Dust off the camping tent, get the 4×4 ready and grab your mates for a fully immersive forest and ocean camping adventure in Western Australia’s scenic south west.
“You heading “Douth” mate this long weekend?”
“Oath, you bet you I am! Will get the missus ready. Don’t forget to stock the Bush Chooks!”
That was my attempt at Sandgroper slang! In case you’re wondering, a sandgroper is a Western Australian, ‘douth is the south west abbreviated, oath means an enthusiastic yes, missus is a girlfriend/wife, and bush chooks are Emu Export beer (not my personal favourite, but the blokes think they’re fair dinkum here.) Lol!
Like with the rest of Australia, in WA we like to affectionately nickname everything. Heading to the south west, aka ‘down south’, aka, “douth”, is a Perthian’s favourite holiday past time. Why? Because the South West is a vibrant hub of activity and scenic beauty that really isn’t far from Perth at all. From Perth to lets say, Margaret River, (the biggest wine region in Western Australia), it’s an easy 3 hour drive.
And it’s a pretty cool drive down south may I add – you get to see lots of cows, trees, some abstract sculptural art, questionable driving from others and likely speed cameras. Ha, no but seriously, the drive is fun when you’re not alone, and it’s the perfect opportunity to discuss Donald Trump, play Eye Spy, and share your thoughts on the Universe with friends before you hit camping, wineries and 4×4 adventure.
But why not go one step further for your south west holiday and go camping? Fully immerse yourself into the South West by camping in one of their selected camping grounds located through the region.
Selected campgrounds from across the state are now bookable online for a trial period. Now we’re talking!
Errm, why go Camping?
I may not need to convince the men as much as I do the women here.
Spending overnight in the great West Aussie outdoors is one of the best ways to experience the untouched wilderness of Australia’s south west. Campsites are secluded and most of them are in national parks showcasing stunning views of the coast, or lovely little spots nestled under peppermint trees that are well cared for by the local rangers.
These campgrounds are high quality, maintained by passionate volunteers who love West Australia just as much as we do. Visit Parks and Wildlife Park Stay WA for more information on camping and campsites.
Not keen on camping? You can find a list of caravan and holiday parks in the accommodation in Australia’s South West website. And then of course, your other options are always AirBnb, Chalets, and your hotels.
But for the sake of this article and for doing something quirky, go camping instead! Get off the beaten track, here’s my pick of the Best Camping Spots in the South West:
BEST CAMPING SPOTS, IN THE SOUTH WEST:
Honeymoon Pool, near Collie
Located within Wellington National Park, 18km west of Collie. The area is a hive of activity in summer with Collie River Dam nearby offering water sports. Most sites have wood barbecues and picnic tables. There are gas barbecues in the adjacent ‘day use’ area for the use of all visitors. $10 per adult per night.
Contos Campground, near Margaret River
I’ve been here – it’s really good! Close to one of the region’s beautiful, protected bays, Contos Campground is nearby Jewel Cave and Caveworks, and you can join up with the Cape to Cape Track from here. You’ll be camping amongst the coastal peppermint woodland. It’s so pretty here and a majority of my photos in this article are taken from Contos Campground. Possum watching is also popular here! $10 per adult per night.
Boranup Forest Campground, near Augusta
Situated in a beautiful karri forest, you’ll feel completely surrounded by nature in this campsite. Fewer facilities (just a toilet) so come well provisioned, as a small campground here only fits seven small tents or small campervans. $7.50 per adult per night.
Black Point, near Augusta
Accessible only by 4WD and located within D’Entrecasteaux National Park. Plenty of basic campsites, some with picnic tables. Just a short drive to great fishing and surfing spots on the south coast. For this spot, camper trailers, caravans and large caravans are not suitable. $7.50 per adult per night.
Banksia Camp, near Walpole
Great for groups! If you’re lucky you’ll get to stay in the purpose-built camping hut, with four rooms and a common area. 4WD access only. Caravans and larger campervans are not permitted. Pristine beaches nearby. $7.50 per adult per night.
