Is the North of Aust becoming too crowded in winter?

Submitted: Wednesday, Sep 18, 2013 at 20:47
ThreadID: 104382 Views:2466 Replies:9 FollowUps:13
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A couple of my friends spent a few months travelling from the south to the north this
year & both commented on how crowded all the camp sites were (free & commercial parks)
compared to when they were last there.
I haven't had the opportunity of going north for a few years but I was hoping to go next year. Of those who went this year how did you find the facilities?
If you have done it before how did it compare this year to past trip?
Would you do it again?
Would like to start a discussion about your expectations & whether they were met
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Reply By: Ron N - Wednesday, Sep 18, 2013 at 21:55

Wednesday, Sep 18, 2013 at 21:55
Ross - We didn't go North this year (went to the Greek Islands, instead - the poor buggers need our money! LOL) - but we went Perth to Darwin in July 2012. We were absolutely stunned at the staggering amount of RV-ers everywhere in the North of W.A. and the N.T. Sometimes the NW Coastal Hwy was like a freeway out of a Southern City, such was the traffic volume.

In many places, the park accommodation was totally booked out and we had to free camp where we could find a spot - usually an out-of-the-way one.
Every roadside free camp site was usually full by 4:00PM, so if you didn't stop early, there was no chance of getting a reasonable position. Many people were camping alongside the designated roadside rest areas because the designated area was full.
The area around Karratha and Pt Hedland was a joke, all the miners had taken everything, we just drove on through.

The oil companies couldn't keep up with the fuel supplies, it was bedlam. Both Nanutarra and Pardoo Roadhouses regularly ran out of fuel. We got to Nanutarra late in the afternoon with our tank low, only to find Nanutarra with no diesel. We camped in their park and waited until midday the next day for the fuel tanker to arrive, before we could fuel up.

The slowdown in the mining region of Northern W.A. might make things a little better from now on - but it's still a hotbed of activity, no matter how much the miners and Premier Barnett whinges. I can't see the number of RV-ers in the North in Winter dropping too much. Nothing looks like changing for a long time to come, the increased number of caravan parks or sites that is required, is just not going to happen.
I'd like to go North again next year, but I reckon we'll be going to the Cocos Islands instead!

The N.T. was a little better, but still packed to the nines. We had to hunt around Darwin for a park site, and ended up out at Coolalinga. The N.T. and Darwin in particular, is booming as much as the NW of W.A.
AnswerID: 518391

Follow Up By: Road Warrior - Wednesday, Sep 18, 2013 at 23:09

Wednesday, Sep 18, 2013 at 23:09
I don't think the amount of holidaymakers going north for winter will let up any time soon, lots more baby boomers to retire yet and head off on their travels and with the falling dollar it makes it more attractive to holiday at home.

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Follow Up By: Member - John G - Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 08:00

Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 08:00
G'day Road Warrior

I agree with your comments, but more folks travelling at home will see a continuing rise in the expense of travelling at home.

FollowupID: 798228

Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 07:48

Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 07:48

Don't go north to the Kimberley next year, as I am planning to go and want the area to myself:-)

Seriously though, I prefer bush camping where possible and there is less of a chance of "wall to wall" ranks of caravan type accommodation. If the area is already "crowded", we just move on somewhere else.
Some areas like along the Gibb River Road, are always going to be "shared" in season, but that is also a good way to meet like minded people, even if just briefly. With bush style camping, you generally find more scattered campsites, so you have a bit of space most of the time and heaps of space some of the time.


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Follow Up By: Member - Ross N (NSW) - Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 08:48

Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 08:48
From what limited sample I have I believe that the free camps were as
crowded as the parks but had the disadvantage of little or no regulation & thus a lot were dirty & people were coming & going at all hours of the night with attendant door slamming & peg hammering.
Perhaps like me my friends are just getting old.
FollowupID: 798232

Reply By: Ian and Pen - Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 09:07

Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 09:07
We just got back from the Kimberley/Pilbara/red Centre, it was our first trip that way so can't say what it used to be like re peeps. Never had a problem getting a spot for the night, stayed free areas a few times but was always good to have showers and clothes wash.

Everyone we met where ever we set camp were great people and were a mine of info, a number of times we changed plan on info we rec'd. Also great help when advice on Landcruiser 200 and camper trailer.

Facilities at at most camp sites and station camp were good or at least adequate, go bush and you know what you are going to find.

Nth West Oz is the "final frontier" but maybe in 20yrs there will be traffic lights on the
Gibb River R
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Reply By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 09:26

Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 09:26
Our last trip north was superb. Didn't see an RV, caravan or any other vehicle for three days once entering our destination. And we were on the move as well. Then we turned a corner and saw about ten cars each day for the rest of the time in the area. And you think that I am going to say where that was, Nah!!!

As soon as we got back to the bitumen it was wall to wall baby boomers.

Yes it is getting crowded and as said before it will only get more crowded.

AnswerID: 518414

Reply By: get outmore - Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 10:18

Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 10:18
you really need to get off the bitumen - it stops them dead

I was Exmouth a few years a go and all down the west side of the penninsula all camps were totaly full now the road is bitumen to yardy creek.

I drove over yardy creek and the second i left the bitumen it went from totally crowded to practically deserted.

the 2 campsites south of Yardy had no one - not one person in them.

