Explore Western Australia’s wildflower season on a road trip up to Coalseam Conservation Park, an iconic Australian landscape you can camp in!
Did you know that from June to November every year, most of Western Australia’s landscape transforms into explosions of colour thanks to spectacular wildflower displays? From sunburnt lands to forested landscapes and rivers, areas of the state suddenly bloom after the winter rains finish with a burst of brilliant colours, scents and photographic opportunities.
According to local news publisher WA Today, this year was one of WA’s best wildflower seasons ever, with tourists flocking to country areas to see flowers carpeting the state in colours so vivid, that they can apparently be seen from space. Really, from space.
There are over 12,000 plant species when can be viewed in carpets of colour right here in WA, and only about 60% of these plant species are found nowhere else in the world but right here. That makes Western Australia pretty special, and all the more reason to grab your friends, your camera, get the four-wheel drive ready and hit the red dirt highways for a road trip and camping adventure!
To enjoy the Wildflower season this year, I went on a rural, rustic road trip through Wildflower Country, camping at Coalseam Conservation Park (about 100km inland from Geraldton) back in October. It was a four hour, 30 minute drive through the golden outback and along the way, we took in staggering sights of vibrant, glorious carpets of colour and blooms across the arid landscape.
If you’re not already familiar with Coalseam, its best known for its annual display of wildflowers, which come in a wide range of annuals and perennials due to the park’s diverse habitat range and location between sandplain and arid country.
It’s also rich in history and geology, and is the site of the very first mined coal deposit in Western Australia. Due to its rugged topography, Coalseam Conservation Park has remained uncleared and is now a pocket of wilderness in the surrounding open farmland with camping facilities for visitors.
Camping at Coalseam is magical and very romantic under the stars. The remote acacia scrub land is full of vibrant flowers after the winter rain falls, and while the Irwin River may be dried up in Spring – the weather is perfect for exploring the area’s marine fossils (which are embedded into the Irwin River banks) without overheating.
As you all know, I love Western Australia (well I am, ‘Perth Girl’ after all) and enjoy sharing my adventures with you all, so hopefully this perhaps too-long article is informative and inspiring enough to get you out camping at Coalseam Conservation Park soon too.
??? Road Trip Through “Wildflower Country” ???
Due to Wildflower Season’s enormous popularity, country roads in Western Australia have more signs at various sites now (that span along the 390km Wildflower Way Trail from Dalwallinu to Geraldton) detailing where scenic wildflower trails are.
The Wildflower Way passes through five small Western Australian towns – Dalwallinu, Perenjori, Morawa and Mulleawa which all have the charm of small rural communities, while the fifth, Geraldton, is a bustling regional city. Each town has its own attractions – as well as the self drive trails where visitors can enjoy the essence of Wildflower Country.
You’ll see flowers of all varieties in abundance, and wattle shrubs shade everlastings that include the brilliant pink Schoenia. Look out for the wreath flower (Lechenaultia Macrantha) as you travel through Mullewa, Mingenew, Three Springs and Carnamah on your way up north.
Along the way you’ll also find a rich diversity of migratory bird life as well as enchanting masses of native foxglove and sprawling carpets of everlastings.
?? Arriving at our destination: Coalseam Conservation Park ??
Coalseam Conservation Park is a 4 hour and 30 minute drive from Perth City, located 115 kilometres inland from Geraldton, and sitting between the towns of Mingenew and Mullewa (approx 30 kilometres north-east of Mingenew and 60 kilometres south of Mullewa). It’s in the heart of Wildflower Country.
Lying between the northern sand plain to the west, there is a remarkable variety of woody heath plants flower that flower during wildflower season on the arid landscape of Murchison river after winter rains. It is here where you get to see an iconic Australian landscape get carpeted in pink, white and yellow blooms.
Aptly named ‘Coal Seam’ this well known geological site is where the first coal deposits in Western Australia were discovered by the Gregory Brothers in 1846. You will be able to see the exposed bands of coal seams can still be seen, along with the siltstones, claystones and sandstones that stripe the cliff faces and reveal 250 million years of geological history.
Wildflowers of all varieties are in abundance with carpets of pink, gold, cream and white everlastings transforming the usually sparse understorey of wattle scrub during the wildflower season.
There are no entry fees for the park; however, camping fees apply to assist with management of the park and to help improve visitor facilities.
?? Finding a Camping Spot at Coalseam Conservation Park ??
One of the most botanically diverse regions in this part of Australia, the real attraction to Coalseam Conservation Park is getting to camp in it, and experiencing its iconic landscape transforming into colour during Wildflower Season. Camping is only permitted for a maximum of three consecutive nights during the peak season (August to October) allowing everyone the opportunity to enjoy the park’s wildflowers. There are only two camp sites at Coalseam:
Breakaway Camping Area – This is a basic bush camp with no facilities, however there are facilities about 1km east at ‘River Bend’ where there are toilets, barbecues and picnic tables. The views from this campground over the valley are spectacular and remind you how remote the region really is. This is where we stayed – and I’m actually glad we did. All other sites are open for day use only.
Camping for both caravans and tents is permitted at Miners with overflow camping at Breakaway. Be prepared for crowded conditions during weekends in the wildflower season, and the limit of a three night stay between late July and October. Campground hosts are on site during peak periods. Camping fees do apply.
The park has year-round access for all vehicles via well-formed gravel roads. However, during periods of heavy rain in winter, the Irwin River may flood and be impassable for a short period of time until the water level drops. Please take notice of water depths before crossing and drive within your capability.
Due to steep slopes and narrow roads, caravans are not recommended at Irwin Lookout or the Fossil site and they advise you to leave your caravan at Miners or Breakaway campsites.
?? Waking up to a beautiful sunrise at Coalseam Park ??
After you have made yourself a coffee, check out the morning views from a higher vantage point. It’s beautiful and makes it all the more worthwhile of why you are there. The views are spectacular.
Besides bushwalking trails, another thing you could do is to try and locate the beautifully preserved marine fossils that are embedded in the banks of the Irwin River, which can be best seen in the cliff face upstream of the Riverbend Day Use Area. These marine creatures provide evidence of an earlier time in the history of Coalseam Conservation Park, when it was covered by a Permian sea. If you find these fossils, please leave them where you find them for others to enjoy.
Also, it’s important to know there are two old coal mineshafts can still be found on the Irwin River. Obey signs warning not to approach them too closely.
And once you are all done, enjoy the picturesque rural drive back to Perth along the Great Northern Highway!
For a great list on where else you can go on tours and self drives in WA to see wildflowers, visit the Tourism Western Australia website.
- Download the Coalseam Brochure
- Visit Parks and Wildlife website.
- Visit WesternAustralia.com website.
- Visit AustraliasCoralCoast.com website.
- Shire of Mingenew Town website.
- Visit Australia’s Golden Outback for Wildfower Trails Info
- Download the Coalseam Conservation Park Visitor Guide
Have any of you been to Coalseam Conservation Park before? Or Wildflower Country? I would love to hear your stories and experiences of the region. Comment below! Thanks for reading.