With the weather warming up, it’s time to finalise planning for your summer holiday.

If you’d prefer to be able to find some relief from sizzling in the sun, then you’ll probably be thinking about a beach break — and it’s the best time to enjoy the refreshing cool of our southern coastal shores.

While popular caravan parks already will be booked, there are plenty of national parks operating on a first-come basis, so if you arrive early or leave your break until mid-January you can enjoy some prime beach-side real estate and stunning views.

Your best bet is to pick several destinations and then call the local rangers just before you depart and find which ones are likely to have sites available. And yes, those closest to Perth will be busier. All contact and park details are available at parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au.

From the South West to the eastern edge of the State there are camp sites and 4WD tracks aplenty to explore. Pemberton is a good kick-off point into the D’Entrecasteaux National Park where you move from tall timber to soft sand and beach play within a couple of hours.

Camp at Crystal Springs on the western edge or Leaning Marri, which has a soft sandy track over the drifting inland dunes to Yeagarup Beach.

Head east of Albany to Waychinicup National Park for a taste of typical southern shore scenery with rocky limestone crags dropping into bright blue waters. There are limited camping sites near the tannin-stained waters of the Waychinicup Inlet, which is embraced by steep sides exploding with intriguingly shaped granite outcrops.

Between Albany and Esperance drop down to the coast to explore the Fitzgerald National Park surrounding the inlets of the Gairdner, Fitzgerald and Hamersley rivers.

Between Bremer Bay and Hopetoun, the park is one of the most diverse botanical regions in the world. It is a fragile ecosystem and park users are asked to tread especially lightly as they explore the tracks down to St Mary and Hamersley inlets.

Or, try Stokes National Park halfway between Ravensthorpe and Esperance. There are four camp sites, ranging from those suitable for a camper trailer at Benwenerup and Fanny Cove through to Shoal Cape with just three peaceful tent sites and accessible only by 4WD.

Esperance provides a great place to refuel and stock up before heading further east to Cape Le Grand — essentially a two-wheel- drive location but with some stunning beaches such as Lucky Bay and you can drive from Wylie Bay, near Esperance, for 22km along the usually firm beach to Le Grand.

Cape Arid strikes a nice balance between ease of access and remote location. More beautiful beaches with excellent fishing, plus some good 4WD tracks to explore.

For those towing, there are two camp sites at the mouth of the Thomas River (one council-run) that are easy to access.

Try Jorndee Creek, close to a protected beach, or head to quiet Seal Creek for a basic bush camp site in splendid isolation.


© The West Australian

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