Bush camps in Pilbara

Submitted: Thursday, Jul 04, 2019 at 17:22
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We're headed up from Perth for a few days in Karijini where sadly you cannot have a campfire so I'm looking for suggestions for good spots on the way in/out where we can enjoy a campfire if anyone has any suggestions? We'd also like to include a visit to Mt Augustus.

Don't care which way we go - the more offroad the better but we have less than 2 weeks for the return trip.

I've been pouring over the map and there's so many route options so I would like some compelling reason to go one way over another based on some recommendations please... Its been a long time since we were in that area...
Michelle Martin
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Reply By: Frank P (NSW) - Thursday, Jul 04, 2019 at 18:57

Thursday, Jul 04, 2019 at 18:57
Not in the Pilbara, but on the way....

Woolleen Station. Young couple restoring their property after years of overgrazing by previous owners. Camps available on the Murchison R. They have a website for more info. You need to book.
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Thursday, Jul 04, 2019 at 19:00

Thursday, Jul 04, 2019 at 19:00
Yes I know of it, have you stayed there? Am thinking of going via Woollen to Mount Gould, then Mt Augustus on way up...
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Thursday, Jul 04, 2019 at 20:01

Thursday, Jul 04, 2019 at 20:01
Yes, we stayed there for 3 nights and did a guided tour where David and Frances (owners) explain their environmental management philosophy and show the results.

We were there July last year. The river camps are awesome so from me it's less a suggestion and more a recommendation.
Cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - christopher w2 - Friday, Jul 05, 2019 at 19:56

Friday, Jul 05, 2019 at 19:56
We were at woollen this time last year. Awesome camping by the river with nice fire to watch. Sand flies were a bit of a problem however overall it was great.
Need to book though.
Kennedy ranges also worth a visit. Communal camp fire available. Sun rise on the ranges most spectacular as was Mt Augustus.
We did Woollen, Kennedy Ranges, Mt Augustus and Karijini in the one loop. Highly recommended
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Reply By: Member - Franz Peter R (TAS) - Thursday, Jul 04, 2019 at 20:03

Thursday, Jul 04, 2019 at 20:03
Michelle try Weeli Wolli Spring about 60 klm out of Newman we stayed there about 2 years ago towing a Camper. Just a magic place

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Reply By: Member - rocco2010 - Thursday, Jul 04, 2019 at 20:18

Thursday, Jul 04, 2019 at 20:18
Heading north out of Mt Augustus to the Pilbara via the Dooley Downs and Ashburton Downs roads is a nice drive.

At the end of that day I stayed at Cheela Plains station which is not a bush camp but good spot with a big communal fire and good facilities.

Karijini was very busy last year, even out of school holidays. Be interesting to see how the online booking rules go.

Cheers
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Thursday, Jul 04, 2019 at 21:58

Thursday, Jul 04, 2019 at 21:58
The Kennedy Range is an interesting place.
There is a track that goes up the western side and then over the top and down the eastern side that provides exceptional views.
We spent a night on top.

We also drove to near the top of Mt Turner.

The OKA is the white spot on the ridge in the middle. We were towing a trailer, and without it we would have driven all the way.
Check the current mining activity....
Cheers,
Peter
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Friday, Jul 05, 2019 at 11:15

Friday, Jul 05, 2019 at 11:15
Great photos! Thanks for posting Peter. Yes we've been to the Kennedy Ranges but struggled at the time to locate the route up - it was a good 10 years ago I think and at the time there was a native title issue brewing and some locked gates issues and a tour operator was the only one allowed access to the top of the range with their guests so sadly we haven't managed to there Peter - your photos are amazing - I had looked at this on the map again and wondered if I should investigate access again. We travelled along the eastern edge and from there I think the route up/over is at the northern end of the range if my memory serves me correctly?
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Follow Up By: Member - rocco2010 - Friday, Jul 05, 2019 at 12:02

Friday, Jul 05, 2019 at 12:02
Hi Michelle

I went along the top of Kennedy Range with a group a year or so ago.
Acess was through Mt Sandiman station at northern end and we crossed the dry (then) but sandy Gascoyne at Winnemia Pool at the south
Interesting country with great views to east from top of scarp and some lovely camping.
Well worth the effort if you have the time.
Cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - peter_mcc - Friday, Jul 05, 2019 at 13:43

