Hill River by 4WD

UPDATE: Hill River Camping is no longer permitted. Instead, you’ll have to head to Sandy Cape, the beautiful Milligan Island or Wanagarran.

Hill River is a great camping spot not too far from Perth. It can be found almost in between Jurien Bay and Cervantes. Not very many people know about this great place, which makes it the perfect weekend getaway.

We came across it when we were driving along the beach from Lancelin to Jurien Bay. Being so protected and a little unique we decided to stay for the night. Hill River is one of the few rivers which actually connects to the ocean at times, but it was closed for most of the time that we were there.

Hill River
Hill River

How do you get to Hill River?

There are a few ways to get to Hill River, depending on where you are coming from and whether or not you can drive on the beach. We got there by driving along the beach from Cervantes (but you can get there from Jurien Bay Beach too), and then we departed on the track that goes west onto the main road.

The beaches around this area can be quite soft, so take that into consideration when you choose to get to Hill River.

Fishing at Hill River
Fishing at Hill River

The easiest way in is to get onto Hill Road and turn left onto the tracks which lead there. They have a lot of relatively tall bushes that run along the track, and they can scratch your car fairly easily.

When we were there you could have driven a 2wd car on the track, but you would still have to walk a fair distance to the beach if you did that. Of course, this isn’t always a problem as you can fish and relax in the river.

You can get onto Hill River Road from Cervantes side if you continue up Indian Ocean drive, or you can go out the airstrip road at Jurien Bay and it joins onto Hill River Road.

It’s likely that you would drive passed the entrance on the way from Cervantes to Jurien Bay. Just be aware that the track is only wide enough for one car, and you may have to reverse for quite a distance if you meet another vehicle!

A dented rim from a big tree stump
A dented rim from a big tree stump

Camping at Hill River

Please see above; Hill River Camping is no longer permitted. The camp sites are fairly obvious, so don’t make new ones. There are a number that are within a few metres of the River’s water, but you need to drive around and pick the right one.

There are no facilities at Hill River, so you need to take plenty of water, cooking facilities, toilet facilities and quality gear to enjoy yourself. Try and take a look at the weather and then pick the best place to camp.

The view from a camp site at Hill River
The view from a camp site at Hill River

There are some nice spots under the paperbark trees further along the river, but they are not the best for fishing or using a kayak! We found there were quite a few flies and mosquitoes near the river; pack the nets, candles and spray! Alternatively, you could visit Sandy Cape, which is also a stunning location.

Should you take a boat?

I would suggest for this location that a boat is not a good idea. The river tends to be fairly shallow in most places, and the ocean is often too rough to launch a boat (not to mention the sand is soft and boggy).

Instead, we took a small kayak and had a lot of success with it in the river. They are light, fun to use and they don’t get stuck in the shallows! We used the Kayak to drop crab nets into the river and to do some fishing.

A kayak was very useful
A kayak was very useful

What is the fishing like at Hill River?

Hill River is great for fishing because you have the option of fishing in the river or in the ocean. Occasionally the water flows over from the ocean into the river, which explains why there are so many different fish that you can catch in the river.

The river has a lot of Bream which swim around, particularly near the river mouth where it is deeper, but you can get some nice sized fish throughout the river. There have been other fish caught in the river, but it depends on what you are using.

The vehicle for fishing
The vehicle for fishing

The ocean at the mouth of Hill River proved to be quite a good fishing spot, with a good feed of herring and various other fish caught fairly easily.

We even managed to catch a small sized Bronze Whaler Shark which was fun! We thought there might be some crabs in the river, so we used some drop nets. Unfortunately we didn’t have any luck, but we might have been in the wrong area!

Is it easy to drive on the beach at Hill River?

This depends on what the tide and weather has been doing. When we were there the sand was fairly soft, but as long as you let your tyres down you were fine. When the water began to flow into the river on the other hand, it got much harder.

If you have to cross the bit of sand when its wet, make sure you have a reasonably amount of speed and that your tyres are well and truly deflated. It’s easy to get bogged down and then stuck while the tide rises again!

Amazing sunsets
Amazing sunsets

We found it best to just stay on the side of the river that you are camping on when the sand was wet. We did drive both north and south of Hill River, and found some great fishing and surfing spots. I would have liked to have done some more driving, as there are some impressive pieces of land there.

Hill River is a great place to head out for the day as it is secluded enough not to bump into too many people, close to Perth and has great fishing. We saw a few people there with campervans and even a Caravan, but there is more than enough room for everyone (except you can’t camp here anymore!).

Heading out to sea
Heading out to sea

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  1. G’day Kelz,

    Unfortunately there is limited incentive for those to do the right thing, and there is no management plan put in place. It’s easier for the shire to just ban camping as a pose to coming up with an ecological management strategy. It makes me sick to see the rubbish left around the place, and I believe there needs to be harsher penalties. I don’t mind paying a few bucks a night to camp there either, but no one wins when our coast is locked up.


