Meentheena Veterans Retreat; sensational Pilbara Camping

Last year, on our way back from Carawine Gorge to Marble Bar, we drove past a sign called Meentheena Veteran Retreat, and we looked in, wondering what paradise they’d have hidden. The region is stunning, and you really can’t go wrong around Marble Bar. 

When we got home, we looked it up and earmarked it for a future trip. The scenery around the turn off to the retreat is stunning, and our research proved it was a pretty amazing place, so we locked a stay in on our 3 week trip through the Pilbara.

After spending a night at Skull Springs and then Running Waters, we were keen to see more of the Pilbara, and turned into Meentheena Veteran Retreat for a couple of nights to check it out.

Meentheena Veteran Retreat
Unbelievable scenery at Meentheena Veteran Retreat under the paperbarks
Amazing waterhole
There’s so many amazing places to explore
Meentheena Veteran Retreat
The scenery here is next level

Where is Meentheena Veteran Retreat?

You’ll find this place roughly 100km East of Marble Bar, and about the same distance from Carawine Gorge. You turn off a bitumen road onto a short gravel drive in.

Meentheena Veteran Retreat entry
The entry to Meentheena, about 60km east of Marble Bar
Veteran Retreat
At the homestead of Meentheena Veteran Retreat

Is it 2WD friendly?

If you had a bit of clearance you’d get a 2WD vehicle in with no issues, but a lot of the tracks on the property are 4WD only, and its much easier in a 4WD vehicle. When we visited the 5km drive in was fairly reasonable, but there were a few wash outs and dips that you’d likely have issues with in a low clearance 2WD.

They say its 2WD accessible, but to ring to get up to date track conditions before coming in.

In terms of accessing the majority of other attractions, you really need a 4WD, and one that is running some decent tyres. The rocks here are tough on your tyres, and if you have a set of all terrains that your car rolled off the factory with you are much more likely to get a puncture.

Some clearance doesn’t go astray either, with a number of wash outs and steep angle changes throughout the property.

Meentheena Homestead
The track into the Homestead is generally in good condition, but ring before you come!

Do you have to be a Veteran?

No, you don’t. Despite the name, anyone is welcome here and you can spend as long, or as little as you’d like.

Dmax in the Pilbara
Anyone can visit this spectacular property

Do you have to book?

Bookings are not required, but you can phone ahead as needed.

Welcome to Meentheena
Welcome to Meentheena!

How large is the property?

Meentheena Veterans Retreat is some 700,000 acres, and with only 4WD tracks linking it all together it takes you the better part of a day to drive from one side to the other, and return. 

It’s absolutely massive, like much of what the Pilbara has to offer!

Hills at Meentheena
The property is massive, and you can spend days exploring

Meentheena Veteran Retreat Map

When you arrive, you’ll be able to take a photo of a map, showing you everything on the property. Do this, as you won’t find your way around otherwise.

Meentheena Veteran Map
A map showing the attractions around the property

Where can you camp?

The most common place to camp is at a place called Paperbarks, roughly 1.6km from the Homestead. You can camp at the Homestead itself, but we spent a couple of nights at Paperbark and really enjoyed it.

There’s really only room for two setups (more if you are friends) that are right close to the water, but there’s plenty of room up further for larger rigs and extras who visit.

Paperbark Camp
Paperbark camp is the most common spot to stay

We managed to find a nice spot right near the water, although it was closer than I’d have liked to another couple in a Tvan but they were very friendly and didn’t mind us there. I’m always conscious that we don’t park too close to others, to respect their privacy and to ensure we don’t annoy anyone with our kids.

Initially I was a bit sceptical about Paperbark and Meentheena in general, probably because we’d left two absolutely world class camp sites in the days preceding, but a short walk along the river bed, and a kayak with the kids changed my mind very quickly.

Kicking back at Meentheena
Relaxing near the water with our camp just behind

There’s cows walking around everywhere, and the river is absolutely mind-blowingly beautiful. I was actually shocked paddling under all of the paperbark trees, and that doesn’t happen too often. The water levels were perfect for the kids, and they spent most of the day splashing and enjoying the incredible, shaded area.

Someone had built a rope swing that was a huge hit with our kids, pushing them high up into the sky and seeing their smiles and giggles take over.

Kayak with Oliver
Kayaking under the paperbark trees was like being in another world
Cattle near camp
We had a heap of cattle walk right past our camp
Cows crossing the water
The cows were pretty special to see

What does it cost?

If you are a member, its $10 per night per adult. If you aren’t, its $15 for an adult per night, and kids under 10 are free.

