Wagoe is a beautiful beach located just south of Kalbarri. It’s the sort of place that you would drive past and not even know about it, unless someone mentioned it. The only way to stay a night at Wagoe is to make use of the farm. This is a large farm that has been converted partly into accommodation for tourists, avid fishermen and people who are simply looking for a break. Your only other option for accommodation is to stay at Lucky Bay, and you have to camp there. Wagoe has long been an amazing hidden spot for fishing, snorkelling and just enjoying life on the coast. The beach is littered with various reef systems, and a part the main beach is a reef itself. Huge fish are caught regularly from this amazing beach.
How do I get to Wagoe?
The entrance to Wagoe Chalets is on Grey road. There is a reasonable sized sign that points to it. You need to undo the gate, and shut it when you drive through. The farm has cattle which could escape if you leave it open! The easiest way to get to Wagoe is to drive up the Mitchell Fwy, then get onto the Brand Hwy and follow it up. From there you get onto the North West Coastal Hwy and then Port Gregory road, which turns into Grey road. Alternatively, you can turn off onto a 4x4 track on Grey road and drive through to Lucky Bay.
Wagoe fishing is simply unreal. There is no other way to describe it. Considering it takes less than 6 hours to get to Wagoe from Perth, and the range and size of fish that you can catch there, I would have to say it’s the best fishing spot close to Perth. Something that I appreciated greatly when I stayed at Wagoe was the ease of fishing. If you stay on the farm, you can roll out of bed, get in your car and drive 3 minutes onto the beach. From there, you can either fish straight off the huge reef or you can drive south and pick your own spot.
Recently ballooning has become very popular at Wagoe. It basically involves pumping up a balloon with gas and tying it to your rig (usually a decent leader with a big mullet or other form of big bait). This can only be done if the wind is blowing directly off the land (easterlies), but basically the wind pushes the balloon out to sea, and drags the big bit of bait with it. This has the advantage of not needing to cast out, and it’s almost effortless. Of course, balloons can be a pain if it is windy or if there is not enough wind. Many people buy gas to use in their fishing balloons, but for Wagoe, you can get away with just using exhaust gasses. It’s much cheaper and you always have it with you. All you need is a little rubber piece that fits over the exhaust and into a balloon.
Many people fall into the trap of letting their balloon out too far. Big sharks and other fish hang around the reef system, and there is not a lot of action out too far. Experiment with this, but we found that we were better off close to the reef. You can expect to get big Mulloway, Mackerel, Snapper, Sharks, Tuna, Kingfish, Dart and a huge range of other fish. Too many people overlook the Midwest, but this is truly an amazing fishing spot. A lot of this has to do with the fact that very few people know about it, in comparison to places like Coral Bay, Exmouth, Steep Point and other areas. In turn, the area is not fished out and you can get a good feed every single day without really trying.
When we were are Wagoe, 2 guys drove up all the way from Geraldton along the beach, on quad bikes. They were decked out with gear to survive for a few days, including multiple rods and a heap of fishing gear. There is no way they would go to all that effort to drive to Wagoe unless they were expecting some serious fishing!
The main reef at Wagoe is located just out of the track that takes you onto the beach from the farm. It runs for a few hundred meters, and is relatively flat until it drops off. Depending on how big the swell is, you can walk to the edge of the reef and fish off there. We did it several mornings in a row (when the water was only lapping around your ankles) and had a great time. There are actually days when the water is flat calm (it wasn’t when we were up there!) and you can sit on the edge and fish. The reef ends further south, and then appears off the shore in bits and pieces (often where some great fish hang around).
Lucky Bay is a small area about 15 kilometres south of Wagoe, which you can access from Grey road, through a series of 4x4 tracks. It is a calm bay, protected by a huge reef which runs parallel to the beach. It is a popular place for camping because it’s safe for kids to swim, the fishing is great and it’s protected if you sleep behind the first dune. Many people take their boats (usually under 18 foot) and launch off the beach. It’s always flat, even in shoddy weather. We snorkelled along the inside of the reef and saw a huge variety of fish. It wasn’t calm enough to go too far around the reef, but we saw some massive tailor, mulloway and mackerel hanging around. You can easily get a good feed of fish from Lucky bay, and many people love to fish off the reef on the ocean side in calm weather.
Once at Lucky Bay, you can drive north along the beach and you will eventually get to Wagoe. You will know its Wagoe because of the big reef system, and you will hit cliffs that you can’t drive around anyway. There is also a small ‘lake’ on the way which when the tide creeps in can be filled with salt water. It can be a dodgy place to drive you car, as it’s very soft. It’s usually safer to drive around the lake.
Quad Bike Tours
On the farm, Quad Bike Tours are offered. They are actually relatively cheap (compared to the prices further up north!). The bikes are all four wheel drive, and handle well on the beach. The owner’s son will take you along Wagoe Beach, to the cliffs and to various other places. The tours are done at various times, and quite often at sunset. On that note, I don’t think I have ever seen so many brilliant sunsets in a row anywhere in Western Australia. Every single day there was a sunset which was absolutely stunning. The quad bike tours at Wagoe also have a charter bus to and from Kalbarri, if that is where you are staying.
