There's no better way to immerse yourself in the outback than calling it a night in a serene landscape, tent pegged into the earth and sleeping to nature's soundtrack. Australia's Golden Outback has plenty of spots that will delight at little or no cost. Better yet, peaceful campgrounds next to an outback oasis – lakeside – but not as you imagine.
Here we share our favourite lakeside camping spots in WA to pitch a tent.
1. Baandee Lake
2. Eaglestone Rock
3. Lake Ballard
4. Lake Grace
5. Lake Towerrinning
6. Toapin Weir
7. Waddouring Dam
8. Lake Yealering
9. Yenyening Lakes
Turn your time in the outback into a thrilling aquatic adventure. Located along the Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail, Baandee Lake campground sits along the banks of its namesake and attracts boaters and water skiers. The free campground 12km east of Doodlakine has a boat ramp, toilets, cold showers, and ample shade.
Baandee Lake forms part of an extensive water system, with nearby Baandee Lakes Lookout providing a bird's eye view. Depending on what time of year you visit, the lake may be full or nothing more than salt plains – make sure to check before planning a day out on water.
Bring your furry sidekick along, as Baandee Lake campground is dog-friendly.
Location: Baandee Lake Campground, Ski Lake Road, South Doodlakine
Experience more than just solace in nature with a stay at Eaglestone Rock. The free campground is surrounded by impressive granite boulders and cave formations along the shores of Lake Brown, just 20km northeast of Nungarin. It features toilets, picnic tables, shaded areas and permits fires.
Turn your stay at Eaglestone Rock into a test of endurance. The area is a popular organised rock-climbing spot with wedgetail eagles frequently spotted overhead. Want to stay grounded? Strap on the hiking boots and head to Danberrin Rock Reserve (35km south) to complete a 300m summit and be rewarded 360-degree views of the region.
For something that requires less exertion, embark on a 1.9km loop of Eaglestone Rock and Lake Brown, taking in the stunning scenes of the lake's surface reflecting as a mirror to the sky.
Eaglestone Rock campground is only suited to caravans, RVs and camper trailers; no camping in tents. Dogs are not permitted at Eaglestone Rock.
Location: Eaglestone Rock, Lake Brown Road, Nungarin
Camping in Lake Ballard is something else. Located in the Goldfields, Lake Ballard is home to the world's largest (and remote) outdoor gallery. British artist Anthony Gormley created 51 steel statues scattered across the 7km2 salt lake, some encircling the lake's mound-like island. Spend the day admiring the silhouettes of these stick-like statues adding life to stark lands. There are no designated walking trails, so marvel at these outback masterpieces from all angles.
Watch the exhibition change – and disappear – with the sun staying overnight at Lake Ballard, 76km northwest of Menzies. The free campground features toilets and picnic tables and is a popular spot for families. Tents, caravans, camper trailers, and pets are permitted at Lake Ballard.
Location: Lake Ballard Campground, Ularring
See a different shade to the Wheatbelt by visiting the southern town Lake Grace, 52km west of Newdegate.
The central hub is one of the region's most striking towns, surrounded by rolling hills and a shallow salt lake that gleams bold pink and green hues. Wildflower season aids its sceneries, making it a drawcard for floral fans.
There are a few options for accommodation in Lake Grace Caravan Park to make the most of Lake Grace's vivid displays. The campground offers powered and unpowered sites and single and two-bedroom self-contained units. Shared facilities include ablution blocks, laundry, and a barbeque. Dogs are welcome.
Location: Lake Grace Caravan Park, 1 Mather Road, Lake Grace
Lake Towerrinning could be the outback's best-kept secret. Located on a family farm in Moodiarrup, the 265-hectare, semi-freshwater lake is encircled by bush and farmlands. It entices visitors to take advantage of its serene location, particularly making a splash with waterskiing, swimming, and kayaking popular activities. The wildlife refuge also attracts avid birdwatchers with roughly 128 local and migratory species spotted and stargazers for its renowned dark skies.
Make a trip to Lake Towerrining your new favourite pastime by camping with comforts at Lakeside Camping. Fringing the shores of Lake Towerrinning, the family-run campground offers 14 powered campsites positioned along a ridge with stunning vistas of the lake and surrounding hills. Each site is equipped with beach access and wood barbeque.
The freshwater camping spot features powered and unpowered sites, ablution with hot showers and disabled facilities and a kiosk. Dogs are permitted if kept on a lead.
There is also public access to the boat ramp, toilets and change rooms, playground, picnic tables and shaded areas surrounding the campground.
Location: Lakeside Camping, 64 Towerrining Road, Moodjarrup
Toapin Weir is in a unique spot – both in history and locale. Western Australia's largest privately constructed reservoir and water scheme is over a century old and is State heritage-listed. The dam's design incorporates nature, built around granite rock outcrops, making it an innovative feat of its time. Today, Toapin Weir's storage capacity is 22.7 million litres, with water pumped to the district of Quairading.
Camping at Toapin Weir is free with toilet and barbeque amenities provided. Activities around Toapin Weir include an easy 1.1km loop via Toapin Rock, just 8km north of Quairading.
Location: Toapin Weir, 7 Toapin Road, Quairading
Wildflower lovers will want to wander Waddouring Dam. The picturesque dam delights visitors with its granite outcrops, native bushland and abundant native flora and fauna, located 14km south of Bencubbin.
Although swimming in the dam is discouraged due to water stagnation, it is a perfect place to paddle; take your pick – go kayaking, SUPing, or canoeing. There are established trails around the dam to go hiking, birdwatching or spot wildflowers in bloom.
The free campground features toilets, a small shade structure, a picnic table and designated fire pits.
Waddouring Dam welcomes caravans, camper trailers, and RVs, with camping in tents permitted. Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a lead.
Location: Waddouring Dam, Bencubbin-Kellerberrin Road, Kellerberrin
Perched on the peaceful, leafy banks of Lake Yealering is Yealering Caravan Park. The small campground in the town centre offers powered sites (some with concrete slabs), an ablution block, and a sheltered area with barbeque and picnic tables. It also provides single and double accommodation units and welcomes dogs.
Give yourself a night off cooking at camp; treat yourself to a hearty meal at the nearby Yealering Hotel and mingle with locals.
Location: Yealering Caravan Park, Sewell Street, Yealering
Go with the flow at Yenyening Lakes. The series of lakes extends from Qualandary Crossing to the Corrigin-Quairading Road, 32km southeast of Beverley. The lakes play a vital role in the Wheatbelt's ecosystem, located at the intersection of saline valleys and the Avon River, with water flowing into the latter.
A much-loved spot for water skiing, the Beverley Ski Club was formed to host competitions and events. Besides skiing, water sports enthusiasts can also participate in canoeing, kayaking, boating, and windsurfing. As the lakes are only sometimes full, check the lake's depth with the Shire of Beverley before packing aquatic gear.
Bring binoculars for birdwatching and spot Yenyening Lakes's other famed residents – black swans, kangaroos, and echidnas.
Location: Yenyening Lakes, McLean Road, Beverley