There's nothing quite like camping in winter, cosying up by the campfire and toasting marshmallows, telling stories and soaking up nature. The South West comes alive in winter and there's plenty of great spots to go caravan and camping.
Not to mention, caravan and camping is one of the best ways to experience the untouched wilderness of Australia’s South West. Secluded campsites are on offer in most national parks, and for a very small fee. Keep in mind that these campsites tend to have limited facilities, so you’ll need to be well prepared. Alternatively, most towns within the South West have caravan parks with ample facilities to ensure comfort (hot shower, anyone?).
Planning a winter caravan or camping adventure? Here are some stellar locations and experiences you won't want to miss.
Bunbury is spoilt for choice when it comes to caravan and camping, with caravan parks in abundance including Discovery Parks at Koombana Bay which is close to finishing its expansion of impressive chalet offerings.
Bunbury also has two free overnight rest areas for those travelling with a self-contained recreation vehicle (RV) for a stay of up to 48 hours. The popular rest areas are located along the winding, coastal Ocean Drive overlooking Bunbury’s iconic Back Beach.
Whether waking to winter views of the pristine Indian Ocean or watching the sun set on a beautiful Bunbury horizon, visitors can follow it up with a short stroll into the CBD for a coffee, bite to eat, shop or evening drink.
The only challenge wanderers will have, is choosing between the abundance of alluring cafes, eateries, boutique shops and small bars.
Just out of Bunbury in Collie, you will find Honeymoon Pool campground in Wellington National Park, a shady campground on the banks of the Collie river. This spot is perfect for families, especially in winter when the river is flowing its best. Hop on a kayak for a watery adventure!
While you're here, venture out to the Wellington Dam where you will see the breathtaking 8,000 square metre mega-mural on the Wellington Dam wall. Experience the stunning views across the calm waters of Wellington Dam, and look down at the picturesque valley from the dam lookout. Or, hit one of the many mountain bike trails for an adrenaline-pumping afternoon that will really warm you up.
Other great spots to try include Potters Gorge campground on the banks of the Wellington Dam, or the new purpose-built Lake Kepwari further towards Collie which has fabulous undercover picnic and BBQ facilities. Those who enjoy a misty morning view should try Stockton Lake, a picturesque blue lake with toilet facilities only.
Head inland to Donnybrook and Balingup for green rolling hills, fresh produce galore, and stretch your legs at the Golden Valley Tree Park. Kids will enjoy the recently redeveloped Donnybrook Apple Fun Park.
City of Albany
Explore rugged coastlines at The Gap and Natural Bridge, which are particularly spectacular in winter. Stand on the viewing platform hanging over the edge of the Southern Ocean so you can watch the powerful waves crash against the cliff faces. Afterwards, warm up with a whisky at Limeburners, before heading to Albany's Historic Whaling Station to marvel in the whaling history of this area.
Further west you'll find Shelley Beach campground in West Cape Howe - quite the hidden gem, accessible only by a winding gravel road. Though only suitable for tents and small camper vans, this secluded campground is as close to the ocean as they come. Here you'll be falling asleep to the sound of crashing waves.
Parry Beach Campground near Denmark is another location which offers nature-based camping right by the beach. Note no bookings can be made so it's a first come, first serve basis.
Great Southern Treasures
Within the Great Southern Treasures region you will find the Stirling Range National Park. Home to the only major mountain range within the southern half of Western Australia, this location is an adventure playground, filled with endemic species and a plethora of hiking trails. If mountains and hiking aren’t your thing, the sheer natural beauty of this area is still worth the visit. The peaks, valleys, gullies, woodland and the variety of habitats and conditions will simply take your breath away. During winter, there is a chance to see snow on the peak of Bluff Knoll.
Stirling Range Retreat is the perfect place to base yourself when exploring the Stirling Range. Situated in a peaceful natural bush quite literally opposite the beginning of the Bluff Knoll trail, this unique caravan park has lots to offer. Ideally located for day trips to Bluff Knoll or the Porongorup Range. Awesome wildflowers (in season) and bird watching.
The Porongurup Range rises from the landscape like an island surrounded by a sea of giant karri trees. The 12km long range is 670 metres high, formed of solid granite and is 1.1 million years old, making it one of the oldest in the world. A 1.5km walk trail leads you through spectacular forests on your way to the Granite Skywalk. Enjoy the breathtaking, panoramic views from the 38 metres, upper and lower lookouts atop Castle Rock. Numerous bushwalking tracks cater to different skill levels. Surrounding the national park are boutique wineries producing cool climate wines and accommodation offering lovely views over the range.
Shire of Manjimup
The forested areas surrounding Manjimup are intermingled with tall karri forest, making it the ideal place to immerse yourself in a rich natural environment whilst on your caravan or camping journey, especially in winter when all the lush green comes alive.
Winter also brings the truffle season, so be sure to go on a black truffle dog hunt, or feast on the prized fungi at one of the region’s restaurants. Then sample other fresh produce such as chestnuts, hazelnuts, avocados, pears, cherries, nectarines and Bravo apples straight from the farm gates from which they are grown.
Four-wheel drive enthusiasts will enjoy spending a day exploring in the off-road wilderness of the region’s national parks, including one of the world’s largest moving sand dune systems at Yeagarup Dunes. If four wheel driving isn't your thing, join a tour and let the experts guide the way!
Put your head to rest at one of the many forest camping spots in the region, or pull up to a caravan park for the creature comforts.