The wild Mid West Coast of Western Australia
Author: Kirstie Bedford
The Mid West coast of Western Australia is full of colour, grand sweeping landscapes and wonderful people. It’s a destination where you’ll definitely want to linger longer.
The beaches here, so isolated they are nesting havens for rare birds, have to be some of the best kept secrets in coastal camping in the country. While the region once relied so heavily on the fishing industry and mining, tourism is now its much-needed economic mainstay. Indeed, tourism has spurred four of the local shires to band together and invest in preserving this pristine stretch of coast. Sourcing funding from grants, they built safe walkways to link lookouts and protect native plants, installed toilets and barbecues and improved signage. Here are our top tips for places to stay on the wild Mid West coast.
Jurien Bay is just a 2.5-hour drive from Perth, which we did in our KEA Discovery four-berth motorhome from Britz Campervan Hire. It’s a gorgeous town with a stunning pier stretching out into a glistening harbour. It’s also the perfect place to stop for fish and chips! One of the best places to stay here is Sandy Cape Recreation Park, where emus and kangaroos dominate the wildlife population. A 15-minute journey from town, partly along an unsealed road and you will be rewarded with an incredible coastal campsite.
The first along this coast to be invigorated by the Shire of Dandaragan’s regeneration initiative, there are sites north and south of the beach, and it won’t be long before caretakers Rhonda Field and Gary Smith will set you up on a spot with stunning ocean views. The calm waters are also perfect for swimming and kayaking, and Gary says the fishing’s not so bad, either.
Top things to do in Jurien Bay:
- See the emus along the way to Sandy Cape Recreation Park
- Meander the new walkways at Sandy Cape
- Sand boarding down the dunes
- Throw a line off the pier
- Kayaking off the beach at Sandy Cape Recreation Park
Heading north to Green Head (population under 300), you’re in the heart of the region’s green belt in more ways than one. It’s here that the Green Head Coast Care group was established by local artist and environmental campaigner Deb O’Brien to create the ‘three bays walkway’ to help protect the coast from development and preserve it for travellers. The group’s plans have come into fruition, including the first paths installed along the coast at Dynamite Bay, so people have safe path access, and to protect the native bush. The final work, including the first walkways between Dynamite Bay, South Bay and Anchorage Bay, will be completed in the next few months. Then the rehabilitation and maintenance work begins, and the group will start work on its master plan to connect the townships of Green Head and Leeman - currently they are connected only by a 14km main road.
Top things to do in Green Head:
- Explore the new paths at Dynamite Bay
- Drop in for a cuppa and explore the incredible local artworks at Deb O’Brien’s Green Head Gallery, opposite a stunning beach where you'll likely be the only one in sight
- Take a dip in Dynamite Bay with the endangered Australian sea lions - about 20 per cent of the Western Australian population of sea lions live and breed in this region
MILLIGAN ISLAND AND LEEMAN
For a quiet spot to pull up in your motorhome, try Milligan Island Eco Camp, only five minutes from Green Head, it is designed to reflect an Aboriginal artwork with large circular sites tucked behind the sand dunes amongst natural vegetation. Its open stretch of beach is isolated and breathtaking. Similar in size to Green Head, the township of Leeman on the northern side of the coast is about 10 minutes from Milligan Island.
The pier at Leeman is the perfect plan to launch a tinnie and go crayfishing, but if you prefer dry land, drive to Lesueur National Park and discover more than 900 species of wildflowers.
Top things to do in Leeman:
- Go crayfishing
- Check out the gorgeous beach at Milligan Island Eco Camp
- Wander through wildflower-laden trails at Lesueur National Park
DONGARA AND CLIFF HEAD
A one-hour drive from Leeman is the town of Dongara, where cafes sit under century old Moreton Bay and Port Jackson Fig trees. Here you can grab retro hire bikes from the local backpackers and head to Port Denison via Granny’s Beach where you can grab a smoothie from Green Beanie, a 1964 converted BiTone vintage caravan.
A 4km pedal from Dongara is Fisherman’s Lookout and the obelisk, built in the late 1800s to commemorate the sailors’ lives lost at sea, which provides a panoramic view of the harbour. While you’re in town, pull in at the Dongara drive-in and catch a movie.
When it’s time to retire, head out to Cliff Head, a spectacular free campsite 30 minutes away. With the sounds of waves lapping at the shore and dolphins swimming lazily nearby, this is coastal camping at its best.
Top things to do in Dongara:
- Cycle from Dongara to Port Denison via Granny’s Beach
- See a film at Dongara drive-in
- Check out Fisherman’s Lookout and the historic obelisk