  2. G’day all, Yes it’s no longer permitted to camp at Hill River.
    You’ll never stop the bad eggs they just don’t give a shit about anything except themselves and the only solution is to educate our kids and others about respect for everyone and everything.
    I have spent alot of time at Hill River over the times and it is a great place to do some 4x4n and fishing but I have seen the damage that people have done to the place. For some reason people don’t like to stick to the tracks and decide that driving over vegitation just to get a different or more secluded view/spot is ok or maybe just to challenge themselves. For shit sack have some respect for the environment, natural erosion is already taking the dunes away, and you ruin it for us all THANKS. Which brings me to the rubbish that gets left around ,hahaha I always laugh when people say “oh no not us, we take all our rubbish out” . Take a look at the uses of places like this and bluddy tellm to do the righty otherwise we won’t have anywhere to go and our kids definately won’t. So I guess I’m saying before you blame the shire we should take a look at ourselves and others who use the place. Enjoy your camping, fishing and 4x4n whereever you are PLAY BY THE RULES! RESPECT YOUR ENVIRONMENT, IT’S A BIG PART OF OUR FUTURE! No harm in spending a penny, Cervantes and Jurien Bay are great places to crash for the night or weekend. I’ve seen some bluddy good fish caught off the Jurien Jetty.

  3. G’day Brad,

    I have no idea what the reason is for the closure, but it is certainly disappointing. Hill River was an awesome place to spend a few days. Now, we have to make it a day trip.


  4. Hi Aaron

    yet ANOTHER place “banned” for camping. Where do these shires get off with closing down ALL our recreational areas. It’s our crown land, and councils are our elected employees.

    Do you know what official reason they gave for banning camping? A few bad eggs so they screw it for all us and close it, because it’s too hard, instead of finding a better solution?

    So frustrating.



  5. Hi Brad,

    You aren’t allowed to camp at Hill River. Here is a copy of the email I received today : “With regards to your email about camping at Hill River, at no time is it permitted to camp there and on the spot fines will be issued. The only places within our Shire allowed for camping is the tourist parks or a place called Sandy Cape Recreational Park located 13km north of Jurien Bay.”

    Not what I wanted to hear, but there you have it


  6. Hi Brad,

    From memory it came off a forum. However, to be sure I have emailed the ranger and will adjust the post accordingly. Hill River is a great place, and I would be very happy if camping is still permitted. Last time I camped at White Hills we were told off for being too close to the dunes, but told if you camp in the White Hills boundary you were fine. It sure is disappointing to see our awesome coastline locked up.

    I’ll be in touch


  7. Great site mate, some really informative articles.
    Just wondering where you got the info regarding no more camping at Hill River. I’ve checked the shire’s site and some forums but can’t find anything. This is a real shame, it’s getting harder and harder to find a good beach fishing spot where camping is allowed. I’ve only been 4WDing for three years and have been to Hill River twice. Both times were awesome fun despite the lack of fish caught.
    I’m hoping they are lenient like at White Hills where you can pull an “all nighter” as long as you’re fishing and the rangers will turn a blind eye.

  8. Hi Aaron,
    I have used your site before and actually came across it looking for information about Hill river. I camped there in January this year on the south side of the river behind the dunes. It was just to the right of the most southern bend in the river if you look at google. We are going up there in about a months time and I have a few questions. Are all the spots you camped at on the north side of the river?

    We traveled along the south track heading up river (was over grown at the time) and didn’t find any real good spots to camp further up than the one I mentioned above. Do you believe the site I’m talking about is one of the best?


  9. Thank you for the visit

  10. Mitchell Taglieri says:

    Thank you to make sharing that. I was seeking to produce the info several days ago. So very good to get it here.

  11. That’s great. I am glad you had a fun time. It is a pity about all of the rubbish; I try to get rid of as much as possible when we go there. It would have been a lot of effort to walk 3km on the beach, but as you mention it’s well and truly worth it! Be sure to keep in touch, and Happy New Years.


  12. Yeah, we were going to stay there, but we needed to launch the kayak and it was a bit too steep! It certainly a very protected place at Hill River though!

  13. Solitary Campers says:

    Photo #4 on this page is the campsite where we stayed – I recognise it now 🙂

  14. Solitary Campers says:

    Hi Aaron,

    thanks for your message, very helpful! We had a 2wd van so we decided to walk north for about 3kms along the each, starting from parking spaces at the end of Marine St… we reached the river mouth after a heavy slog in the soft sands and then headed in, north of Hill River, to find a place that was more sheltered from the wind. Perhaps we even ended up at the place you mention, it was right on the river, with a narrow steep bank (great for fishing) and adjacent to the remains of concrete building foundations nearby. unfortunately there was also a fair bit of litter and rubbish (sadly). The walk was very hard work but definitely worth the while! New Year’s Eve under a Blue Moon!

    Thanks again for the info and wishing you a happy 2010!


  15. Hey mate,

    It really depends on what you want to do. What sort of car have you got? Are you going to leave it parked just off the road? If it’s not too low I would suggest driving it in, just don’t go where the sand starts. The track into Hill River is a fair distance, and its solid sand with only a few small holes. There are a few camping spots. The first one you will come to off the track has some big concrete pads (further east of Hill River). The only problem is its not a huge campsite, and access to the river is a fairly steep bank. However, its the most protected. If you go further along you will come to a few more places that are a bit larger and still protected enough. We found a great spot through a small track where the weeds start. It was protected enough and had great river access. Alternatively, if the weather is good just go right to where the river meets the ocean and camp on the south side, a bit further in.

    I would say leaving your car on the road might not be a good idea; if its not too flash or low just drive in as far as you can. Of course, if it gets boggy don’t keep going! There are a lot of sites, just have a look around and pick one that you like. Let me know how the trip went.

  16. Solitary Campers says:

    hi again aaron – do you have any specific suggestions for a particularly good spot to pitch a tent? we are walking in from indian ocean road and it would be great to know which area to aim for 🙂 of course we will also explore too

  17. Solitary Campers says:

    Thanks for this v.helpful article on Hill River – top stuff!