RAC Karri Valley Resort Review: What to Expect

Set hidden in the West Australian Southern Forests on Lake Beedalup is the recently renovated RAC Karri Valley Resort.  Several years ago, during a trip to Pemberton we stopped in to have a look at the resort.  We were so impressed with the idyllic location we vowed to one day return.

Finally, we have returned to stay in the Karri Valley chalets.  I am quite excited in the lead up to our stay, though I have to say it was difficult finding information about the Karri Valley Resort activities, facilities and costs involved with those attractions in the lead up to our departure.

If you too are having this problem, or just want to know if this is the place for you, I am here to help with this detailed RAC Karri Valley Resort review that includes lots of information, photos and tips to help you plan your trip to Karri Valley near Pemberton in the Southern Forests Region of WA.

In this Article Learn All that RAC Karri Valley Resort Has to Offer


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View through tall timber trees to Lake Beedalup at RAC Karri Valley Resort
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Karri Valley Resort History

There is a colourful history to the Karri Valley Resort.  The land was originally purchased by Arthur Bunn and his family who developed a 50-acre hops farms that supplied enough hops to the Swan Brewery for a third of its production.  In the early 1960’s a dam was built below the Beedalup Falls to create a water catchment to hold a billion litres of water to irrigate the farm. 

By 1978, the farm was no longer viable and so it was sold to a developer who wanted to create a trout fishing retreat.  A lodge, caravan park, three big chalets and swagman’s huts were built.  But the retreat never took off and the property was then sold to the Rajneeshee movement aka the Orange People in 1985.  However, there was much controversy and upset from the local people and again it was sold off.

This time to the WA Government Employee Superannuation Board GESB.  A lot of money was put into the property and it was renamed Karri Valley Resort.  It became the place to be seen during the high-flying times of the 1980’s.

But then again quieter times and changes of management saw another downturn in its popularity, and it fell into disrepair.  Until 2017, when the RAC group bought the property.  Over the past few years, they have fully renovated the entire property. 

Join me as I explore and review RAC Karri Valley Resort’s renovated property.

Karri Valley Accommodation

There is quite a selection of choices for Karri Valley accommodation that includes:

  1. Lake view family chalets
  2. Three-bedroom chalets (lake or forest views)
  3. Two-bedroom chalets (lake or forest views)
  4. Lakefront motel units
  5. A caravan park with
    • Ensuite powered sites
    • Powered sites
    • Unpowered sites

I have booked a two-bedroom chalet, however a week before our arrival I am informed via email that we have been up graded to a three-bedroom chalet.

We arrive at the resort reception located on Vasse Highway late in the afternoon.  As we wait to have our paperwork finalised, I note that the reception area offers an extensive range of Australian souvenirs, a fridge with cool drinks, milk and a few staples along plus a counter with fresh bread and rolls (I later learn that the bread is delivered three times a week from Augusta Bakery, what isn’t sold on the day is then sold as frozen bread the next day).

large building on road front
Reception

We are then given our key and map showing the location of our chalet.  We are also provided with an activities sheet that includes the WiFi password.

Three-Bedroom Forest View Chalet

We follow the one-way directions given to us by reception to our log cabin set high in the forest.  We pull our car into the under-cover car bay located next to the front door.

log cabin Karri Valley chalet set high in the forest
Three bedroom Karri Valley Chalet

Dining/Lounge

Walking straight in from the front door onto the timber look lino flooring we see the long modern timber table with black metal legs and seven matching black iron chairs.

Further into the lounge area is a slow combustion wood heater on a tiled hearth.  As it is summer, we cannot use the wood heater.  There is only a ceiling fan to cool the room, which was generally fine except for our final day when the temperature climbs to 38°C.

Wooden dining table and couch in living area of Karri Valley accommodation chalet
Living area

The main living area consists of an extra-large three-to-four-seater chocolate fabric couch with a metre diameter round black coffee table looking onto the wall-mounted flat-screen television situated above a timber and black iron side table.  In the corner of the room is a beige hide cushion footrest.

The TV is connected to Foxtel with most Perth TV stations, five movie channels, two kids’ channels and sports.  This is quite handy as there is only a limited amount of free WiFi per 24 hours, however you can purchase more.

Top Trip Tip: The only phone coverage at the resort is through Telstra

Balcony

Leading out from the wall of windows and glass sliding doors overlooking the forest with glimpses to Lake Beedalup is the balcony.  On the wooden one and half metre deep and five metres long balcony is a rectangular wooden table with an ashtray and two wooden chairs.

