This guide will cover everything you need to know for camping in Australia. Hopefully by the end, you’ll be persuaded that camping is the best way to experience this incredible country. Whether you plan on campervanning around Australia, looking for a romantic weekend away or you are backpacking on a budget this guide will cover everything you need to know to make memories as epic as we did.
We will cover the best time of year to go, the best campsites in Australia, tips for free camping, what to bring and even quick camping meals to fuel your adventures. Not to mention the mistakes we made while camping in Australia so you can avoid those too.
Although we travelled New Zealand in a campervan, camping in Australia is one of the best travel experiences we have ever had and we want you to experience it too so this guide will cover not only our top tips but the tips we’ve learned along the way from locals and other campers alike.
We won’t lie, finding free (and good) campsites are not easy and that’s before you’ve tackled the fear of wildlife and insane temperatures. However, by the end of our camping in Australia guide you’ll be ready to pack the mossie repellent and throw some snags on the barbie. . . or something like that.
Why not take a copy of our campervan cookbook?
- Recipes with ideas for breakfast, lunch & dinner
- Digital E-book so you can download instantly
- Use offline on your phone, tablet, laptop or print off
- Recipe ideas without the need for bulky cookbooks or Wi-Fi
REASONS TO GO CAMPING IN AUSTRALIA
- Cheaper: Let’s start with the obvious, Australia is expensive but camping in Australia is cheap and often free. Although the equipment can cost a lot initially, in the long run your camping supplies can be used again and again saving you some serious dollar on accommodation, not to mention gain you priceless experiences.
- Nature: camping in Australia means you can get closer to some incredible nature. Although at times you may not want to (looking at you snakes) some of the most serene spots are only accessible to campers. We have found koalas above our campervan, pythons in bathrooms and dingos whilst washing the dishes all thanks to the Australia campsites which we mention below.
- Meet the locals: When limited by accommodation such as hostels and hotels you will find you usually end up just meeting other tourists. When we were camping in Australia, we found it the best way to meet locals as it brought us to unique locations away from the tourist traps. Australia campsites become an addictive cycle – you meet locals in one campsite who recommend another hidden gem or shortcut and so the camping continues.
- Stargazing: Away from the cities and street lights, Australia offers some of the best stargazing spots in the world. Coonabarabran in NSW is the star gazing capital of Australia but other famous spots include Uluru, Perth Observatory and Kangaroo Island.
- Freedom: Whether you’re a backpacker wanting to escape the chaos of hostel life or a couple wanting a romantic escape, camping offers the freedom, peace & quiet that other accommodation simply cannot provide. Have we persuaded you yet to give camping in Australia a go?
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GO CAMPING IN AUSTRALIA
We stupidly assumed Australia is hot all year round, so you can imagine our dismay when we arrived in Melbourne in Winter to cold, dark mornings and at times zero degrees. We wanted a refund, this is not the Australia we were expecting!
Best Season To Go Camping in Australia
Firstly, when camping in Australia remember it does actually get cold (particularly in the South) and the seasons are flipped compared to Europe. Summer is December to February, Autumn is March to May, Spring is September to November and the coldest months are June to August which are Winter.
It’s no secret that Australia is an enormous country (nearly the same size as Europe) so this means different parts of the country offer different seasons – just to make it even more confusing.
For example, in the North there are 2 main seasons – wet & dry. So for example in Cairns expect a more tropical climate and try to plan your camping to avoid the wet season as flooding can be likely. Although this is the best time to witness the stunning Cairns waterfalls in full flow as during the dry season they are only a trickle, so there are advantages to both seasons.
In the South on the other hand, Summers can get hot but there is no wet season as such and more definitive transition seasons. Again, it depends on your personal travel style – with us being Scottish, we struggled with the heat in Summer but don’t mind camping in the rain as it feels like home ha! If you are camping in Australia in Summer – don’t panic, we have tips to beat the heat later in this guide.
Avoid School Holidays
Camping in Australia is not just popular with tourists, it is massively popular with locals too. So popular in fact that certain National Parks such as Wilson’s Prom in Victoria, have a Ballot scheme for their campsites.
For peak seasons such as Easter, Labour Day and Christmas these campsites in Australia open a ballot scheme up to a year in advance taking bookings on a first come first served basis. If your dream is to camp in a certain National Park, plan around school holidays to avoid the chaos.
