Changes to Wedge Island

by Aaron Schubert on April 25, 2011

DSC 0490 Medium 300x199 Changes to Wedge Island

Wedge Island

Wedge Island has been a favorite place of mine for a long time now. However, there have been a number of changes in the last year, and there will be more to come. There is now a Bitumen Road that goes right into Wedge Island. Camping is not permitted in between Lancelin and north of Cervantes. Fines are quite hefty, and the rangers regularly patrol the area. The Beach Shacks have 4 months left, until a Parliamentary Recommendation is made. This will determine what happens to the shacks. Rumor has it that the area is likely to be turned into a Camping grounds (presumably paid) which anyone can access.

Getting to Wedge Island

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Be careful where you drive

On the beach

On low tide (and when the beach isn’t too chopped up) you can drive to Wedge Island from the Lancelin off-road area. This isn’t a beach run for those who are inexperienced. It’s not uncommon to be driving on a fair side angle, with very limited room to turn around. To top it off, the sand is often quite soft (but this does vary a lot from season to season). If the tide is up, take the bitumen road along Indian Ocean Drive to get there.

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Through the inland track

I wouldn’t recommend anyone going along the inland track anymore, unless you have a good GPS and you really know the area. The tracks have all been modified around the firing range, and it doesn’t appear that there is a road that goes straight to Wedge. I drove the tracks for quite a long time (and many of them are rocky and slow) and got lost a few times! I would suggest the beach run or Indian Ocean Drive.

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The road into Wedge Island

Via Indian Ocean Drive

Unless the beach is low tide, this is the way I will go every time from now on. Instead of turning off the highway into Lancelin, keep going along the new highway (Indian Ocean Drive) for 46km. There is a turnoff just after a lookout on your left to Wedge Island. Another 3km along the road and you will be right in the Wedge Island settlement. 2wd cars can drive through there, and even onto the beach (through most times of the year as it is hard enough) but you want to avoid any soft looking sand!

Camping at Wedge Island

Something that I am very disappointed about is the Camping ban in between Lancelin and even north of Cervantes. I know a huge number of people that spent great weekends camping near Wedge Island (including myself) and now you are not allowed to do it. If you want to camp now, it has to be quite a bit further north of Cervantes. I know this affects a massive number of people, which shows poor planning. Please click on the image to the right to see a larger view.

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The new camping rules between Lancelin and Cervantes

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A few of the Shacks

Beach Shacks at Wedge Island

There has been a lot of controversy over the Beach Shacks at Wedge Island. People that have used the area for over 30 years are now looking at having their shacks knocked down. I don’t want to see this happen, but there isn’t much I can do about it. Around August of 2011 a Parliamentary Recommendation will be made determining the fate of these shacks. With over 350 of these on the coast, it would be devastating to see them go. There are plenty of protestors over the planned action.

The Navy Firing Range

The firing range south of Wedge Island has always been out of bounds. There are now more fences (unless they are covered by dune movements) showing where this is. You are allowed on the beach in between Wedge and Lancelin (for now) but you can’t stay there overnight. I did hear that they were looking at closing the beach, but time will tell.

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Please don't ruin this great spot

My thoughts on Wedge Island

Personally, I am not happy with what has been done. I know many people who would regularly enjoy Wedge Island (and look after it too) who now have lost one of the best places to camp. As for those who have put many hours into building shacks (and had many hours of enjoyment as a result) it would be a devastating loss. A bitumen road now allows access for everyone, which is going to make it even harder to police, with more problems occurring. This shows poor planning.

I would like to see some serious thought put into the future changes of Wedge Island. It is somewhere people go to relax and have a great time, and taking that away without much thought seems ridiculous to me.

