Western Australia has some truly spectacular places to visit. I can think of plenty of places that stand out for me - the Gibb River Road, Cape Leveque, Karijini, Bremer Bay, Ningaloo Reef and the list goes on. I've got another one to add to the list though; Francois Peron National Park!
Where is Francois Peron National Park?
Francois Peron National Park is located roughly 830km north of Perth, right at the top of a little peninsula. The most common start point is 11 km north of Denham, which is a small town in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area.
To get to the national park, head north from Perth through Geraldton and continue up the North West Coastal Highway, making a left turn onto Shark Bay Road. This takes you passed the turn off to Steep Point, and into Denham. From Denham, its a short drive along Monkey Mia Road, where you turn off onto a gravel/sandy track called Peron Road.
From there, the track turns into soft sand.
You can only access Francois Peron with a 4WD - do not take 2WD vehicles in, or you'll get stuck!. The tracks can be very soft, and tyres must be reduced to at least 20 PSI. Some parts of the track can have huge ups and downs, so maintain a reasonable speed and pay careful attention, or you'll find your gear well shuffled. Last time we visited the corrugations were pretty average too, and low tyre pressures made a world of difference.
There is a compressor on the main track, just near the homestead to inflate (and deflate) your tyres. Make use of it!
Don't have a 4WD?
If you don't have a 4WD, you still have options when it comes to getting to Francois Peron National Park. Shark Bay 4WD Tours offer a range of packages within the Shark Bay region, including Francois Peron, Steep Point and Dirk Hartog Island.
Getting fuel in the area
You can get fuel at Denham, and the Overlander service station (130km from Denham). If you are heading out to Steep Point first, fill up at the Overlander.
When's the best time to visit?
The weather is nicest in between October and May. However, the wind can be shocking, and for this its recommended you visit in any month that doesn't have an "R" in it; May, June, July and August. This time of year the temperatures are a bit lower, but still comfortable and the wind is much lower.
Camping at Francois Peron
The camping at Francois Peron National Park is fantastic. The Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPAW) have truly done an exceptional job. There are 5 camp grounds, each with a large number of sites. Some of the areas are split into Generator and No generator regions. The 5 camp grounds are called Big Lagoon, South Gregories, Gregories, Herald Bight and Bottle Bay.
They all have drop toilets which are well maintained, and some have BBQ's, shelter and tables.
Can you take a camper trailer or caravan?
Camper trailers are doable, if you have a tow vehicle that is suitable and you let your tyres down properly. We've seen plenty of people get bogged on the sandy tracks though; so take it carefully. Caravans often camp at Big Lagoon, but I haven't seen any further in than that, and I reckon you'd be pushing your luck trying to do so.
Day trips to Francois Peron
This national park is well and truly accessible just for the day, and we've done it before. You can head in from Monkey Mia and Denham, let your tyres down and still make it to the top in under 2.5 hours. There are lots of stops along the way if you want, to break it into smaller trips.
Fishing at Francois Peron
The fishing at Francois Peron is supposed to be amazing. We never had a whole lot of luck, only landing undersize mackerel, some emperor and the usual whiting and flat head. A lot of people do very well fishing for Pink snapper, but they seem to know when we are coming!
Stop at the homestead
On your way in or out, make sure you stop at the homestead. It has some interesting displays of the various animals, and most importantly, an artesian hot springs, which is incredible to have a quick soak in. The water is steaming hot, so take your time getting in!
Denham is worth a look, and Monkey Mia too. This is a pretty touristy part of the world though, so be prepared for it. Eagle Bluff is worth a look, as is the aquarium south of Denham. Steep Point is amazing, but requires a decent 4WD and either a massive day, or for you to camp. Hamelin Station Stay is a great spot to stay.
Have you stayed at Francois Peron? What did you think of it?