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Kookaburra and green parrots eating at outdoor table on the balcony of Karri Valley chalets
Birds on the balcony

We buy a small bag of birdseed from the Activities Centre for a couple of dollars and use the ashtray to feed the wild birds 🙂

Kitchen

On the other side of the living area is the kitchen with a full-size fridge and four-burner electric stove.  On the pale wood look laminate benchtops is a microwave, kettle, toaster and starter kit of tea and coffee sachets.  Inside the beige cupboards you’ll find:

  • Cutlery, crockery and glasses for 7 people
  • 3 saucepans/pots
  • 2 frypans
  • Cooking utensils (no peeler)
  • 2 sharp knives
  • Chopping board
  • Grater
  • Colander
  • Large metal mixing bowl
  • Large plastic measuring jug
  • 3 serving bowls and platters

To clean up there is a dish rack, tea towels, dishwashing liquid and cloths under the sink.

Main Bedroom

To the left of the living room is the main bedroom with windows overlooking the forest view that can be shut out with block out curtains.  The queen-size bed sits in the middle of the carpeted room with two round timber side tables and lamps on either side of the bed that is made up of white sheets, a brown light rug and white bath towels placed at the end of the bed.  Inside the sliding mirrored door wardrobe is a pine shelving unit, pedestal fan, small electric fan heater and spare pillows.

Queen bed and mirrored wardrobe in RAC Karri Valley Resort chalet
Main bedroom

Bedroom Two

On the other side of the living room are the other two bedrooms, both of which are carpeted.  Bedroom two has a queen size bed with one side table, a lamp and white bath towels laid at the end of the bed.  The open wardrobe offers hanging space only with a pedestal fan and spare pillow.  The window has block out curtains.

Queen bed at Karri Valley Resort accommodation
Bedroom two

Bedroom Three

Bedroom three has a single bed and a set of bunk beds separated by a round timber side table and lamp in front of a narrow window with block out curtains.  Again, the wardrobe is open with hanging space only, a pedestal fan and spare pillow.  White bath towels are laid out on each of the beds.

Single bed and bink beds in Karri Valley accommodation chalet
Bedroom three

Top Trip Tip: Pack collapsible hanging shelves*

Bathroom/Laundry

In the short hall leading to the bathroom and toilet is a broom closet with a mop, broom, dustpan with a brush, iron, ironing board and two small electric fan heaters.

One of the nice things about the three-bedroom chalet is that it has a separate toilet from the combined bathroom/laundry.  The bathroom is quite large with a standing shower, long timber look vanity bench with a vanity basin and cupboard plus a laundry trough and cupboard they are separated by an electric clothes dryer.  On the bench there is a selection of mini shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser and soap.

shower, sink and dryer in the Karri Valley chalets bathroom
Bathroom

I feel it is a little odd that there is no washing machine, only a dryer.  But if you are in need of a washing machine there is a laundrette at the motel units with two coin-operated machines.  The laundrette is open from 10am-6pm and costs $2 per wash and if you need a dryer that is $2 as well.

Top Trip Tip: Pack pegless clotheslines* to hang our your swimming clothes on the balcony

My Karri Valley Resort Reviews of the Facilities and Things to Do

There are two sections to the resort.  The original forest chalets and motel units on Beedalup lake and the new RAC Karri Valley Resort caravan park which is situated on the other side of Vasse Highway approximately 1km from the lakefront. There are different things to do at Karri Valley Resort’s two locations.

The lake side facilities and Karri Valley Resort activities include:

Lake Beedalup

Lake Beedalup was formed as a result of the original beer hop farmers damming the brook that flowed down from Beedalup Falls.  This created a one kilometre by 300 metre cold fresh-water lake containing rainbow trout.  The deep lake is also perfect for canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and swimming to the pontoon.

People swimming and on pontoon at Lake Beedalup
Swimming on Lake Beedalup

Karri Valley Resort Activities Centre

If you don’t have your own kayak, paddle board, canoe or rowboat you can hire one from the activity centre located directly in front of the lake.  As rough guide prices are $25 for a family of four to use any of the water sports equipment for 24 hours.  Life jackets must be used by everyone on the lake (except when swimming in the designated area).

There is also a land-based activity option for:

  • Mini golf
  • Archery (you need to pre-book)
  • Volleyball
  • Basketball
  • Croquet
  • Bicycle hire
  • Petting farm and feed the animals
boy shooting archery at targets
Archery

The 24 hour pass for a family of four is $20 or you can pay $5 per person per single sport.  Alternatively, you can get a combo pass for the family for $50/24 hours.

