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Free Camping in Australia

Tuesday 10th September 2019
By Ely Power
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By Ely Power
Caravan, motorhome or campervan hire is the perfect choice if you want to discover the real Down Under and its myriad of natural wonders. Along the way, an Australian road trip will bring you off the beaten track on all sorts of spontaneous and spectacular adventures - memories you might never make staying in a hotel resort.

Free camping (or ‘freedom camping’ as our Kiwi neighbours like to call it) is an awesome way to unplug from the hubbub of city life and explore everything that the vast wilderness has to offer - especially when you’re on a budget! But what is it, exactly? 

When you free camp in Australia, you’re staying overnight at a designated camping spot free of charge. Essentially, you can enjoy some off-grid camping on a once-in-a-lifetime getaway that won’t eat up your savings. With nothing but the sweet sounds of nature and a crackling campfire by your side, it’s no wonder that free camping is a rite of passage on any true Aussie road trip.

Thanks to over 4,000 free or low-cost camping grounds in Australia, it’s safe to say that our country is a freedom camper’s paradise. So, hire a campervan and you can adventure your way across Australia without any climbing accommodation expenses. Sound like your kind of holiday? Read on to learn the ins and outs of free camping in Australia!

As a holidaymaker, Camplify helps you find an RV that is perfect for you so you can experience the joys of caravanning - without having to own one yourself. 

Interested? Learn more about Camplify here

Benefits Of Free Camping

Enjoy the serenity when free camping in Australia
Photo by Jimmy Conover on Unsplash

It’s Free

The best things in life are free! And as the name suggests, this way of camping won’t cost you a cent. You can save serious cash on accommodation when you hire a van for a free camping road trip around Australia, particularly if you plan to cover some extensive stretches. To top it off, parking up at a free campsite means more money to spend on camping ‘essentials’ like beer, bickies and BBQ supplies!

It’s Flexible

Free campers are not bound by bookings, check-ins and rigorous agendas. If you’re loving a particular camping spot, stay another night (provided you respect site regulations) and if you’re not feeling it, pack up and move on whenever you like! Basically, you can tailor your road trip as you go, arriving and leaving as you please. 

It’s Pet-Friendly (Sometimes)

Another big plus of free camping is that your furry companion can join you on your journey, unlike with a lot of holiday parks. While pets are usually not allowed in National Parks, many free camping spots welcome your fluffy friends. To protect this privilege, make sure to keep your dog or cat on a lead and to clean up after them, especially when other people or animals are in the area!

It’s Freedom In The Wild

Last but not least, free camping allows you to completely immerse yourself in the great outdoors. With the freedom to camp beside pristine beaches, on the edge of magnificent cliffs and deep within lush rainforests, you can experience Australia’s breathtaking nature like never before. Oftentimes, you have this natural beauty and serenity all to yourself; simply step outside your campervan! 

Free Camping Rules In Australia

Photo by Ben Jehan on Unsplash

Australia’s free camping laws vary depending on the state you’re exploring, but the below guidelines should help you to keep safe, avoid fines, and protect native habitats wherever you wander.

Hire A Self-Contained Campervan

To free camp, you must hire a campervan that is certified as self-contained. To get this certification, your vehicle needs to have a toilet and waste storage (which can be disposed of at a dump station). Not sure if it’s self-contained? Just ask its owner via a booking request! And before you drive away, check that your campervan rental has a self-containment sticker on display.

Only Camp In Designated Areas

Don’t assume that you can go free camping anywhere in Australia. Self-contained camping is still only permitted in specific zones, so make sure that you are actually allowed to free camp in the spot you’ve chosen. Otherwise, you could wake up to a hefty fine! What’s more, free campsite facilities range from absolutely nothing to BBQs and showers so it pays to do your research.

Thankfully, there are some very handy apps out there to help you find free campgrounds, as well as what amenities you can expect. Some even have offline features, letting you download maps and locations for when you go off-grid. 

Check out our favourite free camping apps:
  • The Travellers Autobarn App
  • Camping Australia
  • WikiCamps
  • State national park apps e.g. NSWParks

A final note: Most National Parks require you to buy a camping permit if you plan to stay overnight. Your best bet is to check the National Park’s website for its camping rules and regulations, as well as its must-do attractions and sights!

