain air.

Victoria

Snakes camping area, Upper Goulburn Historic Area

Don’t let the name put you off. There aren’t that many snales at this campsite. The sites are spacious and spread out next to the river, and there are great walking tracks nearby. It’s also dog friendly.

Loch Valley (The Poplars) camping area, Noojee

You’ll find Loch Valley (The Poplars) camping area approximately 7km from Noojee, a small town on the way to Baw Baw National Park. This campground is free and dog friendly, and has toilets and picnic areas. You can fish and swim in the lake, although you might find that you have to warm yourself up by the campfire after taking a dip. But get in quick – Loch Valley closes down over winter.

Little River Junction camping area, Snowy River National Park

It’s a long way to the bottom of Victoria’s deepest cleft, the Little River Gorge. Visit the lookout at the gorge on your way to Little River Junction camping area. The junction is between the Snowy and Little rivers, and the camping area is perfectly placed for some swimming or canoeing.

Meredith Park camping area, Colac

This is a well-known free camping area on the northern shore of Lake Colac. The fishing here is great, and the area can become crowded with anglers.

Bear Gully camping area, Cape Liptrap Coastal Park

Quieter than neighbouring Wilsons Promontory National Park, Cape Liptrap is on a charming section of the Gippsland coast, only a short distance from Walkerville. Bear Gully is the only camping area in the park, and you’ll find its shady sites just behind Maitland Beach.

South Australia

Artimore Ruins camping area

Rattle down the Public Access Track in your 4WD until you come to Artimore Ruins. Nestled in a valley, this is a secluded and often quiet site with absolutely no facilities, so be prepared to rough it. The surroundings make this spot ideal for telling ghost tales around the campfire at night.

Western Australia

Marrinup camping area, Dwellingup

There’s really only one word to describe Marrinup camping area – pleasant. It’s a pleasant camping area, with a pleasant location in the forest next to Marrinup Brook. There are pleasant walks around the camping area, with pleasant wildlife-watching. It’s also pleasantly free and dog friendly.

Eagle Bluff camping area, Francois Peron National Park

We’re as shocked as you – you can get free camping just a short swim away from the marine wonderland of Shark Bay Marine Park. The water is the main drawcard here, but there’s also good birdwatching. The sites are spread out amongst the coastal vegetation on the foreshore.

House Beach camping area, Fitzgerald River National Park

You need to have a 4WD and be completely self-sufficient to camp at House Beach. But other than those obstacles, this is a great beach campsite with good fishing and swimming.

Northern Territory

Alligator Billabong camping area (bush camping), Kakadu National Park

Camp for free in Australia’s biggest national park at Alligator Billabong camping area. This site is only accessible by a 4WD-only track, and has no facilities.

Birthday Waterhole camping area, West MacDonnell National Park

Birthday Waterhole camping area is a free campsite on the Larapinta Trail, which treks across the West MacDonnell Ranges from Alice Springs to Mount Sonder. There are no facilities here, so you’ll have to be entirely self-sufficient.

Curtin Springs Roadhouse, Curtin Springs

You can camp for free at this roadhouse, which is on a working cattle station. Also on the station? Mount Conner, a monolith that is often mistaken for Uluru. The real Uluru is still 87 kilometres up the road. The campsite has good facilities.

Limmen Bight Fishing Camp, Limmen

Among certain circles, this is a famously good free campsite – so don’t tell anyone we let you in on the secret!

Queensland

Chinchilla Weir camping area, Chinchilla

On the banks of the Condamine River, this basic site has a maximum stay of two nights and is popular with water lovers, as you can swim, boat, waterski and canoe on the river. There are picnic tables, fireplaces and toilets here, but not much else. On the plus side, it’s free, doesn’t require  booking and is dog friendly.

The Boulders camping area, Babinda

You’ll find this camping area near one of the best swimming holes in Queensland. Sites are strictly limited – there are only five, with space for five people on each.

Broadwater Recreational Reserve camping area, Nanango

Twitchers, take note! This camping area is known for being a good birdwatching site. But it’s not known for much else. To camp here, you need to be completely self-sufficient.

Tasmania

Cockle Creek camping area, Recherche Bay Nature Recreation Area

You’ll have to go deep into the south to find this campsite – as far south as you can go by car in Australia. These campsites range along the final kilometres of Tasmania’s southernmost road. While you can’t camp on the ocean side of the road, the grassy sites have a great view and easy proximity to the beach. The only things provided by the campground are toilets and the views. You’ll have to be entirely self-sufficient and bring everything else (including your dog on a leash, if you want to travel with the whole family).