Moingup Springs, near Mt Barker
The only campsite in the Stirling Range National Park. Ideally located for day trips to Bluff Knoll or the Porongorup Range. Awesome wildflowers (in season) and bird watching. It’s an open style campground that can accomodate up to 20 tents, and small campervans may occupy the car parking spaces. $10.00 per adult per night.
Located in the coastal dunes of Fitzgerald River National Park, St Mary’s is ideal for whale watching. Nearby at Point Ann is a whale nursery. This is a great campsite for watching a variety of waterbirds, parrots and birds of prey For your safety: Coast Risks & Cliff Risks are significant in this park. $7.50 per adult per night.
For a full list of campsites within National Parks of Australia’s South West, visit the Department of Parks and Wildlife.
>>> My Own South West Camping Experience !
Okay, now that the important stuff is out of the way, let me take you on a virtual adventure to Western Australia’s south west. Check out all my pics below 🙂
My Favourite Pitstop: Miami Bakehouse Bakery
Every time I’ve ever been to the south west, I’ve always had to leave super early in the morning to allow for an ETA of 3 hours or so, plus you want to keep in mind traffic conditions and keeping to the designated speed limit (don’t speed – there’s fixed cameras on Forrest Highway both sides, plus always cameras out and about). So with that being said, I’m often hungry and in desperate need for coffee to fuel myself up for the road trip/camping adventure ahead.
My personal favourite pitstop is Miami Bakehouse Bakery in West Pinjara, it’s not out of the way at all and is straight off the main highway (I think its like 20 minutes further once you pass the ridiculously long worded “Mandjoogoordaup Dr’ sign on the freeway. They do the most amazing pies ever, and I’m not a meatpie fangirl, but theirs are truly quality pies. Also coffee is good quality too, so defs check them out next time you’re driving past.
Contos Campgrounds is probably the most popular and well known campsite near Margaret River town, situated right in the shady peppermint woodlands but still close to the coast (Contos Springs Beach).
To get to the Contos Campgrounds, you could either drive through the tall, statuesque Karri trees of Boranup forrest which is a bit like going through Jurassic Park (4wd access only), or you could opt for the ocean-side tracks to get in.
There are 116 camp sites within Contos, catering for tents through to large caravans and camper trailers. A well-maintained toilet is there too. The Cape to Cape walking track is directly accessible from the campground and nearby, Conto Springs Beach is a great place to go surfing or fishing.
We have been at Contos Campgrounds a few times – most recently being New Years Eve. One of the groups highlights was everyone walking to the coast and watching the sunset on top of the coastal cliffs. We soaked in stunning panoramic views.
Check out my pics 🙂
>>> Lots of animals to see in the South West…
There are some challenging, thrilling and visually rewarding four wheel drive (4WD) tracks in the south west. Your off-road adventures will take you in the footsteps of pioneers to remote, untouched and iconic wilderness landscapes and along the way you’ll see a variety of animals like kangarroos, emus, wedge-tailed eagles and ancient heritage sites like the caves.
In addition to plenty of 4wd tracks through the woodlands and some leading to the sandy beaches, mountain biking is also popular here, and many purpose built cycling trails can be found through beautiful terrain all accessible from towns. Bike hire is available in most towns too
Check out pics from our 4wd drive adventures below 🙂
The South West’s abundant coastline and waterways makes it an ideal place for water-based activities such as water-skiing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, kite surfing, surfing, scuba diving, snorkelling, canoeing, kayaking, white water rafting, and sailing. Yep – the south west is the ideal region for doing adventurous water sport activities.
Considered the best spots for windsurfing and kite surfing are the Leschenault Inlet (Bunbury), Blackwood River (Augusta) and Main Break (Margaret River). The best spots for skiing and wakeboarding are found around Albany, Bunbury and Busselton. And for calmer waters, head down to Geographe Bay which is an ideal spot to sail, as well as the Princess Royal Harbour and King George Sound, Albany.
