Francois Peron National Park is certainly one of the best places to visit in Western Australia. This destination is well-known for its colorful and diverse landscape. If you wish to see the striking red cliffs contrasting with sand and turquoise water, you need to get yourself a 4WD vehicle. Don’t worry! You don’t have to buy one. A 4WD car was not in my possession either, but I managed to explore the park anyway. In this blog post, I’m going to share with you some tips that will help you prepare for your visit in Francois Peron National Park.
HOW FAR IS FRANCOIS PERON FROM PERTH?
Francois Peron National Park is located within the boundary of Shark Bay in Western Australia, around 800 km of Perth. The place remains wild and pristine, so don’t expect to get there any reception or Internet. Nevertheless, Denham, the city located close to the national park has it all. Grocery shops, petrol stations, heaps of different accommodation options. It’s all there. What’s interesting, Francois Peron National Park lies not too far from Steep Point, the most westerly point of mainland Australia (access only for 4WD cars).
WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT?
This region of Western Australia has semi-arid climate with hot and dry summer, and slightly milder winter. Generally speaking, July is the coldest month of the year, with temperatures averaging between 20 – 25ºC during the day. Whereas, February is the warmest month of the year with temperatures averaging between 30 – 35ºC during the day. In addition, tropical cyclones occur here occasionally between November and April. To sum up, the best time to visit Francois Peron National Park is from April to October.
IS THERE AN ENTRY FEE?
Park visitor fees apply in Francois Peron National Park. A day entry fee is AUD 15 for a vehicle and needs to be paid at the entrance station. If you want to avoid paying entry fees for accessing national parks in Western Australia, a purchase of periodic pass is a smart choice. It will help you save some money if there are other national parks on your itinerary. Make sure to print the pass and keep it displayed on your dashboard at all times. Separate fees apply for camping in national parks regardless of having this pass.
WHERE TO SEEK INFORMATION?
There is no Visitor Centre within Francois Peron National Park. If you seek some advice you can drop by Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery & Visitor Centre in Denham. They are open from Monday to Friday between 9:00 am and 4:30 pm, and from Saturday to Sunday between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. You can get here a national park map and ask some questions, if any. Keep in mind that Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery & Visitor Centre is operating reduced opening hours in low season, from November to March.
WHERE TO STAY OVERNIGHT?
Francois Peron National Park has a decent number of campsites with very basic facilities such as toilets and picnic tables. You can stay overnight at Bottle Bay, Gregories, South Gregories, Herald Bright or Big Lagoon. The camping fee is AUD 11 per night for an adult and online booking is required. There are also three other campsites outside the national park. Find out more about them in a separate post about Shark Bay in Western Australia. Standard accommodation can be easily found in Denham and Monkey Mia.
WHAT ARE THE BEST THINGS TO DO?
A high-clearance 4WD vehicle is a must to fully enjoy Francois Peron National Park. You can’t go further than to the Peron Heritage Predict with a 2WD car. This is exactly where the single-lane soft sand track begins. There is also a tyre pressure station where you have to get your tyre pressure down. This is a mandatory step to avoid getting bogged or damaging the tracks. For most cars it’s recommended to reduce the tyre pressure to 16 – 20 psi. Similarly, make sure to inflate your tyres before exiting the national park.
What if you don’t have a 4WD vehicle? No worries at all. You can rent such a car solely for this occasion. There are some places in Denham offering a 4WD hire for one day. What if you are not experienced in 4WD? Roads in Francois Peron National Park are considered rather easy, but if you don’t want to take this challenge or if you feel insecure, don’t do it. If you get bogged, you will need assistance to get out. If you are lucky, someone will help you out. Otherwise, you will have to call for off-road recovery which costs a lot!
This was my first 4WD experience, and I did it solo! The truth is that not everything went to the plan. I didn’t have to wait too long to get bogged. Even though it was a bit stressful, I’d definitely do it again. Shark Bay Seafront Apartments is the best place to hire a 4WD vehicle in Denham. The owner turned out to be the nicest man on Earth. He gave me some tips how to drive such a car and explained in details how to deflate and inflate the tyres. I truly recommend this place for a 4WD hire. Total cost AUD 195 per day plus fuel.
Cape Peron is the most northern tip of the national park. If you are hiring a 4WD car for one day only, I would recommend going there in the first place. Once you arrive, take a deep breath and soak up the striking colours of Francois Peron National Park. You can also take the Wanamalu Trail that goes to Skipjack Point. This is a 3 km return walk, offering excellent views of the coastline. Allow at least 2 hours to accomplish. From there you can see a colony of cormorants crowding on the beach, at the water’s edge.
Skipjack Point is a viewpoint with a long promenade elevated on the cliff edge. It’s an excellent spot to enjoy the abundance of Francois Peron National Park marine life. Those who are lucky enough may see here dolphins, dugongs, turtles, manta rays, and even sharks swimming near the shore. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars! They will be very handy. You can get to Skipjack Point by car or on foot from Cape Peron. Just take the Wanamalu Trail which is a pleasurable 3 km return walk. Amazing coastal views guaranteed!
Big Lagoon is another place worth a visit in Francois Peron National Park. My advice would be to go there after visiting the most famous viewpoints, Cape Peron and Skipjack Point. It’s hard to say how much time do you really need to get to those two places. For instance, you may get bogged or someone else may get bogged and you will be stuck there until they get their car recovered or at least make some space for you to pass by. You never know what can happen. It would be a shame to miss the most famous viewpoints, right?
- Peron Heritage Precinct
- Kraskoe’s Tank
I hope that this blog post will help you prepare for your visit in Francois Peron National Park. Do you have a 4WD vehicle or will you hire one in Denham? Let me know by leaving a comment below!