Green Point camping area, Marrawah

If you don’t feel like going south, how about taking on the Wild West? At Green Point you’ll have an unimpeded view of the mighty waves rolling in from South Africa. The facilities are good here, but this is a very exposed campsite, so bring shelter.

Hazards Beach camping area (walk-in camping), Freycinet National Park

Freycinet National Park is on most people’s must-visit list for Tasmania. But what a lot of those people don’t realise is that you can camp for free inside the national park – you just have to be prepared to walk in. The camping area is at the southern end of Hazards Beach, a 2 hour walk from Wineglass Bay.

Paddys Island camping area, St Helens

Get million-dollar views at Paddys Island camping area – for free. The campsites are nestled in the shrub just behind white-sand beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see. Catch your own dinner fresh from the ocean and cook it on the supplied fireplace.

Apsley Waterhole camping area, Douglas-Apsley National Park

Sometimes you have to work a little harder for the free sites – but Apsley Waterhole camping area is worth it. The campground is a 10 minute walk from the parking area, but once you arrive at the campsite and see it (hopefully) bathed in dappled sunlight, you’ll agree that it was worth it. The sites are only a short walk from a great swimming hole.

Make an Easter camping feast over the campfire

No Comments
Campfire cooking, Katy Holder

Campfire cooking, Katy Holder

Warm yourself up while camping this autumn! Katy Holder, author of Hungry Campers Cookbook, has put together a feast you can cook over the campfire.

Discover more recipes here.

Beer & pesto campfire bread damper

It’s amazing what you can create with so few ingredients. This is such a simple recipe and the addition of beer and pesto raise it from a plain old damper to one that is far more flavourful and interesting. Like all damper, it is delicious for dipping into the juices of casseroles and stews.

MAKES 1 loaf

450 g (3 cups) self-raising flour, plus about 2–3 tablespoons extra
1 teaspoon salt
250 ml (1 cup) beer, at room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil
60 g (¼ cup) pesto

1 Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl (preferably a metal one as it will need to sit by the heat at one point) and use your hands to bring the mixture together. If it’s sticky, add a little extra flour. Knead in the bowl for about 10 minutes, or until soft and elastic.

2 Cover the dough with a clean tea towel and place close to the fire (but not on it) or in a warm place for 30 minutes, until the dough has risen in size. At the same time, place your camp oven close to the fire to warm through, but don’t let it get too hot.

3 Very lightly dust the base of the camp oven with a little extra flour. Transfer the dough to the camp oven, sprinkle lightly with flour, then cover and sit close to the fire surrounded by coals. Don’t sit it on top of the coals or the damper will burn. If cooking over a fire pit with a grill tray that swings around, put the camp oven on this and put some coals on top of the camp oven too, to ensure an all-round heat.

4 Cook for 30–40 minutes, checking the coals every now and then, adding more as necessary, until the damper is cooked and it sounds hollow when tapped. If your damper is taking longer to cook, just keep replacing the coals. Remove from the camp oven, leave for 5 minutes, then serve in chunks or slices.

Massaman lamb curry with potatoes

This is a delicious and warming Thai curry that will cope with sitting over an open fire for several hours. If cooking over gas, once the coconut milk and tomatoes are in, cook for about 40 minutes, then add the potatoes and cook for a further 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked.

SERVES 4–6

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tablespoons Massaman curry paste
2 carrots, chopped
400 g butternut pumpkin (squash), cubed
1 kg cubed boneless lamb leg
2 x 400 ml tins coconut milk
400 g tin tomatoes
10 waxy potatoes, quartered or chopped if large

1 Heat the vegetable oil in a large camp oven or in a casserole dish on a grill rack over the fire. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 8–10 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the curry paste, stir well and cook for a couple of minutes until fragrant smells waft from the pan.

2 Add the carrot, pumpkin and lamb, stirring to coat in the paste. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the coconut milk and tomatoes and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil.

3 Once boiling, the dish can be simmered over the coals, so pull a few coals out to the edge and surround the dish. Cook for about 30 minutes, topping up with hot coals as necessary and ensuring that the curry keeps simmering gently. Add the potatoes and cook for a further 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender.

