Cape Arid National Park is in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia.
The eastern most national park in the state. It is very remote and facilities are limited.
The first European to discover the area was the French Admiral Bruni D'Entrecasteaux in 1792 and he named it Cap Aride; Matthew Flinders anglicized the name in 1802 and the park took its name from this feature.
Pioneer graziers arrived in the area in the 1870s and the ruins of homesteads, dams and buildings as well as gravesites can be found near Pine Hill and Thomas Fishery.
Bay whaling was conducted by Thomas Sherratt at Barrier Anchorage in the 1870s. John Thomas also seems to have had a bay whaling operation in the 1860s at Thomas's Fishery.
Endless white sand beaches and granite strewn desert.
The area is composed of sandy beaches and rocky headlands to the south with low granite hills extending to the north to join the jagged Russell Range that is primarily composed of pre-cambrian quartzite. The highest point of the park is Tower Peak, located within the Range, which reaches a height of 594 metres (1,949 ft). The eastern boundary of the park joins the western side of Nuytsland Nature Reserve. Sand-plains that are rich in flora surround the hill areas.
Flora and fauna
Some birds found in the park include the western ground parrot, the Australasian bittern, Carnaby's cockatoo and Cape Barren geese. Other fauna that can be found in Cape Arid National Park include the western brush wallaby, quenda, the southern bush rat, many small marsupial predators and a variety of reptiles and amphibians.
Vegetation found within the park is mostly on young dune systems that have large communities of coastal heath with smaller systems of yate, banksia, paperbark and mallee. Species of orchid and ferns exist near Mount Ragged including a small population of the sticky-tail flower/
Temperatures in the summer months are mild, rarely cracking 25⁰ C during the day and dropping to 15-17⁰ C at night, however, on the contrary, winter months sees the daytime temperatures drop to around 18⁰ C and can go to the negatives at night. Rain and the Antarctic winds are at their most persistent at this time of the year and a good blast off the glaciers can quickly drop temperatures by several degrees.
The only proper way to get in the park is by car. Of course, you could take a private boat and come to Cape Arid National Park although this is largely inconvenient, as there's no proper good place to land apart from the beaches.
However, the main route to get here is from Esperance via a 156km journey east via Fisheries Road. The road is fully paved and has a 110km/h speed limit, although the road significantly narrows in the eastern end near the park.
Fees and permits
The fees of this park is $15 per vehicle up to 12 passengers. Any more than 12 passengers then it's $7 per occupant 6 years or older. $8 fees per motorbikes. A full list can be found here. The fees are collected at both entrance gate. The ticket booths are generally staffed between 8AM and 4PM, but may close early or not be staffed at all during quiet periods.
There are also camping fees, which can be found here.
Main areas are connected by paved roads but some of the best scenery is reached with a 4WD via some unpaved roads.
- Crumbling colonial homesteads.
- Wild coastal scenery.
The closest commercial activity is to the west in Esperance so your meal is limited to whatever you chose to bring with you.
There are a few prescribed campsites with limited facilities.
- 1 Thomas River Campground.
- 2 Thomas Fishery. Has fishing sites nearby and it's a nice place to go swimming or snorkelling in the ocean. $0.
Take lots of water.