Road trips are fantastic, and in the Goldfields region of Western Australia, they're epic. There is no better feeling than finding free camping sites and great rest areas to take a break during your drive.
Now that the Covid-19 restrictions have lifted, more and more campers have hit the road, and with fuel prices sky-high, they expect more bang for their buck in other areas like accommodation.
Circumstances do change regularly, so a good app to download is WikiCamps. This app will not only let you know where paid and free camping spots are, but also rest areas, dump points, drinking water, toilets and a whole lot more. The reviews on each site are very handy to help you plan if you can/will stay or not.
You will only have to pay a one-off payment of less than AUD$10, and you will save so much hassle on your trip.
Another app that's a must on your road is PetrolSpy. By searching the area you're in or heading to, you can find the cheapest fuel, whether, diesel or unleaded. This app is free.
If you are making long trips between fuel stops, I would highly recommend getting Jerry cans to carry extra fuel. This is extremely invaluable crossing the Nullarbor, as fuel can be over .80 cents a litre more on this road than just before you hit it, let alone the cities. If travelling east to west, Nundroo is constantly cheaper than anywhere else on this road and the next stop to get reasonably priced fuel will be Norseman in Western Australia.
Wi-fi can sometimes be a bit hit-and-miss. Because of the remoteness of this state, it pays to have one person have Telstra and another Optus. This won't guarantee that you will have access to wi-fi, but you will have a better chance.
If you have a subscription T.V. service, download some movies and T.V. shows so that you have something to watch when you are out of touch. Amazon Prime and Disney + are two that you are able to download onto your device.
By far, Western Australia is the biggest state in Australia and the Goldfields take big to a whole new level. From the hot and humid north to the cold and windy south, the hot and dry outback to the bustling metropolitan city of Perth, Western Australia, has it all, and camping is the way to go.
If you want to see all areas at their best, go by the seasons, as it's wet in the north in summer but warm and sunny in the winter. In the southwest, summer is the best time to visit, with warm days and less rain to spoil your visit.
The following are the camping and rest areas I've used on my travels around the Goldfields of Western Australia, and I hope that you find them useful. They are also all pet-friendly.
The Goldfields region is the southeastern corner of Western Australia. It encompasses Norseman, Esperance and Ravensthorpe in the south, and Kalgoorlie, Menzies and Laverton in the north, as well as much more.
When you're driving in Western Australia, especially the Goldfields, always keep an eye out for oversize trucks carrying mining equipment.
Sometimes, it's best to get right off the road as they take up most of the road.
After coming across the Nullarbor, the first bigger town you come to is Norseman and it's the start of the Goldfields region of Western Australia.
This is the place to refuel if you need to, get supplies from the local IGA, and also the place to decide whether it is north to Kalgoorlie or south to Esperance and, ultimately, the southwest corner.
Just under 15 km north of Norseman toward Coolgardie, is a free camp that is not only large but also gives you some privacy.
It's only signposted as a rest area, but it goes a long way back and gives you plenty of room off the road for the night.
As this is just a pull-off, there are no toilets or drinking water here, but it is a great place to spend the night.
Drinking water and a dump point are back at Norseman at the Welcome Park on Roberts Street. Here are toilets, showers (get tokens from the Information Centre for hot showers), and a laundromat. There is also an IGA to get any supplies you may need to stock up.
Norseman is at the end of the Nullarbor Road linking South Australia and Western Australia.
You'll find the Mount Thirsty Rest Area 15 km north of Kalgoorlie off the Coolgardie/Esperance Highway.
Kalgoorlie/Boulder is a historic area, that still produces gold from mines dotted around the region today. It is an interesting place to visit to learn about early exploration and see the workings of today and from all the mines and mining activities I'd call it the heart of the Goldfields of Western Australia.
You can take a tour on the tram around Kalgoorlie and Boulder or walk the streets and see the buildings, museums and the statue of Paddy Hannan, who first found gold in Kalgoorlie in 1893 and started the gold rush in the area. Gold is still coming out of the area where he found his riches, and is now called the Super Pit.