4 The curry is ready when the pumpkin has melted into the dish and thickened it, but the potatoes should retain their texture and shape. If you want to cook this dish for longer, that’s fine, but just don’t add the potatoes until the final 30 minutes of cooking. Check the seasoning and adjust as desired, then serve in bowls.

Find more camping recipes in the Hungry Campers Cookbook.

Hungry Campers Cookbook

Hungry Campers Cookbook

The Explore Australia team’s travel bucket list

No Comments
Whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef, Tourism Western Australia

Whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef, Tourism Western Australia

Have you always wanted to swim with the whale sharks, or see the sun set over Uluru? Or are you more interested in rattling up the hills of Flinders Ranges in a 4WD or tobogganing down the sand hills of Wentworth?

We want to celebrate the top places to explore in Australia, so we’re putting together an Australian travel bucket list with our partners at Places We Go. And your favourite places could make the list! Hop over to Places We Go to enter your top place to visit in Australia, and you’ll go into the running to win a 5-day trip to the Aussie destination of your choice.

Of course, the best (and the worst) thing about Australia is that it’s so big – there are so many spots that could make the bucket list. So to spark your travel imaginations, we here at Explore Australia have come up with our staff bucket list.

Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia

You might not be able to see it from space, but Ningaloo Reef has just as many things to entice visitors as the Great Barrier Reef – and one more. Ningaloo Reef is one of the places in the world you can swim with whale sharks. Don’t let the name confuse you. Whale sharks aren’t whales, but sharks. Luckily, they don’t eat people, just plankton and other varieties of small fish.

Unlike the Great Barrier Reef, the Ningaloo Reef is quite close to the coast. Tour operators will take you out to the reef, and when the sharks swim by, they’ll give you the cue to jump in. There are likely to be other fish species milling around, as well as the occasional other type of shark.

Of course, there’s more to Ningaloo Reef than swimming with whale sharks. But you’ll just have to go and find out for yourself.

Kangaroo Island, South Australia

You might think this island got its name by only being a hop away from the mainland. While Kangaroo Island is very accessible, at only a short ferry ride from the coast of South Australia, the island was named by Matthew Flinders (who named much of the coast) after its numerous kangaroos.

The island is wild by nature and also by history, as it was first colonised by escaped convicts and deserters. In a nation populated by wild characters, this island had some of the worst. Luckily, that’s no longer the case and Kangaroo Island is today a delightful holiday destination.

Uluru, Northern Territory

Yes, it is an obvious inclusion on the list, but for good reason! This monolith rises out of the plains of central Australia and has a presence that has to be felt to be believed. Around a 5-hour drive from Alice Springs, it’s worth camping overnight to see the sunrise and sunset over Uluru. If you’re lucky, you’ll be treated to a spectacular natural light show playing off the rock.

Cape Tribulation, Queensland

Cape Tribulation, so named by a frustrated Captain Cook, forms the coastal section of Daintree National Park. At 110km north of Cairns, Cape Trib is well and truly claimed by the north of Australia. Part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, the area has rivers and creeks, ancient species of animals and mountains covered with dense lowland rainforest that wouldn’t look out of place in an Indiana Jones movie.

The first Indiana Jones aspect of Cape Tribulation is that you need to cross a river to access it – although Indy might have preferred swinging across the river on a vine. Once you cross the river and wind your way through the rainforest, you’ll arrive at sandy beaches with incredible ocean views. It might not be the sort of treasure that Indy normally looks for, but it sure ain’t bad.

Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory

Don’t listen when people question whether you should Kaka-du or Kaka-don’t. You definitely should. The biggest national park in Australia, Kakadu has enough to please everyone in the family, whether you’re after towering waterfalls, ancient rock art, deadly animals, peaceful wetlands or secret swimming holes.

Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

While the Great Barrier Reef is so big you can see it from space, the delight is in the detail of the tropically coloured fish and coral. With big arguments raging over the environmental future of the reef, the time to see the reef is now.

Bungle Bungles, Western Australia

While tiger-striped rock cones might not be what you’d expect to see in what’s basically the middle of Australia, that’s part of what makes the Bungle Bungles so spectacular, and worthy of a place on everyone’s bucket lists.

Part of the World Heritage–listed Purnululu National Park, the park is on the border with the Northern Territory. Walk through the ancient rock formations to find hidden gorges, or go on a plane trip to appreciate the scale of the Bungle Bungles from above.

