There’s some pretty incredible camp sites close to Perth if you are prepared to put the time in to find them. If you’ve been following us for a while, you’d have seen the 60 best camp sites near Perth that we wrote a little while ago.
Today, we have another place to add to that list that is up there with the best; Cowalla Camping on Moore River.
Now, before I go on, I have a bit of a disclaimer to make. In the photos you’ll see that we were camped right on the ‘beach’ next to the river, and as it turns out we shouldn’t have been there.
It was an epic camping spot, and being the first to arrive (with no one else around) we snagged what we thought was the best place to park our camper.
The only issue though (which we found out mid stay) was its apparently where you launch your kayaks, and we should have been back up, further away from the river.
I apologised to the caretaker, and we discussed how some signs would make it clear that this particular area is off limits to camping. No harm done; there will be signs up when you visit I’m sure. Please don’t arrive though, expecting that you can camp as close to the water as we did, because you won’t be able to.
Where are you supposed to camp?
There’s a fair chunk of level ground along the river, up from the banks that they want you to camp at. The main area is around the green shed, but you can also head West and East and find yourself a spot.
You will be only metres away from the river, but its generally down a steep bank and access to the river requires a short walk.
There are a number of beaches you can walk to regardless of where you camp.
Where is Cowalla Camping?
You’ll find this magic place 110km North West of Perth, and a short 1 hour and 15 minute drive. It’s almost directly east of Ledge Point, which is 21 minutes drive time away.
How do you get there?
To get to Cowalla, just head north along the Mitchell Freeway, off at Hester Avenue and onto Indian Ocean Drive, Military Road, Gingin Brook Road, right onto Cowalla Road and its not much further from there. You’ll get the exact address when you make a booking.
Please know this is not 4WD access only, and we saw a commodore camping there. It’s easy enough to get to with big vans as well.
What amenities are there?
Cowalla has a single flush toilet that is available, but you have to add water to make it flush. There’s a few old pieces of playground (which the kids absolutely loved), a clothes line, undercover shed, Weber and a number of kayaks and stand up paddle boards you can hire.
In terms of Moore River Camping, its pretty decent (some have zero amenities!).
There’s also a kids motorbike track that you can rent out, and let them go wild.
There is no drinking water, no washing machines, no showers, power or anything else, and you need to be self sufficient.
What does Cowalla Camping cost?
Adults are $15 per night for one, and $10 for extra adults per night, and kids are $5. For our family of 4 we paid $83 including the Hipcamp fee for 2 nights, which isn’t the cheapest in the world but still well and truly worth it in our opinion. On a side note, it is cheap for a Hipcamp site, which is good to see!
Does the river stop flowing?
I asked this very question to the caretaker, who didn’t know. Obviously last year was very different to normal, and they’ve not had it long enough to know. I suspect the flow will get very small by March and April, but can’t tell you if it ever stops.
When we visited in late November, the deepest sections were about a metre deep, with the majority of it under 40cm. It’s the perfect height for young kids to splash around in safely.
When’s the best time to visit?
I reckon any time of year would be pretty magic here, with exception of when its seriously hot in the middle of summer. In winter the place looks incredible with the higher water levels and everything being bright green.
In spring would be lovely with some warmer weather and still the greenery around, and early in summer is nice to splash around and kick back.
How do you book Cowalla Camping?
To make a booking, head over to Hipcamp.com, and search for Cowalla Camping. You do the online booking then and there, and you’ll get instructions.
Dogs and fires
Dogs are permitted at Cowalla, but they are meant to be kept on a leash. Fires are permitted (and there’s a big central fire pit too) but only in season. It will be closed now until close to winter time, so don’t expect to be able to have a fire.
Our thoughts on Cowalla
We were blown away by Cowalla. The river snakes its way around and is truly beautiful, and its the ultimate playground for young kids. I felt bad that we’d camped where they didn’t want us, but it didn’t dampen the location.
The flies can be a bit annoying, and you need good shade or it can be extremely warm, but its a magic place and we’d take it any day over a caravan park and a million other people. If you are looking for another magic place to camp at near Perth, Cowalla might be the place for you.
I’d suggest you ask how many others are coming when you book though, as its getting pretty busy (like all camp sites in Australia!). If you are looking for another property to camp on not too far away, Moore River Ranch is a different option.