Finally, as I mentioned there are rainbow trout in the lake it costs $10 for a fishing permit per person for 24 hours and you can keep two fish.

Top Trip Tip: If you start your hire mid-afternoon you can paddle/play for a few hours and still use your pass the next day until mid-afternoon

Restaurant

After a hard day playing on the lake and at the activities, it is time to eat.  The Karri Valley Resort restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Be warned you do need to book.  Whilst we are staying at the resort the restaurant is fully booked.

BBQ’s

There are also two sets of BBQ’s at the chalets.  One at the lakefront and another midway up the forest.  You’ll need to bring some paper and a spatula with you to clean the BBQ before and after.

two men at BBQ in front of Lake beedalup

Karri Valley Resort Caravan Park

The caravan park is located behind reception on Vasse Highway, approximately 1km from the lakefront.

BBQ’s and Playground

There are more BBQ’s at the Karri Valley Resort Caravan Park on the other side of the highway.  They are situated next to the timber playground where you’ll also find sheltered picnic tables.

RAC Karri Valley Resort caravan park BBQ under shelter, nature playground and picnic tables
Caravan park playground and BBQ’s

Camp Kitchen

Alternatively, there is a large modern camp kitchen set high on the hill with commanding views over the caravan park, it also has more BBQ’s on the expansive undercover balcony.

view from the Karri Valley Resort caravan park camp kitchen outdoor area looking at tents
View from the camp kitchen

Karri Valley Caravan Park Activities

The activities aren’t just confined to the lakefront resort, there are more at the caravan park.

  • Tennis and Basketball Courts
  • BMX Track
  • Games Room
    • Bar
    • Table tennis
    • Pool table
    • Big screen for movies
    • Additional TVs mounted on the wall with sports programs showing

Plan Your Stay at Karri Valley Resort

Booking

We booked our stay directly through the RAC Parks and Resorts website.  If you are a RAC member you will receive a 20% discount (it only costs $29/year).  Alternatively, you can use a booking site like Wotif*.

Book Your Accommodation Now*

Location

The RAC Karri Valley Resort is situated directly on Lake Beedalup it is accessed via Vasse Highway 333km south of Perth, approximately a four drive.  The nearest towns are Pemberton 21 km away or Manjimup 41km away from the resort.

Perth to Karri Valley map

What to Take

As the resort is quite isolated it is best to be prepared.

Create a meal plan for the duration of your stay, then pack food and drinks to utilise the self-catering facilities. 

Get started with planning your holiday meals with the

Temperatures can vary widely in this region of Western Australia.  During our stay, it is particularly hot (about 35°C) however in the mornings it is a bit cool.  As well as enjoying time at the lake there are some good walks/hikes around Lake Beedalup and to the falls.

boy climbing through whole in giant Karri tree trunk
Along the Lake Beedalup loop walk

Include in your travel packing

  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Jumper
  • Good quality hiking shoes
  • Swimming clothes

If you are visiting in winter don’t forget your wet weather gear.  Extra shoes if they get wet and muddy, lots of layer to keep you warm as it will get very cold.

To plan what you need to take use the

More Information on Pemberton and the Southern Forests

To help you find more information and plan your trip to the Southern Forests Region I’ve put this list together.

Official tourism websites:

Read one of these West Australian travel guides*.

If you would like more West Australian travel inspiration straight to your inbox sign up for the Tips 4 Trips e-newsletter and get all our travel packing list and planning guide PDF’s free to download.

Check out more of our Western Australia travel articles including these ones on Pemberton and the Southern Forest Region:

The Verdict from our RAC Karri Valley Resort Review

Overall, we enjoyed our stay at the RAC Karri Valley Resort.  The chalets are clean and well equipped, we also really appreciated the choice of five movie channels through Foxtel.  My only complaint about the chalets is the lack of air conditioning.  Personally, I think at the high prices that are charged, a split-system unit in the living area and ceiling fans the bedrooms should be standard.

However, the relaxed ambience of staying in a log cabin high in the forest (almost like a treehouse) with all the activities and things to do at Karri Valley Resort far outweighed this minor inconvenience.  We had such a great stay we have re-booked for next summer.

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Sally-Ann
Hi, I'm a Perth born and raised travel tips blogger/writer with over 20 years of experience in airlines, hospitality and tourism. Whilst in my younger years I backpacked throughout Europe, these days I enjoy luxury family holidays to South East Asia or road-tripping about Western Australia with my partner and our son.
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