4 x 4 Australia
CAPE ARID NATIONAL PARK
THE deeper you explore this coastline, the more remote it becomes. Cape Arid National Park is accessed from Fisheries Road or Melville Road and offers plenty of side tracks, remote beaches and camps to discover. There are also a range of walks, from the two-kilometre Len Otte Nature Trail to the 10km-return Tagon Coastal Trail. Plus, you can take the Mt Ragged Walk Trail to the top of Tower Peak and up Mt Arid. This four-kilometre walk to the summit offers incredible views of the coastline, islands of the Recherche Archipelago and the park’s vast interior. You get to the start of this walk by 4WD, along Yokinup Beach.
To get to Yokinup Bay, head down River Road until you reach the end. It’s a bit of a drop down to the sand and a high-clearance 4x4 is needed to navigate the Thomas River, which varies in depth depending on sand erosion. Once on the beach it’s possible to drive right around to Cape Arid, but on the day we visited the tide was rapidly rising so we turned back early. It always pays to be careful and mindful of tidal times.
There are loads of places to camp within the NP, including two-wheel drive access to the Thomas River and Seal Creek camps, and for those who want to head farther in to the park there’s 4WD access-only to Mt Ragged, Point Culver, Point Malcolm and Israelite Bay.
Israelite Bay is one of the most remote spots in Cape Arid National Park. Access is from Fisheries Track and Telegraph Track from Condingup, east of Esperance. Be prepared and completely self-sufficient as this is a rough track with soft sand followed by clay and limestone outcrops and soft clay bog holes. It’s challenging in the dry and often impassable in wet weather. However, keen adventurers will be rewarded with excellent fishing and the sight of some of the best ruins in Australia including the Old Telegraph Station, with walls that have been there since 1896.
Before the telegraph line and stations were built, it took around three weeks for news to travel from Adelaide to Perth. Once the telegraph was in full operation, the news was suddenly a same-day event. At its peak, this remote settlement was home to around 150 people. The old jetty was built shortly after the telegraph station to supply the people working in the bay and the telegraph station; it was also used to export wool from the sheep stations near Israelite Bay. The jetty is still there today, even after all those years, and is a great place to drop a line.
With white beaches, remote destinations and secluded camp spots, travelling on the edge of the south-west of Australia is awe-inspiring and makes you feel like you’re on the edge of the world.