BEAT THE HEAT

There is no better way to beat the heat of an Australian summer than a coastal off-road adventure. Turquoise waters, flowing rivers and towering basalt cliffs set the backdrop for an epic 4WDing getaway less than four hours from Perth that ticks all the boxes. Tough tracks, refreshing sights and some of the best coastal camping
in Australia!

[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]”If you’re looking for the perfect west coast escape, look no further than the pristine D’Entrecasteaux National Park”[/blockquote]

The Black Point area is a prime spot of Australian real estate nestled upon the Northern borders of the D’Entrecasteaux National Park. Leaving the Vasse Highway on Stuart Road, it’s only a short drive to the Black Point Road, where you meet the information and pay station at the roads end. Once entry fees and formalities are taken care of, air down the tyres to 18psi for the sandy track ahead, that does tend to get a little chewed up by those who don’t let their own tyres down during peak season. While in summer the lower lying coastal swampy areas are usually dry, but after periods of heavy rain or in the winter months the track can be closed off for access. We however were met with plenty of dust and ruts as the summer sun drew upon any remaining moisture from the ground.

One of Western Australia’s most diverse parks, and home to rare and endangered flora and fauna, it is an important eco system that boasts some of the best 4WDing on the South Coast (not to mention the fishing opportunities to be had as well). Access is available at a number of points throughout the parks 130km length however this adventure focuses on the Northern regions like Black Point and Lake Jasper, which is a large clear freshwater lake perfect for swimming or taking the kayak for a paddle.

[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]”This is the best coastal camping in Oz!”[/blockquote]

There are a number of fantastic lookouts around with nearby camp areas set amongst the coastal scrub at Black Point, with pockets of shading tea tree to get out of the sun. Walking distance from some impressive and sheltered camping is one of our favourites, the Stepping Stones Bay. The elevated lookout gives view to the usually protected bay below, well worth a swim and a spot of fishing as we did. Beware of the slippery rocks close to the water’s edge, and observe the currents as these beaches are unpatrolled and in certain conditions, very dangerous.

After gathering a feed of fresh fish for tucker, we headed to the iconic Black Point lookout for a view over the coast below, which is nothing short of impressive. A small goat track leads to a brilliant vantage point for a photo, but watch your step! There are also toilets and a sheltered picnic area which is an excellent place to stop for lunch, with ample shade. The single lane loop around the Black point headland is a very scenic stretch of 4WDing, with tracks normally in well maintained condition. One ascent back up to the headland loop has some particularly undulating ruts which will see most vehicles lift a wheel too.

After a look around you can either seek out your perfect camp in the area, or push on toward Lake Jasper for an evening camp. The well signposted intersection you passed on the entry into the area marks the end of the loop, with options to head onto Lake Jasper or back toward Augusta. We opted to push on toward Lake Jasper which is an hour or so drive without a stop through the single lane track. In the heat of the day the sandy track can actually get pretty soft in spots – your truck’s suspension will definitely get a bit of a work out on this one. We stopped a couple of times to adjust the shock absorbers on one of the 4WDs to provide a nicer ride. Keeping a slow pace ensures a comfortable ride on this section of track too. On your journey you’ll see a side track to Jasper beach with views across the Southern Ocean before the track moves on a more inland route to the lake.

The local Pibulmen Aboriginal people believe a great shaking of the earth created the Basalt columns found at nearby Black Point as well as Lake Jasper itself and the surrounding Lakes throughout the Wetland area. Yoodaddup as Lake Jasper is known to the traditional owners is recognised as a highly important water body that sustains lots of birdlife. Swimmers, and kayak enthusiast are rewarded by a pristine bush oasis that is a must stop for any traveller to the region. Small sand dunes line its banks, and no vehicle access is permitted to protect the area.

There are a three walk in camp sites at Lake Jasper that are popular in peak season, so our pick is to head out midweek and enjoy the place to yourself like we did. Basic facilities are available here at Lake Jasper and shaded camp grounds are most welcomed in the peak of summer!

[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]”It doesn’t get more Aussie than emus on a beach!”[/blockquote]

After you have rolled out of your swag in the morning, hit the tracks and head out toward the Vasse Highway. This track is easily noted on a number of maps of the area. You come to a Y-junction that has some signage pertaining to a closed Bridge. However, it is only closed to 2WD accessible vehicles or in times of heavier river flow. Ascending into the little valley, a splash of water across the windows was a fantastic way to dust off through the stony river base. There isn’t any difficulty to the crossing but keep an eye on depth indicators even if the gates are open!

