I'm a freelance writer living in Perth. Having 2 young kids with endless energy, we are always on the lookout for new outdoor activities.
Published October 19th 2011
Camping is one school-holiday activity I've always counted on to entertain my kids. It's adventurous and exciting for the kids, it could kill plenty of time (depending on your own discomfort-limit), and it's relatively cheap. Going to a caravan park is always the easy option in camping, however I usually try to find non-caravan park sites as they tend to be more rugged (and thus more adventurous and exciting for the kids), closer to a natural attraction (such as the beach or a national park), and even less costly than camping at a caravan park.
Sandy Cape Recreational Park is one of the best campsites I've encountered in this part of the world thus far. It's a comfortable driving distance from the city (about 270km north from Perth) so we could sleep in and have brunch at home before heading outdoors. It's relatively close to town (about 13km north of Jurien Bay) so every morning I could still grab my barista-made coffee in less time than it would have taken me to boil my own billy tea. And it's right by the beach so I could have the kids in the water and out of my hair most of the time.
So where's this near-perfect campsite? If you drive north on Wanneroo Road/Indian Ocean Drive, you'd eventually get there (after approx. 3.5 hours of leisurely drive). About 10km north of Jurien Bay, look out for a left turn that is signposted as "Sandy Cape." The access is a gravel road good enough for 2-wheel drive cars and even caravans.
As with any not-bookable sites, it's a bit of a dread that you'd find the place totally full during school holidays, but we were lucky enough to occupy one corner of the designated shared "Tentland." We conscientiously filled the self-service payment envelope with the required $15,- (for 2A 2C), set up our tent, and started doing what we came to do: threw some sunscreen on the kids and threw them into the calm water of the bay while I lazed around doing nothing.
When we were bored of doing nothing, a short walk southwest-ward along the beach (that's left if you come from the campsite) brought us to a boardwalk on the sand dunes with an excellent view of the bay. Sitting there looking towards the bay, it's been proven to me again that naming the coastal area "Turquoise Coast" is really not a misnomer.
After a while we felt it was time to go back. Not because the view is not beautiful, but exactly the opposite. It's like having a magnificent view overload, cause no matter which way I looked, I'd either see this blue-green water, the bluest of blue sky, or sparkling white sand dunes. And it made me feel a bit high and unreal.
But turning our back to the place that once doesn't mean we're not coming back, because we will. Despite the waterless toilets and the uncomfortable beds and the mountains of packing and unpacking that are guaranteed with every trip, we will come back. After all, I haven't had many bedrooms where I could hear the waves gently lapping the shore, nor many kitchens where I could enjoy the sunset while waiting for dinner to cook.
I remember going here as a child. Fantastic spot. Thanks for the trip down memory lane :)
By Jon Jones - general editor Thursday, 20th of October @ 03:32 am
You're most welcome :) In light of current trend of urbanisation, I'm glad that this spot has been left rugged.
By Judith W - senior reviewer Friday, 21st of October @ 11:11 am
By Anonymous Friday, 2nd of December @ 12:46 am
Sandy Cape sounds great to camp there. . .my partner and I want to go there next Wednesday to Saturday! The camp site are they Sandy or gravel? Is there shade around?
By Anonymous Tuesday, 17th of January @ 02:30 am
Hi Bridie, the camp sites are mostly sandy and some sites have trees as shades but others only have bushes, so less shady. Have good trip and hope you enjoy it as much as we did :)
By Judith W - senior reviewer Tuesday, 17th of January @ 03:11 am
been there since i was 3. great spot to camp :)
By Anonymous Monday, 19th of March @ 02:02 am
Great review, thanks. We are headed there in the school holidays in a couple of weeks, hopefully. Can you tell me, when didi you go there? Do you think it would be nice in late April? Any idea how busy it will be then??
By Anonymous Wednesday, 4th of April @ 06:43 am
Hi Mike, thank you for your comment and questions. I went Sep 2011 and again Jan 2012. I think it should be fine in late April in terms of camping (there are bushes around the sites, so it shouldn't get too windy). However the water might be a bit cold so I'd bring some bodysuit/ long sleeve rashers if possible for swimming. Hope you enjoy the place as I did.
