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Lagoons of Contrasts Yours to Explore Port Smith, Western Australia

By July 20, 2017August 7th, 20222 Comments

The lagoon at Port Smith is the jewel in the crown of this secluded and wonderfully diverse and contrasted segment of the Kimberley.

When the tide comes in the lagoon fills up, bringing with it all manner of marine life and the most eye-catching palette of colour.

With the turn of the tide, the plug is pulled and everything is in a race back to the open ocean before they get caught in a pool of water and a game of survival waiting for the tide to turn again.

And so the cycle goes.


Where Do You Find Port Smith

Port Smith lagoon and Caravan Park is 165km south of Broome and 488km north of Port Hedland,

Sign on the highway to say you’re in the right spot


along the Great Northern Highway or Highway 1 and roughly 25km of these two distances is on a reasonably well-maintained dirt track, into the Caravan Park and lagoon.

The lagoon, sea cliffs and surrounding area of Port Smith belong to the Bidyadanga Aboriginal Community which in a past life was the La Grange Mission.

The lagoon itself is approximately 6km long and is fringed by mangroves and sand dunes.


Why You Should Visit Port Smith Lagoon

If you do nothing else on your visit to Port Smith it’s worthwhile to stay long enough to see the lagoon at high tide and then again at low tide the flushing of this waterway on a daily basis is to behold and a great introduction to the tidal movements of the Kimberley region.

Port Smith Lagoon, Crystal Clear at High Tide.


Give it a couple of hours after the turn of the tide on an outgoing tide, one starts to visualise the true contrasts of the lagoon, appreciating its vastness of sand flats all patterned with ripples, dissected with footprints or the trails of critters.

Port Smith Lagoon, Low Tide.


Surrounding mangroves that fringe the lagoon like a battalion of soldiers provide roosts and vantage points for birdlife, sea eagles, goshawks and kites can all be heard if not seen.

Mangroves that fringe the lagoon at Port Smith.


Teaming with fish the lagoon provides a rich daily bounty, turtles, stingrays and dolphins frequent the area and sightings are not unusual.

Port Smith Lagoon is one small part of a big Kimberley Aquarium.


Dinghy’s, canoes, paddle boards or kayaks are all fine ways of enjoying the extraordinary serenity.

The perfect way to explore the lagoon.


Top Tip: Just be cautious of the wind it has a habit of picking up out of nowhere.


The Caravan Park at Port Smith is 600m from the lagoon beach, you have the option of walking or driving to the lagoon from the caravan park.

Walking from the caravan park to the lagoon beach is easy enough for anybody with reasonable fitness it’s a 1.2km return walk there are no hills, very little sand and only one bend.

What you will need to factor in is what your plans are once you reach the lagoon.

Should it be high tide and your plan is to enjoy a swim and relax then walking from camp, even with kids is very achievable.

However, if you plan to get there at low tide and explore the lagoon then this will add quite a bit to your walk also take into account the sand and in places mud will be soft so the walking does become a little more difficult and fatigue maybe be greater.

Following the tide out, exploring and having fun.


Should you decide to drive keep in mind there is limited vehicle parking, should the fishermen be out they are quick to snap up space with vehicles and trailers.


Launching of boats regardless of size is done via the lagoon at low tide, pick your track through and be sure your, tyre pressures are down.

Top Tip: Do not attempt it too soon after the tide has gone out as the mud can suck you in and refuse to spit you back out.

The waters around Port Smith provide the opportunity to catch, Bluebone, Mangrove Jack and Whiting to mention a few.

Mud Crabs:

There are no drop nets allowed so it’s a dirty business of dragging them out of their holes from under mangrove roots or rocks with long metal sticks.

Mud crab Country

Mud crab Country

His good and he knows it.

His good and he knows it.


4WD Track Out To Sea Cliffs:

The sea cliffs at Port Smith are small by Nullabour or Carnarvon standard but equally speckie in their own way by virtue of colour contrasts and jaggedness.

Access to this area is via a 4WD track, a pleasant drive nothing too challenging having said that the last bit does get very sandy with drop off’s and jump up’s to be negotiated.

Top Tip: This section will require deflation of tyres and if you are travelling solo a set of max Trax and a shovel would be worthwhile insurance.

Wildlife is prevalent, especially at each end of the day with kangaroos, wallabies, goanna and an assortment of bush birds providing a chorus.

In spring wildflowers can be seen, the Kimberley does not have the variety of mass blooms that can be found further south however wattle’s and Mulla Mulla are prevalent.

Top Tip: On high tide, these cliffs can produce some wonderful fishing, might be an idea to make the trip out on the low tide and get a feel for where the deepest holes are might save you some tackle.

This is also a wonderful location to sit and ponder awhile with a pair of binoculars especially if you are about in June / July for this is when the whales are passing by.