I also went to Rocky pool. I had been there in 98 and it was dirt and the place was empty.
fast forward 11 years and its bituman and its now grey nomad city despite the no camping sighns and the place was disgusting
AnswerID: 518419

Follow Up By: Road Warrior - Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 10:31

Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 10:31
Is there more than one Rocky Pool up north then?? The only one I'm familiar with is near Carnarvon and the access road to that is dirt.
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Follow Up By: get outmore - Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 12:29

Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 12:29
when was the last time you were there? was bituman a couple of years ago
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Follow Up By: Road Warrior - Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 14:12

Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 14:12
I guess I'm arguing semantics about "access road" as the actual few klm of access road to Rocky Pool is dirt, the highway from C'Von to Gassy Junction is as you said sealed. Drove past it last Monday.

But is there another Rocky Pool further up north?
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Follow Up By: get outmore - Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 14:23

Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 14:23
no thats the one.

the mullawa canarvon road used to be not just dirt but quite corragated \

since its bitumanising it seems to have attracted the "Nads" much to its detriment
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Follow Up By: Member - Ross N (NSW) - Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 15:45

Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 15:45
Good point about the bitumen. Both my sources have wives who don't much like dust on their beautiful vans.
There is hope for me yet as I love unsealed roads & solitude
FollowupID: 798268

Follow Up By: Road Warrior - Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 16:54

Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 16:54
Well, I guess it depends on the quality of the unsealed road.

For example the 50klm of road out to Kennedy Range NP (Gascoyne Junction end) last week was a brilliant unsealed road, only minor corrugations and washouts, our "soft roader" handled it very well and there were a gaggle of caravaners at the NP campground when we got there so I guess the thought of driving on dirt doesn't scare everyone off, especially if it is only a short deviation off the tar like that was. The campsite was far from being jam packed though.
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Reply By: cunno1974 - Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 12:03

Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 12:03
Really good post Ross thanks.
Very interesting reading and something I hadnt really heavily considered in our planning. I knew it was busy up there but not to that extent.
Can the good folk in this forum elaborate a bit more regarding the months that the north is packed out? or is it full the entire dry season?
I was looking at September to leave Darwin to be in far south WA around Xmas. Are most of the crowds gone by September or should I leave it a bit later in the year?
Thanks in advance all :)
AnswerID: 518422

Follow Up By: Ron N - Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 12:19

Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 12:19
Andrew - Leaving Darwin in Sept and arriving Perth around Xmas sounds like pretty good timing.
The number of tourists in the North is declining rapidly by the end of September.
October in Darwin is the start of the "buildup" to the Wet season, the humidity soars and it's quite unpleasant, even if you do usually enjoy warmth and humidity.
The temperatures in the North of W.A. start to pick up in October and early November.
We were in and around Broome in early November in 2008 and the temps were around 25° min to 35° max every day.
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Reply By: SDG - Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 17:13

Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 17:13
My parents not long got back from their Northen trip in the motorhome. Have no idea where they ended up, but they did say that they were hardly ever on a main road. All back country roads going into small villages. They also commented that each night, there were not many others near them.
I have noticed, the closer you get to the coast, the more people you will see.
AnswerID: 518432

Reply By: Member - Murray R (VIC) - Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 22:15

Thursday, Sep 19, 2013 at 22:15
Been a couple of years since we have travelled north. This year we travelled in the southern half of the Australia and doing 11000 kms and must say that most of the places that we stayed at were not crowded at all, sometimes just us and 2/3 others. The main towns were busy but not over crowded. The weather was cooler than up north but not being with the crowds suited us, as said I think more and more people are going north for the winters. Maybe next trip will be north being either at the start or finish of the tourist season to miss the crowds. All our expectations were met on our last trip as we new what the trip would be like in weather and the places we went to. Last Oct/Nov I was around Oodnadatta, Birdsville,Innaminka area and there was no one round as summer had already started and it was quite hot.

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AnswerID: 518453

Follow Up By: Member - Ross N (NSW) - Saturday, Sep 21, 2013 at 10:02

Saturday, Sep 21, 2013 at 10:02
Yes I love the South too but usually reserve that for either side of winter but not school holidays. Past all that
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Reply By: Kris and Kev - Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 15:24

Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 15:24
We have just returned to Qld after spending 5 months travelling WA in our 200 and camper trailer. We entered WA via the Nullarbor in early May, spent a bit of time around Esperance/Cape Le Grand, shot past Perth, travelled the coast up to Broome, then came back via Marble Bar and down to Fremantle, then to Kalgoorlie and returned to Qld via the Great Central and the Plenty. We had no difficulties in finding places to camp, mainly in National Parks and caravan parks. (Not that many free camping spots on the coast.) There were heaps of caravans about, but it is a big state. On the main roads most we came upon were still travelling at only about 80 to 85, but there were heaps of straight sections for us to overtake them. Only one nearly took us off the road when we started to overtake. He swerved to go around a crow! If travelling north you intend to do it in WA, get there now. It is a brilliant state. Heaps of amazing camp sites. The state is a bit expensive, but you can’t do anything about that, so just do it. Kevin
AnswerID: 518494

Follow Up By: Member - Ross N (NSW) - Saturday, Sep 21, 2013 at 10:04

Saturday, Sep 21, 2013 at 10:04
You are right WA is a big place. I would like to do the Anne Beadell
next year. Shouldn't be too crowded out there.
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Follow Up By: get outmore - Saturday, Sep 21, 2013 at 10:41

Saturday, Sep 21, 2013 at 10:41
swerved to go around a crow????

as kids we made it an obsession of ours to try and hit a crow
- there far too smart I remember the looks on them if you chase them onto the dirt because they thought it was safe off the bitumen - even so still never hit one
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