Research Public Holidays
Although contradictory to our point above, one of our favourite memories from camping in Australia was during Australia Day holiday weekend in Byron Bay. We initially wanted to avoid Byron at such a busy time, however found campsites in Australia often do incredible deals during public holidays.
Our campsite in Byron Bay offered 5 nights for the price of 3 and better yet, as it was so busy, we were upgraded to a powered site without extra charge because all non-powered were taken up.
Although public holidays can be busy, it was such a unique atmosphere which felt almost like a music festival. Understandably, not everyone’s cup of tea but the best thing was it only lasted a day or two then it was back to peace and quiet. For us, this is why we loved Australia camping sites – they had such a friendly atmosphere but you’re surrounded by nature…beats an overpriced hostel any day!
WHERE TO GO CAMPING IN AUSTRALIA
As mentioned earlier, whether you are caravanning around Australia or backpacking on a budget the best thing about camping in Australia is that because the country is so big different states feel like different countries. There are eight states and territories with each one offering a very unique experience for campers. As a very general guide this is what to expect from each region and why you will love camping there.
Camping in NSW
New South Wales is the most populated Australian state but also one of the best for free camping in Australia as there are so many free camping grounds in NSW. Although we loved our 4 days in Sydney and could happily live in the campervan haven of Byron Bay, don’t just stick to these tourist hot spots!
There are so many incredible areas to camp in NSW such as Jervis Bay and small coastal towns such as Eden which offers insane whale watching. One of our favourite free campsites in Australia was in NSW – it even had hot showers which are goldust when free camping.
We camped there during our Blue Mountains day trip from Sydney – an icon of New South Wales.
Where to go camping in Victoria
We might be biased because we lived in Melbourne for 6 months but Victoria is our favourite state and not just because of Melbourne. Our favourite memories of camping in Australia were from Victoria, such as the time we drank whisky at sunset with the kindest locals at McLoughlin’s Beach, free camping on Great Ocean Road, finding a koala above our van, taking our campervan on the ferry across to Sorrento and so many more.
There are endless day trips from Melbourne which we loved so much we camped afterwards. These include: camping after a day indulging at the Yarra Valley wineries, exploring the stunning landscape of Wilsons Prom, meeting the penguins of Phillip Island and hiking in the incredible Grampian Mountains. You could spend months camping in Victoria and would never get bored (but you might get a little cold!)
Camping in Queensland
If you are after sunnier climates head to Queensland for some white sand and crystal blue seas. Many people associate Queensland with crocs and creepy crawlies but there is so much more to this area.
There are so many epic day trips from Cairns that you’ll never want to leave. Camping here provides the perfect base for snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef, exploring the Kuranda markets, the stunning drive from Cairns to Cape Tribulation (where the reef meets the rainforest) and finally, the stunning Cairns waterfalls dotted throughout the region.
Heading down the East Coast you will find the Whitsundays renowned for the mind-blowing Whitehaven Beach, Green Island for turtle spotting and Bribie Island for the warmest sea we have ever been in. Gold coast offers the incredible Springbrook National Park, home to Purling Brook Falls and Noosa is surfer territory complete with incredible hikes and stylish boutiques.
You can also camp on the stunning Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world which is also home to the famous dingos and 75-mile beach. Or, for another epic island, there are so many things to do on Magnetic Island (including camping with koalas!) We did mention you’ll want to set up camp permanently in Queensland.
Camping in Western Australia
Whether you’re caravanning around Australia and enjoy long drives or just really want an escape from civilisation then this is the state for you as Western Australia takes up a third of Australia’s land mass but only 11% of the country’s population.
Home to Perth, one of Australia’s most vibrant cities, stunning Rottnest Island where you can selfie with a quokka and camping with the kangaroos at pristine Lucky Bay.
Western Australia is HIGH on our bucketlist as we’ve heard (and seen) nothing but insane stories from the views here as it’s home to some of the most remote, but beautiful campsites in Australia. Even after a year in Australia we didn’t have time to squeeze in WA, the country is that big!
Camping in South Australia
After completing your Great Ocean Road trip in Victoria you will enter South Australia, home to Adelaide but most importantly – wine country. We camped in Barossa and hired bikes to enjoy as many wineries as possible but with over 50 in the region, we could have happily set up camp permanently.
South Australia is also home to stunning Robe and some of the best seafood Australia has to offer. Nothing says camping in Australia like seafood on the barbie and a shiraz in hand.
