5 Favourite spots for camping close to Perth with Nicole Knight
We asked our readers where their favourite camping spots were here in Perth, Nicole a mum of 3 (soon to be 4) kindly sent us her families favourite spots including great tips!
As someone who grew up laughing at the thought of camping, no one was more surprised than me when we first pitched swags and I fell in love. I didn’t care about using a longdrop, washing dishes in a metal mixing bowl, going to sleep with sandy feet or that after almost four years of camping, we still don’t have sufficient light at night for me to read. I love that phone reception is scattered at best (no checking emails!), I could open the swag and look at the stars all night and the only noises at night are that of the wildlife and my quietly snoring son. As a relatively anxious personality I can say with full sincerity that camping and peace are inextricably intertwined for me. Having added twins (and another baby due later this year) we begrudgingly swapped the swags for a tent.
My fave camping spots within a 3-4 hour radius of Perth. All are accessible easily by non 4WD:
Boranup Forrest – we camped here out of necessity when our regular campground was full. We literally found a spot on the side of a deserted dirt road and set up the swags. There was not a person, car or tent in sight and I’m yet to feel the peace I felt that night (that could be the addition of twins though!). While we didn’t actually camp in a designated campground it is my #1 camping experience to date
Contos –About 20 minutes from Margaret River township. Being relatively new to Perth we really enjoy the ease of access to the wineries, beaches, caves and attractions of Dunsborough and Margaret River without the hefty accommodation pricetag. The toilets are clean, sites are generous and there are plenty of them. The campground also caters to caravans and camper trailers in separate sites and has fires for the cooler months. The kids will love the possums at night and we often see kangaroos and wildlife within metres of the swags/tent. Due to the arrangement of the campsites the tracks make a great bike path for kids while parents relax. Contos has changed from a first in first served basis to being able to book online and fills up quickly at peak periods.
Sandy Cape, Jurien Bay – If you can tolerate the flies, this is a great place to unwind with minimal distractions. Jurien Bay itself is sleepy (great bakery though!) and quiet and Sandy Cape is a gorgeous nook outside town. Camping is essentially in the dunes only 100m or so from the beach. We’ve seen whales each afternoon we were there and from chatting to other campers, they are a regular sight. The water was perfectly warm and plenty of space to share with other campers without feeling remotely crowded. The only downside were the toilets – we went in late summer and the smell was that of which you hear in horror stories!
Denmark – we had originally planned to camp at Parry Beach (along with about half of Perth it would seem!) for New Years. A quick Google search found another campsite (Boat Harbour Chalets) close by and we squeezed in there by the skin of our teeth. The hosts had recently taken over the property and were welcoming and friendly. To their immense credit, they could have crammed about 20-30 more vehicles in but elected to direct them elsewhere. It was a dog friendly campsite and allowed fires, even in the middle of summer. The nights were cool but not unpleasantly so. It was the only campsite we have ever been to with flushing toilets, showers and laundry facilities. While it was novel, we’re simple campers and perfectly happy ‘top and tailing’ while we’re away. As an interesting aside, we were camping opposite one of Australia’s prominent surfers. While he and his family were in a stunning(ly expensive) caravan and we were in a modest tent, I can say with certainty that both his kids and mine had the exact same amount of fun running, riding and playing in the campsite.
Lake Leschenaultia – a great spot to pop up to for the weekend or overnight. Located in Chidlow, only 15 mins from Mundaring, you will feel like you’re far further away. The lake is great for toddlers and kids of all ages, has a track suitable for walking and riding and hires out kayaks. There is a cute deli/café onsite which is open during the day and a playground. There are plenty of great trails to explore by car or foot/bike or if you prefer to spend your day by the lake its shady and cool under the trees.
Tips for camping
Leave early enough to allow for a stop if necessary and to set up before nightfall. Nothing is less fun than setting up swags/tents by headlight! If possible, pack the car/trailer the night before and have a list of what needs to go in that morning
Don’t be worried if your plans go awry – letting go is part of the process. The worst that can happen is you pitch a tent on the side of a dirt road in the middle of nowhere and end up loving it, or hating it, and moving the next day. It won’t ruin your trip
Check the gas bottle before you go. No one likes to be told ‘I told you so’ (especially my husband!) when the gas bottle runs out 30 seconds into cooking dinner on the first night and you need to buy a 9kg bottle at small town prices. I’m all for stimulating the local economy, but would prefer it in the form of a coffee or lunch to a $96 gas bottle! Side note – the 4.5kg gas bottle is still empty!
Bring a pen and paper/use phone notepad to create a list of what you forgot/would have been handy.
If you go regularly, have a box ready to go. We keep a large plastic storage container ready to go with the basics and restock when we get back. It holds everything from tongs, cutlery, metal plates and cups, paper towel, toilet paper, small first aid kit, sunscreen, insect repellent, batteries, teabags, a lighter, hammer and spare pegs etc.
Meal plan – if you’re planning to cook bacon and eggs for brekkie and a BBQ for dinner you might not need the box of wheetbix, vegemite, pancake shake, dried pasta etc. It’s also useful to know what you’ll need (can you warm the spag bog up or did you forget a pot?) as the boot and roof fill up quickly!
Limit toys – we allow a school bag of clothes, underwear and toys for each kid (plus a bike). If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t come. We also don’t allow ipads or electronic toys
Have a budget – The budget can quickly be blown on food despite the low accommodation cost, especially if reliant on decent coffee! Having an idea of what meals you plan to pack/cook and when you will eat out not only saves time when you’re away but can help keep you in check. I generally withdraw cash so I can easily monitor how we’re tracking. Similarly, not every small town shop accepts eftpos/credit!
Thank you so much Nicole!
We love hearing about family adventures along with favourite spots and tips, if you would like to share please get in contact with us today!