New Norcia, Western Australia

Western Australia has more than its fair share of strange sights, from the Bungle Bungles to Wave Rock. But potentially the strangest thing in the state is finding a Spanish town in the middle of the dry and dusty countryside. New Norcia is Australia’s only monastic town, and was built by Benedictine monks in the mid-nineteenth century.

Lake Eyre, South Australia

Most days in the life of Lake Eyre are the same: dry and salty. The lake is at Australia’s lowest point, and is an intimidating expanse of salt lakes. But on the rare occasion the lake floods, it bursts into life and birds flock to the life-giving water. While we’d prefer to see the lake in its gentler wet season, the dry expanses are just as worth a look.

Enter your bucket list suggestions here.

 

Campsites with the best activities nearby

No Comments
El Questro Campsite, Lyndon Sparrow

El Questro Campsite, Lyndon Sparrow

You’ve arrived at the campsite, set up your tent, enjoyed good conversations, good brews and good food around the campfire – now what?

If you’re looking for campsites with access to some of the best activities around the country, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve picked campgrounds with access to some of Australia’s best activities, from walking in Wilsons Promontory to snorkelling in the Whitsundays.

Roaring Meg camping area, Wilsons Promontory National Park, Victoria

You have to be active to even reach most of the campsites in Wilsons Promontory National Park, as most of the campsites are walk-in only. This national park is at the southernmost point of mainland Australia, and Roaring Meg is the campsite closest to the actual southernmost point. And, you guessed it, it can only be accessed by walking in.

It’s a 12km hike to get to Roaring Meg camping area along the Telegraph Track from Tidal River. The campground itself is extremely basic – it’s tent-only camping (you have to carry the tent in) and the only facilities are a composting toilet and water supply. It’s still a bit more of a walk to get to the bottom of mainland Australia from the campsite. You can also walk across to Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse from the campground.

Mungo Brush camping area, Myall Lakes National Park, New South Wales

If you don’t like water, don’t camp at Myall Lakes National Park. With 40km of beaches and 100,000ha of waterways, this is a water-lover’s playground. And Mungo Brush camping area might just have the best position in the park, happily situated between the lake and the beach.

The campsites in Myall Lake are all no-bookings sites and are pretty affordable, especially considering that the facilities are great, with toilets, picnic tables, barbecues, boat ramps and more. The sites are also spacious, suitable for camper trailers, caravans and motorhomes.

And once you’ve set up, you’ll have access to swimming, waterskiing, boating, kayaking, fishing, sailing and (for those looking for land-based activities) walking.

El Questro Station – Black Cockatoo camping area, Gibb River Road, Western Australia

The Gibb River Road is one of the most famous 4WD treks in Australia. Starting in Broome, the road passes through the wild and spectacularly beautiful Kimberley region, ending in Kununurra on the border with the Northern Territory.

It’s got everything you want in an epic 4WD trek – river crossings, sometimes dubious road conditions, epic scenery and crocodiles. Well, maybe you don’t want the crocodiles, but they do add to the sense of adventure.

El Questro Station is 16km off the Gibb River Road. There are a variety of camping options at the station, including Black Cockatoo camping area. Black Cockatoo is the campground at the station, and subsequently has access to great facilities, including an on-site restaurant. This outback oasis also has more activities than just four-wheel-driving. You can choose to go boating on the Pentecost River or horseriding around the area.

Campsites along the Munda Biddi Trail, Western Australia

Tackling a 1000km bike ride is no walk in the park, although your journey can be broken up at the numerous campsites that line the Munda Biddi Trail. This epic bike trail starts at Mundaring, slightly to the north of Perth, and passes through Western Australia’s ancient forests. You’ll emerge from the foliage to ocean views at the other end of the trail in Albany.

This trail was built specifically with off-road cyclists in mind, and all of the campsites have shelter, water and toilets – everything an exhausted cyclist needs after a hard day’s riding.

Maureen’s Cove camping area, Whitsunday Islands National Park, Queensland

You don’t need us to tell you how beautiful the Whitsunday Islands are – they are internationally renowned for their stunning white beaches and turquoise water, as well as for their access to the Great Barrier Reef.

As with most of the campsites in the national park, you can only get to Maureen’s Cove by boat, and the facilities are limited to toilets and picnic tables.

Maureen’s Cove is on Hook’s Island and has access to the fringing coral reef, so don’t forget to bring your diving and snorkelling gear. The views under and over the water are equally good, as the camping area has views over the Coral Sea.

DISCOVER MORE CAMPING IN THE CAMPING AROUND AUSTRALIA APP.