Camping in Northern Territory
For one of the most authentic camping experiences in Australia head to Northern Territory. From the vast wilderness, insane stargazing opportunities, quirky capital of Darwin and the famous Uluru, it is a dream destination for campers – especially those with a 4 wheel drive!
Just ensure to bring plenty insect repellent and don’t pack anything white as friends of ours were finding red dust in their campervan for months afterwards and their belongings were a beautiful rusty tinge.
Camping in Australia Capital Territory
Fun Fact – this territory only exists due to Sydney & Melbourne squabbling like siblings over who gets to be Australia’s capital. It is home to Canberra, the country’s capital and to be honest, very little else. It is roughly half way between the two cities but during our time camping in Australia we didn’t have time to squeeze in a visit as many locals told us not to bother – let us know if you do and if it’s worth the detour.
Camping in Tasmania
We loved every second of our campervan road trip in New Zealand and so many locals told us to head to Tasmania as the landscape is very similar. Expect incredible hikes, delicious seafood and crowd free beaches.
Better yet, Tasmania is one of the easiest and most unspoiled places to camp in Australia and it is our biggest regret that we did not plan a trip here sooner, as ferry tickets were sold out when we wanted to visit.
“Tassie” as the locals call it, is one of the main reasons we want to return, as we have heard nothing but incredible things and camping here is top of our bucketlist.
ESSENTIALS FOR CAMPING IN AUSTRALIA
Due to the country’s unique terrain, invasive wildlife and vast landscape camping in Australia requires a very niche packing list. Below are a few camping essentials we recommend and also where to buy them in Australia however we have created a detailed camping checklist which we recommend you read in full.
Where to Buy Camping Gear in Australia
- BCF: Stands for Boat Camping and Fishing and they can be found everywhere. Staff were so helpful and gave us excellent tips on how to fit a mosquito net to our campervan.
- Bunnings: DIY style shop, similar to B&Q in the UK. Excellent for camping supplies or if you’re caravanning around Australia, Bunnings has a huge selection of outdoor furniture, BBQs, tarpaulins, Gazebos and eskies/cool boxes.
- Camping World / Tentworld: More specific to camping than the stores above, if you’re looking for a more niche item or for an Australia-proof tent, this is where to find it.
- Kathmandu: Ideal for all things outdoors including camping stoves, backpacks, tents and clothing.
- Facebook Groups / Gumtree: Why purchase brand new if you’re only camping in Australia for a short amount of time. To avoid the expense, purchase from Facebook Groups or search local Market Places or Gumtree. There are so many campervan groups, hiking groups and backpacker groups with people selling camping equipment super cheap.
- Big W / K-Mart: These are budget brand department stores that are very common all over Australia. If you are camping in Australia on a budget, these stores have excellent camping sections offering sleeping bags, cool boxes, camping chairs and more. We purchased our sunshades from here as they were the cheapest, we could find and they were perfect.
Camping Checklist For Australia
Road trips are one of our favourite ways to travel and we have perfected our road trip packing list which you can download for free and use on mobile.
In addition to our road trip essentials, we have also created a detailed camping packing list, which again you can download and use offline – perfect for camping in Australia when you have no signal.
If you plan on hiking with your camping equipment or simply are looking for the best backpack to carry your camping essentials in, we cannot recommend our Osprey backpacks enough.
We put together an entire guide on why these backpacks are the best and even a full video review. Better yet, in the unlikelihood they break while you’re camping in Australia, they have lifetime guarantee – you can ship them back from anywhere in the world to get repaired for free thanks to their All Mighty Guarantee.
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THE BEST MEAL IDEAS FOR CAMPING IN AUSTRALIA
Whether its smores under the stars or bacon butties for breakfast, cooking is one of our favourite things about camping in Australia, not to mention how much money it saves. Lucky for you, we have many guides and top tips to ensure you are not limited to boring pasta.
Although most campsites in Australia had kitchens, we understand you may only have a little camping stove so our camping recipes are ideal for those limited on time, space and equipment as all meal ideas are quick, cheap and easy.
The Best Camping Recipes
- For Family Camping Trips: If you are on a family camping trip, caravanning around Australia or simply only have one ring to cook on you might appreciate our one pot camping meals – they require minimum ingredients, time and washing up!