Snorkelling and diving
If you get good weather, you can dive right off the reef at Wagoe. Often though, the swell will be too big and you won’t be able to do it safely. I would highly recommend Lucky Bay for snorkelling, as it has some impressive wildlife and is very protected. Occasionally the water would flow over the reef when we dived there, but it’s just a bit of bubbles and then it’s gone! There are a large number of good snorkelling spots in Kalbarri, like Red Bluff where you can see a lot of fish. The problem with places like these though is that they are well known and easily accessible, meaning every many and his dog has dived and fished there. This certainly has an impact on the underwater life.
If you have ever been to Lancelin, you will know what the sand dunes are like. Wagoe has a dune system which is probably just as big, but the difference is the number of people that use it. You would be lucky to see another car on the dunes at Wagoe. We had a lot of fun driving around the dunes on a quad bike, and in the 4x4. The dunes are both south and north of Wagoe, and you can drive to the top of the cliffs and admire the view (see the pictures). Like any Sand Dunes, they can be dangerous if you are not careful. The sand is quite soft and it’s easy to get stuck. There is a sand dune that you can find just east of Lucky Bay which is supposed to be the biggest in Western Australia, and it sure is big. Take a few sand boards with you; it’s well worth the fun. If you don’t have them, the Wagoe farmstead might be able to lend you a few.
About Wagoe Chalets
In terms of a holiday that was fairly cheap, relaxing, unique and close to the beach, Wagoe tops them all off. Wagoe Chalets is the name of the farm that you can stay at, about a kilometre from the beach. There are a number of Chalets, all different sizes or you can choose to camp on powered or unpowered sites if you want. Take a look at Wagoe Chalets to find out more information about this. The site has some great pictures of the quad tours and fish caught by various people as well. The people who run the Chalets are friendly and fun to have a chat to. They even gave us some nice big Mulloway fillets when we stayed there! Whilst we were there a huge storm hit (the worst one they have had in many years) and it washed away the track to the beach. As you can see in the pictures, a tractor spent all day fixing them up. Many roads were closed as well, but we still managed to have a lot of fun being so isolated.
What are the chalets like?
The chalets originally come from a Caravan Park in Kalbarri. They are reasonably old, but still very comfortable. If you are looking for luxury accommodation, then probably look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you want a cheap chalet that is definitely comfortable and sleeps quite a few people, then consider staying at Wagoe Chalets. There are very few people at Wagoe most times, which means you have a fair amount of privacy. We spread our snorkelling and fishing gear over the veranda’s to dry and never had anything stolen. The view over the beach is simply gorgeous, and you would struggle to find better accommodation for the price that you get it at. I can’t recommend Wagoe Chalets anymore than I have; they are well worth the stay.
When is the best time to go to Wagoe?
Generally March to May is Kalbarri’s busiest season, because of the great weather. It’s also busier at Wagoe, but we stayed in April and there was only one other family there. In springtime the wildflowers bloom, which are always quite impressive to look at. Like Kalbarri, Wagoe can have some very strong winds in the afternoon, but it just depends on what the weather is doing. We found that fishing early in the morning and then at sunset were best in terms of weather and the fish caught, but it varies.
Can I take my boat to Wagoe?
You can take your boat to Wagoe, but it depends entirely on the weather as to where you can launch it. The swell at Wagoe can be huge, and the beaches are quite soft. On a calm day you could launch it off the Wagoe Beach, but one of those days might not come along the whole time you are at Wagoe. I would suggest Lucky Bay to launch your boat, but that is a 15 kilometre trip along soft sand. In all honesty, unless you are staying at Lucky Bay, leave the boat at home. The fishing is more than good enough off the shore, and a boat could cause trouble if it’s rough for launching and retrieving.
The beach itself was quite soft when we visited. Be prepared to let your tyres down to at least 15 PSI, as it’s likely that you will need it. If you don’t let them down enough your car just gets worked hard, and will often end up getting hot. We left our tyres down at 15 pound the whole time we were there (except the few times we drove into Kalbarri on the tar). The dunes can be found right off the beach, and there are some great 4x4 tracks to explore both north and south of Wagoe. Of course, if you don’t have a four wheel drive you will really struggle at Wagoe. You wouldn’t even be able to drive down to the beach, which makes it a waste of time going. It takes about 20 minutes to walk to the beach, let alone carrying all your fishing gear!
Being such a secluded place with great fishing means Wagoe will be popular for many years to come. We spent two weeks at Wagoe, and wished we could have stayed for longer. If you have a motorbike, take it with you as you can have a lot of fun. Just double check with the owners that they allow 2 wheelers on the farm (they allow quads to ride down the track onto the beach). For anyone who is an avid fisherman, a tourist or just someone looking for a break, be sure to check out Wagoe; you won’t regret it!
Below is a youtube video of a friend playing in a big puddle after the storm on his Yamaha Raptor 700 cc quadbike.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxnIQDNzzQ4[/youtube]