Kooljaman camp, Cape Leveque, Kimberley
To the far north of Western Australia, adventure awaits at Cape Leveque. Around 220km from Broome, Kooljaman is an award-winning camp owned by the Aboriginal communities of One Arm Point and Djarindjin. Getting there is an experience itself with the easiest choice (albeit most expensive) to fly into the camp’s own airstrip. Assisted 4WD transfers are available or you can rent a 4WD and make your own way there. Whichever way you opt to travel, you can’t fail to be awestruck by the Kimberley’s radiating red landscape. Once on the ground whale watching, nature walks and a bush tucker tour for the braver foodie, are among the activities on offer, but the simplicity of watching the sunset well may be the most memorable. Accommodation will suit all comfort levels and pockets, whether a night on the campground or a basic cabin for couples on a budget.
• kooljaman.com.au, camping $18 (£12) per adult, log cabins $140 for two sharing
Denham Seaside Tourist Village near Monkey Mia beach
Dolphin watching at Monkey Mia beach draws most to these parts (just over 800km from Perth) but there’s more to see. Locally known as Shark Bay, Denham and this stretch of the Indian Ocean is rich with dugong, manta rays and the eponymous sharks. For a traditional caravan park atmosphere, Denham Seaside Tourist Village fits the bill. For those camping, the unpowered oceanside pitches are preferable to a hillside pitch buffeted by coastal winds. With long coastal stretches scattered with wildflowers, you get a sense for the land that Dutch settlers would have found as they disembarked at the most westerly point of Australia.
• sharkbayfun.com, basic cabin for two costs $80/90 (£53/59) per night (off/in season)
Horrocks Beach Caravan Park, Horrocks
Whether heading north or south, stopping in the hamlet of Horrocks (or others like it) is an alternative to the larger towns such as Kalbarri or Geraldton. Within reach of the deep red gorges of Kalbarri national park, popular with hikers, you’ll find a better price here than the larger towns. Horrocks Beach Caravan Park offers great amenities with a site kiosk for stocking up on essentials (whether milk and bread or something a little sweeter). Basic self-catered cabins are available, as are camp pitches close to the beach. The simple beauty of Horrocks is days of swimming in sheltered waters and sitting on the side of the small wooden jetty, feet dipped in the ocean.
• horrocksbeachcaravanpark.com.au self-catered cabin $75
Pinnacles Caravan Park, Cervantes
A town built for and by the crayfishermen whose boats you see huddled in the bay, Cervantes is now just as much about tourism. 200km north of Perth, many make the trip to the nearby Nambung national park to view the Pinnacles; thousands of limestone fingers which jut from the shifting sands. The Pinnacles Caravan Park is practically on the beach and offers well-maintained facilities, a site shop and cafe serving "proper" coffee. With an Oceanside pitch it’s only a few steps to a raised picnic area where you can tuck into fish and chips and watch the sun set into the Indian Ocean.
• pinnaclespark.com.au, unpowered pitch $27 (£18), cabins $75
Thompson Bay, Rottnest Island
Rotto as it’s known locally is an island getaway for Perth folk, situated 19km from the mainland, just a 25-minute crossing from Fremantle or Perth via the Rottnest Express. Once on the island, accommodation varies, with heritage cottages and villas at the top end but still plenty of options for the more budget conscious. At the island’s largest settlement, Thompson Bay you’ll find camping and basic cabins by the crescent of white sand, rimmed by the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. Price is determined by both the season and whether midweek or weekend. Time your stay right and a four-bed bungalow can cost as little as $69. For many being right by the beach is enough but bike hire allows you to find your own perfect beach spot.
• rottnestisland.com, four-bed bungalow midweek/low season $69 (£46)
Tippytop B&B, Preston Beach
It’s hard to believe you are just an hour from Perth, with uncrowded beach and only sand and stars, whether looking north or south. Built back in the early 1950s for inland farmers to get away from the heat after harvest, Preston Beach still retains much of this charm. Tippytop offers the quintessential B&B experience for the campsite-weary traveller. The wrap-around veranda is perfect for looking out to the coast over a hearty country breakfast. Fresh seasonal fruits and yoghurt are served up with the works to follow – sausage, bacon and hash browns with ocean views are the way days start at Tippytop. With stylish and spacious accommodation and a warm welcome from owners Judy and Lew, going back to canvas may not be an option.
• tippytopatpreston.com, $110 (£73) per night for two sharing
Hamelin Bay Holiday Park
Close to Margaret river and the southern tip of the Cape to Cape walk, Hamelin Bay makes a great base to explore the region, rich in wineries, artisan food businesses and great coast. Once a timber loading port, now only a bit of the jetty remains. Deserted out of season, it’s perfect for those wanting some seclusion and, like many spots along the coast, if you pick your time, you may feel like you’re the only person for miles. Hamelin Bay Holiday Park offers good value one-room cabins, which while basic have double beds and adequate self-catered facilities. The park is close to the beach where the black and eagle stingrays gliding in the shallows have become a local attraction.
• mronline.com.au/accom/hamelin/index.htm, Hamelin Bay West Road (off Caves Road), $80/120 off/high season, based on two sharing
Windy Harbour Nature Based Camping Ground
One of a number of shack settlements that dot the Australian coast, this windswept hamlet of ramshackled constructions was originally used as fishermen’s huts and makeshift holiday homes. It’s a slice of Australian coastal heritage which with time could disappear. Close to the Pemberton wine region, you reach Windy Harbour from the town of Northcliffe, a long straight road stretching for miles before depositing you in the coastal community. With basic amenities onsite, it’s simply a case of pitching up, getting the campfire burning and settling in for a night of stars, flickering embers and the crash of the Southern Ocean.
• No website, Windy Harbour Nature Based Camping Ground, Boat Ramp Road, +61 8 9776 8398, $11.50pp
Parry Beach, near Denmark
West of the town of Denmark, the basic campsite at Parry Beach is an antidote to some of the more sterile stops in the southwest. As you walk down to the caretaker’s beachside cabin, ringed by a makeshift fence of rope and driftwood, you have a view out to the beach which stretches for over 6km. Set among peppermint trees that provide shaded hollows to set up camp you may need to clear the ground a little, but that’s all part of the Parry Beach charm. Facilities are well maintained but basic, with solar-heated showers in the wash block and a communal barbecue overlooking the beach. For those wanting to cook over a campfire the caretakers will sell you a barrow of firewood for around $10.
• No website, around $7pp
DEC Cape Arid national park
Cape Arid, with its snow-white beaches and turquoise water lies to the east of Esperance. This is ideal 4WD country with many camping spots within the national park not accessible with 2WD. Given the opportunity and gumption it’s an unforgettable way to explore this south-eastern stretch of WA. Thomas River camping area (105 km from Esperance) is ideal whatever your means of getting there. It has a basic toilet block and bringing your own drinking water and a camp stove are recommended. Close to the river and with an outlook towards the southern ocean it’s a perfect coastal stop before continuing on towards the expanses of the Nullarbor crossing and the eastern states.
• DEC Cape Arid national park, dec.wa.gov.au, +61 8 9075 0055, $7 per adult