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


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.

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 a spare pillow.  White bath towels are laid out on each of the beds.

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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 that 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 your swimming clothes on the balcony

Two-Bedroom Forest View Chalet

The following year we return to Karri Valley Resort and stay in the two-bedroom forest view chalet.  It is a little more compact than the three-bedroom cabin with a slightly smaller living area and bathroom.

Again, we follow the directions supplied by the reception staff and drive into our undercover carport that is situated in front of the chalet entrance door.  On the raised timber front porch, a bench seat sits to the side with a broom and mop hanging from the exterior coat racks.

Dining/Lounge

We enter onto the wood look lino floored main living area.  A large grey fabric three-seater couch sits back against the wall, a big beige footstool is next to the couch.  Looking across to the opposite wall is the slow combustion fireplace with a round dark timber coffee in front of it on top of a woven mat. 

Couch to left of lounge with slow combustion fire and dinging table
Two-bedroom chalet living area

To the right of this is a flat-screen TV with Foxtel including five movie channels hung above a timber and iron console table.

In front of the alcove that separates the kitchen is a timber and iron dining table and four black iron chairs.

dinign table and chairs near kitchen with fridge
Two-bedroom chalet dining and kitchen

Kitchen

The compact kitchen has just about everything you need for a holiday. A full-size fridge (though in this chalet it has seen better days with some shelves missing), kettle, toaster, microwave, four burner electric stove and starter kit of tea and coffee sachets.  Inside the beige laminate cupboards, I find:

  • 2 frypans
  • 3 pots
  • Cutlery, crockery, glassware, wine glasses for four people
  • Good supply of utensils (thongs, peeler, spatula, serving/mixing spoon
  • Sharp knives
  • Serving bowl and platter
  • Colander
  • Grater
  • Mixing bowl

The only thing missing was a chopping board, so I headed up to reception and kindly asked for one and they were happy to oblige.

Under the sink are the essentials for washing up: dishwashing liquid, washcloth, two tea towels and a draining rack.

Balcony

On the opposite side of the lounge from the kitchen are full glass and sliding doors looking out to the forest with glimpses of the lake from the balcony.

Out on the timber balcony are four black plastic chairs and a black laminate table.

black plastic chairs and timber railed balcony looking through forest trees to lake
Balcony

Main Bedroom

Also, with full-size windows (with block-out curtains) looking out to the forest and lake is the compact main bedroom.  Two bath towels have been laid out on the queen-size bed that is flanked by round timber side tables with lamps.

Inside the mirrored wardrobe is a pedestal fan, electric heater, spare blankets and pillows.

queen bed woth side tables and lamps
Two-bedroom chalet main bedroom

Bedroom Two

Next to the main bedroom is the narrow second bedroom.  A white bath towel is laid out on each of the two single beds separated by a tall narrow window with block-out curtains.  A round pale timber side table and lamp are placed in from of the window.

On the opposite wall is the doorless wardrobe.  It has pine timber shelving, an electric heater, spare blankets and pillows, but no fan.

two single beds with white sheets and window in teh middle
Two-bedroom chalet second bedroom

Bathroom

Near the front door is the entrance to the bathroom that consists of a standing shower, toilet, vanity basin and laundry sink both with under bench cupboards and separated by a clothes dryer.

The dryer comes in handy even in summer as the shower curtain is too small and the bathmat is constantly soaked.

There is a hanging rail for the bath towels and two hand towels.  On the bench, complimentary toiletries are laid out and a hair dryer hangs on the wall.

mirror above cream vanity basin with shower to the left
Two-bedroom chalet bathroom

Top Trip Tip: If you are missing anything in your room just pop up to reception and they will be happy to help you out

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 lakeside 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 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, paddleboard, 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).

boy standing on stand up paddle board on lake at Karri Valley resort surrounded by trees
Stand-up paddle boarding

There is also a land-based activity option for:

  • Mini golf
  • Archery (you need to pre-book)
  • Disc golf
  • Volleyball
  • Basketball
  • Croquet
  • Bicycle hire
  • Petting farm and feed the animals
Green mini golf putting hole set amongst the trees
Mini golf
boy shooting archery at targets
Archery
boy through frisbee to blue metal disc cage goal
Disc golf

The 24-hour pass for a family of four is $25 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

WiFi and Phone Reception

With the resort being situated in the middle of a forest of giant karri trees, this restricts telephone coverage.  Only those with Telstra will be able to use their phones.

A stay at the resort does provide you with a limited amount of data for each day.  If you need more than the allotment you can purchase an extra allowance.

Discover the options on how to 

Laundry

In the middle of the ground floor at the motel units is a small laundrette. Washing machines are 2 x $1 taking approximately 30 mins per load and dryers cost 2 x $1 and also take approximately 30 minutes. There is also an ironing board and iron to use.

You will need to bring your own washing powder

Top Trip Tip: Pack zip lock bags with portioned-out washing powder or laundry detergent sheets*

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.

Large share kitchen with stoves, fridges
Camp kitchen

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 Booking.com*.

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

As the resort is isolated from town you will need a car. If you don’t have one you will need to hire a car*. Don’t for get if you have kids to also hire car seats*

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 in 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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DISCLOSURE

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, along with a lifetime of varied travel exploits.
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