Additionally, you can visit The Super Pit, which has a lookout that is free to see this humongous hole in the ground. You can see machinery and information on the pit under a shelter at the top.
Kalgoorlie is 187 km north of Norseman.
The Super Pit Lookout is on Outram Street, off National Route 94 Alternate, with a large car park at the top.
Right in the heart of Kalgoorlie is the 72-hour rest stop. It's easily accessible but is only to be used by RVs or self-contained vehicles, so no camping in tents or campers.
Toilets are here for day use, and there are plenty of bins around and potable water for you to fill water containers.
If you need a coffee fix in the morning, Queen Bee Coffee has a truck serving from 5.30 am. This is a very popular coffee truck as there are not only park walkers, but miner's buses taking them to work, so be prepared to wait an extra few minutes for your order.
The RV stop is off the highway to Perth at Centennial Park on the corner of Patroni and Hannan Streets. It's 3 km west of the Information Centre on Hannan Street.
Lake Douglas camping ground is a huge area full of private areas down tracks where you can get away from everyone or stay together in the main part.
There is a toilet next to the lake and another down in the main camping ground, so if you're not self-contained, don't go too far down the tracks.
There is no drinking water so bring your own, and plenty of bins are scattered around the main area. Camping is allowed, but there is a 72-hour limit on how long you can stay.
Camping is also allowed beside the lake, with tracks going from the road around the lake. You can also walk around the lake.
Because of the tracks in this recreation reserve, dirt bikes are known to be here, especially on weekends, so watch out for them.
Lake Douglas is 15 km west of Kalgoorlie. You have about a 2 km drive down Muncaster Road, a dirt road that is also used by mining trucks. It can be slippery, especially on the steep descent into the camping area.
The Broad Arrow Tavern is a tourist spot and somewhere to take a break and camp. It is famous for its "Broadie Burger" and the inside of the tavern, which is decorated by customers.
Between 1896 and the early 1920s this was a bustling town with 15,000 people, eight hotels, a soft drink factory, two breweries, a hospital and a stock exchange.
Now there is just the tavern, and people write on walls and leave souvenirs to mark they've been there.
The Broad Arrow is another stop that's well worth a look.
There is a large car park for whatever type of vehicle you are camping in, and it's also another stop on the Golden Quest Discovery Trail, which is a loop around the Goldfields of Western Australia history.
No power or drinking water is available, and there is no camping in tents.
The cemetery is an interesting place to visit a couple of kilometres up the road. The road is bumpy, and I wouldn't attempt it after a lot of rain, but it is very interesting to see, especially how people died.
The Broad Arrow Tavern is 39 km north of Kalgoorlie on the Goldfields Highway.
The cemetery is about 3 km north, with signposts leading the way once you go off the Goldfields Highway.
Kambalda is a handy place to stop and stock up on groceries and fuel.
There is a Woolworths on the corner of Salmon Gum Road and Mistletoe Place, and across the road is the free 48-hour rest stop off Barnes Drive.
Public toilets are at the entrance to the rest area, on the corner of Irish Mulga and Barnes Drives, although these may be locked at night. There is also drinking water and a dump point.
The Kambalda West 48-hour is at 15 Barnes Drive. It's 58 km south of Kalgoorlie.
Kookynie is a ghost town apart from the Grand Hotel, built in 1902, and their local resident, Willie the horse.
Tourists flock, especially families with kids, to see Willie and give him a pat as well as another friend he has with him. Camping is also allowed at the Grand Hotel Caravan Park with full facilities.
Kookynie is also part of the Golden Quest Discover Trail, a 965 km heritage trail looping the goldfields.
You can also camp at Niagara Dam, another ghost town. This free campground has toilets, bins and a dump point, but no drinking water. It is another large area with shady areas, and walking tracks to explore.
Kookynie is 197 km northeast of Kalgoorlie or 66 km northwest of Menzies.