Friday, Jul 05, 2019 at 13:43
We went across the Kennedy Ranges towing a Tvan about 2 years ago. We started from the western side, across the Gasgoyne River (got stuck in the sand) then along the edge of the ranges before heading across. Going that way the navigation is really easy - it becomes a bit more tricky once you head down and start hitting station tracks. Going from the east would be more difficult because of the station tracks.
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Follow Up By: Member - rocco2010 - Friday, Jul 05, 2019 at 13:57

Friday, Jul 05, 2019 at 13:57
Peter.
The station tracks were tricky but we had someone who had been that way before.
We also spoke to a guy from Parks and Wildlife Carnarvon and there is a long(ish) term plan to improve access to top and western side of range.
Funding is, as always, the issue.

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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Friday, Jul 05, 2019 at 17:02

Friday, Jul 05, 2019 at 17:02
Our trip across the top of Mt Augustus was in 2006. Rocco's track looks identical to mine.
There was an unfriendly station owner on the west side then (although the route did not technically go through his property), but I understand that Parks have since purchased that and another property. We also contacted Parks before we went and they were very helpful. And yes, clockwise would be easiest.
I have other pics, but won't post them because there is a huge terrain surprise as you reach the top and it should not be spoilt. :)
The drive up the west side is via very pleasant scenery and is dramatically different from the east side.
Worth planning for a night on top.

Mount Turner was also spectacular for the views, and is a harder drive for the last section than Mt Augustus which is pretty easy. It is steep and the rocks are razor sharp and tyre damage is a possibility. The lower section had mining tracks all over the place. There is a track all the way to the top to a communication tower.
In 2006 there were signs at the bottom with 'phone numbers which we rang on our sat. phone to get permission. None were still connected, so we concluded it was not required any longer. :)
Cheers,
Peter
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Friday, Jul 05, 2019 at 17:20

Friday, Jul 05, 2019 at 17:20
Fabulous info Peter and Rocco, thank you very much. I'll be looking in this for sure.
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Follow Up By: Member - peter_mcc - Saturday, Jul 06, 2019 at 16:13

Saturday, Jul 06, 2019 at 16:13
Some more thoughts for a trip from west-east
- if you cross the Gasgoyne River make sure you let your tyres down before you get into the sand - it's a long long long way across! There was a rock(ish) based crossing a bit to the east (right). It was hot & dry when we went and the sand was super soft - we launched into it with road tyre pressures and promptly got bogged within 50m. If you're towing I'd recommend going for a bit of a walk first so you can work out which way to go and where some hard sand might be if you want to stop.
- there are some really nice spots along the western side at the springs - we camped at Chafcutters Spring and it was one of the best campsites of our 10 week trip. There are some sculptures on the top of the hill to the north - we wandered up to them. Climb the hill to watch the sunset over the plain. I think Chafcutters was the nicest spot, especially up the back a bit.
- As you near the eastern side the road does a big loop south. You can stop and walk about 200m through the bush to the top of a huge canyon. Make sure you have a compass so you can find your way back to the track
- I'd advise picking a campsite on the southern end of the cliffs - close to where you come out at the cliffs. We, unfortunately, went a bit "Goldilocks" on our site selection (nothing was quite right) and eventually came to the track heading down the range. We ended up camping on top of a smallish cliff with surface rocks everywhere (yeah for the Tvan!). I wish we had stopped earlier...
- Your car will get scratched... the track is pretty narrow
- If you're the first one through for a while watch out for termite mounts on the road - some where "diff height" because everyone else had knocked the tops off them
- there is an old homestead about 500m past the turnoff down the range. To the south of the homestead there is an old dump with interesting bits in it. If you follow the water pipe up the hill then down (below the rock band) you'll find the old well. Make sure you don't fall in.
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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Saturday, Jul 06, 2019 at 16:35

Saturday, Jul 06, 2019 at 16:35

Cheers,
Peter
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Monday, Jul 08, 2019 at 12:27

