Yanchep National Park to trial camping

Yanchep National Park’s Julia
Coggins and Environment Minister Albert Jacob at the future campsite.
Yanchep National Park’s Julia Coggins and Environment Minister Albert Jacob at the future campsite.

YANCHEP National Park is preparing a pitch for campers, with a trial to start on Henry White Oval in July.

Visitors will be able to stay at 20 campsites – 10 on bitumen for campervans or caravans and 10 on the oval for tents – for up to seven days.

A one-way boom gate was recently installed near the oval in the Department of Parks and Wildlife-managed park in preparation for the launch of stage one camping.

The department’s Swan Coastal district manager Craig Olejnik said they would create campsites around the oval and in the existing parking area, and revegetate the centre of the oval with tuarts, peppermint and banksia trees.

“We’ve upgraded the toilet block so we have got hot water showers and flushing toilets,” he said.

There are picnic shelters at the oval and Mr Olejnik said if the trial was a success, they would look at adding camp kitchens, barbecues and extra toilet facilities.

A 2012 plan recommended camping facilities and park manager Julia Coggins said the project to transform Henry White Oval had started about 18 months ago.

“It was an under-utilised stage; historically it was a football oval,” she said.

Ms Coggins said to conserve water, the oval had not been irrigated in recent years and dried out every summer.

Senior ranger Mark Varley said the oval site was also suitable from a traffic management perspective because it was relatively isolated.

“We can close this area down, so it’s safer for campers,” he said.

They said people regularly inquired about camping at the park, or dropped in as they travelled by on Indian Ocean Drive, so they expected the facilities to be well received by visitors as well as locals. Visitors will be able to book campsites online and receive a code for the campsite entry gate when they arrive.

The exit boom has a sensor and is solar-powered so it allows vehicles to leave the area but not enter.

Ahead of the public announcement today, Environment Minister Albert Jacob told the Weekender more than 320,000 people visited the national park each year, making it the most popular national park in the greater Perth region. Mr Jacob said the year-long trial would help determine the demand and the type of camping facilities that campers expect in the park.

“There is already one small walk-in campsite in the north-western section of the park,” he said.

“That option will be expanded to accommodate caravans, campervans, camper trailers and tents on Henry White Oval for up to seven days.

“We could have up to 40 individual bays here in the future.”

Mr Jacob said the trial was part of the Parks for People initiative to increase the number of affordable camping options within WA.

Having grown up in rural Wanneroo, he said children these days experienced that environment less so he hoped the facilities would give them an opportunity to try camping close to home.

“Ninety per cent of kids grow up in an urban environment here,” he said.

He said the Great Aussie Camp Outs held at Yanchep in 2014 and 2015 as part of Outdoors October were both successful.

In 2014, 16 families attended the campout, including 27 adults and 35 children, while in 2015, 11 families participated – 21 adults and 25 children.

“I expect that the camping trial will be equally popular,” the minister said.

“There is plenty to do at Yanchep with its historic buildings, limestone caves, coastal woodland and a 240m boardwalk in a koala enclosure, as well as activities to suit campers of all ages such as wildlife viewing, bushwalking, cycling, cave tours, Aboriginal tours or just relaxing in the picturesque surrounds.”

As reported in the Weekender last October, there had been no camping at the national park while the former Club Capricorn resort offered camping facilities.

However, when the resort closed last June, Parks and Wildlife confirmed it was considering reintroducing camping options.