Niagara Dam is 60 km northeast of Menzies or 12 km from Kookynie.
The Grand Hotel is at 54 Britannia Street.
Laverton is the start of the Longest Shortcut Road, a mostly dirt road that goes to Alice Springs and then onto Winton in Queensland. It is also a stop for gold prospectors to try and find their fortune.
Its caravan park has all the amenities you would expect and another key point is it's located behind a secure gate. Cabins and powered and unpowered sites are available.
Laverton is 359 km northwest of Kalgoorlie. The caravan park is on Weld Drive.
For Menzies Caravan Park, you can either pay at the information centre or if that is closed, there is a locked box in the kitchen where you can fill out a form and leave either cash or card details.
This is also a great town for sculptures that mark the gold pioneering history of the town as well as Aboriginal habitation.
There is a small general store in the hotel (enter off Brown Street) although, it has very basic supplies, so make sure you take your own.
I haven't been to Lake Ballard Salt Lake, but I do know it is another place to see more sculptures and there is a camping ground. The is no potable water, but you do have toilets, bins and a dump point. It does get muddy after rain.
Menzies is 131 km north of Kalgoorlie. The Caravan Park is behind the information centre on Shenton Street. The entrance is off Brown Street.
Lake Ballard (with its own campground) is 53 km northwest of Menzies.
This little pull-off area in front of St. Luke's Church is where you can park for up to 48 hours.
The are no toilets here, but there are public toilets down the road on Cement Street.
Bins and a picnic table, and shelter are here.
The Westonia Co-Op and Cafe have good food at reasonable prices.
Westonia is 3 hours west of Kalgoorlie. It is 650 m on the left-hand side of the main street as you enter the town.
I have included this one just as a tourist stop.
Home of the Golden Eagle Nugget, it was found by a 17-year-old on 15 January 1931. Weighing 1,135 oz or 32.2 kg, it was the largest found at the time and started a gold rush in the area.
The Widgiemooltha Roadhouse is on the corner of Kingswood Street and the Coolgardie - Esperance Highway. It's 90 km north of Norseman and 97 km southwest of Kalgoorlie.
If you expect to see wildlife in this area, you will probably be disappointed.
In the seven months that we were there, we saw one Kangaroo in the Laverton Hospital car park, two Shinglebacks and a few Wedge-tailed Eagles feasting off a dead cow.
Once again, you have a large area full of many tracks where you can be as close or far away from anyone.
This free camping ground has a toilet, lots of bins, shady spots and plenty of walking tracks. You can also pitch a tent here, and there's no time limit.
It will get slippery after rain, so take care as it is a dirt track and it is bumpy.
Bromus Dam is 32 km south of Norseman on the Coolgardie - Esperance Highway. It is well-signposted.
This free 24-hour rest area at Kumarl is open to anyone, including tents.
There are plenty of bins, shady spots, picnic tables and private areas to park away from everyone else. Unfortunately, there are no toilets, but there are glorious sunsets.
Kumarl rest area is 74 km south of Norseman and 130 km north of Esperance. There is a signpost on the Coolgardie - Esperance Highway directing you.
Pioneer Park in Scaddan is a great place to stop, use the toilets and see the art painted on the walls and mosaics in the pathways.
Pioneer Park is 150 km south of Norseman and 53 km north of Esperance on the Coolgardie - Esperance Highway. You do come upon it quickly so keep an eye out on the north side of town.
When you're on the road and don't have a shower at hand, finding free showers, especially hot and free showers is fantastic.
The disabled toilet, where the shower is, has a large wet area shower that is kept clean. There is also a changing table, which is great for leaving your towel and clothes on.
As you pass through Salmon Gums, you'll find a sign for toilets on the Coolgardie - Esperance Highway. It's 97 km south of Norseman and 107 km north of Esperance.
I hope that you get out and enjoy the Goldfields region of Western Australia and that this blog has been of help to you.
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