December 25, 2020

Coral Coast (and Pemberton)

Tags: Travel, Australia

I have just finished a few weeks of camping around West Australia, spread over three trips. Travelling locally since we can’t leave our state easily. First there was a long weekend in the Perth Hills, mainly to test out the equipment. Then there was two weeks going up the Coral Coast. Lastly a few days down in the Karri Forest to escape the Perth heat.

Driving along the middle of the WA coast was the highlight. I hadn’t been through there for over 35 years, so it was mostly new to me. Apart from one or two days (hot!) the weather was perfect - very lucky. We had a competition for who could see the first cloud. It took a couple of days for someone to win. The land is dry and scrubby - not far from semi-desert in many places. So the water is the main focus. The beaches are sandy white, and at many places (Oyster Stacks, Coral Bay) the reef starts just a few metres offshore. The snorkling is incredible. There are numerous boat and dive companies around too if you want to head out a little further. We saw lots of wildlife: kangaroos, emus, turtles, manta rays, sharks and tons of different fish. A good trip. Next time I’ll have to go even further north (we stopped at Exmouth). The main problem is the time required to get around. We drove nearly 4000km in a fortnight, including over 6 hours non-stop just to reach the starting point (Kalbarri). Although the roads are fairly empty, so a good speed can be maintained.

Pemberton is quite the opposite of the Coral Coast. Nestled in forest and only a few hours from Perth. We spent our time hiking through the forest. The Karri trees are not as big as I remember but still very tall. Again we were lucky with the weather. While Perth suffered a heatwave, it was pleasant down south.

Some notes about camping:

  • It is super windy on the Coral Coast. If possible use low height tents.
  • Take gravel tent pegs and a battery-powered hand-drill. The ground can be tough and normal pegs will bend. Also, the taller heavy people can stop the tents becoming kites (remember the wind!) while the smaller people drill in the pegs.
  • Have a tent repair kit! Also headlamps, duct tape and a multi-tool. If you need these (and we did) you will be incredibly thankful they are to hand.
  • Take a dust pan and brush to get rid of sand in your tent. A tarp or mesh footprint extending out in front of the tent can help with this too.
  • Powered camping sites cost about $5 extra per night. This seems relatively expensive (as the camping sites are about $40/night for a couple of tents). However if you bring an 10m+ extension cable and a multi-plug adapter then having a fan or light or electric stove or just charging your electronics can make everything a little more comfortable.
  • Outside Perth the quality of restaurant food drops precipitously. There are still a few good places around, but much rarer. Having eaten at the top ranked places in a few towns and found them lacking, I can also say to beware online reviews. It will usually be better to cook your own food at campsites. They all had decent kitchens with fridges to use.
  • Putting aluminium foil on bbqs or stovetops at camp kitchens makes cleaning up easy!

Some photos from the trip are in a short slideshow available here.