Author: Mark Lambert
9th December 2021
From lakefront sceneries and beachfront locations to campgrounds hidden in remote woodlands, there’s no doubt travelling and camping in Australia is an experience of a lifetime. But while Australia was made for life on the road, the spontaneity and freedom to park and set up camp wherever you like isn’t always permissible.
To help make you travel planning easier, we’ve pulled together a few of Seikka’s favourite free or low-cost getaways across the country that won’t get you in trouble:
Ingar Campground on Kings Tableland near Wentworth Falls, nestled among the scribbly gums, is the ideal stopover for Sydneysiders looking for a quick nature fix only a two-hour journey from the city.
This picturesque campsite is accessible via the undulating 9.5km Ingar trail and is a first-in-best-served kind of place. Ideal for big tent camping, it has eight unmarked campsites and a large campsite which can fit up to 20 people and four to five tents.
This remote area of the Blue Mountains is a popular spot for avid hikers and mountain bikers following the Wentworth Falls to Woodford Trail. There’s a nearby dam on Ingar Creek for swimming, kayaking, and canoeing (keep an eye out for an eastern water dragon near the water!), as well as kilometres of woodland and forest trails that run from the campground.
Chuck on the barbie in this magnificent spot and if you’re lucky gliders, possums and bandicoots will come out at night to play!
Price: Free - First in best dressed.
Camping type: Tent, remote/backpack camping
If you’re here for a remarkable show, Newnes Campground is your go. Mother Nature really works her magic with soaring sandstone walls and eucalyptus trees that make for a grand backdrop at this lush grass and flat campground by the Wolgan River deep in World Heritage Wollemi National Park.
A hidden gem just north of the Blue Mountains outside of Lithgow, this free camping ground is fit with barbecue facilities and toilets, perfect to pitch a tent or set up your camper trailer and relax under the trees. The majestic cliffs keep the sun off your tent which is perfect for a lie-in, however, the chirping birds sing in chorus proudly at dawn so make sure you bring earplugs if you’re a light sleeper. For the early birds, it could be a perfect reminder to get out and about to make the most of what this place has to offer.
Tire yourself out by exploring one of the multiple Wollemi National Park hikes that surround the site, or head out to discover the lairs of the old historic shale oil ruins nearby. Take a dip to cool off in the river nearby or if you have the kids visit the famous Glow-Worm tunnel to witness nature’s fairy lights, just a short drive away.
Price: There are no camping fees, but a $6 booking fee applies.
Camping type: Tent, camper trailer site, and tent camping beside vehicle.
If you’re short of time but want to get away from the city living into the great outdoors, Bribie Island National Park and Recreation Area is a short 65k journey north of Brisbane.
Expect stunning coastal views, majestic dunes, lush bushland, and freshwater lagoons and inlets, Bribie Island is a setting that money can’t buy and the perfect place to take the kids for a quick outdoor getaway.
If you’re free to drop your pine for a while, Poverty campsite is fittingly named for those on a budget. It is an open, spacious, and shady spot on the western side of the island with spectacular views of the Glasshouse Mountains. Fitted with toilets, cold showers, fire rings and picnic tables, the campsite is only accessible via 4WD, boat or kayak/canoe.
The island has infinite activities available, take a stroll through the splendid mountain ranges, hire a boat, and wet a line to catch a flathead, whiting or mangrove jack for dinner. If you’re not an avid fisher, bring a canoe or kayak and enjoy a scenic paddle witnessing the dugong feed on the seagrass in Pumicestone Passage.
Camping type: Tent, camper trailer, and tent camping beside vehicle.
The now ghost-town of Cumberland, 20 kilometres east of Georgetown is the perfect pit stop for an overnight stay if you’re cruising up north or if you’re looking for a cosy nook to stay a while.
Rich in mining history, dating back to the 1800s, the site is that remains of a mill from the old surrounding gold mines. It is home to a modest lagoon that has an abundance of space to park your motorhome or rig.
If you’re a lone ranger or looking for a remote off-grid adventure, this campsite is the one. On first impression, it looks like an everyday parking area, however, if you venture further, it boasts a secluded billabong perfect for relaxing.
The site itself is fairly basic – with a parking area, drop toilet amenities and a picnic table, but what it lacks in facilities it makes up for in boundless scenery, tranquillity and a charming billabong covered with water lilies. It’s also a bird lover’s paradise – home to black cockatoos, brightly coloured budgies, whistling kits and brolgas. So, make sure you keep your camera ready!
Camping type: Campervans and motorhomes and big rig access.
If you’re wanting to enjoy the serenity, set up camp at popular campground Meredith Park, situated on the shores of Lake Colac, the largest natural freshwater lake in Victoria.
A large, mostly level, and grassy campsite about 12km from Colac, it’s here that you can appreciate early morning lakeside views outside your caravan or tent. With easy access and a good quality boat ramp, it’s an ideal spot to tow a boat, with easy access for swimmers or launching for your canoe if you’re keen for a day on the water.
The grounds have 30 sites available and are maintained by the council, so they’re equipped with extensive facilities, easy access to water, shade, fireplace, drinking water, flushing toilets and a picnic table – making them an ideal place to start if you’re a first-time camper.