- For Vegetarians: Our vegetarian camping recipes include some of our favourite vegetarian dishes which are super quick and easy to prepare.
- For Campervans: If it is your first time camping in Australia, we recommend our cooking in a campervan tips with storage ideas, recipe suggestions and more.
- A Recipe for Disaster: Finally, if you fancy a giggle or even more camping recipe ideas, we have a whole series of videos on our YouTube. Please be warned these were made after a wine or two in New Zealand and are more fun than factual but you may learn a trick or two.
HOW TO FIND CAMPSITES IN AUSTRALIA
With limited Wi-Fi, endless roads and countless beaches you may feel overwhelmed when planning a route and selecting campsites in Australia. Luckily for you these are our 4 tried & tested methods for finding clean and safe campsites and most importantly, how to find the best areas for free camping in Australia.
We have created a more in depth video which explains each of these methods in more detail as well as a few favourite hacks to finding campsites in Australia.
1. The Best Camping Apps
If you are looking for the best Australia camping app, there are two we would recommend: Wiki Camps & Campermate. Both are very similar but there are unique advantages to both also. Firstly, Campermate is free, Wiki Camps is around AU$7.00.
Using GPS (although the maps can also be downloaded offline) both camping apps will show you campsites nearby as well as the cost and reviews for each site. They also show where to find free camping in Australia, public toilets, where to top up water and empty waste water tanks.
They are ideal if you are camping in Australia on a budget as you can filter the campsites based on price – so only those within your budget are shown on the map.
We also found apps are the best way of finding up to date reviews and closure information on campsites in Australia – books and camping ground websites are not updated daily but these apps are!
2. Ask Locals
Locals know their area best and when we were camping in Australia, we found locals were more than happy to suggest shortcuts, offer hidden gems and share their secret camping spots. One local we met when camping in Victoria even brought over a bottle of whisky, ice and tumblers and helped us plan our route as he was an experienced truck driver.
When we were camping on Great Ocean Road we also met a local who pointed out there was a koala above our van – we would never have noticed otherwise! As well as the local children in Byron Bay who were surrounding our van as it turns out a group of baby ducklings were under it!
Even by popping in to local coffee shops or chatting with dog walkers you are bound to learn a tip or two about the local area and where your next night’s sleep will be. The best campsites in Australia are the ones only locals know about, so be friendly as you’re guaranteed to learn of a hidden gem or two.
If searching for free camping in Australia specifically, we recommend joining these Facebook groups where locals and tourists alike share their favourite spots:
Although camping apps are the easiest way to find camping spots for more recent recommendations, we have found Facebook so valuable especially in backpacker or campervan groups. Simply ask for personal recommendations for a particular area and you will likely have a response in minutes.
Facebook groups are also ideal if you are looking for travel mates to go camping with. Simply search for travel mates wanted or backpackers in Australia and you will find lots of groups of others (like you) looking for a crew to go camping in Australia with.
From Facebook to an actual book. Internet or phone coverage can be extremely limited when camping in Australia so just in case we recommend keeping one of these books in your car or backpack. Having a book as back up will mean you won’t be stranded should your phone run out of battery or there are no locals nearby to ask. Some campsites in Australia offer discounts too if you collect coupons from the back of the book or show vouchers found in camping magazines etc, so keep your eye on these offers.
Book detailing campsites of Australia.
HOW MUCH DOES CAMPING IN AUSTRALIA COST?
Although we shared ways to find the best free camping in Australia, you will need to pay for campsites if your campervan requires charge or you simply need a hot shower. From the camping apps we shared above, you can filter the cost depending on your budget and campermate even colour codes campsites depending on price.
Generally speaking, we found campsites to be anywhere from $25 – $50 as we were camping in Australia during peak Season (December to February.) From all the paid for campsites we averaged at $40 a night.
Nearer major cities or attractions this was understandably more expensive and privately owned campsites (not chains such as Discovery Parks etc) tended to be cheaper.
How to save money on campsites in Australia:
- Book more than one night: We saved serious dollar in Byron Bay by booking a “5 nights for the price of 3” deal and found these deals common in campsites in Australia.
- Book directly with the campsite: On the campsites own website there is often discount codes or special offer pages, we saved upto 20% in some Australia campsites by booking directly, not through a third party.
- Join a loyalty scheme: Through our campervan rental we received a Top Parks & Discovery Parks G’day Rewards Keyring, this gave us 10% off ALL of their campsites in Australia as well as earn loyalty points & money off local attractions – every penny counts!
