Top 5 National Parks in WA

Updated: Nov 4, 2018

One of our favourite things is National Parks, and what’s better than those in our own State! It wasn’t easy, but we’ve come up with our top five National Parks in Western Australia (WA).


1. Karijini National Park

This is hands down our favourite national park, not only in WA but in all of Australia. A park characterised by sparkling waterfalls, breath-taking gorges and vibrant red cliffs – this place blows us away every time we visit. We have been lucky enough to visit three times in the past three years and each time we’ve been, we’ve fallen in love with different aspects. The cheeky dingoes, the vivid red rocks, the turquoise waters, the rolling Hammersley Ranges. To us, Karijini has it all. It is our definition of paradise.


Karijini National Park - the snapshot


Where is it?

  • Pilbara region, ~1,380km North of Perth.

Top activities/ spots?

  • The entire Dales gorge area (Fortesuce Falls, Fern Pool, Circular Pool and the Rim walk).

  • Sunset at Oxer lookout.

  • Kermit’s Pool.

  • Knox Gorge.

  • Mount Bruce (sunset is amazing).

  • Hammersley Ranges.

  • Spa Pool.

When is best to go?

  • April – October.

Essentials?

  • Swimming gear.

  • Shoes with good grip.

  • Camera.

How long do you need?

  • 5-7 days

Accommodation style?

  • Camping (either at Dales Campground or the Eco Retreat).

CJ TIPS:

  • Check when school holidays are on and avoid visiting during this period (if you can)!

  • Monitor the weather - if there has been a big rain recently the beautiful water in Karijini can turn brown.

  • You can’t book Dales campsite online so it’s first in best dressed.

  • Starting at Fortescue falls car park, combine Dale’s Gorge walk (along the bottom of the gorge) with the Gorge rim walk (along the top) to catch all the sights. There are several unofficial lookouts along the rim walk that make for the perfect sunset location.


2. Purnululu National Park – World Heritage Site

We recently visited Purnululu National Park (the Bungle Bungles) on our honeymoon and instantly fell in love. It was such a special place and one we really struggled to do justice on the camera. The park is split into two sections – the North and the South and each has its own campground. We camped in the South side (at Walardi) as we found most of our time was spent here (the South side is where the bee-hive domes are). This truly is a park like no other.


Purnululu National Park - the snapshot

Where is it?

  • Kimberley region, ~3,000km North of Perth.

Top activities/ spots?

  • The Piccaninny Creek walk (this was our highlight) – lots of great photo spots along here, especially for sunrise and sunset.

  • Echidna Chasm (you want to time this for exactly half way in the day so around lunch).

  • Cathedral Gorge (especially beautiful at night).

When is best to go?

  • April/May – September.

Essentials?

  • 4WD and Spare tyres for the road.

  • Good walking shoes.

  • Sunhat.

  • Camera.

How long do you need?

  • 2-3 days.

Accommodation style?

  • Camping (Kurrajong in the North or Walardi in the South).

CJ TIPS:

  • Call the Kununurra Visitor Centre and ask when the road was last graded. A lot of people say the road in is the worst in Australia (we can’t comment as the grader had just been through when we visited – we were very lucky!).

  • We think the ideal time to visit would be right after the wet season – the gorges would have fresh water and Cathedral Gorge might even have a small waterfall if you’re really lucky!

  • Book your campground online (and do it early!) – we preferred Walardi as it was a smaller campground and was closer to the beehive domes at Piccaninny creek.

  • Arrive at Echidna Chasm earlier than midday as both chasm walls only light up for a short period.


3. Kalbarri National Park

Kalbarri is a beautiful (and easy) road trip destination from Perth. The National Park boasts incredibly different landscapes ranging from towering sea cliffs to ancient inland gorges. We have visited the park five times over the last few years and are always finding new things to see and do. While there is no camping in the National Park, there are plenty of accommodation options in the nearby townsite. If you want to read more on Kalbarri, click here.


Kalbarri National Park - the snapshot


Where is it?

  • Midwest region, 620 km North of Perth.

Top activities/ spots?

  • Nature’s Window (sunrise).

  • Loop walk (especially the rocks by the river).

  • Z bend walk.

  • Coastal cliffs for sunset, especially Pot Alley and Island Rock.

When is best to go?

  • Spring for the wildflowers; or

  • Autumn for comfortable weather (warm enough to swim, but cool enough to hike).

Essentials?

  • Good walking shoes.

  • Sunhat.

  • Camera.

How long do you need?

  • 3 days.

Accommodation style?

  • No camping in the national park.

  • A range of accommodation is available in the townsite (only a short drive away).

CJ tips:

  • The flies can be pretty horrible in Kalbarri (usually worst around March and September) – some people find a fly net worthwhile.

  • Apply for a drone permit early if you plan on flying here.


4. Cape Range National Park, Exmouth

When WA's beautiful landscapes were being dished out, Cape Range National Park managed to get more than most. The sparkling Ningaloo Reef, the dramatic Charles Knife Canyon, the rugged limestone ranges and one of Australia’s top rated beaches – Turquoise Bay. It makes for the perfect place to soak up the sun and relax.


Cape Range National Park - the snapshot


Where is it?

  • Gascoyne region, ~1,240km North of Perth.

Top activities/ spots?

  • Snorkelling along the drift.

  • Yardie Creek Walk (best at sunrise).

  • Mandoo Walk to see the black footed wallabies (best early or late in the day).

  • Turquoise Bay (during the day and at sunset).

  • Charles Knife Canyon (sunset).

When is best to go?

  • Winter and/or Spring (try and plan your visit to coincide with whale shark season).

Essentials?

  • Swimming gear.

  • Underwater camera.

  • Sunhat.

  • Camera.

  • Snorkelling gear.

How long do you need?

  • 4 days

Accommodation style?

  • There are a range of campgrounds in the National Park. We personally like to stay at Kurrajong or Yardie Creek.

CJ TIPS:

  • Be really careful driving here – of all the roads we have travelled in Australia, this had (by far) the most Kangaroos on it.

  • It can get very windy camping in the park – try and check the forecast before you go! (One night I brushed my teeth and as I spat out my toothpaste, it blew right back in my face).

  • Book your campsite online (and early) – this is a very popular camping destination.

  • BYO snorkelling gear so you don’t have to pay to hire it each day!


5. Mitchell Falls National Park, Kimberley

We only spent one night in this paradise, but one night was all it took to make it into our top five. Nowhere else in Australia compared to this beautiful and rugged four-tiered waterfall. We chose to walk both to and from the falls (it takes roughly 2 hours each way but a lot of people like to walk in and then helicopter back). You can book your helicopter flights at the campground.


Mitchell Falls National Park - the snapshot

Where is it?

  • Kimberley region, ~3,600km North of Perth.

Top activities/ spots?

  • Big Mert Falls (ideal at sunset).

  • Mitchell Falls (ideal at sunrise and during the early morning).

  • Little Mert falls for a swim.

When is best to go?

  • April/May – September.

Essentials?

  • 4WD and spare tyre.

  • Camera.

  • Swimming gear.

How long do you need?

  • 1-2 days.

Accommodation style?

  • There is one campground in the National Park.

CJ TIPS:

  • You are not allowed to swim under Mitchell Falls, but if you’re hot you can swim above the falls. The crossing near the helicopter pad is a good little spot.

  • Look for the incredible rock art under Little Merten Falls (follow the main track and take a left after climbing down a big boulder).

  • The road into Mitchell Falls can be a bit tricky – taking up to 3-4 hours to do 85km. Take it slow and be careful. We recommend some soothing music for when you get frustrated with the corrugations!

Which park would you choose to visit?


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