Please let me know your thoughts below

 

 

  • Grant

    Hi Aaron,
    I enjoy your website and comments on areas for camping. Its is a shame to stop camping at Wedge but we differ on our feelings about the shacks, they are ugly in such a pristine area, unpaid for (apart from materials) and you and I cant go and build a “house” anywhere in a beautiful beach location. It was probably ok when the people did it 30 years ago but Perth is getting closer and now the new road goes so close the idea is unsustainable. A camping area with the basic facilities they have along the Esperance coast with low fees for families would be best . Unfortunately they are starting to charge almost as much as an unpowered site at caravan park that has hot showers down there in DEC sites but the council sites are cheap at $7.00 per site (not per person)

    We need to educate the idiots who go to these places and smash bottles , leave rubbish and start fires, cut up in the bush off the proper tracks (not meaning bare dunes ) unfortunately these people wont be reading a website like this. These people are the reason behind the rangers and councils closing camping areas because they create a problem that costs money to repair so they think , close it and then no cost.

    I am always picking up after other campers and fishermen who just leave their rubbish and it s***s me then they complain about track and camping closures.

    Keep the camping reviews coming they are excellent

    Grant

  • http://www.4wdingaustralia.com Aaron

    G’day Grant,

    Thanks for your comment. I don’t know what the outcome of the shacks will be, but I guess we will find out soon enough. It is sad that an area which was free for camping either continue to be banned or you will have to pay to camp. Let’s hope it’s well thought out; Wedge Island is a great place to visit.

    It’s almost beyond educating people to look after our awesome country. There needs to be some serious fines handed out.

    Have a good one mate

    Aaron

  • Steve

    So why was the new road built? There is nothing there other than the shacks. I suspect the road was built to create a new tourist spot at the expense of all WA citizens. Camping grounds are not an answer. In fact they fill up quickly, cost money, crowded, etc… We have thousand of miles of coastline why cant we camp when and where we want too?! The aboriginals are allowed to why can’t we? We all need to unite and lobby the government (greens) that we (locals) want a place to relax and enjoy the outdoors that is not a 4+ hour drive.

  • http://www.4wdingaustralia.com Aaron

    G’day Steve,

    Having a shorter, more scenic road from north of Perth to Geraldton is awesome, but I don’t know why it had to go so close to Wedge and Grey. I spoke to a ranger a while back, who said since the road has gone through they have had endless problems. The road allows for anyone to visit wedge, and not just those with four wheel drives. The sheer number of people is a problem, let alone those who like to use it as their personal playground. It was a bad decision, and now Wedge is paying the price.

    I wish we could camp more freely, but I don’t see it happening any time soon

    Aaron

  • Ben

    Hi Aaron

    Thanks for the info.

    Every year for a number of years we have had a group go camping at wedge after Easter. In 2011 we were informed by a ranger about the new rules around Wedge.

    Can you recommend a similar spot where a group can set up tents near the beach for a few days like we used to be able to do off the tracks near the Wedge settlement.

    Cheers, Ben

  • http://www.4wdingaustralia.com Aaron

    G’day Ben,

    Unfortunately, the coastline going north is quite limited. A lot of people go camping at Wilbinga, which is a bit closer. Asides from that though, you can’t camp anywhere near the beach (except for a caravan park) going north up until Sandy Cape. If you can make the extra effort, Lucky Bay or Wagoe is an awesome place to visit. If you go south, Tim’s Thicket is reasonable, but it’s not quite like Wedge Island!

    Aaron

  • Andrea

    Hi Aaron, Grant, Ben and Steve

    Aaron, thanks for your great website. Very informative. Just coming back from Sandy Cape. On our way back we “checked” out Wedge Island, which I have heard about due to the beach shack situation. I had no real opinion on the subject, except that I thought, just let them stay, if they have been there such a long time.

