Kalgan Pool in the Pilbara; the best free camp we’ve stayed at

We’ve stayed at a huge number of camp sites around WA, and loved many of them. However, every now and again you come across something that is truly magic, and that’s Kalgan Pool to a tee.

We’d heard of Kalgan Pool many times before, mainly from my Dad who spent several years around Newman many moons ago. However, despite being fairly well known there isn’t actually a lot of information or photographs online, and its one of the best Newman camping spots.

None the less, we put it on the list of places to see, and spent 2 nights there on our 3 month trip to the Northern Territory.

After staying here, we’d have to say its the best free camp site we’ve ever been to.

It’s quiet, 4WD access only, not too well known, has a fantastic 4WD track on the way in, amazing scenery, great views when camping and its free! Kalgan’s well and truly deserves a spot in the 30 unbelievable WA Camping spots.

Camped at Kalgans Pol
Our camp site at Kalgan Pool
Kalgans Pool Sunset
Kalgan’s Pool as the sun goes down

Getting to Kalgan’s Pool

You’ll find Kalgan’s Pool about an hour and a half drive from Newman, with most of the travelling on slow gravel roads or full of rocks.

If you love your 4WDing, the trip out to Kalgan is one you’ll remember for a long time to come. To start with, head to the Newman Visitor centre, where you fill out a permit to drive on the BHP gravel road. This is a gold coin donation.

Visitor center at Newman
Checking out the haulpac just near the visitor center

From there, head out towards Meekatharra, and turn onto the road taking you into Nullangine and Marble Bar.

Roughly 25km out and you turn again, and start to head out to Kalgan Pool. Hot tip – don’t use Google Maps to direct you out there; you’ll get lost, like we did. You should go under a railway bridge, and keep heading along the track towards the pool.

Kalgans Pool drive in
Soaking up the scenery on the way in

A large majority of the track is gravel road, and some of it is fairly corrugated. We dropped our tyre pressures down and sat in between 40 – 60km an hour for most of it.

There are a few little dips and bumps, but as long as you are paying attention its all good.

Further on is where the fun starts; the mines in the area pump water out and the whole track in is flooded, year round

The tracks used to be dry most of the time, but its changed a lot since then! There are numerous little creek crossings, and a couple of long runs – 100 to 150 metres of water where the track is literally underwater.

It is a bit disconcerting as it feels like you are driving down a river, but the base is solid and rocky, and you’d never have an issue getting bogged.

Kalgans Pool 4WD Track
Driving through lots of water on the way in

The deepest water was about 400 – 500mm in May, but this varies a lot depending on how much water is being pumped out. After quite a bit of water driving, you’ll come to a junction where the left is the gorge itself, and the right track takes you into Kalgan Pool.

Where can you camp?

At Kalgan’s, you can either stay on the side you arrive on, or cross to the other side. There are two ways to do this – up the short, very badly rutted and offset hill (that most 4WD’s without lockers would struggle on!) or cross under the tree with the rope swings on.

The water was only about shin deep when we were there, and that was what we opted to do. I think our 80 Series Land Cruiser would have made it up, but I doubt the new Isuzu Dmax would!

What 4WD’s are suitable

I’d be pretty confident taking almost any 4WD in, providing you had a snorkel (or at the very least a high air intake), some decent tyres and low range.

Whilst camping there, we had a bloke arrive in a bog stock Nissan Xtrail, with normal highway tyres and no deflation at all, and got bogged on the hill climb to get past Kalgan’s. We both had a good chuckle about it, while I shovelled dirt out the way to get him going again.

The real issue is mainly the water; if you suck even a tiny bit of water into your intake, say good bye to your motor as it will do serious damage, and then you still have to get your vehicle out again!

Kalgans Pool tree
A beautiful tree you drive right past to get to the other side of the pool

Camping at Kalgans

A lot of people camp at Kalgan Pool. Whilst I have heard some people suggest its not permitted, I have seen no signs or formal information stating so.

Kalgans Pool Breakfast
A cold morning at Kalgans Pool
Kalgans Pool, Newman
Kalgans Pool during the day
Fire at Kalgans Pool
Cooking up a big dinner over the fire
Living the dream in a camper trailer
Living the dream
Newman camping
What an amazing place

If you are going to camp there, look after it; we collected a little bit of rubbish (not bad overall), put out someone’s hot fire (how hard is it to walk 5 metres, grab some water from the pool and put it out?) and most disappointingly there were a lot of bush tickets (people who’ve gone to the toilet and not bothered to dig a hole to dispose of their rubbish).

You need to do the right thing here, or they’ll just shut it. The easiest form of management is not to manage it at all; put a couple of gates up and everyone loses out. Please, please do the right thing and leave it pristine.

Take a portable toilet

Part of the beauty of the Pilbara is the rich iron coloured rocks, that are literally everywhere. There are very, very few places you would be able to dig a hole to do your business, so a portable toilet is a good idea. We saw a few peoples left over business, and it really ruins such an amazing place.

Swimming at Kalgan’s

Kalgans is a popular swimming place, especially when the weather is warmer. We opted not to get wet, as it was pretty cold, but did have a bit of a splash around. There’s a couple of rope swings and the hole gets lots of sun during the middle of the day.

Overall, its an absolutely magic spot that I’d highly recommend; check it out!

If you are looking for another magic Pilbara Camp Site, check out Cape Keraudren.

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  1. Hey Trish,

    I don’t like recommending people go through water without snorkels; the risk is not worth it. That said, my folks took their Pajero in without a snorkel and had no issues. If you take it slowly so the water doesn’t splash up and you walk the water first you’ll probably be fine, but its always a risk

    In terms of getting in there, you’ll have no issues; just watch the water!

    All the best

  2. Trish Ford says:

    Hi Aaron
    Do you think we might get to Kalgans (going mid August 22) with Pajero 4WD towing a Trackabout off road camper trailer ? We do not have a snorkel and plan to walk through the water crossings first to check the depths. What do you think?

  3. Hey Val,

    It’s certainly a very special place. You have a great area of the world to call home. That was our little family. We were there in May 2018

    Take care

  4. Great review of Kalgans waterhole
    We’ve lived here for many years and enjoyed seeing it though your eyes
    I couldnt find a name or when they were at Kalgans in the article above?
    Thanks to the couple with bub…