Monday, Jul 08, 2019 at 12:27
Hi Peter - this is brilliant info, thanks for persisting with supplying so much info. will def check it out but may not end up being this trip due to time but perhaps we'll head there in September when we head over to Steep Point :)
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Reply By: Neil & Pauline - Friday, Jul 05, 2019 at 09:22

Friday, Jul 05, 2019 at 09:22
Camp fires (and heat beads) are illegal except in designated fire places on low fire risk days. Most bush/wild fires in WA are stared by campfires.
I accept that a percentage of travelers are responsible with camp fires but how often on forums travelers are seeking information about what chain saw to illegally collect wood for camp fires.
Enjoy your travels and leave our country side unburnt.

Neil
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Follow Up By: Karl F - Friday, Jul 05, 2019 at 09:39

Friday, Jul 05, 2019 at 09:39
Where does it state that campfires are illegal and heat beads are illegal in WA??

Some national parks have restrictions on campfires but on public land (and private) they aren't illegal.

Campfires are illegal on total fire ban days during the summer months and there are restrictions across all shires usually from Nov - Mar.

There is also restrictions on where you can collect fire wood - so it is better to take your own or collect before you get there.

Other than that you have a campfire anywhere you want - we do every time we go out.

Karl

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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Friday, Jul 05, 2019 at 11:07

Friday, Jul 05, 2019 at 11:07
Yeah, not going to get into an argument about campfires, nor the 20+years of travelling we've enjoyed campfires by respecting any current regulation in the area and using commonsense. The fact that I'm even asking the question indicates my respect for this issue. A campfire is a criteria for us - hence planning ahead.
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Friday, Jul 05, 2019 at 21:10

Friday, Jul 05, 2019 at 21:10
Mt Augustus.....
Don't miss the petroglyphs under the big rocks close to the track on the way up.
We went out to Emu Lookout nearby and noticed a glint of water in the distance, about 1km away in the direction of the Mount so walked down to have a look and saw this …..


Took 100 pics like this in an hour until it was dark. Not a breath of wind and the light was perfect. Unbelievable.
We spent the night at the lookout, but you can't do that now.
Cheers,
Peter
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Friday, Jul 05, 2019 at 23:00

Friday, Jul 05, 2019 at 23:00
Fabulous pictures, Peter. Thanks for sharing.
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Monday, Jul 08, 2019 at 12:29

Monday, Jul 08, 2019 at 12:29
Peter - just one more thing, I've noticed you referred a few times to "going up" Mt Augustus, and it reads as if you're telling me there is a track to drive up there? I thought it was walking tracks only?? Please explain ... ;)
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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Monday, Jul 08, 2019 at 14:29

Monday, Jul 08, 2019 at 14:29
Correct. Walking track only. Sorry for the confusion.


Cheers,
Peter
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Reply By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Friday, Jul 05, 2019 at 22:01

Friday, Jul 05, 2019 at 22:01
Thankyou all. Im sorted now. First time in 20 years Ive ever had to plan a trip in school holidays with a requirement to book a campsite online....omg what an ordeal. Not how I like to travel but Karijini is special and I'm doing it for the "kids" so have to work around uni and school holidays plus get back in time for a board meeting of which David is President and Chair. It shouldnt be this hard...?? bring on retirement and kids moved out LOL!

Couldn't make Kennedy Range or Woolleen fit into this trip but will go to Cheela Plains (thanks for tipoff) but will go there those places next trip when we go to Steep Point and Dirk Hartog. Maybe September?
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Reply By: Member - Phil 'n Jill (WA) - Wednesday, Jul 10, 2019 at 20:14

Wednesday, Jul 10, 2019 at 20:14
Hi Michelle - Just seeking some feedback on the state of the roads if you head up through Wooleen if you wouldn't mind.

We may be following your trail after the school holidays are over - much later than we had hoped but as they say - better late than never.

My thoughts are to take a peek at Thundelarra then up to Melangata on the way through to the Gascoyne with a 22ft non offroad van behind the Pajero. I see they have had a bit of rain of late and an up to date opinion on their status would be most helpful if that is possible.

Hope you have a great trip.

Cheers - Phil 'n Jill
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