Promoted as an oasis between the Ningaloo coast at Exmouth and the beautiful Karijini National Park, Cheela Plains is a true outback experience teeming with variety for anyone travelling through this region of the state.
EXPLORING THE GROUNDS
Accommodation options out here include comfortable cabins or powered and unpowered campsites, all set around a lovely green grass central area with shady trees, a great camp kitchen and a rustic communal fire pit and barbeque with tables and chairs.
With internet service available in this central area, as well as a laundry, toilets, hot showers, drinking water (you can fill your RV water tanks here) and space for the kids to play on the grass or, for the not so active campers, opportunity to sit on your camp chair watching the bird life and reading a book — all adding up to a perfect experience.
Another real bonus here is the beaut cafe on site (the Red Plains Cafe) which is open daily from 7:30am–2:30pm, offering delicious snacks (toasted sandwiches, wraps, etc), tea, coffee, juices, soft drinks or a beaut cuppa and cake for morning tea. There is also the option of a light or full cooked country breakfast and a two course dinner in the cafe dining room each evening except Wednesdays, which is burger night ($10 for a delicious hamburger) cooked and served at the communal fire pit/barbeque. Whilst we had not planned it, the timing of our recent visit included a Wednesday where we joined at least 50 other campers (BYO plates and such) enjoying burgers (cooked by our camp hosts), a few drinks, and the friendly company of fellow campers until around 9pm that night — all good fun.
In addition to simply indulging in the relaxed atmosphere around the campground, a splendid option here at Cheela Plains is to head off on a self-drive scenic tour (high vehicle clearance required and 4WD recommended) to the nearby Beasley River Gorge — and what a splendid experience this turned out to be.
Armed with a map, tour notes, walking trails and details of the many quite fascinating geological features (going back over 2700 million years) we were also given a key ($20 bond) for the gorge entry gate. You must advise the camp hosts of your safe return, otherwise someone will come looking for you at the end of the day. Another camping option here at Cheela is to arrange to camp out in the gorge at one of several campgrounds at scenic locations along the way.
OTHER THINGS TO DO
Some of the features we enjoyed during our tour included travelling through some colourful escarpment country of the Hamersley Range, Woongarra Pool (camping allowed here with a rustic camp kitchen, bush shower, and toilet on site), Peaimatha Soak (where we watched corellas coming in for a drink) and then on to picturesque Mussel Pool (camping is also allowed here, as is swimming) and then a walk trail to nearby Perentie Falls. Whilst there was no water flowing over these falls at the time of our visit, the falls are a colourful, dramatic rock face with a permanent pool at its base — well worth checking out, even with no water flowing. A side trip off the main trail leads to another majestic rock feature called ‘The Wall’ — a colourful cliff/amphitheatre and pool which is also a splendid waterfall after rain.
In all, after five hours we travelled just under 100km during the day, including another side track to a large hillside cave only a couple of kilometres from camp with broad views overlooking a large section of the station. It was a most enjoyable day’s outing including a picnic lunch beside a nice waterhole along the way. The camp cafe can also prepare a takeaway lunch for you if you don’t prepare your own.
Back at the campground after our busy day, we once again enjoyed happy hour around the campfire with other visitors and our friendly camp hosts.
En route to Beasley River Gorge
Another novelty aspect of the campground was the occasional sight of Milo the calf wandering through the camps, which quickly reminded us that this is, after all, a cattle station! Telling tales about Milo, our hosts relayed that this very friendly local has a penchant for watermelon and carrots, evidenced by a recent raid from a camp table when no-one was looking!
Yet another optional activity for those with any energy left, is the walk/climb (via Sunset Walking Trail) to two close hills both of which are ideal places to take in a glorious sunset over the station, or even sunrise if you are out of bed early enough. Also worth checking out (no close-up access allowed) are a collection of old, decommissioned iron ore haul pak trucks and other huge machinery from mining operations being carried out on the station.
Our visit to Cheela Plains was a real delight and, while our travel schedule this time didn’t allow more than two days, we would recommend at least three days to anyone coming here to ensure you take in all the best this great outback station stay has to offer.
The Traditional Owners of Cheela Plains are the Yinhawangka People. We acknowledge Elders past, present, and emerging.
- Cheela Plains Station Stay campgrounds are located one kilometre off the all-sealed Nanutarra-Munjina Road approximately 90km west of Paraburdoo. The campgrounds are open from 1 April–31 October each year.
- Bus tour groups are also well catered for, with two-person tents permanently set up during the season adjacent to the main campground.
- Pets are OK but must be kept on a leash — not allowed in cabin accommodation.
- Generators are allowed in the campground — 8am–8pm.
- There is a light aircraft air strip adjacent to the campground.
- There is Telstra coverage in the main campground area.
- Campground camping is suitable for caravans, motorhomes, camper trailers and for tents camping is available on the grass. Bookings are advisable for all camping. Cabin accommodation is also available — bookings are essential.
- There is a public toilet dump point located approximately 2km from the campground.
- Per night camping fees in the Red Plains Campground: $50 powered sites (2 adults) and $30 unpowered (2 adults). Extra adults $15. Children 6–15 years $7.50 each — under 6 years free. Wilderness camp fees $15 per adult per night, children 6-15 years $7.50 each per night and children under 6 years free. For on-site accommodation costs please contact the Station Stay Reception.
- The Beasley River Gorge self-drive 4X4 trail is $15 per adult, but free if staying two or more nights.
- Those opting to camp out in the Wilderness Campsites in the Beasley River Gorge (approximately 30km from the station campground) must be fully self-sufficient with a chemical toilet (available to hire) and take all rubbish. Fire rings are provided at each campsite.
Ph: (08)9189 8251