    Well after visiting “Shanti Town”, thanks to the new road going up there, I now have a very strong opinion. The move of evicting the illegal residents is absolutely necessary. Driving into the Wedge Island, one is greeted by the biggest rubbish tip in a pristine environment, I have ever come across. It is littered with old car wrecks, white gods etc. anything one could think of any half environmental consciences mind would not even dream of disposing in a way it has been done in Wedge Island. It is obvious that this is the work of the residents over the last 30years. I hate to think how much engine oil, battery acids, old paint and asbestos has gone into the tip, polluting the ground, seeping slowly back into the ocean.
    To clean up this mess will cost millions of tax money, paid by people who have never been there, let alone “own” a shack there.
    It is a brilliant idea to have a controlled camping area here, at least hundreds of more people can enjoy, what some people claim to be theirs. Perhaps some of the “historical” building material could be salvaged, finding a new use as building material for campers toilets/kitchens, unless of course the “owners” prefer to take away what they have accumulated over the years…. I do not mind paying some money to be able to have a great campsite. In fact to me, from what I unfortunately witnessed, it felt more like a place to go completly crazy, get drunk, drive the 4×4 at high speed on the beach and generaly party. It is a shame that the residents did not treasure or foster “their” place, hence I feel they have lost the right to own it.

    Andrea

  • http://www.4wdingaustralia.com Aaron

    Hi Andrea,

    To be honest I have never seen the tip, so I don’t know what it is like. It wouldn’t surprise me if nothing has been removed from there for many years! I’d like to see Wedge available for campers, but I do feel sorry for those who own shacks getting the boot. It was great before they banned camping, because people could enjoy both activities. It does have a bit of a bad reputation in terms of hoons and getting drunk/partying, which is one of the problems that a ranger mentioned to me.

    I think running the road to Wedge was a bad mistake, but we will see

    Thanks for the comment

    Aaron

  • Jan

    Did anyone go there camping without getting caught during the recent Easter break?

  • Ben

    Hi Aaron
    Just thought i would let you know that a group of us spent the weekend at Wilbinga and had a great time. The area still seems to be in good condition and there are plenty of camping spots We did have to clean up a fair bit of other peoples rubbish, hopefully people will look after the place so camping doesnt get banned.
    Ben

  • http://www.4wdingaustralia.com Aaron

    G’day Ben,

    Thanks for the comment. It’s good to hear that people are still enjoying our coastline. After all, it is ours and shutting it down is ridiculous. Thanks for doing a clean up; unfortunately we live in a world where people don’t take responsibility for their actions.

    Have a good one
    Aaron

  • brad

    Bloody shire of Gin gin, Shire of Dandaragan, and pollie bureaucrats in general. Making stupid decisions all the time, always taking the nanny option on everything. So long as they’re seen to be “changing something”, they’re seen to be effective, and another notch on their resume.

    They prescribe the wrong answers for symptoms. The fact that other than Wilbinga, you cannot camp on a beach anywhere near Perth, is a hallmark of these councils, governments, and DEC. Dandaragan at least have kept Sandy cape (part of it) open to camping … though now it is so heavily pressured due to Wedge and other closures … that it’s only a matter of time before it closes too.

    Sure, there are problems with bad behaviour and littering (and they are real issues). Fine offenders, heavily. REALLY heavily, heck, impound their cars!! … but don’t just “ban” everything and take the easiest route while sitting in your tax-payer funded air conditioned offices. Make smarter decisions and legislation.

    Sometimes some blemishes on a solution is better than deleting it altogether.

    It will be no wonder in a decade or two when most of our overweight depressed citizens are stuck in the cities, glued to the TV screens in air-conditioning because bureaucracy has made it too hard or illegal to do much else … let alone enjoying the beauty of our coastline and weather.

    We have many hundreds of kilometres of un-used coastline within reach of Perth, it is absolutely preposterous to ban camping along there. Heading up on a Friday night with a bag of firewood (in winter, and cleaning up every skerrick of mess created) followed by a dawn surf is now a pain in the butt, as we’re “camping”.

    Not to mention the caravan and camping act, which basically protects the profits of private businesses .. that is, if there’s a caravan park within a certain distance, you MUST stay at it. Since when is being jammed in like sardines 3 feet from the next family of campers, a suitable alternative to beach camping (where the entire purpose is to get some space to yourself).

    To our government, councils, DEC, : … Find a way to bloody manage it. If that means a fee per annum to even be in the area, then so be it, I’ll pay! … but banning fun left right and centre is simply not the answer.

