Carawine Gorge; beautiful free camping near Marble Bar

There are some seriously underrated places in Western Australia that get nearly no attention. We love finding places that are less well known, or hardly talked about by travellers as it gives others more amazing places to go. One of our newest, and most favourite places in WA is the Marble Bar region. 

I’d (ignorantly) always thought there wasn’t much around Marble Bar, and I could not have been more wrong. Carawine Gorge for example, is just one of the amazing attractions around Marble Bar, and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay there.

Carawine Gorge
Carawine Gorge is a spectacular location
Carawine Gorge
The view from our camp site

Where is Carawine Gorge?

You’ll find this spectacular place about 2 and a half hour drive east of Marble Bar. You can get there from Ripon Hills Road, or via Nullagine from Skull Springs Road

Marble Bar to Carawine Gorge
2.5 hours from Marble Bar
Carawine Gorge at night
Kicking back around a fire at night

Who owns Carawine Gorge?

Believe it or not, Carawine Gorge is actually private property, and is owned by Warrawagine Station. They permit people to stay and enjoy the area, and run their cattle in the surrounding area.

You’ll often see the big bulls walking through the camp sites, and they’ll happily come within about 5 metres of you!

Being free, and private property is quite rare, and that means you need to give it an extra level of respect. Please keep it pristine, and leave it in a better state than when you arrived. It’s a privilege to be able to use the land, and to access such a magic location.

Camped at Carawine
Warrawagine Station are the owners of Carawine Gorge
Cattle at Carawine
They run a number of cattle through the property, and you see a lot at Carawine Gorge

Do you need a 4WD to get there?

Technically no, you don’t. It’s bitumen all the way to the turn off, and then its a 13km road to the gorge itself, which is gravel. This can be corrugated, and deflating your tyres isn’t a bad idea. You would get in with an SUV if you really wanted, but a 4WD is more suited.

The most important thing though, is that when you arrive you need to take the track to your right, which is the main gravel road and you’ll arrive right next to the little creek, as shown in the photo below.

Don’t go left, or you will get stuck without a 4WD. We go into this further below.

Carawine Gorge access
You could probably get there without a 4WD, but I wouldn’t recommend it
Driving to Carawine
Towing our Reconn R2 to Carawine Gorge

Be careful where you drive

On the way into Carawine Gorge (nearly at the end), you’ll hit a fork in the road. The best way in is to take the right, and you’ll end up at the river first, with a solid drive along it until the gravel pit. If you take the left side, you’ll pop straight onto the gravel and are very likely to get bogged. 

Without a trailer, you might get away without letting your tyres down, but if you are towing anything you will sink like a stone. It’s almost like driving on sand, but its millions of tiny pieces of rock, and you just bury yourself within a matter of seconds.

When we arrived we came across the bloke below who had very little idea of how to get out, and we helped with tyre pressures, then a bit of a strategy to get him moving.

Bogged at Carawine Gorge
Be very wary of driving on the soft gravel; even 4WD’s get stuck often
Gravel pit at Carawine Gorge
The gravel is a huge area, and deceptively soft
Soft tracks
Daniel ended up at 12PSI to get out

Any wheel spin at all and you are in a world of pain. I gave it a bootful to try and get through a soft section, and ended up stuck very quickly.

I was just about to let more air out of the tyres, when I thought I’d give it one more crack with very gentle acceleration, and the difference just blew me away. The Dmax, towing our 2.2 tonne camper just crawled its way up the slope, and we got going again.

Gravel area
The gravel area is huge, and is suitable for camping if you have experience with a 4WD

I’ve never experienced this sort of terrain before; it behaves in a similar way to sand, but you are just driving on millions of pieces of rock that are slightly larger than pea gravel.

Camping at Carawine Gorge

You can camp anywhere you can pull into. If you are towing anything heavy this will hugely restrict you, unless you are keen on getting bogged.

A decent 4WD, with the right tyre pressures and the ability to recover yourself can head along the banks of the gorge where its soft, but the better camp sites are heading away from the gorge towards the fork that goes right. 

Carawine Gorge fires
It’s a magic place to camp
Our camp site at Carawine
Our camp site for a few nights at Carawine Gorge
Creek at Carawine Gorge
It’s a popular camping destination

As you’ll see above, we actually ended up camping on the creek that comes off the gorge, and had an amazing, quiet stay. You can cross the little creek too, but beware that it is just as soft on the other side, and we saw people get stuck there too!

What amenities are there?

There are no amenities at Carawine Gorge. Bring your own toilet, take all of your rubbish out and leave it pristine for others to enjoy in the future. It’s an incredible place. 

Carawine Gorge amenities
There are zero amenities, so leave no trace

Carawine Gorge Cost

I mentioned above that Carawine Gorge is completely free. Yep, $0 per night, and its possibly one of the best free camps we’ve been to. I almost feel they should have a donation box there; we’d certainly have left something.

Pilbara Camping
It’s completely free, and completely amazing
Skewers on the fire
Dinner on the fire with a great view

What’s nearby that is worth a look?

Polished Rocks

On your way in, you’ll drive past a track that goes to the right, with a sign pointing to the polished rocks. It’s only a couple of kilometres in, and you can see a number of rock formations that are quite well known in the geology world.

I’ll be honest and say they aren’t that spectacular, but each to their own!

Polished Glacier Rocks
You’ll drive past the polished glacier rocks on the way in

Running Waters

If you have a capable 4WD, a sense of adventure and you want to see one of the most amazing places in Australia, find Running Waters and head there.

We visited from Carawine Gorge for the day, and had an absolute ball. It’s only about 40 minutes away along Skull Spring Road, and is easy to get to until the last 200 odd metres, which has a number of water crossings, slippery rocks and plenty of rocks you could damage your vehicle on. 

We did get a stock Pajero in with only one major knock underneath, but take it nice and slow! Alternatively, you can park about 200 metres away and walk in.

Running Waters
Running waters might just be our favourite location in Australia

Marble Bar

I was blown away by Marble Bar. Maybe its because I wasn’t expecting anything at all, but it is a beautiful little town, has the facilities you need to dump waste and fill water, and the locals seemed very friendly. 

We helped a bloke who’s wheel studs snapped off only a few kilometres out of Marble Bar and got to see some of the attitudes in the town, which were overwhelmingly positive and helpful. 

You’ll find a couple of pools to check out close to Marble Bar, along with several further out and lots of other attractions within a days drive.

Marble Bar Pool
Marble Bar is an amazing town, with lots to see

Marble Bar is spectacular, and if you can jag a visit to Carawine Gorge you absolutely should; its a ripper!

Have you been there? What did you think of it?

Here’s our YouTube video of the area:

YouTube video

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