Cape Arid National Park is a wildly beautiful and biodiverse area. Coastal sandheaths, mallee and low granite hills extend inland to Mount Ragged after which the vegetation is transformed into woodlands dominated by saltbush and bluebush. The jagged Russell Range, which rises to its highest point at Tower Peak (almost 600 metres), comprises ancient uplifted quartzite that has the same origins as the Barrens Range in Fitzgerald River National Park.
This near-pristine wilderness is an important conservation area for 1100 species of plants and more than 160 bird species, several of which are threatened or endangered. Migrating whales pass by close to the headlands in late winter and spring.
Together with Nuytsland Nature Reserve and Eucla National Park to the east, Cape Arid National Park forms an almost continuous nature conservation area to the South Australian border.
The best way to experience the park’s diverse wildlife and magnificent scenery is on a walk – near the coast on the Tagon Coastal Trail and Len Otte Nature Trail or inland on the Mt Ragged Walk Trail. You can also watch for whales from the lookout at Dolphin Cove on the Tagon Coastal Trail.
The park earns its name from French Admiral D’Entrecasteaux who named the cape ‘Cap Arride’ in 1792. Captain Matthew Flinders anglicised the name in 1802 and Cape Arid National Park was subsequently named after this dominant headland.
Although remote, the area has a rich history. Cheap land and reports of ‘beautiful grassy plains’ to the east were incentives to many who came. You can see ruins of homesteads, buildings and dams constructed by pioneer graziers in the early 1870s around Thomas Fishery and Pine Hill.
You can camp at Thomas River, Thomas Fishery, Jorndee Creek and Mt Ragged. Fees apply. Campsites are not bookable and operate on a first come first served basis.
The Seal Creek campground, Seal Creek day shelter and commercial fishing camp site were destroyed by bushfire in October 2015 and were closed to allow rehabilitation and rebuilding. These works are expected to continue for 12-24 months. Vehicular and beach camping will be temporarily allowed on Poison Creek beach.
As a result of the fire there are now no campgrounds accessible to two-wheel-drive vehicles in the Poison Creek area. Jorndee Creek and Thomas Fishery campgrounds are open with limited capacity of three campsites each.
Camping is also available at Cape Le Grand and Stokes national parks.
Pine Hill, Mt Ragged and the Thomas Fishery area are remote locations and you must be fully self-sufficient. Take camping gear, ample water and non-perishable food, first aid kit, tool kit, spare tyres and parts, recovery gear, CB radio.