Stay Hydrated

The peaceful seclusion of free camping spots is down to their often remote locations. While some may have a water refill facility, it’s not a given. Trust us, there is nothing more annoying than settling in to your dream camping spot only to realise you have to go in search of a far off water refill station or servo. So no matter what, always bring as much water to your free campsite as possible. That way, your relaxing retreat in the wild will go uninterrupted and you can quench your thirst whenever needed.

Leave No Trace

Remember that free camping only equals sustainable camping if you make the effort to be a conscientious traveller. While Australia is home to heaps of glorious ecosystems, they can be damaged by camper carelessness. To preserve native biodiversity, you must follow fire safety guidelines and refrain from littering, taking any rubbish with you. Stick with environmentally-friendly camping practices and you can leave the Australian wilderness just as thriving as when you discovered it. 

The Best Free Camping Spots In Australia
Visit secluded beaches when you free camp in Australia

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Australia boasts an abundance of free camping spots in all corners of the country. For some pre-holiday prep, head over to Camps Australia Wide or Free Camping Australia to find the best free campgrounds in Australia. Alternatively, visit National Park websites, pop into local tourist offices or keep your eyes peeled for signs when you’re on the road. 

To help you get started with your search, we’ve listed a few of our top picks:

Green Patch, NSW

For some beautiful bush camping, drive straight to peaceful Green Patch Bay. Just a short stroll to the white sand beaches and crystal clear waters of Jervis Bay, you can relax and unwind with views of leaping dolphins and passing whales. Swim, snorkel and scuba dive in the marine park before cosying up by the campfire back at your site, which is pet-friendly and has easy 2WD access.

Blue Pool, VIC

If you’re on a road trip through Victoria, don’t miss a night or two at the Blue Pool camping area. Deep within the Briagolong State Forest in East Gippsland, this fern-covered camping spot is named after the azure swimming hole along Freestone Creek. The forest’s only campground with a toilet, it’s also fantastic for hikes along deep gorges, chancing your luck at gold prospecting and chilling out in pure tranquillity.  

Babinda Boulders, QLD

Park up by the glistening waters of Babinda Boulders for an unforgettable Queensland camping trip. Take a dip in the sparkling pools when the sunshine beams and snuggle up by a campfire after night falls. With 13 large sites nestled in the trees, as well as toilets and showers, this campsite has everything you need to stay comfortable on your adventure. And if your pooch wants a holiday too, free camp at nearby Rotary Park Campground!

Cosy Corner, Western Australia

This pet-friendly campground has a sheltered beach, granite cliffs and limestone islands right on its doorstep. Popular for swimming, you can also dive or snorkel to your heart’s content around the multicolour reefs in Ngari Capes Marine Park. Look out for giant blue gropers amongst the rainbow of shoals! In the rare case that the weather takes a turn, walk to the limestone platform and watch water spurt up to 6m high from its explosive blowholes.

Nullarbor Plain, Tasmania

For a wild Tassie adventure, camp at Bunda Cliffs in Nullarbor Plain. Not for those with a fear of heights, these staggering cliffs drop 80 metres into the Southern Ocean! While this campground has no facilities, its towering location makes for an epic sunset and sunrise views, as well as some prime whale-watching. Make sure to visit the magical Murrawijinie Caves while you’re here, hiking down into incredible sinkholes to check out ancient ochre hand art on the cavern walls. 

All in all, free campers can experience Australia at its most extraordinary without exceeding that holiday budget. And the more you know about it, the more you can make of it. Have you had a free camping adventure in Australia? We’d love to hear about your favourite spots and top tips, so don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

So what is Camplify? 

We are Australia’s largest & New Zealand's newest caravan hire and RV sharing community, helping connect thousands of holidaymakers with RV owners. 

What does that mean?

Essentially, we provide a unique sharing service where owners of caravans, camper trailers, motorhomes, and campervans list their RV for hire while not in use. As an owner, this enables you to earn over $10,000 each year instead of having your RV just sitting around while you’re not using it. 

As a holidaymaker, Camplify helps you find an RV that is perfect for you so you can experience the joys of caravanning - without having to own one yourself. 

Interested? Learn more about Camplify here.

Feature Photo by Kevin Schmid on Unsplash

To find out how Camplify can work with you and your RV, register today here.

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