By Judith W - senior reviewer Wednesday, 11th of April @ 01:15 pm
Yay it was nice to see u enjoyed it me and my husband have been going there since 2008 such a nice spot just to relax and unwind the each is beautiful most Of the time and there is always people there to talk to and they are friendly people which is excellent, and very family friendly we have recommended this spot to a few of our friends in the past
By emmal - reader Sunday, 22nd of April @ 09:31 pm
Hey Judith, this place looks absolutely fab! Can I ask you, how long did you go there for? You say it's non-bookable does that mean you just get there and camp up, maybe this question is really dumb, but we've moved from UK about a year ago & love camping here, been camping 3 times already but to the B4 sites.
By asha. - reader Tuesday, 23rd of October @ 02:48 am
Also are dogs allowed on this campsite?
By asha. - reader Tuesday, 23rd of October @ 02:51 am
Each time I was only there for a weekend. But you're right about the meaning of non-bookable, you basically arrive, find an empty camping spot, and set-up your camp. So it's on a first come first serve basis. You put your payment (depending on number of ppl in your group & number of nights you plan to stay) in an envelope that's available at the entrance to the campsite & tear the receipt off the envelope to show the caretaker if they happen to check. The caretaker has been known to ask campers who have overstayed to move along.
I believe dogs are allowed, but must be on leash at least in some areas.
By Judith W - senior reviewer Tuesday, 23rd of October @ 12:30 pm
Photos look gawjus!!!
I was just wonder if the camp site gets very busy after x-mas? We are wanting to go 27th to 30th? Also does the camp site have showers/toilets or not.
By Anonymous Monday, 5th of November @ 06:48 am
Hi, I have never been there over the Christmas-New Year period, but having said that, I imagine it would be busy at that time of year no matter where we go for holiday. The campsite has a waterless toilet (long-drop toilet) but no shower. Hope that helps and hope you get a camp space on your trip.
By Judith W - senior reviewer Monday, 5th of November @ 11:40 am
its a great place to stay...awesome site..
By Anonymous Friday, 28th of December @ 10:48 am
hi,how about turning up at this campsite on the 30th march for easter.do you think there will be many spots to camp??
By Anonymous Tuesday, 29th of January @ 10:52 pm
Hi, I don't think there would be many empty spots on that weekend. I suspect many ppl would have arrived earlier on Friday or even Thursday evening because of Good Friday public holiday.
By Judith W - senior reviewer Wednesday, 30th of January @ 02:54 am
What about water ... Are there taps for drinking water? Or do we need to bring water for drinking/cooking/washing etc? Thank much appreciated.
By Anonymous Sunday, 3rd of February @ 03:40 pm
Yes, you'd need to bring your own water for everything: drinking, cooking, brushing your teeth, etc (except for swimming in the sea lol). If you run out, Jurien Bay is not that far away, so can always go buy some more.
By Judith W - senior reviewer Monday, 4th of February @ 01:56 pm
Hi Judith, we are heading there at Easter & are taking all our drinking water etc. I've heard that there is facilities for non drinking water that can be used for shower. Do you know if this is correct. Thanks kerrie
By Anonymous Saturday, 16th of February @ 01:18 am
Hi Kerrie, I'm afraid I'm not aware of any source of non-drinking water. As I brought my own water everytime I visited, I never looked for it, so perhaps it's there & I don't know it. If you find one, do leave a comment back here as that would definitely be helpful for others. Thanks.
By Judith W - senior reviewer Sunday, 17th of February @ 03:23 am
Does anyone know if you can have a camp fire?
By Anonymous Thursday, 21st of March @ 03:11 am
Hi, according to the Sandy Cape Code of Conduct pamphlet issued by the Shire of Dandaragan, campfires is permitted in the fire rings from Apr to Oct in designated areas only. Collecting wood from within the reserve is not permitted, so you need to bring your own firewood. However they might override this due to weather condition or fire risk. Hope this helps.