The WA Now and Then Travel Blog

Winter Getaway - Perth to Carnarvon.

We left home after 9am to avoid the morning rush hour traffic. Refuelled and checked tyre pressures and then it was north up the freeway and more than an hour's drive until we finally broke free of the grasp of the suburbs.

It was nice weather again for the start of the trip (we are on a roll with this now) and an easy drive along the coast to a lunch break at Lancelin.

Even better than the sunny weather was the lack of wind. The Coaster was positively rocketing along at 90kph!

We topped up the fuel as we exited Leeman (the fuel station just north of town is always the cheapest) and continued north to Cliff Head. The northern section (Cliff Head North) was being renovated so we stopped at Cliff Head South. We have never stopped there before and now we wish we had. It is much nicer than the northern rest area and has excellent toilets, shelter, seats, tables and even a wood burning BBQ.


Cliff Head South
Cliff Head South


It was so nice that we stayed an extra night despite the freezing cold mornings. We discovered a problem with our water heater so had to boil a kettle of water and wash instead of showering but we have done this many times in the past so it was no big deal.

There was also an odd thermostat problem with the fridge but it wouldn't be a trip away if there weren't a few things going wrong. Add to that two big cracks in the windscreen and we had a trifecta before the first night was over.

At least we had a great view and a waterfront campsite to compensate us for the hassles.

(Cliff Head at the time we visited was a 72 hour rest stop.)

After leaving Cliff Head we dropped in at Dongara to have a look at the 24 hour rest stop (for self contained vehicles). We do intend to head back this way when we have more time to spare and explore Dongara more thoroughly.


Dongara 24 hour rest stop
Dongara 24 hour rest stop


We stopped at Caravan Land in Geraldton to pick up some parts for the water heater. Videos on YouTube suggested replacing these if the heater wasn't working so we did and it still didn't work. Almost $60 down the drain!

Refuelled at our usual stop in Geraldton (440 Roadhouse) and then just kept going all day to get as far north as possible.

Stopped in at Northampton to fill our water tanks and drop off black water (the tap and dump point are located behind a small park near the local IGA).

Our intended stop for the night was the lookout south of Wooramel as we have stayed there in the past. We rolled in around 5pm totally exhausted only to find that Carnarvon Shire had put up NO CAMPING signs at the entrance.

We were simply too exhausted to keep going and there was no way we were going to be extorted $$$ for staying at nearby Gladstone campsite.

I mentally said 'UP YOURS!!' to Carnarvon Shire and spent the night at the lookout despite their idiotic NO CAMPING signs.


Wooramel lookout
Wooramel lookout


Luckily there was no official objection and no one turned up in the middle of the night to evict us. They would have got a real dressing-down if they had! I am totally over these money grubbing shires that try to force everyone to pay for simply resting overnight on a long journey.

Carnarvon Shire, you can take your, "There is no free camping in the Shire of Carnarvon" message and shove it "where the sun don't shine!" We have spent many happy times in the shire of Carnarvon in the past but until this attitude changes we will severely limit our time there and will not be spending much in town. The more people who protest this way, the more the council will sit up and take notice.

To the business operators in Carnarvon, where we used to spend rather large sums of money, we simply say, 'vote in your local council elections for councillors who will not adopt this very unfriendly attitude to the travelling public'. So many towns in W.A. have finally woken up to the fact that if they provide for travellers, travellers will come and spend money in their area.

The old excuse that usually gets trotted out is that people staying overnight leave rubbish or do some other damage to the site. The fact is that sites are far more prone to problems when there are few or no people using them because then the yobs move it and can create problems because they can do it with no scrutiny.

It is quite possible for travellers to stop at these sites during the day, sleep in their vehicle, cook in their vehicle, have showers, wash dishes etc. All this is prefecty fine as long as it is daylight. This all changes as soon as it gets dark and it is suddenly prohibited to do all the things you can do completely legitimately in daylight. I don't know how this can make any sense to anyone!

Ok rant over.....


Wooramel lookout
Even the gnomes at Wooramel have been subjected to the local shire's restrictions....


It was only just over 100km to our intended destination (Bush Bay Campsite) so we arrived early enough to get out the fishing gear, look for some poddy worms in the seaweed (as bait) and catch some whiting.

Turned out the whiting were hungry and it took quite a while to clean them and pack them away.

The Bush Bay wind was being kind and dropped to almost nothing at night so it was a very restful and well earned sleep.

