Stockyard Gully National Park is home to a fascinating group of limestone caves that lead to an underwater river system.
Stockyard Gully is named after the stockmen who used the deep and cool gullies as a natural holding pen for their cattle, when droving them from Geraldton to Perth in the 1950s. These days, it's home to an oasis of lush vegetation, sandy river bed and cave system. A picnic area sits at the original upstream area, where you can relax and enjoy a picnic beneath the trees, relishing in the peace and tranquility of the surroundings. Toilets are also available.
The National Park is four-wheel drive vehicle access only.
The largest cave is an impressive sight, stretching 300 metres long and covered by a sandy floor. You will need a torch, as the centre is completely dark. Look out for the colonies of bats as you make your way through the caves, and for bee hives which are located near the entrance to the cave. Be mindful not to disturb the animals, or shine your torch at them.
In addition to the bats which live in the cave system, grey kangaroos, Carnarby's cockatoos, fairy (blue) wren and many other birdlife and fauna can be found in the National Park. Tall river gums, giant zamia and manna gum grow along the gully floor, whilst wattles, parrot bush, native wisteria and coastal daisy bush grow on the upper slopes of the gully.
Ensure you bring plenty of water as there is no fresh water available, don't forget your torch, and wear sturdy shoes to explore the cave.
Visiting Stockyard Gully National Park:
Stockyard Gully National Park is 3 hours' drive north-east of Perth, and short drives from Jurien Bay and Coorow. From Jurien East Road, head north on Cockleshell Gully Road and follow the signs to the cave. Nearby Lesueur National Park, which is also accessed from Cockleshell Gully Road, is well worth a visit - particularly during wildflower season.
Like Hill River, camping is not allowed within the National Park however overnight accommodation is available in nearby Jurien Bay or Cervantes. Alternatively, try Milligan Island Eco Campsite if you are a self-sufficient traveller.
The National Park is open daily, however access may be restricted by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation & Attractions if the cave is flooding. Additional caution is recommended in wet weather, when the rocks and walk trails become slippery. If the creek is flowing, make sure to stay clear of the edges as strong water currents and whirlpools may occur.