One of the most peaceful and picturesque camp sites we’ve ever stayed at was in Pemberton, at The Warren River Camp ground. Located in the middle of the Karri forest, right on the banks of the Warren River this camp site is absolutely spectacular.
Like most of the sites in the area, its run by DBCA (formerly DPAW/DEC/CALM) and is only around 10km out of Pemberton. If you are looking for plenty of peace and tranquillity, this is it! Swimming and fishing is very popular, as well as plenty of relaxing, hiking and bird watching. If you are into your 4WDing, its also quite close to some of the biggest dunes in Australia, with Yeagarup Beach an absolute must.
Getting to the camp site
To get to the Warren Camp ground, find the Old Vasse hwy, and follow it down until you get to the Heartbreak trail. The Warren is the second camp ground on the Heartbreak trail. Be aware though that the track is one way and if you decide to change sites you have to drive all the way around the loop again!
About the Camp site
The Warren has 6 camp sites, but only two allow you to get your vehicle up close to your tent. The other 4 are a short walk away, but you can’t get your vehicle very close to them. There is a drop toilet, two places to access the water by stairs and relatively flat camp sites. Unfortunately, fires are banned at this campsite (which is a serious shame in the cooler months as it gets very cold!).
Other Camp sites nearby
I was absolutely blown away at the range of camping opportunities around Pemberton. I’m not sure whether the DPAW has a greater presence in Pemberton, but they have more camp sites available than anywhere else I have been to.
1) Drafty’s is another campsite located on the Heartbreak trail. It is set up for more people and has a camp kitchen, several drop toilets, gas burners and in total 22 camp sites.
2) Snottygobble Loop is a stunning campsite along the Carey Brook. It has 9 camp sites and a large group camp area with shared cooking facilities
3) Grass Tree Hollow is also along the Carey Brook, and has 5 camp sites.
4) Leaning Marri Camp ground is located close to Yeagarup Lake, and has a number of camp sites available.
5) Big Brook Arboretum is close to Pemberton and is very popular for water based activities. There are toilets, picnic shelters, gas and wood BBQ’s.
6) Shannon is further down the South Western Highway, on the Shannon River. There are 2 huts, camp sites, gas and wood BBQ’s, picnic tables, toilets and even hot water showers! The Shannon Lodge can also be hired from the DEC.
7) Yeagarup is the coastline of Pemberton. A heap of people camp on the beach, or further inland in the cleared areas (despite the DBCA saying its not permitted!). Do the right thing, and it should stay this way. Don’t damage vegetation, block tracks, have fires when you shouldn’t or cause a scene. You need a 4WD to access this.
8) Lake Jasper is further north, and surrounds the pristine lake. There are toilets, picnic tables and at least 3 (I am sure I remember more than that) camp sites.
9) Black Point is near the coast, about 20 minutes drive from Lake Jasper. It is a very impressive part of the WA coast!
Camping and National Park Fee’s
The Warren River Camp ground (in fact, all DPAW Camp sites) cost $7 per night for adults, $5 per night for concession and $2 per night for children. This covers the general upkeep of the camp grounds, and is very well worth it.
If you are going inside the National Park, you need to either get a day pass, a 4 week pass or an annual pass to all National Parks in WA. My suggestion is to visit the Pemberton visitors centre, get the information you need and pick the right national park pass for your needs (you can get these online though!).
The Warren River
The Warren River starts near Manjimup, and winds its way down to Pemberton and then out to the coast, where it flows out to sea in season. It is well worth taking a kayak or canoe if you can; exploring the river is well worth it.
Fishing in the Warren River
The Warren River is home to Rainbow trout, brown trout, marron and red fin perch. The Red Fin Perch are an introduced species, and a serious pest. If you catch one, you are not allowed to throw it back, regardless of how small it is. On the up side, they are reasonably tasty, which makes for a good feed. Of course, you have to catch them first!
Fishing in the Warren River requires a freshwater fishing license, which can be purchased online or at a post office (there is one in Pemberton) for $40 for adults. Yes, I think it is a rip off too, but what do you do? On top of this, there is a Marron license.
Big Brook dam: This was built in 1986 for water supply, and has plenty of trout in it. It’s only a few minutes out of Pemberton, and well worth a look.
Bicentennial tree: Pemberton has had a number of fires in the past, and in the 1930’s the Karri Trees were used as fire lookouts. The Bicentennial Tree is 75 metres tall, and has pegs which allow you to climb right to the top. It’s no easy task, but is well worth it. This is located 15 minutes out of Pemberton, off the Old Vasse Road.
Gloucester tree: Like the Bicentennial Tree, the Gloucester tree can be climbed by the public (all 61 metres!) This is only 2kms out of Pemberton, and is also worth a look. I have to say that the Bicentennial Tree was more enjoyable though!
Yeagarup Lake: This is a small, but picturesque lake 20km out of Pemberton. Camp sites are available, and it is also one of the entrances to get to Yeagarup Lake.
Yeagarup Dunes: These dunes are the 2nd biggest inland dunes in the southern hemisphere, and live up to their name completely. The dunes have markers installed so they are kept in a natural condition; please respect them! Yeagarup is also home to Calcup Hill, the biggest sand dune that I have ever had the pleasure of driving up.
Beedalup Falls: These falls are in the Beedalup National Park, 22km west of Pemberton. There are a number of bushwalks in the area, and if the falls are flowing properly they are quite incredible!
The Cascades: Like the falls above, these are another attraction near Pemberton. They are a part of the Lefroy Brook and are worth a look. Again, it pays to go when they are flowing!
Birdlife at the Warren: I would go to the Warren River Camp grounds purely for bird life. The little finches, parrots and other species are nothing short of incredible! The whole karri forest area is a part of a very unique and interesting ecosystem. There are plenty of birds, including Rosellas, Blue wrens, robin reds, 28 parrots (introduced), kookaburras and a few others.
If you are visiting this site, there’s a good chance that you have come for the four wheel driving. Let me tell you, Pemberton has some mind blowing opportunities. Yeagarup is massively popular, and for good reason. I would rate it one of the best places I have ever been camping and four wheel driving. Make sure you let your tyres down properly (15 PSI maximum, even for fully loaded Land Cruisers and Patrols).
If it is truly soft, you will have to go down to 10 PSI. This helps keep the tracks in good condition, and will ensure you don’t damage your vehicle climbing the dunes. They are huge, and you will have problems if the tracks are chewed up and your tyres aren’t let down properly.
Yeagarup Beach is brilliant, and often extremely wide. Beware of the river crossings! There are several cars currently buried that have sunk into the soft sand and were unable to be recovered. Make sure you walk them first, and if it is soft give it a miss!
My thoughts on the camp site
I chose to camp at the Warren over Drafty’s, because there are fewer camp sites and thus less people able to be near you. As it turned out, in the week leading up to Easter we saw about 10 vehicles, all of which drove in to have a look, and drove out!
It has been the quietest DBCA camp site so far, which was great. It has a toilet which is handy, and sits right on one of the most pristine rivers in WA. Bring a kayak or canoe if you can; it is well worth it.
We will certainly be back. The whole Karri Forrest/incredible river/gorgeous beaches and dunes have got us hooked!