At last we managed to have a bit of a sleep-in and didn't get out of bed until 8am!

Eventually the 'call of the worms' was too much and we were off to collect bait for the day's fishing.


Bush Bay
Camping at Bush Bay


The whiting weren't quite as eager to take the worms this time but we did get 4 nice sized specimens to add to the ones in the fridge from the day before.

The fish went off the bite so we went back to camp early and tried out making pizzas on the Weber Baby-Q. They turned out well and we used pre-made bases (12 for $4.99 from Woolies).


The Bush Bay wind turned up in the evening and managed to shake the bus for a while. Thankfully we had parked the right way round so the annexe was protected.

Woke to cloud cover and a cold morning. By 10am it had all cleared away and we had returned to nice sunny weather.

Bit of a nothing day as the tide was late and it was too cold to fish by the time there was enough water. The tides didn't really come good until the end of the week.

We decided to head into town and grab supplies as there was no chance to go fishing. We were about to head in when I discovered a flat tyre.

Thankfully it was a rear-outer which is the easiest to fix. It is just a matter of driving the rear inner up on to a block and removing the outer, no need for messing around with jacks.

Dropped the tyre off in town and ran around gathering all the supplies we needed and wanted.

Managed to catch up with our friend Garfield and have a chat before heading back to Bush Bay in the late afternoon. Garfield was almost a fixture at Bush Bay for many years and it was good to see that 'old George' is still holding out despite all the changes to camping rules in W.A. George has been there (as far as we know) for 11 years!

The next couple of days were mostly relaxing, taking pictures and some video. The weather was sunny but unfortunately the tides were no good for fishing.

To pass some time we went looking for shellfish on the sand flats at low tide. You find them by digging your toes into the sand and feeling for nice round shells.


Shellfish from the sand flats
Shellfish from the sand flats


They need to be kept in a big bucket of salt water for a couple of days (changing the water a couple of times a day) to help flush out any sand.

They were soon turned into a nice dish of sambal that was eaten with steamed rice and veggies.

Eventually the tides came good and we caught a lot of whiting but only kept the bigger ones.

There were some hassles with our house batteries that I suspected was being caused by the fridge thermostat staying on when it should be turning off. It was a matter of trying to find a setting that worked well. I swapped a battery over with the trailer to see if that helped overnight power retention and luckily it did seem to have some positive effect.

The next Weber meal was a pork roast. Unfortunately it turned out a bit too dry. We were using the Weber thermometer set to 165F and even though I took it out at 160F the meat was dry. Next time I will try 150F.


Pork roast on the Weber
Pork roast on the Weber


It was soon time for the full moon, so despite the fact that the tides and weather were good, we didn't catch much fish.

We packed and moved a short distance to New Beach for our last night in the area. New Beach sites are a bit more boggy than Bush Bay but it is a nice spot and more attractive than Bush Bay.


New Beach
New Beach


The water tanks ran out so at least we found out what our limit was. It turned out to be 8 days.

We carry an extra 50 litres in the trailer and that is enough to last a further 2-3 nights.

The tempramental hot water heater started working again so we enjoyed the showers while we could. Of course it stopped working again shortly afterward so it was back to washing with a big bowl of water.

We still managed to get phone signal at New Beach as we had at Bush Bay. It was a bit variable and you might need to move around to find a spot where signal is strong enough.

Campsite details for New Beach and Bush Bay are pretty straight forward, $5.50 per person per night ($4 concession), the only facilities are a skip bin at the 'T' junction and dump points that have been there for years. Everything else you need to bring in.

With heavy hearts we left New Beach and started the long drive back to Perth. There was no resaon to linger so we drove for most of the day with only a few minor rest breaks.

We stopped to have a quick look at Edagee rest area as we have never been in to look before. It is quite a good area with toilets, bins, shelters, tables and seats.


Edagee rest area
Edagee rest area


As our water tanks were almost empty we stopped in at Northampton again to refill, only to find some rather thoughtless caravaners parked in the way of the water tap (the same as had been the case on the way north).

I really do wonder sometimes how some people think (or don't think as the case may be).

When I see a dump point, water tap etc. I only park next to it as long as I need to use it and then I move away so others can get to it. I don't park up next to it and then engage in hour long conversations with other travellers and ignore anyone trying to get to the tap. Some people are so self-centred that if it doesn't concern them then they just don't give a stuff.

