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3 Week Camping Trip to Pilbara region and Ningaloo Reef

Palm Springs...
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3 Week Camping Trip to Pilbara region and Ningaloo Reef

My wife and I are planning to take a 3 week holiday in the Pilbara region and Ningaloo Reef. We 'd love to have some ideas as to: where would it be best to start ( we'll be flying from Cairns to either Perth or Broome) We know we can the take flights to Carnarvon or drive; would it be best to hire a 4WD or will 2WD suffice? PLanning on mostly camping but with some non-camping options.

We're just starting to plan but know it's right around the corner! Thanks for any help!

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7 replies to this topic
Fremantle, Australia
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1. Re: 3 Week Camping Trip to Pilbara region and Ningaloo Reef

Most importantly- when is this trip?

For 3 weeks consider hiring a 4WD which can go on unsealed roads. Have you some experience driving these? That means you can go in some good spots eg Red Bluff bear Carnarvon, Mt Augustus, NPs at Shark Bay plus areas of Karijini NP.

However, if you do hire a 2WD you can still have a good trip accessing sealed roads and then do some 4WD tours eg at Shark Bay and Karijini. Your choice croton how confident you are in going a bit remote.

Buy a holiday National Park Pass as will be cost effective.

There’s only direct flights Cairns to Perth with Jetstar ( certain Days). Otherwise for Broome and Carnarvon there are indirect flights. Anyway, would be best to start in Perth.

There’s some big drives but you have time. Safe driving tips;


Ideas and itineraries:


The Pilbara is largely mining focused. You most likely will spend time in Karijini NP:


If you return to Perth the inland route stay overnight in Cue not Meekatharra.

You could also look at staying in some nature based station stays in Murchison or Gascoyne regions.




For a mega road trip and if time permits you could cut across from inland road to Leinster ( sealed Rd) to Kalgoorlie then go south to Esperance and then Perth.

Edited: 07 February 2018, 07:56
Perth, Australia
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2. Re: 3 Week Camping Trip to Pilbara region and Ningaloo Reef

Carnarvon is not usually a highlight for visitors - unless you are really keen to spend a couple of hours at their Space and Technology Museum perhaps.

For access to the Ningaloo Marine Park, Learmonth is the airport servicing Exmouth and Coral Bay.

Time of year is really important as the area can be affected by cyclones and tropical rains cause flooding. Also keep in mind that towns and facilities in the Pilbara are seriously few and far between and in many places ony exist because of the mining industry, so you really need to plan camping facilities and for restocking food/water if you plan to camp.

Palm Springs...
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3. Re: 3 Week Camping Trip to Pilbara region and Ningaloo Reef

Thanks for those posts! Sorry for omitting one of the important pieces-- we will be traveling in August.

Perth, Australia
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4. Re: 3 Week Camping Trip to Pilbara region and Ningaloo Reef

Good morning

I'm pleased to hear you will be visiting the wonderful Pilbara region in Western Australia. I'd be pleased to send you some material if you wish, and I can be emailed at ceo@prc.wa.gov.au.

There is plenty to see and do in the region, with some truly unique experiences that cannot be had anywhere else in the world. I particularly recommend visiting the Burrup Peninsula to hear about some of the oldest rock art in the world from one of the areas traditional owners, and visiting the Mackerel Islands for unparalleled fishing. The last time I was on the Mackerel Islands, I literally had to push a super friendly fish away with my foot because he seemed determined to get on my hook.

Best of luck with your trip planning and we look forward to hosting you in the Pilbara during August,


Tony Friday

CEO, Pilbara Regional Council

Grenoble, France
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5. Re: 3 Week Camping Trip to Pilbara region and Ningaloo Reef

August is good for the area, although I don't know if the whale sharks are still there at Ningaloo in August (saw them in May myself). There is a lot of driving between the main attractions but they're all worth it. Jean is right about the Mt Augustus area, you should do it as well. I didn't go as far as Mt Augustus, but did the Kennedy Range, and it's a gorgeous park, great camping spot below the plateau. A 4WD will be good for François Péron National Park at Shark Bay and for some roads in Karijini. The region is beautiful, it's the towns that aren't that great. They offer accommodation and food, but many of them are mining towns, not very appealing, like Karatha, Port Headland, Tom Price...

My favorite spots in the region are Kalbarri NP, François Péron, and Kennedy Range.

Perth, Australia
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6. Re: 3 Week Camping Trip to Pilbara region and Ningaloo Reef

Buckle up Edtrost.

Be prepared for some driving. This area is my favourite part of the world and I'm going to give you some alternatives to the usual. Firstly. If your looking to wing it as far as accommodation goes, get the Wikicamps App on your phone. It will be the best $8 you ever spend.

I'm going to concetrate on the Pilbara as there are already a few posts on the Gascoyne area. ie Shark Bay, Kennedy Ranges.

Marble Bar and it's surrounding has a lot to offer. Corruna Downs secret WW2 Airbase. Hottest town in Australia and the famous Iron Clad hotel. The" marble" formations outside of town and the Comet Gold mine museum. Some great history and incredible geological formations. Best access from the south is via the Woodstock Marble Bar rd 95ks North of Auski Roadhouse on the Great Northern Hwy.The drive takes in some of the most incredible scenery and brings you in past the Comet Gold Mine. The road is mostly sealed now and what isn't is in good nick. Watch out for big road trains carrying ore.

Secret Tip- Carawine Gorge

Karijini. The Jewel... Do yourself a favour and do a lap of the mountain range as a day/half day trip.

Toglonini Pass and lookout are incredible (free camping) Fuel up at Auski as there are few options in the area.

Across to Wittenoom. Have a drive around what's left of the town for a quick sticky beak. There are a few buildings left and a hand full of inhabitants. Then on to Hamersley Gorge and a dip in the chili rock pool.

Back into Karijini will complete the circuit. As far as asbestos goes the walks in the park carry a warning now as the whole range contains it naturally. Wittenoom mine is several k's from the town itself. Apply common sense...

Plenty of info on the park itself so I will be brief. The Western end has a caravan park with facilities eco tents and a restaurant/bar. The Eastern has camping and a visitor centre with showers. I prefer that end with Dales Gorge Circular pool and the walk between. The East/West road between the two areas is historically very rough. Some choose to drive out and back in. Just take it easy.....


Get somewhere nice in town and do day trips. The camping is rudimentary and the area prone to strong wind.

Hey it's the West coast.

Oyster Stacks, Turquoise bay, Yardie Creek are all great. Bring your snorkelling gear and food n water.

Coral Bay, and I may get criticised for this, has in my opinion, been loved to death. Visit on your way out for a sticky beak and a quick snorkel.

If your heading along the North Coastal Hwy Between Perth and Exmouth then the nicest stop on the whole stretch by far is the fairly new Wooramel station stay for camping.

I would recommend a camping equipped 4WD vehicle as it gives so many more options.

Drive safely and have a great trip


Perth, Australia
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7. Re: 3 Week Camping Trip to Pilbara region and Ningaloo Reef

I agree to stay in/near Exmouth or at one of the caravan parks like Lighthouse.

Coral Bay makes a good day trip once you are set up at/near Exmouth. Everything at tiny Coral Bay township is overpriced - in nice weather is good for some snorkellling on the Ningaloo Reef from shore, but very limited in options if its windy, which it often is.

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