- Avoid peak times: Although it was during a public holiday weekend that we scored the Byron Bay deal often peak season (Dec – Feb) and weekends are the most expensive time to go camping in Australia, so to save big bucks avoid these times.
HOW TO STAY COOL WHEN CAMPING IN AUSTRALIA
To be honest it wasn’t the wildlife we feared when camping in Australia, it was the heat. Especially as we were camping in Summer battling high humidity and heatwaves.
Luckily for you, we sweated it out and have put together 10 tips for keeping cool when camping in Australia. Although our tips are tailored to our campervan experience, the majority are suitable for those in tents too and will hopefully help you have a sweat free sleep.
FREE CAMPING IN AUSTRALIA:
THE PROS & CONS
Hopefully using our suggestions above, you have found numerous free campsites in Australia for a night away off the beaten track. To us, free camping is an unmissable experience (not to mention the financial bonus) however, please do your research and consider our pros and cons below before you embark on an adventure outdoors as we’ll be honest – free camping in Australia is not for everyone.
Advantages of Free Camping in Australia
- It’s free: Starting with the obvious, you save money. Although we do recommend purchasing breakfast or a coffee at a local business as a wee thank you to the local community for allowing you to camp for free. This is just one of many ways to be a responsible traveller and will further heighten the reputation of campers and encourage locals to keep allowing us to camp for free.
- It’s quiet: Camping in the tourist hot spots such as Melbourne, Sydney or Uluru does mean campsites are incredibly crowded. Free camping sites in Australia are often the most peaceful because in many ways only the true adventurer will enjoy them (See cons below.)
- Stars: As free campsites in Australia are often off the beaten track, this means they are further from cities and civilisation therefor offer the best stargazing spots in the country.
- Wildlife: Less people usually means more wildlife. We have admired skies full of flying foxes in Brisbane, dingos trying to pinch our flip flops in NSW, kangaroos peeping in our windows in the Grampians and koalas chilling above our van on The Great Ocean Road. There is no better feeling than waking up to the birds instead of a bustling city.
Disadvantages of Free Camping in Australia
- Self-Contained Only: Although this rule was less strict than New Zealand, many free campsites are for self-contained campers only. This means you need your own supply of water and a toilet. Motorhomes, campervans and caravans will require a self-contained certificate to prove to authorities that they have these onboard. If you can’t prove this when authorities or rangers show up, you will be fined for using free campsites in Australia without them.
- No Home Comforts: Although we did find some incredible free campsites with FLUSH toilets, hand soap and even warm showers this is incredibly rare. Free camping in Australia does usually involve drop toilets or no toilet at all (hence self-contained only) and no showers. If you require a mirror in the morning or simply warm water to wash your face, you might prefer paid campsites in Australia.
- Humans: To be honest, one of the most frustrating thing about free camping in Australia is other people not respecting the rules. Whether it’s urinating outside, lighting campfires illegally or leaving rubbish sometimes people feel free campsites mean free to act however they please. Please be a responsible traveller – leave your campsite BETTER than you found it.
- 4-Wheel Drive Roads: It’s inevitable that the best free camping sites in Australia will be found along the toughest roads. The reason these campsites are so unspoiled and quiet is because only the diehard campers make it. So many roads we had to turn back or simply could not attempt as our rental campervan would be prohibited due to insurance reasons, or the corners were simply too narrow for our vehicle. Camping apps such as Campermate & Wikicamps mentioned above are great resources for informing you of the roads leading to free campsites as well reviews of the sites themselves. Nothing worse than making the treacherous treck there to discover the site is full up or worse, closed!
BEST FREE CAMPSITES IN AUSTRALIA
We are aware that free campsites in Australia open and close continually. After bad floods or idiotic tourists, campsites are forced to close where as new ones are also being set up daily. For this reason we will continue to update our Australia camping guide but from our road trip in 2019, these were our favourite free campsites – the majority of which were on the East Coast.
