UPDATE: I have been informed that you are no longer allowed to camp around Hill River. I find this very disapointing, but it would be worth contacting the shire to find out where you can camp.
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.
How do I 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.
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!
Camping at Hill River
Please see above – 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.
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 I take my 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.
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 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!
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 have a holiday, 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.