Meredith Park is a great spot for fishing and water activities when the tides are high – so anticipate boating adventures, water sports, picturesque sunsets, diverse birdlife, and open grassy spaces for the family to chill out and relax together.
Camping type: Tent, caravans, and camper trailers.
If you’re keen to continue your escape from the Melbourne CBD, drive 50kms from Meredith Park to the family-friendly Stevenson’s Falls, a free camping ground burrowed along the Great Ocean Road. It is an impressive valley camp sheltered within the Great Otway Forest by the Gellibrand River, with 50 different sized campsites suitable for tents, camper vans or caravans.
Around half of the camps available sit in shade provided by the Douglas Fir trees. You'll find the grass in the campground is well kept due to the resident kangaroos.
Camping is on a first come first served basis and no bookings are required, so make sure you arrive early to ensure a spot during peak periods.
The site is framed with soaring pine trees, Mountain Ash and abundant ferns of the rainforest which bring a sense of enchantment. To enhance the experience further take an easy 700-metre walk to the breathtaking views of one of Victoria’s highest waterfalls Stevenson Falls - 84 metres of plunging magnificence.
If you’re keen to break a sweat, take your bike for a spin with many of the areas in this forest that are used by trail bike riders.
Camping type: Tent and caravan access.
Found a half-hour drive north of Marble Bar, which is known to be the hottest town in Australia, lies Dooleena Gorge, a water hole shaded by the cliff face and trees making it the perfect spot to chuck on your swimmers and cool down.
The grounds are suitable for camper trailers, caravans, motorhomes, and tents, however, the facilities are fairly limited, so may only be suitable if you’re looking for a minimalist experience as it’s not for the faint of heart. With such high temperatures, Dooleena is a dusty gravel site and is accessible by 2WD, however, if you’re keen to explore the area a 4WD is recommended with all the unsealed road surfaces.
Plan your trip to arrive at this stunning spot around 5 pm just in time to watch and observe the exquisite red sunsets that light up the cliff face. If you want an even more impressive sunset, climb the gorge to the top of the waterfall for a spectacular view.
It is a brilliant dwelling for a family picnic, to bathe in the reservoir or try your luck at a local fishing spot in the Coongan Pools – you might even catch a Spangled Perch.
Camping type: Tent, caravan, camper trailers, caravans, and motorhomes access
Disappointment Rock lies on the 300-kilometre Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail between Hyden and Norseman. Contrary to its name, this camping area is situated in an impressive and constantly changing landscape - from Mallee scrub to a variety of eucalyptus types, granite ridges and salt lakes.
This site is a hidden prize for the brave and courageous, suitable for those who want to experience some of Australia’s most incredible trails and the biggest isolated A-tend rock formation in Australia.
Though the site is surrounded by incredible landscape it doesn’t provide much shade, so make sure to bring plenty of water to keep you hydrated. The facilities are minimal however the site provides designated fireplaces where guests can light bonfires and enjoy a meal by the fire pit surrounded by breathtaking views.
If you’ve got an extra day or two, spend some time exploring the water holes and impressive native plants, and keep an eye peeled for Pygmy possums and dingoes.
Camping type: Caravan and big rig access.
Bordered by ancient limestone caves, Talia Caves Campground is located on the west coast of the Eyre Peninsula opposite the Woolshed Cave. It offers a unique experience for Aussies to camp at the edge of the caves overlooking the breathtaking views of its surrounding surf beaches.
If you’re looking to chill out and relish the beauty of the coastline, set up your tent at one of its 20 bush camping. With minimalist facilities at hand, the campsite is the perfect spot if your inner explorer is eager to be set free.
Make sure you set some time for exploring the stunning cave formations or take a dip at Talia Beach just south of the campground but be aware of the big waves and strong rips well-known for this area.
If you’re a bit of a thrill-seeker, take the challenging climb to ‘The Tub’ 10 to 30 metres deep into the large crater cliff leading to the sea.
Camping type: Tent camping, caravan, camper trailer and campervan.
Tasmania is home to some of Australia’s most picturesque campsites; however, it’s continued to stay one of the last frontiers when it comes to camping adventures.
In saying this, Swimcart Beach in the Bay of Fires Conservation Area is one of its most popular free beachside campsites all year round (particularly during Christmas, Easter, and school holidays).
Swimcart Beach site is a grassed and sandy haven perched on the southern section of The Bay of Fires. Not only does it offer an abundance of sheltered beach sites but also endless activities to enjoy - fishing, swimming, bushwalking, diving, and fossicking in rock pools - you can easily spend some family time here in comfort.
Make sure you come prepared as the campsite has limited facilities - no water, showers, or power – however, you can easily pick up supplies at the town of Binnalong Bay, just a short drive away.
Pet-friendly: Pets on leads allowed.
Camping type: Tent camping, caravan, campervan, and big rig access.
Instead of forking out a fortune on accommodation, why not hire a van, motorhome r camping gear on Seikka and head off the beaten track to explore some of Australia’s best-kept camping secrets. You will never look back.