Australia is a treasure-trove of superb camping spots. Yet it can take a little digging to get off the beaten track and find sites that aren’t overrun with hordes of holiday-makers.
The digging is certainly worth it though. To discover the beauty of an outback dawn broken by a cacophony of birdsong. Or to set up camp beside an empty beach. Or to find a place where you can light a campfire and cook damper on sticks. This is what camping’s all about. Not jumping pillows and neighbours so close you can hear their snores at night.
Here are our top picks of camping spots in Australia (9 of these are Victorian based, because we’re based in Melbourne right now):
1. Wilsons Prom – Victoria
This infamous national park is going to make most people’s lists of top camping spots. And for good reason. It is simply stunning. The rocks from Mt Oberon tumble down into the bay, the sea shimmers, and the soothing Tidal River pours its tannin-stained waters into this sea. Camping is comfortable at Tidal River, or you can set off on overnight walks if you’re feeling adventurous.
2. Torquay – Victoria
The Torquay Foreshore Caravan Park is the only beachfront caravan park in Torquay. Because it is situated at the start of the Great Ocean Road it can often get quite busy – especially in summer! The Bell Street cafes, restaurants and shops are just out the front of the park, and the Torquay town centre is within easy walking distance. It is worth checking out if you want to be among the hustle and bustle in summer, it quietens down in cooler months.
3. Halls Gap Caravan Park in the Grampians – Victoria
The Halls Gap Caravan Park is the only park located in the centre of Halls Gap. It is a warm and friendly place that is dog friendly and family friendly. The really cool thing about the Grampians and this spot is that there are kangaroos everywhere! You can get up close and personal to them as they are used to people being around. Cute!
4. Queenscliff Caravan Park – Victoria
Queenscliff has a very special spot in my heart, my family spends a few weeks here every summer and they have since I was little. The Queenscliff tourist park is a two minute walk to the beach and a five minute walk to the main street in Queenscliff (and the amazing lolly shop and ice cream shop!). It can get very busy over the peak-periods. Worth checking out in the down season.
5. Lake Eildon National Park – Victoria
Lake Eildon National Park is in the northern foothills of Victoria’s Central Highlands, 150 km north-east of Melbourne. Situated on the shores of Lake Eildon, the park is surrounded by open woodlands and dense forest. Here you can enjoy bush walking, boating and fishing or try the more adventurous pursuits of water skiing and mountain bike riding.
6. Conron Coastal Park – Victoria
Think tall trees and dirt-floored campsites, open fires, no fresh water or showers. This is true-blue camping that is a long haul from civilisation. But the effort is well and truly worth it. Once you make it here (with plenty of supplies) you won’t want to leave any time soon.
7. Aire River – Victoria
This super-chilled, shady campground west of Apollo Bay ticks a lot of people’s boxes. There’s a languid river, a beautiful beach, grassy sites, and a real sense that you’re checking out from civilisation for a while.
8. Phillip Island Glamping – Victoria
There’s not much that is better than sleeping under the stars by the beach. Let me tell you, it’s even better when someone else has pitched and styled your tent for you! Check out Phillip Island Glamping for an amazing and once-off experience.
9. Mount Buffalo National Park – Victoria
There is a tonne of stuff to do around Mount Buffalo National Park. There are over 90 kms of walking tracks around the area that feature panoramic scenery and waterfalls. You can enjoy picnics, canoeing and camping at Lake Catani in the summer months (it can get busier in the summer months though!).
10. Gillards Beach – New South Wales
You know the old adage, “The harder you work, the luckier you get”? Getting to Gillards Beach, can be a real effort. But it’s absolutely worth it. A smattering of campsites are nestled next to the sand dunes on this remote beach which can feed a family if you have an eager fisherman amongst you.
11. Point Plomer – New South Wales
Try to get to this popular campground when it’s not school holidays. You’ll be rewarded with a quiet little slice of near-uninhabited paradise, where you can go on a digital detox surrounded by the sounds of crashing waves and birdsong. Brave the elements in winter and you’ll likely spot the whales on their annual migration, too.
12. Flat Rock Tent Park – New South Wales
OK, so this campsite doesn’t tick the box for being off the beaten track. It’s a stone’s throw from busy Ballina and it can get pretty packed. But if you’re looking for a campsite that will act as a great base to explore the highlights of Byron Bay, Lennox Head and the hinterland, then this is a great low-key option (as far as organised caravan parks go).
13. Byron Bay, Glen Villa Resort – New South Wales
The Glen Villa Resort is a traditional Byron Bay Caravan Park and Camping Ground. It is sprawled over 14 acres, is really close to the beach and even closer to town. We stayed here last time we were in Byron – check out how we spent the long weekend here.
14. Calliope River Free Camp – Queensland
When you’re on a travel budget, finding a good free camp is almost as good as being gifted a puppy. So when you pull into a place like Calliope River, it catapults to the top of your ‘best of’ list. This place has towering gum trees, a billabong that’s full of beautiful birdlife, and plenty of neighbours willing to share their travel tales.
15. Mataranka Homestead – Northern Territory
This is an absolute oasis in the middle of Australia. It’s a famous old homestead that has been converted into a campground, right next to some blissfully balmy hot springs. The water is so crystal clear you can see every bubble and grain of sand, and a temperature so perfect you’re never hot nor cold. The perfect salve for a long, hot drive.
16. Merl Campground, Kakadu – Northern Territory
If you’re not afraid of a few flies and blistering heat, then time your trip to Kakadu for the shoulder season when the campgrounds are almost empty and you can really soak up the serenity of this magical place. Merl is the campsite at the north-eastern end of the park, and is the perfect place to set up camp before exploring world-renowned sites like Ubirr and the East Alligator River.
17. Gugudju Lodge, Cooinda – Northern Territory
This campsite is tacked alongside the fancy accommodation in the southern end of Kakadu, near the infamous Yellow Waters. It’s within driving distance of must-see sites like Nourlangie, Maguk and the Yellow Water Billabong. And it has two pools. A camping luxury that you’ll be ridiculously grateful for after a hot day exploring.
18. Barn Hill Station – Western Australia
This super-special campsite south of Broome is perched on the edge of a red cliff, with ghost gums providing delicious shade on the grassy sites. You can climb down the cliff and explore the beach below, or simply chill out up top and watch the days slide by.
19. Cape Keraudren – Western Australia
This campsite is out of this world. The sites are on the white sand at the southern tip of 80 mile beach, so you’ve got the sand between your toes the entire time. There’s nothing to do here except fish, collect shells and count hermit crabs (and scratch at sandfly bites). It’s a place for deep relaxation and contemplation.
20. Dales Campground, Karijini National Park – Western Australia
Karijini is an assault on the senses, with gigantic gorges to explore and a remarkable amount of flora and fauna for a place so desert-like. Dales Campground is a great place to set up camp, with the magical Fern Pool and Fortescue Falls only a short walk away. You could camp at the other end of the park in a more built-up campground, but Dales really makes you feel like you’re out in the absolute middle of nowhere.
The list could go on!
We are spoilt for choice in Australia. So, whether you want to camp close to home or go somewhere further afield, there are plenty of amazing places to choose from.