If you’re planning to escape the dreary weather and road trip up WA’s coast, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to experience staying on a working station.
Words and photos by Lauren Witherow & Harry Miller – follow their adventures at barefootbucketlist.com.
These rural homestays have a country charm and hospitality only found in the outback that will leave you with memories that will have you reminiscing for years to come.
Located at the southern entrance of Ningaloo National Park, Gnaraloo Station is home to panoramic views of crystal-clear water, world class waves and rugged cliffs. Only accessible by 4WD, stepping onto this working pastoral station will make you feel miles away from everyday life. After pitching your tent at 3 Mile Camp or getting settled in at The Homestead, it’s time to make the most of this outback oasis and a plethora of activities await you.
Grab your snorkel to explore the pristine Ningaloo Reef to spot rays, turtles and schools of tuna or confident surfers can venture a little further to brave one of WA’s most technical waves, aptly named ‘Tombies’ (Tombstones). If you’re lucky enough to have a boat you can launch your tinny and throw in a line to chase some elusive Mackerel or, if you’re not ready to get your sea legs just yet, watch the surfers and spot whales from the comfort of your camp chair.
If you’re looking for the quintessential Aussie outback coastal experience then you can’t go past family- run Warroora Station, located one hour south of Coral Bay. Spread across 50km of pristine coastline and fringed by the Ningaloo Reef you can take your pick of a variety of accommodation options here, from ocean view villas to nature-based camping.
Choose to spend your days with a good book lazing on the station’s private white sand beaches, venture into the water to surf one of the surrounding breaks or snorkel on Australia’s most accessible coral reef. With 266,000 acres of rangelands, there is no shortage of wildlife to observe on the property from emus, to kangaroos and eagles and after heavy rains, carpets of wildflowers, which can all be taken in on one of the many bush walks on the property.
Bullara Station Stay
From the moment you pass under the arched entry way at Bullara Station, situated at the bottom of Exmouth Gulf, you feel right at home. Owners Edwina and Tim’s touches are felt throughout this expansive working cattle station. From the eclectic artwork adorning the landscape, homemade scones and damper, insta-worthy outdoor wood-fired ‘donkey’ showers and weekly burger nights where everyone is encouraged to pull up a chair.
Choose to stay in the cottages, Shearer’s Lodge or roll out your swag under the stars in The Outcamp and spend your days getting to know the welcoming team and even friendlier farm animals including horses, sheep and a charismatic kangaroo called Maggie. This gateway to the Ningaloo Coast will have you leaving a piece of your heart and at least one of your shoes (you’ll understand when you see it!).
There are few places in the world that can boast self-guided 4WD tours and entry to private gorges. This is what you’ll have access to at Cheela Plains Station located in the Pilbara, the perfect stepping stone and a welcome stop between the Ningaloo Reef and Karijini. Whether you’re pitching your tent or staying in the lodges, all are welcome to join the communal campfire in the evening to share travel stories and gaze at the expanse of stars that surround you.
If you choose to stay a few days, a visit by 4WD to the ancient Beasley River Gorge which threads through the working cattle station, accessible exclusively to station stay guests, is a must do. There are also several designated walks that weave across the property and provide opportunities to watch the cattle in the yards and spot the wildlife of the Pilbara. Back at the homestead keep a look out for Milo, their adorable pet cow and Fatso, the resident sand monitor while you enjoy some homemade cake and a cuppa with the station staff.
Barn Hill Station
Situated on 50kms of WA’s Kimberley coastline is Barn Hill Station Stay. The beachside huts and camping accommodation offered at Barn Hill provide the perfect base to explore this remote beachside paradise.
There’s something for everyone at Barn Hill, from fishing on the white sand beach or launching your boat, swimming and snorkeling in the turquoise waters and exploring ocean side cliffs and caves. Break up your days of adventure with the station’s bustling social calendar which includes lawn bowl competitions, communal BBQs featuring traveling musicians, weekly craft markets and adorable farm animals. Don’t forget to try the pizza cooked every night at Barn Hill’s Pizzeria, best enjoyed watching the Kimberley sun slip below the horizon.
Image Credit: Lauren Witherow & Harry Miller – barefootbucketlist.com.