Words & images by Salty Davenport
Over the last four years I’ve really put some time into exploring Western Australia from coast to desert and everywhere in-between. Over this period, I’ve driven upwards of 200,000km, searching for secluded beaches, campsites and habitable desert locations. I’m not one to share exact coordinates, but I can guide you to some of my favourite WA regions that await your exploration. To ensure you've got enough time to plan your ultimate adventure, these are my top tips for April through to September:
1. Coral Coast
Stretching from Jurien Bay, 1,300km north to Exmouth. This coastline is littered with secluded hideaway camping spots, perfect surf breaks, fishing, national parks and an abundance of marine and land-dwelling wildlife. The best time of year to ensure an action-packed adventure is between May and September. It will be busier during these months, however there’s so much going on you will rarely notice other travellers. During these months the wild flowers will brighten up the desert, humpback whales will be migrating north (and then south again around August), bait schools for fishing are an hourly occurrence and the surf... well, it’s everywhere there.
2. Cape Leveque
Just North of Broome. Nowadays, a lot of this land is in back the hands of the local Aboriginal communities so ensure a polite and respectful approach to these areas. I love mud crabbing, spearing and barramundi fishing so for me Cape Leveque is a dream spot. There’s something for everyone, so if the hard adventure/survival style is not your cup of tea then the well-experienced tours operating in the area will look after you. There are pear farm tours, bush tucker tours, helicopter flights and plenty more. For me though, this land is one to explore, follow boggy tracks down to creek beds and empty beaches. You can swim in the ocean in most locations, except I’d suggest you be ‘crocwise’ and stay away from where the ocean meets the creeks.
3. Gibb River Road
The Gibb and the hundreds of tracks that vein off from it. Firstly, you need to explore it before they cover it with black tar which is slowly happening. Now the mountains, gorges and forest in this Kimberley region are not to be taken lightly. People can get lost and die quite quickly up here with no phone reception, so ensure people know where you are when you start to follow some narrow tracks. The Gibb can become quite busy, so I’d highly recommend trying to get up there early after the wet season. The main campsites around some of the gorges are stunning, however, it’s the ones you really have to explore for are the locations you could stay for a week and not see another soul. A combination of my HEMA maps and a love of the search can take you to some incredible camp spots up there.
4. Between Marble Bar and Shays Gap
An area few would find themselves near without a reason to visit. The state’s north hosts many secret little waterfalls, gorges and picturesque campsites (legal and not so legal). Picking your time to travel here should be loosely based around the weather, as it can be a very hot and dry. Some cooler temperatures and a bit of flowing water can really bring this region to life. The bird-life on the rivers is spectacular to watch.
This vibrant oasis is certainly a relief to arrive at if you’ve driven up through the middle. Nestled on the banks of the mighty Ord River you can choose to explore by road or river, both will take you a very long way. With just a little pulse of explorer in your blood around these parts and you will find yourself in places very few people would have laid eyes on. I’ve pulled off the road up there to just go for a walk and stretch the legs to then stumble across some very old Aboriginal artwork. No tracks, signage or knowledge of this artwork exists; I like to keep it this way. Chatting to a few locals can get you off the beaten track and camped up in some breathtaking places around Kununurra. Barramundi fishing everywhere, salt and fresh water crocs at every turn and more mountain ranges to explore than you can imagine. Finally, an afternoon with Lake Argyle sunset cruises is also a MUST – pack your bathers!
Always take enough water and a backup plan to these locations, your HX-1 and your Hema Maps.