    For what it’s worth … we’ve resorted to Guerrilla camping … that is, we go for a night of fishing or surfing, and tend to sleep in back of our dual cabs / canopies (no tents) … for the most part the rangers we’ve come across have been happy to turn a blind-eye to this (especially south of Perth, whitehills / Preston etc.) .. but not after some persuasion and turning the rangers attitude around that we’re not deadbeats dropping litter or cutting up the place (they seem to assume this when first meeting … youngish blokes, 4wd’s … instant cynical attitude … it’s only after some gentle reminders that we’re professional hard working blokes who pay a ton of taxes, enjoying our time off … that they start to change their attitude).

    Sorry for the rant, not much time to proof my writings!

  • http://www.4wdingaustralia.com Aaron

    Hi Brad,

    It is sad to see our coastline shut down, and some serious thought should go into quality management

    Aaron

  • Brittany

    Hey I was just wondering if the road you turn off from Indian Ocean to drive a 2×2 to wedge was grey road, or if there’s a map you can provide to get there.

    Thanks!

  • http://www.4wdingaustralia.com Aaron

    Hi Brittany,

    The road to Wedge Island is bitumen, and then very hard sand through the shacks. It only gets soft once you get nearer the beach

    Aaron

  • Jake

    Hi Aaron

    I’d just like to clear up a few things that have been said in the comments about the settlement and the shacks.

    In regards to the shacks being “unpaid for”, the locals pay over $1000 in rates annually to keep the shacks. This money was at one stage used to fund a recycling program and greener waste program’s. WIPA worked hard to get the program running only to be told by local government to spend the money elsewhere.

    As far as the tips go, the car tip (the metal waste tip) was originally an out of the way place to put cars that were no longer running and other large waste items out of harms way. The household rubbish tip has been there for as long as the shacks, and as ugly as it seems, it has provideda single spot for rubbish to be left. Imagine the rubbish that would be left around if there was no tip!!

    Much of the unpleasant comment left regarding the “ugly shacks” and “illegal residents” actually can be placed upon the people who camp there. I have seen countless instances where people leave $20 Kmart tents filled with their rubbish from the weekend stay littered through the dunes along the coast.

    Anyone who thinks badly of the locals should spend a New Year’s Eve up there. The amount of rubbish left by campers that are in too big a number to be policed is disgraceful. Ever year without fail the locals spend the first week or so cleaning up after these ignorant people that just up and go, leaving a ton of crap behind

    Like you say, bad planning is obvious. Some well thought out decisions that are run by WIPA and the wedge locals would be very welcome!

    On a more positive note, I absolutely love your work Aaron. An amazingly informative website that never seems to stop growing! Keep it up!

  • http://www.4wdingaustralia.com Aaron

    Hi Jake,

    Thanks for the input and appreciation! Unfortunately politics often gets in the way of common sense, and it is a shame to see so much misinformation thrown around.

    I must say I am disgusted at some peoples standards when it comes to rubbish, and Wilbinga is another clear demonstration of this. It has become a common dumping spot for the lazy pigs.

    Wedge Island is an incredible place and will always be a favourite of mine, even if it is only for day trips!

    Take it easy mate
    Aaron

  • Kez

    What a shame- Perth is extending further and further North. That’s progress unfortunately. I can remember West Coast Highway stopping at Sorrento, a grey concrete kiosk was the end of the road. That’s life, more people, more roads, more congestion, more infrastructure. I say leave the shacks alone. A little piece of history still remains, don’t be too quick to obliterate it. Tidy them up, share them around, let the lease holders be responsible or face the consequences of removal. A camping site would not go astray. We already live in a nanny state so let’s not encourage more nanny beaurocratic behaviour.

  • http://www.4wdingaustralia.com Aaron

    Hi Kez,

    I totally agree; too often the easiest solution is to block people from entering these places. It’s not that hard to manage, and people would gladly pay a fee to camp in such a place!

    Enjoy
    Aaron

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