Free Camping in Victoria
Free Camping in Victoria could not be easier, there were so many campsites especially if you go inland. Best of all, Victoria is the koala capital of Australia AND is home to a very sociable fairy penguin colony. At times, free camping in Victoria is very basic (literally a layby at the side of the road) but there are also some amazing hidden gems:
- Panmure Camping – You might be surprised to learn this was just one of TEN free campsites on The Great Ocean Road and this is the best of the bunch. Panmure is one of those gold dust free campsites in Australia because it offered flush toilets and hand soap instead of the drop toilets. It was also surprisingly quiet considering it was near the road, although it can become busy in peak season so arrive early, around 4pm. Nearby there was even a natural swimming pool complete with diving board as well as a sheltered BBQ area – we did promise the BEST free campsites in Australia and this one ticks every box!
- McLoughlin’s Beach – As mentioned, like all states free camping in Victoria can become crowded as the best campsites don’t stay secret for long. McLoughlin’s beach however is a hidden gem which was probably our favourite free campsite in Australia due to the kindest locals we’ve ever met, an insane sunset over the stunning jetty and you guessed it… FLUSH toilets. There was also a tranquil boardwalk over beautiful bushland with lots of wildlife.
- Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park – As you drive along the very straight Shoreline Drive which runs adjacent to Ninety Mile Beach you will find numerous inlets suitable for camping. These are known as Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park and in total there are 19 campsites. The most popular are C4 Campground, C5 and C6. Some have drop toilets and can fit motorhomes and campervans, others are much smaller and only suitable for tents. Nearly all however have access to the beach at the other side which was one of the most beautiful we’ve ever seen.
Free Camping NSW
Free camping in NSW is incredibly popular, as like Victoria there are so many free campsites and the rules are more relaxed about where you can wild camp in comparison to other states. You will be spoiled for choice when free camping in NSW but these are our favourites:
- Ebor Sports & Rec – When searching for free camping areas in NSW, this is a perfect example of why detouring from the coast is an excellent idea. Ebor Sports & Rec is located on the stunning waterfall way which is disturbingly quiet because few campers have time for the detour in land. The location is beautiful and mere minutes from Ebor Falls although being so high it can get chilly (which we were overjoyed about after camping in a heatwave). It receives bonus points because it is a free campsite in Australia with hand soap and flush toilets. *Note not entirely free, it does ask for a donation
- Bodalla Forest Rest Area – The minute we pulled into Bodalla Forest Rest Area we knew it would be one of our favourite spots for free camping in NSW. The towering trees and designated pitches made it peaceful and private. The only slight disadvantage was the drop toilets, but it is a small price to pay in order to sleep in such beautiful surroundings. We actually filmed our keeping cool in a campervan video here it was that quiet!
- Culburra Community RV Stop – Although not completely free, it was requested you leave a donation. This was a favourite hidden gem from our time free camping in NSW as there was only us and a friendly family who were living the dream, caravanning around Australia with their children. The sunset here was spectacular and there were even flush toilets which had a phone number you could ring if the standards were not satisfactory – how amazing is that!? Although a nearby freight train did wake us up in the middle of the night, the spot was otherwise blissfully quiet and definitely one of our favourite *nearly* free campsites in Australia
- Lake Wallace: Around 1 hour from Sydney is the famous Blue Mountains which are unmissable when visiting Australia. Lake Wallace was one of the best areas for free camping in NSW because it had showers, an incredible view and SO much space. It was one of the biggest free campsites in Australia we came across and the sunrise here was an incredible start for our Blue Mountains day trip.
Free Camping in Australian National Parks
The National Parks in Australia offer some of the most beautiful free camping sites however, despite them being free you are still required to book. Some have gates with a coded lock and you will only be given access to the code when you book.
The National Parks in Australia also offer very, very cheap camping when free camping grounds are not possible (usually around AU$8.00). Some of these can be booked online, others work on an honesty system. Please do not try and cheat the system and avoid putting your donation in the honesty box as it will result in more and more of these cheap campsites in Australia being closed. The fees go to an excellent cause so please pay.
Each National Park has a different booking system and various fees. You can usually book by phone or online. We have heard that due to low staff numbers you might struggle to book over the phone as it can result in frustratingly long queues or at times, no answer at all. Therefor, the best option is to book National Park campsites online at the websites below:
OUR TOP 10 PAID CAMPSITES IN AUSTRALIA
Now that we have covered the best sites for free camping in Australia and the super cheap National Park camping grounds, here are our favourite paid for campsites in Australia. The majority are from camping on the East Coast, however we would love to add to this list so feel free to comment below if you have any favourite campsites, you’d like us to add.