Paperbarks at Meentheena
It’s very reasonably priced for what you have access too

What amenities are there?

Paperbark has a decent toilet a short walk away, and there’s showers at the homestead that you are welcome to drive into and use. They also have a camp kitchen, and the usual basics available.

Toilet at Paperbarks
There’s decent toilets at the Paperbark camp

Happy hour is between 4 – 5PM and they have a nice communal firepit for people to kick back and enjoy.

Meentheena Homestead
You can head into the main camp ground for hot showers and toilets too

What are the 4WD Tracks like?

We’re always up for a bit of fun, and heading away from camp in the 4WD with the family is always good. We spent a number of hours driving around, with most of the 4WD tracks fairly easy, minus a few random step ups and holes to avoid. 

A good set of tyres and you’d have no issues in most 4WD’s, but remember to let your tyres down or you might end up with a puncture. The 4WD tracks in the Pilbara are nothing short of brutal, with more rocks and puncture attracting objects than you’ll find anywhere else.

Take it slow, enjoy the stunning scenery that changes all the time, and you’ll have a great time. We didn’t go to the boundaries of the property, but met a couple who did and said it was worth the drive. 

4WD tracks in the Pilbara
There’s more 4WD tracks than you can poke a stick at
Exploring Meentheena
You can spend days driving around the station
Airing down at Meentheena
Lower your tyre pressures or you’ll get a puncture

Reception at Meentheena

There is very weak Telstra reception at the homestead. It was enough to occasionally load a web page, or to send a couple of messages, but it was pretty average and I actually gave up a couple of times trying to load things. If you have a Cel Fi you might have better luck, but we are happy not to have reception from time to time!

What’s worth seeing on Meentheena Retreat?

When you arrive, you’ll be able to take a photo of a mud map on the wall that shows you where the attractions are, and you can have a chat to the camp hosts. The hosts that we met had only just started there and weren’t that familiar with the area, but we’re always keen to go on an adventure on our own.

Un-named Pool

We were directed to a pretty amazing pool that is near an Emergency Radio tower, and a short (400m) walk up the river bed. Its not on the map, and you’d probably never find it without some sort of guidance, but it’s a beautiful place.

I suspect there’s a heap of other stunning spots like this, so put your adventure boots on and head out to see what you can find!

Stunning water hole
The un-named water hole was a huge highlight

Pelican Pool

About 12km from the homestead lies Pelican Pool. It’s a fairly slow, and sometimes rough track, but you eventually come to a heap of trees and a big pool of water. There was a huge amount of bird activity here, and you could swim comfortably if you were so inclined.

Pelican Pool
Pelican Pool is huge

Rock Pool

On the way out to Pelican Pool is the turn off to Rock Pool. I suggest you do it on the way, or you might end up like us and miss the turn off on the way out, as its not signed from that direction and very easy to miss.

Rock Pool
Rock Pool was worth the double back track!

Pool of Tranquillity

One of the closest attractions to the homestead is the Pool of Tranquillity, which we really enjoyed. The bird life here was next level, and we pulled up and kicked back for an hour or so, whilst the kids played under the trees near the water. It’s just another amazing slice of the Pilbara.

At the Pool of Tranquility
The pool of tranquillity is a very short drive from the homestead
Corellas at Pool of Tranquillity
You’ll see and hear plenty of birds here

Tumbinna Pool

On the way into Meentheena Veterans Retreat, you go past a turn off to Tumbinna Creek. We headed back out for the day, and enjoyed a leisurely walk along the river, and spotted a heap of cattle enjoying the area too. 

Tumbinna Pool
Tumbinna Pool is on the way in, and worth a look

Bird life at Meentheena

We love kicking back and watching the amazing bird life, and in our 3 week trip through the Pilbara Meentheena Veteran Retreat took the cake for the best bird life by a long shot. We saw more Rainbow bee eaters than ever before, along with a heap of finches, beautiful whistling kites and more.

It’s a lot harder to do this with young kids around now, but Meentheena still turned on a pretty incredible bird watching experience for us! Here’s a few of the photos.

Rainbow Bee Eater
The Rainbow Bee Eaters are feisty little birds
Budgie in a tree
We finally managed a decent shot of a native Budgie
Budgies in a tree
You’ll see hundreds of them on the property
Bird of Prey at Meentheena
We had two of these hang around camp
Finches at Meentheena
Incredible little finches

Visit Meentheena

Overall, Meentheena Veterans Retreat did not disappoint at all. It’s in a stunning part of the world, and the access you have to the property, combined with the amazing locations, scenery and bird life make it a place that we’d head back to any time. 

Have you been to Meentheena Veterans Retreat?

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