There’s a heap of great camp sites between Port Hedland and Broome, and one of the better known campgrounds is Barn Hill Station. There are ‘locals’ who’ve been coming year after year for longer than I’ve been around, and its got a fantastic reputation overall. However, this year was very different to any other, and we very nearly skipped Barn hill all together.
Where is Barn Hill?
You’ll find Barn Hill right on the beach and rocky coastline, not far from Broome. The drive from Broome to Barn Hill is roughly an hour and a half. 80 mile to Barn Hill is about 250km, and Pardoo to Barn Hill is 386km.
What’s the road to Barn Hill like?
The road to Barn Hill is decent, and suitable for all vehicles. There’s a short, sandy and occasionally rocky drive in. Its only about 9km long, and the owners have specified a 40km an hour speed limit. There are 3 gates that you need to open and close on your way in, but the road is good enough to drive a 2WD vehicle in and buses, RV’s and anything else you’d like.
What does it cost to camp?
Camping is $30 for two adults per night for an unpowered site, and $38 for power if you want it. Kids are $8 each. During the day the camp runs off solar and batteries, but at night they have to run a generator to keep things ticking along, which isn’t cheap.
What’s Barn Hill like?
2021 was a huge year for local tourism in the north, and this well and truly hit home when we went to Broome during school holidays, and saw how busy it was. This in turn meant that every single location in the northern parts of WA that people could get into was packed to the brim.
We talked to a number of locals around Broome who said they’d never, ever seen it so busy before. This is great in some ways, and not so great in others. Either way, for those who don’t book accommodation ahead it created a bit of a problem, and lots of controversy to go with it.
The area around Broome was the worst for finding somewhere to stay, with Exmouth being a close second.
Barn Hill falls into the non booking category, where you just arrive, and historically there has always been room for you. In 2021 though, there was not always room, and people were staying at overnight stops nearby and coming in super early the next morning just to get a spot. This was particularly the case for powered sites, but there were days where unpowered sites were hard to come by too.
Land was being cleared to allow for more overflow camping, and the place was busting at its seams. Of course, this in turn led to people complaining about being charged $30 for a piece of bush miles away from the amenities, the beach and everyone else.
Some people left in a huff, others put up with it and then plenty of other people had great stays.
We rolled in at about 1:30PM on the Tuesday after school holidays had finished, well prepared for a shoddy camp site in the overflow, or having to leave and move onto somewhere else. I was feeling quite sceptical about the place because of the comments we’d read on Wikicamps, but my mind was put to ease with the amazing location, great setup and good staff.
We drove around one loop once, and spotted a site that would fit both our R2 and my parents van, and drove back around to grab it. We were close to the amenities, had some shade and could see the ocean from our site (although through other camp sites). We were more than happy with it, and a short walk took us to the beach, which was stunning and absolutely worth a walk.
The feel of Barn Hill is interesting. It’s like an informal caravan park in parts, and in others its quite open with not many designated camp sites. It’s fairly laid back, and we felt at home there.
Is Barn Hill better than Pardoo Station or Eighty Mile beach?
I think I’ll do a comprehensive post covering this, but to be honest, we enjoyed our stay at all 3, and would go back to any in a heartbeat. Eighty mile has a lovely beach and great shells (and you can drive onto the beach), along with grassed sites but it comes across as a bit caravan park and sterile like for us.
Pardoo is the place to go if you want fishing, adventure and exploration, and Barn Hill is somewhere in the middle. Its got amazing beaches, has enough to keep you entertained and has a great café and playground.
Our amenities were new and open to the sky which we loved, but I’m told some of the other amenities are aging, which you expect at such a place like Barn Hill Station. In our mind, Barn hill probably takes the cake, with Pardoo Station a close second (and the best place for adventure), and 80 mile last (but its still a great place).
Fishing at Barn Hill
Barn Hill Station is hugely popular for land based fishing, along with boat fishing. On our first evening, I saw big tuna within 15 metres of the shore, which I have never seen before in WA. We caught a number of Queenfish, Trevally and had an amazing snorkel off the coast.
There were a lot of pesky sharks and the visibility was average until we got out a bit, but there are more bluebone around than I’ve seen in a long time, and we’d happily dive there again. Of course, there is a slim chance of crocodiles, so enter at your own risk.
What else can you do at Barn Hill?
Is it worth staying at Barn Hill Station?
We really loved Barn Hill. Yep, it was busy, and still has a bit of a caravan park feel, but its in an amazing location, and we’d come back for sure. I was actually quite disappointed that we didn’t have more time at Barn Hill before moving onto the Pilbara, and that was a rare feeling in our recent trip!