Best Campgrounds in NSW
Eden Gateway Holiday Park
Cost: AU$27.00 per night (powered), 10% discount applied
We wished we could have stayed here longer as the staff were so incredibly friendly offering so much recommendations for the area as well as other advice for camping in Australia. It had a beautiful swimming pool which was so refreshing in the heat and it was an enjoyable walk into town. Toilets were a little dated but clean nonetheless and pitches were spacious. A worthy addition to our best camping spots in NSW.
Waves Campground, Crescent Head
Cost: AU$30.00 per night (powered)
Hands down one of the best camping spots in NSW. Not only does it have fire pits, surf lessons and yoga classes but the cutest communal areas for great food and drinks and the beach mere minutes away. For us, it was one of the best camping spots in NSW as we spotted a dingo here which we thought could only be found on Fraser Island. There was even signs in the toilets that a friendly python lived nearby! If that isn’t camping in Australia at it’s finest, I don’t know what is. Although do note, the road in is unsealed but manageable if you take your time. As we mentioned earlier, unfortunately the best campsites in Australia are often at the end of the toughest roads.
BIG4 Karuah Jetty Holiday Park
Cost: AU$37.80 per night (powered), 10% discount applied
Although the best camping spots in NSW are usually off the beaten track, this BIG 4 was a surprising favourite. Although it did have great facilities such as a swimming pool, huge pitches, great toilets and friendly staff you’d expect nothing less for AU$40.00 a night. What made it special was the jetty and the beautiful sunset here, it was one of our favourite nights in our campervan and definitely one of the best camping spots in NSW especially if travelling with a family.
Best Campgrounds in Victoria
Mornington Gardens Holiday Village
Cost: AU$41.00 per night (powered)
As one of the most popular Melbourne day trips, we knew camping on Mornington Peninsula wasn’t going to be cheap. Although it sounds expensive, this was one of our favourite campsites in Victoria and a fabulous price for the location as well as the excellent facilities. We had a little mix up with our reservation (not the campgrounds fault) and the staff were so helpful and friendly that we cannot recommend it enough. The fact each pitch had hedges around it for extra privacy and small toilet cabins that made our pitch practically ensuite were further reasons this is one of the best camping spots in Victoria. We also spent Valentines night here which was one of our most hilarious memories from camping in Australia.
Kennett River Holiday Park
Cost: AU$36.90 (powered), 10% discount applied
Camping on Great Ocean Road was another favourite memory from our time in Australia and Kennett River is the main reason for this. As far as best camping spots in Victoria go, I don’t think you’ll find a more perfect campsite with a beautiful beach at the front and trees filled with wild koalas to the back – it was an incredible experience. The facilities were perfect, staff friendly and pitches were surprisingly spacious considering it was nearby the Koala walk which is one of the most popular stops on the Great Ocean Road.
It is possible to park and just do the koala walk next to the campsite but we recommend camping here overnight as it is at sunset when the koalas are most active, we even witnessed one cross the road and one climb down from the tree above our van. It was an unforgettable experience and one of the best campsites in Australia for tents and vans alike.
Halls Gap Lakeside Tourist Park
Cost: AU$34.20 per night (powered)
In all honesty, this is not only one of the best camping spots in Victoria but hands down our favourite campsite in Australia. I genuinely do not know where to begin explaining how incredible this campsite is. The location is in the heart of the Grampian Mountains (another popular Melbourne day trip) so the views are insane not to mention there are an abundance of friendly kangaroos and beautiful birds.
There were two beautiful swimming pools and toilets so pristine, they rival hotels we’ve stayed at. The reception even had barista coffee and you could book glamping tents too. We wish all camping in Australia was like this and would return to Halls Gap in a heartbeat.
Best Campgrounds in South Australia
Barossa Valley Discovery Park
Cost: AU$31.51 per night (powered), 20% discount applied
There is probably one reason you are searching for the best campsites in South Australia – wine. Barossa valley is the country’s wine capital and camping here is an ideal way to be in the heart of the wineries… or an easy stumble home after a tasting or 10.
We researched the best camping in South Australia for a long time as we had a strict criteria and Barossa Valley Discovery Park ticked every box. Not only was it within walking distance of wineries, but better yet it offered bike hire for AU$40.00 per person per day so we were able to avoid paying for an expensive bus tour and could cycle at our own pace.
