WA is well known for its spectacular, beach side camping. Cape Range National Park Camping is the ultimate example of this, and is one of the best places to camp in WA, period. You can ask anyone who’s travelled Australia extensively, and they’ll almost always say that Cape Range National Park was a huge highlight, and once you’ve been there, its not hard to understand why.
Where is Cape Range National Park?
You’ll find this amazing place not far out of Exmouth, and located right along the Ningaloo Reef and Marine Park. From Perth, you are looking at about 1300km. It’s 420km from Carnarvon, and 600km to Karratha.
Cape Range National Park Camping
All of the camping within Cape Range National Park is run by DBCA (Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions) and requires online booking to take place up to 180 days in advance.
Sal Salis is the only exception to this, which is a luxury glamping option that I know absolutely nothing about.
What camp grounds are there?
From the north, you have Neds, then Mesa, Tulki Beach, North Mandu, North Kurrajong, Kurrajong, Osprey Bay, Bungarra, Yardie Creek, and on the other side of the creek One K and Boat Harbour.
Further south lies Ningaloo Station, which has a number of other DBCA sites too, but its outside of Cape Range National Park.
How close are they to the beach?
Almost all of the camp sites are within walking distance of the beaches they are closest to, with some sites being under 50 metres away to the most amazing beaches you’ve ever been to.
What amenities do they have?
These sites rely on you being self sufficient, and as such you get access to a toilet, usually a picnic table and that’s really it. There can be some shelter (but not all have them) and you have to supply the rest. That means no water available, and no power either.
Where can you launch a boat?
If you are keen on launching a boat, like many people who visit Exmouth there is a formal, big boat ramp at Tantabiddi.
Alternatively, you can launch your boat at a couple of the DBCA camp grounds including Mesa, Osprey Bay and Yardie Creek. All of these require you to drive onto the beach, and that means you will need to let your tyres down, and pick suitable weather.
The Osprey Bay Boat ramp is guaranteed to get you bogged if you don’t let your tyres down. The only alternative is to have a 4WD at the top to pull you back up.
It is extremely busy and competitive
Camping in Western Australia has blown up hugely over the last couple of years, to the point where its actually ridiculously difficult to get a booking at some of the most popular camp sites. Given Cape Range National Park falls in this, you can be in for a serious shock when it comes to trying to get a spot.
You literally need to get up at midnight 180 days before your arrival date and jump on a booking within a couple of seconds (for bookings between May and September) or you will miss out. No, I’m not joking. We had to do this, and although it is annoying the reward is worth the effort. You can read more about this here; How to book a WA National Park site when its busy.
What does it cost?
All of the Cape Range Camp Sites are $11 per adult per night. Concessions are $7 per night, and kids between 5 and 16 are $3 per night.
However, to use these camp grounds (and to access Cape Range National Park), you’ll need to pay an entry fee, or have a national parks pass. For us, the best value is to get an annual pass, which you can get for half price through RAC at $44. This gives you access to all National Parks in WA for a year.
Alternatively, you are looking at $15 a day to get in, or you can buy short term national park passes too.
What’s the best camp sites?
Honestly, you can’t really go wrong with any of the camp sites in Cape Range. We love Osprey Bay, and Mesa is pretty amazing too, but we made a point of driving through the other camp sites and they are all brilliant.
Do you need a 4WD?
Only the two bottom camp sites in Cape Range National Park require a 4WD; One K and Boat Harbour. You can either get to them by crossing Yardie Creek (which isn’t always possible) or driving from the south through Ningaloo Station.
All of the other camp sites in Cape Range National Park are accessible by 2WD vehicles. The last part of the track is generally gravel, but they are well maintained and suitable for most types of vehicles.
What’s worth visiting nearby?
I really don’t think there’s anywhere that isn’t worth a visit around Exmouth. All of the areas that you can access in Cape Range National Park are beautiful. We had an amazing hike through Mandu Mandu Gorge, and also Pilgonoman Gorge, and then you have the other side of Exmouth with the amazing Gulf, Shothole and Charles Knife, and Exmouth itself.
The visitors centre is worth a look too, with plenty of information, great staff and lots of learning for younger kids.
Dump points and water
Exmouth has fresh drinking water that you can get at their new paid water station near the visitor centre. It’s cheap as, easy to use and does a good job of filling your tanks.
As for dump points, you can empty your toilets at the Exmouth Dump point, which is next to the oval. There’s also one at the Visitors Centre in Cape Rane National Park, and several within Ningaloo Station further south.
Alternatively, you can empty them at the Caravan Parks if you are staying there.
Have you camped at Cape Range National Park? If not, you absolutely should; its a huge favourite of ours and we’d love to go back again!