After a couple of days at the Whyalla Caravan and Tourist Park, we were itching to get moving to some more amazing coastal camping. A bit of preliminary research had said that the camp sites between Whyalla and Point Gibbon would be lovely, with the vision of calm, clear turquoise water and a stunning beach set firmly in our minds.
What we came across though, was not what we’d hoped for, and we ended up at Point Gibbon instead, for 3 nice nights.
Where is Point Gibbon?
You’ll find this place about 20 minutes south west of Cowell, and if you are coming from that direction you’ll drive past a heap of camp sites on the way to the Point.
Cowell is great
We usually pull into different towns on our way through, and Cowell was no exception. A lot of work is taking place on the foreshore, which has made it a pretty good spot to stop. There’s good parking for caravans and campers, a free water park for the kids, normal playground bouncing pillow, picnic tables, trees to sit under and you can walk to the shops to grab anything that you need.
We had a small snack at the bakery and then kicked back at the foreshore for a while, before heading off in search of a nice camp site.
Camping in the Franklin Harbour Shire
In between Cowell and Port Gibbon (and further to Point Gibbon and the sand dunes) there are a heap of camp sites on the coastline that you can stay at. You’ll go past a pay station on the south side of the road, which is where you fill in an envelope and deposit your money. Its $10 per night per vehicle for all of the camp sites, and you can pick and choose what ever one you want to stay in.
However, you need to know that the Point Gibbon camp site is online booking only, and under normal circumstances you cannot transfer money across. We paid our $30 for 3 nights, expecting to find an amazing camp site without too much difficulty, and proceeded to drive on and look for sites.
Whilst they were OK, on the day we visited, every single camp site had wind howling in, smelt terribly (flat rocks particularly) due to seaweed or the camp sites were full of muddy puddles from recent rains. We got to the end of the camp sites that don’t require booking, feeling awfully deflated, and started to consider whether we’d just accept we’d thrown $30 away, and move onto somewhere else.
I made a phone call to the Franklin Harbour shire though, and was put through to a lovely lady who understood what we’d done, and booked us into a site at Point Gibbon from her end. Effectively we moved our $30 across without having to book online, but I think that this will probably be harder to do in the future.
We did go back to the other camp sites a number of times during our stay, and once the wind had died they were much more appealing, but still preferred Point Gibbon overall.
The moral of the story is simple; there are multiple pay stations, all not too far away from any camp site, so check them out and find something you are happy with before you drop any money in an envelope. There is decent reception all the way along with Telstra and also Free WIFI at Point Gibbon, so no real issues booking once you get there (asides from the risk of someone else booking in between).
Just beyond Point Gibbon is the unallocated sand dune camping, which has a couple of spots not far from Point Gibbon, and then several in the dune system, and near the beach itself. You’d probably struggle to get a big van or anything heavy in here though.
Point Gibbon is a much more formal camp site, with crushed rock, dedicated camp sites and located right on top of the dune, just above the beach. When we visited, despite being closer to other people it was much more enjoyable as it seemed a bit protected (we were in the row away from the beach too) and there was no sand to blow around, or mud puddles to make camping more difficult.
Being online booking is nice in some ways as you’d be guaranteed a spot, and the camp site is pretty nice overall.
Point Gibbon amenities
Point Gibbon has two flushing toilets, and it looks like they are building a day use area. Free WIFI is also available via a little tower that they’ve built. There’s nothing else there, but you really don’t need much else either.
Watch out for snakes
In our stay, we saw no less than 3 big snakes around the Cowell to Point Gibbon area. Admittedly none were at the Point Gibbon camp, but I guarantee they are around. With a bit of quick looking around, they are certainly venomous and dangerous, but if you are aware of them living in the area and are sensible with how you share it, you won’t have any issues.
Point Gibbon Sand Dunes and 4WDing
If you want to use your 4WD, there’s beach access at Point Gibbon, or you can drive into the sand dunes and pop out on the beach on the other side. We saw a couple of motorbikes get used in here as well, but the dunes are quite nice and worth a walk through.
Is Point Gibbon and Cowell sites worth camping at?
We were quite pleased to get into Point Gibbon after going through the other camp sites further north. It’s a decent camp ground, that would be amazing with nicer weather and no seaweed. I’ve seen photos of it like this, and imagine it would hugely depend on when you visited as to how nice it is.
We enjoyed it, but would rate Fitzgerald Bay and Carrow Wells as better places to stay.
The camp sites between Point Gibbon and Cowell would be easily as good, or better (if you didn’t need amenities) than Point Gibbon with good weather and limited seaweed.
All in all, the Cowell area is great, and has lots of well priced camping areas that a lot of people were enjoying. If you are heading down the Eyre Peninsula and need somewhere to stay, its certainly worth a look!