On the west coast of Exmouth is the Ningaloo Reef and Cape Range National Park. Admission is $13 – like for all national parks in Western Australia. The entrance fee for this must be paid as it is checked at the park entrance.
There are some campsites in the park. The payment for these campsites is a chapter in itself: When entering the park, you are asked if you want to stay in the park or not. Whether you say yes or no does not change anything. However, the workforce at the entrance can give hints there, which space could be free and which not.
So, should you have in mind to stay there, at least answer “yes”. So, nex thing: If you go to your preferred camp spot and it’s really available, you should leave something there, camping chairs for example. This way you reserve the place for yourself. Once this is done, drive back to the visitor center, which is at the beginning of the park, to pay the $8 per person per night camping fee.
The number of people can be cheated here anyway. But those in charge of the park expect that someone who found a campground in the Cape Range National Park, should drive all the way back to pay the fee – and drive back to the camping spot once again. This is definitely one way to drive about 50 kilometers.
This is a relatively short distance if you travel by the car through Australia, but relatively much, just to pay this camping fee. In short: You can pay the fee or you can choose not to.
In any case, during our stay at the Cape Range we didn’t go through all this hassle. And watch what happend: The next day we were woken up by Parkanger at 9am in the morning. He only asked us if we would stay one more night (the following night you could have paid directly to him), otherwise we would need to vacate the camping pitch until 10am.
He wished us a good trip and other than that: nothing! We believe that nobody in the park knows exactly who paid in order to camp there or not.
ATTENTION: If you leave the park at night and would like to come back, you still have to pay the entrance fee. If you do not find a camping pitch, you can easily join in a fully occupied campsite or on its access road, but you should get up early – about 7 clock in the morning to avoid problems.
Also note, that you shouldn’t expect any facilities nor much shade on the camping pitches – there is nothing! If you are lucky enough you get a tree. You will definitely see a lot of bushes and kangaroos though.
We recommend the North Mandu Campground – there were turtles and sharks in the sea (probably everywhere) and we had a TREE on the camping spot. Basic toilets are on campgrounds as well (shown on Google Street View below).
Cape Range National Park-22.142103113.872762