The Bidyadanga Aboriginal Community have control of and looks after the Lagoon and surrounding areas there are no published maps of the area and this is a directive from them, you can however if you are staying at the caravan park get a mud map to the area and the staff are very helpful with their knowledge to help you out.



High tide or low makes no difference down at the beach area of the lagoon is a beaut place to catch a sunset.

Sunset Fun at low tide, Port Smith lagoon



They say the bush has a way of evening the field, bringing out one’s common sense and instinct for survival relying far less on pure skill and ability.

Well, any sole who takes on this course has a chance of winning, regardless of ability its full of everything any normal course is not.

The bush course that will test your golfing resolve.


Once the ball hits the deck there’s no telling where or in which direction it will shoot.

There’s no grass or even sand just rocks, bigger rocks, spinifex and bush with clearings around the pins or holes.


Where To Stay

The track into the Caravan Park at Port Smith is a tad corrugated and sandy in places, especially on the banks of the tracks which in places are right on two caravans wide. Different vehicles will have to track at different paces however all should get in without issue.

All good things lie at the end of a ribbon of pindan.


The caravan park is quite large, it’s general appearance is spacious, clean and tidy with many big shady trees.

Powered Sites

There are 100 powered sites which easily accommodate large vans, fifth wheelers, boat trailers and RVs there are several drive-through sites the streets or roads are wide.

Example of part of Caravan Park.


There is plenty of shade in most parts of the park, although it is pretty dusty. Horses for courses however water is scarce and has to be pumped a fair distance personally I’ll take shade over grass nearly every time, especially in the north, the only real grass is in the unpowered camping area.

The amenities are extremely clean, the amenities block is comprised of thirty or so individual cubicles or bathrooms each one consisting of a shower, basin and toilet individual, convenient and different.

The Abolition blocks are beautifully presented on the outside & really clean on the inside.

The Abolition blocks are beautifully presented on the outside & really clean on the inside.

Inside one of the individual bathroom cubicles.

Inside one of the individual bathroom cubicles.


It can be! This sign sits in the breezeway of the abolition block. Anytime is a good time for a yak.


Water is gravity fed from the pump the showers will not remove your skin however they are adequate.

In addition to caravan and camping, they also provide self-contained accommodation.


Budget Rooms – This accommodation has a bed and small fridge on the inside, Linen is provided but no towels crockery or cutely. This room has a shared outside kitchen and a shared main ablution block.

Looking through the breeze way / communial area

Looking through the breezeway / communal area

BBQ - Camp kitchen

BBQ – Camp kitchen


In this style of accommodation there are two other sized dongers Twin Double (sleeps 2) and Family Room (sleeps 4) same deal as the Budget Room just a bit more expensive.

There is a Hire Service for Towels, Crockery and Cutlery and it’s a one-off payment.


These rooms are fully self-contained with a kitchen, ensuite and TV, they are supplied with all linen and towels and are air-conditioned. Each chalet has one queen bed and two singles.

One of several Chalets


For all forms of accommodation check IN is 2pm OUT 10am


Other Facilities The Caravan Park Offers:


The Park Kiosk stocks a wide range of stuff.

  • Diesel and Unleaded Fuel
  • Gas Bottle Re-Fills
  • Bait
  • Ice
  • Fishing Tackle
  • Ice Creams & Drinks
  • Eftpos
  • Essential Food Stuffs



The park has very little mobile reception and no WIFI, having said that it doe’s have a public telephone – old school still works.

Pets are welcome at Port Smith Caravan Park, however, they have to be on a leash and controlled.

A coin-operated laundry with several clotheslines is tucked neatly in behind the ablution block. Gas BBQs and a camp kitchen are available for campers. All power is underground and available 24 hours.

It still works well.

Hand-painted buoys at reception.

How Long Should You Stay 

The answer to this question is pretty easy if you’re travelling or passing through, hang about long enough to see the lagoon fill right up and empty completely out and explore both tides.

If you love fishing and you have a boat then the lagoon is your oyster you may get lost and never be seen again you’ll have a ball.


All Things Considered


Port Smith Lagoon has something for everyone for a little while & a whole lot for a few for a long while.













There is quite a bit to see in and around this place not all of it is evident upon first glance, if you don’t judge this book by its cover the more you dig the more you find.

Have you been to Port Smith recently? planning a visit perhaps, leave a comment be interested in your thoughts.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Peter &Faye Wells says:

    We really enjoyed the read and of course the superb photography Will… we are currently staying at Barn Hill and you have captured all that it has to offer and more. The top tips are spot on. Thanks so much for sharing your Kimberley with us.

  • Will Parker says:

    Hi Peter & Faye,
    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and kind words, really pleased you found the tips helpful thats what its about you using my experience to make your experiences easier and more enjoyable. Be it your at Barn Hill you maybe interested in my Barn Hill post it went live last night link below.

    Anyway guys have a great time travel safe and stay in touch if I can help with anything else.
    Cheers – Will

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