On our trip, we didn’t do any major water sports… but we did go 4×4 on the beach!!!!! Lots of fun!
>>> Abalone Fishing anyone? …
There are three types of abalone in Western Australia. The most common are roe (which inhabit reef platforms mainly across the south west, north to about Steep Point) followed by greenlip (which are considerably larger than roe and identifiable by their pale, shiny green appearance) and the largest of the lot, brownlip. Both greenlip and brownlip mainly live off the state’s southern coastline preferring limestone or granite seabeds in waters deeper than 5 metres.
The great thing about living in Perth, however, is that you don’t have to travel far to find some more abalone. For example, Burns Beach and Mettams Pool off the Tourist Coastal Road (both North of the River) are fantastic local spots for abalone sighting.
Otherwise, if you don’t mind heading on a mini road trip (and you count yourself as a ‘advanced’ in the water) then head to the South West where rocky beaches are full of abalone but conditions are generally rough. If you are going abalone fishing in the South West, be mindful there are different sections of coast where abalone fishing is prohibited. Check online for details.
You can read more about Abalone Fishing in Western Australia here.
>>> CAVE EXPLORING!
Formed approximately 1 million years ago, a number of these complex and fragile karst systems are open to the public. There are massive labyrinths decorated intricately with limestone crystal formations inside many of these caves.
Cave tours range from completely easy ‘at your own pace’ self-guided tours, guided tours along boardwalks with great commentary, ‘off piste’ adventure hard-hat tours to extremely adventurous ‘abseil your way in’ expeditions.
Lake Cave has a permanent lake which is pretty awesome, and Jewel Cave has enormous chambers. Or you can take it easy on the Mammoth Cave self-guided tour. At Yallingup’s Ngilgi Cave, you can learn more about the local Aboriginal legends.
- Jewel Cave Augusta – the biggest show cave in Western Australia, with three massive chambers. Also home to one of the longest straw stalactites found in any tourist cave in the world. Awarded a gold medal in the ‘Tourist Attractions; category at the WA Tourism Awards.
- Lake Cave – Nicknamed a ‘mirrored wonderland’, home to the ‘suspended table’, a crystal decoration weighing several tonnes that hangs from the ceiling, almost touching the waters of the lake.
- Ngilgi Cave – One of Geographe Bay’s most renowned tourist attractions., home to stunning stalactite, stalagmite, helicitite and shawl formations.
- Mammoth Cave – The most easily accessible of all the show caves in the region, with the first chamber actually accessible by wheelchair. It is a self-guided cave, where you explore on your own while listening to an informative ‘audio tour’ through the MP3 player and headset provided. You are also free to wander at your own pace along the boardwalks and platforms, through the majestic chambers of the cave. Mammoth Cave is also one of just a few caves in the south west which contains fossils.
>>> WINERIES! 🍷🍷
Margaret River is one of the most isolated and pure wine regions of the world. Booking tours are popular activity for those wanting to safely journey through the region sampling and buying gourmet food and wine. Get more info here, or have a look at the Margaret River Wineries List to see whats on offer.
>>> TOWN STOP-OFF’S
Along the south west coast you’ll find so many gorgeous ocean-side cafes with awesome swimming conditions to stop into.
South West Activities
The South West is one of the most diverse regions of Western Australia. While the primary attractions are the food and wine, beautiful beaches and forrest/wildflowers – it offers far more than meets the eye, with lots of activities on offer. Search for all South West attractions here.
Need more ideas on what to do? Check out this Top 20 Incentive Ideas article which is impressively comprehensive.
South West Events
Australia’s South West annually hosts anything from world-class events attracting internationally-renowned chefs, surfers and musicians to excellent farmers’ market and craft fairs celebrating local produce and talent. Search for the list of all events in the region here, or for more information, connect with a local visitor centre during your stay.
While we’re on the topic of the South West, make sure to check out my other blog, The Best Kept Secret in the South West (Until Now) – where I’ve discovered a beautiful hidden gem that’s located in the scenic south west of Yallingup.