If you’re in search of some more challenges, push on to the Yeagerup Dunes about 10km further south toward Pemberton along the highway. The track in is a well-marked graded track and easily found on the majority of maps. There is also a fantastic camping area with facilities around the Yeagerup Lake Pay station area. We were determined for a bit more adventure, so we pushed out of the scrub and up the towering Yeagerup dunes. These impressive land locked sand dunes are a sight to be seen at over 10km long, and some low tyre pressures will see you through without too many issues.

Heading down toward Warren beach is an impressive drive descending the back end of the dunes with the coastal panorama filling the windscreen. Emerging along the coast, the possibilities for the continuation of your journey are endless. Head for the Warren River Mouth and have a go at the crossing, find yourself a nice gutter to set up camp for a night of fishing, tackle the notoriously famous (and steep) Calcup Hill or push on further South into the other expansive areas of the D’Entrecasteaux National Park for Rivers, Karri forests and Coastal history. Whichever way you head, beauty and freedom await in this amazing bit of Australia, and it’s a perfect place to beat the summer heat.

FACT FILE

WHERE:
Beginning at Black Point, we explored some of the local bays and beaches, and the towering Basalt Columns of Black Point, just over three hours from Perth. The Northern reaches of D’Entrecasteaux National park plays host to some of the best coastal scenery in WA, with plenty of chance to tackle the low range action on offer as we head further South through Lake Jasper and Yeagerup.

INFORMATION:
The Northern fringes of D’Entrecasteaux National Park is nationally significant for its conservation value, and the bays, rivers and sandy beaches lining turquoise shores are simply spectacular. Best of all it’s a little over three hours from Perth and a 4WD’ers paradise! This land belongs to the South West Murram people and forms an important part of local indigenous culture; with sacred sights found dating back some 6000 years.

CAMPING:
Camping is possible in the designated Black Point camp area, with a number of areas to find a shady spot under protected coastal canopy. Lake Jasper has three walk in Camping areas as well as Jasper Beach if you fancy a fish. Yeagerup Lake camp area is also a sure bet with basic facilities to keep everyone happy. For those who are self-sufficient, you can’t beat finding a nice gutter on Yeagerup/Warren Beach and setting up camp for a night of fishing!

FACILITIES & AMENITIES:
DPAW manages the D’Entrecasteaux National Park and a number of designated camp areas exist, with basic Toilet facilities as well as picnic areas and fire rings. All facilities found in the Park are basic, and there are also opportunities for those who are self-sufficient to find a secluded piece of paradise throughout the parks 130km length. Pay stations also house park information leaflets which offer valuable visitor information, history and points of interest.

WHAT TO TAKE:
Our vehicle was loaded with a comprehensive tool kit, basic spares and fluids, two spare tyres and tyre repair equipment. Multiple water containers and plenty of perishable and non-perishable food including your basic survival food, flour and water all had their spot on board. Ensure you have warm bedding, and clothes to cover the cold nights and warm days. Recovery equipment is a must, and a shovel is mandatory not only to help you out of a slushy bog if rain falls on your journey, but to turn the coals over in the fire as well. It is also an idea to take a sat phone or have a locating beacon and make others aware of your plans.

BEST TIME TO TRAVEL:
If fishing is your thing, the annual Salmon Run around Easter is a fantastic way to get into the action boasting comfortable temperatures through the day and night. Even the Summer Months are still enjoyable with access to the coast and a swim offering a chance to cool off. Even in the middle of winter, the Park is Green and abundant with life and an enjoyable place to be. Spring also sees the parks Wildflowers come alive, so really any time of the year is great for this adventure.

FUEL & SUPPLIES:
All fuel types are available in Nannup, Augusta & Pemberton and each town has a supermarket to gather supplies. Other services such as mechanics, chemists & medical centres can be found in all nearby towns. Prices are very comparative with Perth.

TRIP STANDARD:
This area of D’Entrecasteaux NP is rated C, and can be enjoyed by a wide range of 4WD enthusiasts. Remember to air down, and the soft sand shouldn’t cause you too much grief! Remember to always respect the South West coastline, and when crossing rivers.

TRIP TIME OF YEAR
October

RESTRICTIONS AND PERMITS:
Park Entry and camping fee’s apply within the park. Entry is $10 per vehicle and camping fees are $7.50 per person per night. Fire restrictions apply November through April.

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