The pitch was large and there was also a swimming pool and kids play ground. The staff were not the friendliest to be honest, they were quite abrupt and not very helpful when we tried to arrange wine to be dropped off from our tour but we had possibly been spoiled with the customer service we’d received thus far camping in Australia.
Southend Sands Caravan Park
Cost: AU$25.00 per night (cash only – powered)
Unlike Barossa Valley Discovery Park, Southend Sands makes it to our best camping in South Australia list for the excellent customer service. The owner was so incredibly friendly offering endless suggestions for things to do in the area and even allowed us to pay the following morning as we had no cash on us at the time. The facilities were basic but the best part was the incredible beach that was mere minutes’ walk away.
From our entire time camping in Australia, our favourite sunset was witnessed here and best of all, we had the entire beach to ourselves. If searching for the best camping in South Australia do not overlook Southend Sands in favour of the bigger parks as this was such a perfect camping spot, we wished we stayed longer.
Best campgrounds in Queensland
Ocean Beach Tourist Park
Cost: AU$43.00 per night (powered), AU$10.00 discount applied
One of our favourite sunshine coast camping grounds was Ocean Beach Tourist Park. Although pricey, it is expected when you are camping literally on the beach in Miami, Queensland. Pitches were large and the staff were incredibly friendly. It was also easy to get an Uber into town or walk all along the beautiful beach front to the city.
Jacob Wells Tourist Park
Cost: AU$25.00 per night (powered), AU$10.00 discount applied
Another fabulous sunshine coast camping ground because of the spotless toilets, abundance of wildlife watching and size of pitch. We spent hours watching the skies fill with flying foxes each night here, an experience we’ll never forget. The location was beautiful, they had a fantastic outdoor kitchen as well as being dog friendly which is often rare when camping in Australia.
8 BEST TIPS FOR CAMPING IN AUSTRALIA
- Wildlife: The main thing you need to be wary of when camping in Australia. Store food correctly to avoid critters invading, read up on the correct first aid prior should any bites occur and never feed any wildlife you find as this can encourage aggressive behaviour. While camping on the Great Ocean Road at Panmure near the 12 apostles we woke up to our campervan surrounded by boxing kangaroos – needless to say we hid inside!
- Follow Signs: Only camp in designated spots suitable for your camping style. Do not risk free camping in Australia where it says self-contained camping only if you’re not certified as you will incur expensive fines.
- Bush Fires: Unfortunately, these are common due to the heat and controlled fires are also common in certain areas to avoid more devastating bush fires. Only light camp fires where there are designated areas as they can become out of hand incredibly quickly when camping in Australia.
- Water: When free camping in Australia especially, always take enough drinking water. Also check if campsites offer drinking water as we noticed many only have rain water which isn’t always safe to drink. Check for signs that say “potable water” or if it is safe to drink.
- Taking Pets: We were really surprised how few campsites in Australia actually allow pets. This is to protect the nature of the area including birds and to avoid the mess dogs etc can cause. Always check prior to booking a campsite if your furry friends can come along as unfortunately pet friendly campsites are quite rare.
- 4 Wheel Drive: As previously mentioned, particularly with free camping sites in Australia the roads to them are often only suitable for 4 wheel drive. You will not be covered by rental insurance if you take a rental caravan on unsealed roads, not to mention how long emergency vehicles and breakdown vehicle will take to access these roads so only enter them if you are well equipped and experienced to do so.
- Caravan Free Roads: On a similar note, some roads are so narrow and corners so tight that caravans are prohibited entirely. Abide by these rules, again for your safety and others on the road. It’s best to read the campsite reviews if it mentions not suitable for caravans.
- Keep It Clean: Instead of just leaving a campsite as you found it, endeavour to leave it better than you found it. Pick up your 3 for the sea (at least), speak up if you see others being irresponsible, ensure any campfires or cairns left by others are dismantled. Your good example of being a responsible traveller will have a snowball effect on those around you.
We hope our Australia camping guide has filled you with inspiration, dispelled a few rumours and taught a few no-nos to avoid in preparation for your next adventure. We genuinely feel we would not have made as many priceless memories had we stuck to hostels instead of exploring the numerous campsites in Australia and the wonderful wildlife, friendly locals and surroundings that come with them. We would love to know your favourite camping spots or even a hack or two that we haven’t mentioned, let us know in the comments to make our camping in Australia guide even more useful for those ready for an epic, Aussie adventure.