When the summer switch gets turned on, there’s only one action to take: go camping. Early November served up some excellent weather. We finally had a reason to explore a campground we had heard much about but were yet to visit: Milligan Island.
What I love about this stretch of coast is that once the weather warms up, you can still enjoy the rugged coastline without venturing into too-hot conditions. Enjoy the beautiful beaches along with the warmer weather and none of the overcrowding.
Milligan Island campground is a short drive from Green Head. From Perth, the trip is about 250km with about 2 hour and 45 minute driving time for those who like to take it sensibly on Indian Ocean Drive. The turn off is well-signed and the road into the campsite is a short drive on unsealed road. Access is suitable for 2WDs, unless you want to come in via the beach and unsealed road from Green Head.
We stopped in Jurien Bay at the Family Affair Cafe for our camping trip ritual – hot chips. I highly recommend making the time to stop as the chips were off-the-planet good. All the facilities you need are in Jurien Bay to stock up before making your way to camp. The grounds aren’t completely isolated, but there isn’t much in Green Head if you run out, have forgotten something or simply have a hankering for hot chips.
Campgrounds and facilities
We arrived on a Friday afternoon and there were numerous sites available. Camp sites are available for a maximum 3 day stay and the camp host will visit to collect your fees ($15 a vehicle) daily. During our stay, a few more people arrived on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning but the grounds never filled to capacity and overall it was quiet and peaceful.
The camp grounds and facilities are new, clean and restocked regularly. The toilets are well-maintained and non-stinky. Solar powered sensor lights mean no late night sitting on the loo in pitch black wondering what’s about to crawl up your leg at the most inconvenient time.
There are also shelters provided with tables and chairs for day trips and the shelter at the far end has a recently-installed BBQ.
Bays at the camp are generously sized with flat, crushed limestone for their surface. Our neighbours easily fit two camper trailers and two cars within their area. The hard surface makes the sites well-suited to caravans and camper trailers. Tent campers beware of the hard, rocky surface. We slept in the old Landy for this trip but I’m not sure how uncomfortable tent campers would find the site.
There are three loops with several bays in each and although you can see your neighbours, you’re not on top of each other. Signage informs you of the camp rules and the camp host is on site.
I’m not sure we had the best set up for the environment. The Landy was a welcome reprieve from the wind but we both agreed walls on the gazebo were needed to provide some shelter.
There is minimal shade around most bays, although a couple of sites at the far end have some trees. The wind also howls through there. Without walls for our gazebo, we were a little exposed to the elements. And the flies, of which there were plenty. Some made the trip back to Perth with us.
It’s a cruisy sort of place, without the steady stream of visitors and campers flowing through like Sandy Cape.
We were lucky to be camped by the designated path to the beach, which is a short walk away. There is bay after to bay to explore and fish. Early one morning we watched two dolphins come in close to shore and there are plenty of shallow swimming locations. The reef extends out for a long way and you could easily wade out at knee height.
There is a winding unsealed road which takes you to various bays along the coast, exiting onto the beach where you can drive around to Green Head. There is a surf break off Point Louise, and plenty of fishing, swimming and snorkelling opportunities.
On our second day, we drove around to Sandy Cape and drove the 4WD track around to the old bunkers, stopping along the way for a swim and to admire the views. The track is clear and easy to follow with no chewed up sections. Follow it around the bay and you can make it most of the way to Jurien Bay through a changing landscape of bush and beach scrub.
It left me wondering why people insist on always “going down south” for a weekend. Yes, down south is beautiful but so is the Jurien Bay area. For stunning, easy to access beaches and a laidback vibe, I feel our towns north of Perth come out in front. As an added bonus, they’re closer too.
Milligan Island has its pros and cons. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a great location, with clean facilities and close to the beach. However, we did feel slightly under-prepared for the lack of shade, the strong winds and the flies. Caravanners and camper trailers have the edge here. Next time, we’ll be better prepared for the elements.
For a low-key trip away from the Sandy Cape crowds, Milligan Island is a great location. It’s quiet, the beach is a short walk away and you’re close enough to town for essentials, if needed. If you are looking for a new, weekend trip location to try on the Coral Coast, Milligan Island is definitely one to put on your summer camping list.