If you’re dying to get out of the house, we have some good news for you: you can now camp in national parks in your region!

The cold weather may be starting to rear its ugly head, but after a month in lockdown, camping seems like a nice way to clear the mind. The only catch is that you must remain in your home region, so for us city folk, you’re limited to the Perth and Peel region. We spoke to Rod Annear from the Parks and Wildlife Service to get the inside scoop on which campsites are worth the visit. Check them out below:

See the koalas at Henry White Oval, Yanchep National Park

Just 40 minutes north of Perth, Yanchep National Park is a good introduction for new campers as it allows you to get the feel of the outback while still enjoying the luxury of modern facilities, like gas barbeques, toilets and showers. It’s far enough out of the city to clear your head, but close enough to town to pop to the shops if you forget something.

As well as convenience, Rod told us Yanchep National Park boasts a great wildlife population to boot,

“It’s a cool place for people who want to see wildlife – there are kangaroos who graze on the lawn, red tail black cockatoos and a resident population of koalas in the park.”

Not native to WA, the koala population has been a part of Yanchep National Park since the 1930s, originally donated by Perth Zoo. Whilst it is exciting for campers, spreading Australia’s koala population out to WA is also an effort to keep them from going extinct if something were to happen to their population over east. Their addition to the park makes it a truly unique WA camping experience.

If you’re not so big on wildlife, take a stroll around the heritage listed Yanchep Inn, Gloucester Lodge or McNess House. Originally accommodation units, the buildings boast beautiful 1930s antique architecture. Unfortunately, for the minute, you’ll have to enjoy the historical buildings from the outside, but keep your eyes peeled for updates!

Camping costs $15 a night per person, see more details here

Bushbash and mountain bike at Perth Hills Discovery Centre, Beelu National Park

Another good introduction to camping is Mundaring’s Beelu National Park, just 40 minutes east of Perth. Surrounded by Jarrah Marri forest and running by the famous Bibbulmun Track, you can bush walk to your heart’s content.

Plus, according to Rod, camping at Beelu is particularly good for lovers of mountain biking,

“The road between Kalamunda and Mundaring has the best mountain bike trail in Perth: The Kalamunda Circuit.”

With over 40km of tracks, this circuit has sections for beginners, intermediate and experienced riders. Check out the map here

The camping grounds are just walking distance from the famous Mundaring Weir, a tourist hotspot best admired from the O’Connor Lake Lookout, which allows you to gaze down over the vast water from a tall point.

As the campsites at Beelu are quite close together – typically suited for families and school trips – they are currently only using every second site to give everyone some space in the name of social distancing. So, if you love to camp in peace, you know where to go!

Camping is only $15 a head, and with all the facilities you could dream of (bar powered sites), we think that’s a pretty good deal. More here

Explore the Murray River at Lane Poole Reserve

If you’re looking to get as far away from Perth as you possibly (and legally) can, look no further: Lane Poole Reserve is about 80 minutes south of Perth, sitting pretty just within the Peel region. With nine sites across the park, only the Baden Powell, Charlies Flat, Tonys Bend, Yarragil, Chuditch, Stringers and Nanga Brook sites are currently open for camping.

The campsites vary greatly in both size and location, for example, Baden Powell is a large site located in the heart of the forest, whereas Yarragil is a small space for just two groups, located right on the banks of the Murray River. The incredible versatility of Lane Poole Reserve is notable, as you can have an intimate camping experience dominated by canoeing and kayaking along the river at Yarragil, or a larger gathering of friends based around exploring the surrounding jarrah forest at Baden Powell, all within the one park.

Rod told us that recently the available activities in the park have expanded,

“In the last few years the park has been developed as a centre for mountain biking – there are some great new trails”

Those new trails include the first three trails of The Murray Valley Mountain Bike Trail Network, featuring a trail each for beginners, intermediate and advanced riders. See the map here

If you prefer to sit back and relax, bring along some firewood (or collect some dry sticks the old fashioned way) and build a campfire! These are permitted throughout the winter months at every site except Chuditch, in order to protect the surrounding forest. There’s nothing quite so cosy, especially when you can look up at the starry night sky, unfiltered by the city’s pollution.

Best of all, Lane Poole Reserve is dog friendly, so feel free to bring your four legged friend along too. Or, if you’re wanting to get acquainted with some new furry friends, look out for the native woylie, western ringtail possums or chuditch found lurking the park at night.

Camping costs vary between $11-$15 a night, with the cheaper sites being almost entirely self-sufficient (no showers, toilets or running water), and the more expensive sites having more facilities, like gas barbeques and toilets. More here

Image credit: Feature image, Perth Hills Discovery Centre & Koala: WA Parks & Wildlife Service (image gallery); Henry White Oval & Mountain Biking Image: WA Parks & Wildlife Service (FB); Mundaring Weir & Lane Poole Reserve: Tourism WA (image gallery); Night Sky at Lane Poole Reserve: Simon Chen/@CALAMITYZZ (IG)
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