Thomas River

Where a river meets the sea

  • 4. WEEK +

Approximately 120km east of Esperance you will find the very picturesque location known as Thomas River.  Being so far east you will find the crowds are a little thinner and you have more space to enjoy the stunning landscape.  It is the perfect beach fishing location and also offers some great 4WD tracks and walk trails.  This is one place you don’t want to forget to bring your camera.  Thomas River is located within a national park and park entry fees apply and there are two camp grounds (one is owned and operated by DBCA and the other is an Esperance Shire asset which is managed also by DBCA).

Accessing Thomas River is via either Merrivale or Fisheries Road.

Regardless of the type of adventure you are embarking on, keeping the basics in your vehicle means that you should be bale to deal with most situation that may arise.

When you get onto the gravel, engage 4WD (high range) and only disengage 4WD when you get back to the bitumen.  Doing so reduces the damage caused by driving in two-wheel drive and ensures that the track needs less maintenance to keep it open.

Recovery Tracks

Great for getting yourself out of a sandy situation. With plenty of beach driving, you may need to get these out.

Foldable Camp Shovel

You never know when you are going to have to dig yourself out of trouble or when there is a call of nature that requires a hole.

Recovery gear

You don’t always need this equipment BUT when you do, you do.  Best to ensure that it is always in your vehicle.

Tyre Deflator

Much better than a stick and a lot more accurate. If there is any extended sections of track that are sandy or have become wet or muddy, then you may need to drop some tyre pressure to ensure that you keep a good grip on the track.

Air compressor

If you need to let your tyres down for any reason then you will also need to pump them back up again.

Second spare

Being remote it is worth carrying a second spare for both your vehicle and what ever you are towing.


We might sound like a stuck record but we think having a  UHF radio installed in your vehicle is a must-have accessory.  It makes communicating with others in your group much easier than trying to master the art of smoke signals when the mobile network is not available.

Heading east of Esperance, the country starts to get very remote very quickly. Make sure you let someone know where you are going and when you intend to be home.  Mobile phone coverage should not be relied upon.  This could impact how well Google Maps (or equivalent works) and you should either invest in a good quality GPS unit or ensure you have a map of the area.


First aid kit

Something to deal with minor cuts and scrapes as well as compression bandages to treat snake bite.

Make sure you have some sunscreen and insect repellant with you.


This is a remote location with no potable water available.  Ensure you have enough for everyone in your group for your entire stay, allowing for any unexpected delays.

It is recommended that you allow a minimum of 10 litres of drinking water per person, per day.


We use and recommend HEMA’s HX2 GPS navigator.  The unit does not require mobile phone signal to operate, shows you exactly where you are and what is around you (including points of interest and facilities).  The HX2 also gives you turn by turn navigation when back on the bitumen if you need it.

Your other option is to grab a copy of one of HEMA’s maps or 4WD atlas relevant to your area of travel.

If you have a smart phone or an iPad (preferably one that can take a mobile SIM card – you don’t need a SIM installed) you can look at HEMA’s CamperX or 4×4 Explorer.

Don't forget the toilet paper

Keep a roll in the car, along with hand sanitiser and maybe some wipes.  Make sure you have a rubbish bag handy and bring all of your rubbish home.

Both campsites have toilets.


You need to be completely self sufficient when coming out here, ensuring that you have all of the food, fuel and other items that you will need for your stay.




When you stop and sit for a little while you will be amazed at the amount of wildlife that you will spot.

Capture the moment

Take a camera and try your hand at some scenic shots or even some macro.  It’s also a great spot to get some nice portrait shots of friends and family or even a candid shot of the natural surroundings.


The south coast beaches are well known for great beach fishing and are very popular with anglers chasing Salmon, skippy, herring and salmon trout.

Rock fishing is also quite popular.  Be aware of the inherent dangers of fishing from rocks and ensure that you are wearing an appropriate personal flotation device (PFD) and if available, tethered to an anchor point.


There are a variety of walk trails in the region including the Len Otte trail.  This is a one hour walk and starts on the east side of the road as you drive into Thomas River.

With any coastal walks, take care when walking across rocks close to the water and be aware that larger waves can and have swept people into the ocean.

Bird's Eye View

The white sandy beaches along the south coast are world renowned for the spectacular images that can be captured. Taken in the right conditions, getting the contrasting clear blue waters rolling over the brilliant white sand will produce images that all of your friends will envy.

Getting out in your 4WD

A crossing has been constructed to get you across the Thomas River and onto the beach. You can drive 29km along the beach and associated tracks east to Cape Arid.  Be aware of the tides as this trip becomes impassable during high tide.

You can also drive along the Poison Creek road and do a loop back to Israelite Bay.

Big Tagon Beach is also very popular and is located to the west of the campground.  It offers some great fishing as well as places to snorkel.

Little Wagon is worth a look.

If you are looking to make an extended trip along the south coast, then any stay at Thomas River can be combined with other locations east or west (depending on which way you are heading)

More information

Campsite bookings are essential with fees starting at $3 per child per night (over 5 and under 16), $7 concession and $11 per adult.  This is on top of your national park entry fee.

You can book your site here.

More information on Steep Point can be found here.

You can get a National Parks Pass from here.

Something to read

If you are looking for more information regarding 4WD locations along the south coast then you might be wise to grab yourself a copy of 4WD Days on the South Coast.  This guide covers over 2000km of coastline and has detailed information on 18 destinations.