The first time we filled up with water at Northampton on this trip I had to jam the front of the Coaster in between two caravans that had stopped by the tap and were enjoying a nice long chin-wag. Despite the fact that they could see it wasn't easy for me to get to the tap, they just continued their conversation and were still at it when I left. 'Ignorant selfish twits' I think would be the best way to describe people like these.


Northampton caravan parking
At least no vans in this pic were blocking the tap.


We dropped in to the local IGA and bought some supplies before heading south again.

We got as far as Oakabella Homestead (20km south of Northampton) before calling a halt for the day. There is a nice big camping area at Oakabella and the fee is $9 per person per night.

There are toilets, hot showers, water but no power is available. There is also a cafe and some very interesting old farm buildings to explore. There is a fee for tours of the main house but visitors are free to wander through the rest of the complex.




We left fairly early and made our way to Geraldton to refuel.

We wanted to have a look at Ellendale Pool and see if it was worth staying a night as we hadn't been to the site for years.

It certainly was worth staying. There are BBQs, shelters, tables, seats, dump point, bins, flushing toilet, cold water shower (outside) and a nice area by a large pool in the river that is overlooked by an impressive cliff. At $5 a night per vehicle it was also great value.

There are a few sites in the main area next to the river but this gets very busy with day trippers. There are also some sites further along the river but may be suited to smaller rigs due to overhanging trees.

There is a large open area (that is also very flat) that is accessed by a road to the right once you have gone through the main area by the river. You can't see the river from there but there is a lot more room.

We weren't able to get phone signal here but sometimes that is a good thing.


Ellendale Pool
Ellendale Pool


Went down to the coast to have a look at Seven Mile Beach. The access road is 10km north of Dongara and is sealed. There is a large flat area by the beach big enough for a few vans and the area is a designated 72 hour rest area for self-contained vehicles.

There is a rubbish skip but no other facilities. There is currently no fee and dogs are allowed.

It looked rather like a caravan park as there were so many vans parked up, we decided to keep going.


Seven Mile Beach
Seven Mile Beach


Stopped in at Dongara for lunch and wandered around taking a few photographs. There are more old buildings I want to get pictures of in this town so we will have to arrange to come back this way soon.


Iconic fig tree in Dongara


The final destination for the day was Sandy Cape Campsite to have a look at the new areas that have been developed. There certainly has been a lot of work done and the campsite is more than double the old size. There are now plenty of toilet blocks, shelters, seats, tables and BBQs. The basic fee is $15 per night per vehicle covering 2 adults and 2 children. There is now a maximum of 4 nights stay allowed at this site.

Dogs on a leash are also allowed at Sandy Cape campsite.

Phone signal varies depending where you are and we had to climb a sand dune to get a signal strong enough for the internet.


Sandy Cape Campsite
Sandy Cape Campsite new area extension


Initially we intended to stay another night at Sandy Cape but mid-morning we changed our minds and packed up heading for Yanchep National Park.

The campsite at the park has toilets and a hot shower (both rather dated), dump point, basic camp kitchen, shelters and is situated around what was once an oval.

The old car park has been turned into vehicle bays and there are also some grassed sites.

Campsites should be pre-booked via the internet and cost $10 per person per night ($6.60 concession). Generators can be used on car park sites only from 8am - 9pm.


Yanchep National Park campsite
Yanchep National Park campsite


Yanchep is perhaps one of our most unusual national parks as there are lots of manicured lawns and a number of old buildings.

The National Park contains some unique facilities including Yanchep Inn where you can get meals, drinks and accommodation is also provided. Weekday lunch specials are really worth checking out and we can recommend the sirloin steak, chips and salad (Fridays) for just $16. It is a nice big steak too!

Phone signal in the park is reasonable and we could get internet via our little wifi box.


Yanchep Inn
Yanchep Inn


Yanchep was our last stop before heading home. We had quite a few problems on this trip including the water heater, fridge, windscreen, flat tyre, and a crack in the rear window. If we manage to ignore all these things, it was a good trip.

The weather was reasonable if a bit cold at times and we didn't get too much rain so for the time of year, it was pretty good.


Updated July 2017

Go to the next blog installment Go to the next blog installment







Yanchep NP

Sandy Cape Campsite






Bush Bay Campsite





Yanchep NP

Yanchep NP

Yanchep NP







Become a supporter of this website for just $5 a month



Go to the Home Page Go to the Help Page Go to the Help Page

Western Australia Now and Then website - Copyright (c) 2019 - Marc Glasby. All rights reserved.