Free Camping. Cheap Camping. The Best Budget Campsites in Australia.
Free camping is the "cheap travel" idea which saves us thousands. Accommodation costs can really add up over the course of a holiday, so camping free as often as possible really helps the budget.
It is not unusual for a family of 5 to be charged around $50 for a caravan site at a caravan park ($25 for the site + $8 per child), and of course cabins, motels or hotels will be even more expensive.
Imagine being a able to stay at a place like this for $5/night for a family of 5, just metres from coral reefs, turtles and great fishing. And the nearest camper is over 100m away (during peak season).(Blowholes campground, near Carnarvon, WA.)
Click here to search for Free Camping or Cheap Camping by State
Or staying free ON the beach in Kingston, SA.
Or a place like this for free with absolutely nobody else around! (Alpine NP, near Omeo, Vic.)
There are many spots like these waiting for you, but to enjoy most of these places, a fair degree of self-sufficiency is needed when it comes to things like power and water. See our
page for more.
We've found free camping preferable to staying in caravan parks for other reasons too:
- You can freely choose your own site
- As close to or far away from others as you want.
- With the amount of space that you require for your set-up.
- Away from the road (especially highways).
- Under a tree, on a grassy site, angled away from the sun, near the water etc (whatever is important to you).
- Except for
your pets can usually come with you.
- Campfires are usually allowed. (But do carry your own firewood, as many campsites have a ban on collecting timber, or are barren due to the campers who have been before you).
- There is usually much less noise and artificial light - these things can put a dampener on the camping atmosphere!
- It usually enables closer proximity to the natural environment - rivers and beaches for boating, fishing and all sorts of water sports, mountains for climbing and trails for bushwalking.
Our purpose on this website is not to list every available free or cheap campsite Australia wide. There are plenty of wonderfully researched books available which already do a great job of that. What we hope to do is to highlight only the best.
We often find ourselves asking others, and being asked ourselves, "Out of all the hundreds of free or cheap campsites listed, which ones really stand out or shouldn't be missed?"
So that's the question we are answering here - Out of all the campsites we have stayed in around Australia, which ones are the best?
Free Camping or Cheap Camping by State or Region
Click on the relevant state or region below for a listing of our favourites, and the favourites of a like-minded travelling community.
Guides to Free Camping in Australia
There are several excellent guides listing free camping and cheap campsites in Australia. Some are comprehensive, covering all states, and are therefore quite bulky and heavy. Others are smaller, lighter, state or region based guides.
If you are planning to travel in more than one or two states, there are two comprehensive guides to free camping which we can recommend. Each has some campsites and information which the other lacks, and we find ourselves regularly referring to both.
1. Camps Australia Wide 6 - The Ultimate Guide for The Budget Conscious Traveller
In our experience, Camps 6
(as it is commonly referred to), is the most widely used comprehensive free camping guide.
Camps Australia Wide 6 promotes itself as a comprehensive travel guide to the best camping spots, free camps, station stays, rest areas, cheap caravan and tourist holiday parks, National Parks and State Forests. The ultimate guide for the budget and freedom traveller.
It contains over 3,700 listings, and is a great guide for campers, motorhomers, caravanners and also very useful for visitors to Australia who are travelling by rental campervan or motor home.
Facilities at each site are depicted by symbols, including not only the standard ones, but those applicable to motorhomes, such as big rigs, maximum stay allowed, dump points, pets allowed, fees applicable.
Descriptive icons include: close to road, pleasant outlook or vista, mobile phone coverage, dry weather access and author recommended sites. All sites now have GPS co-ordinates.
Camps 6 also comes in the "Camps Snaps" format which in addition to a location description, includes over 2,100 photos of campsites. This enables a visual preview of the sites before you arrive. (It is a little bulkier and more expensive, but in our opinion, well worthwhile for extended trips).
The book is broken up into States or Territories, each colour-coded for easy navigation.
Both of the Camps Australia Wide 6 books shown above include the complete Hema Road Atlas, with the campsites positioned in their exact locations on the maps. You can therefore use this book for maps, as well as for locating a suitable campsite.
There is a list of over 400 public dump point locations. It includes addresses and GPS co-ordinates, as well as symbols to show suitability for cassettes, holding tanks, (and whether a fee is applicable), together with accessibility for big rigs.
In our opinion, these guides represent great value for money. The cost of the book will be recouped after only a few nights of free camping (or maybe after only 1 night with a family). It truly does pay for itself, in both money saved and convenience.
Being able to plan a trip with stopovers that are free or low cost, away from the 'busyness' of a caravan park (if you choose), knowing if a pet is welcome and seeing at a glance what facilities are available, make this guide such a wonderful resource for any Australian traveller.
TIP: If you are planning to invest in a copy, we would advise purchasing well in advance of your trip, if possible. This will allow you to make notes against the appropriate campsites as you receive tips from this website(!) and friends, about the best places to camp.
The only criticisms we had of this extremely useful guide, was its bulky size, and lack of accurate pricing details for each campsite (only a very rough indication is given).
For anyone planning to utilise caravan parks during some or all of their trip, the Caravan Parks Australia Wide
book would also be extremely useful.
It is a comprehensive, easy-to-read caravan park guide. It includes 2,300 caravan and tourist parks, all with informative colour symbols indicating what facilities are available at each park.
Camps 5 only lists caravan parks that are under $22/night, but all price ranges are included in this guide.
Also included is a symbol for onsite cabins, and the latest Hema Road Atlas marked with caravan park locations.
2. Camping Around Australia (Explore Australia).
BRAND NEW EDITION. Published 1st Nov, 2010.
Camping Around Australia
is a comprehensive camping guide which describes itself as "Australia's most comprehensive camping directory for families, bushwalkers and travellers". It lists over 2,600 campsites (both free camping and low-cost camping), and provides maps of every camping region.
Most of the features listed for the Camps 6 guide above could also be listed here.
Some things we like about this guide over Camps 6 are:
- More comprehensive word descriptions of sites.
- Indicates whether available showers are hot or cold. (In cold weather this can be very important!)
- Cheaper than Camps 6.
- Includes practical tips to help you prepare for your camping trip.
- The first edition of this book contained lots of large, clear photos, but unfortunately these have been omitted in this edition and there are now NO PHOTOS. The first edition also contained indicative pricing for each listing, but unfortunately this latest edition simply contains a symbol indicating when a fee is applicable, and telephone contact details for each site so that you can make your own enquiries.
Criticisms (when compared to Camps 6):
- Lacks dump point information.
- Fewer free camping listings than Camps 6 - means missing out on some available free campsites.
MORE CAMPING GUIDES
How much does it Cost To Travel Australia?
Tips to Reduce Accommodation Costs
Go to Best Things To Do in Australia (sorted by region).
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