Home Road Trip Free Camping Australia: Adventure Wilderness in Low Budget Style

Free Camping Australia: Adventure Wilderness in Low Budget Style

Free Camping Australia: Adventure Wilderness in Low Budget Style

It is not only backpackers that are drawn out into the wilderness, Australian’s absolutely love their own “backyard” too.  Whether it is sleeping in a tent, in a rooftop, or in the car itself, camping in Australia is certainly one of the most popular ways to discover the beauty of the incredibly vast continent.  If you go on a camping trip yourself, you will soon understand the popularity. The unbelievable expanses and the rough nature of Australia are made for pitching a tent, sitting around the campfire with friends while counting shooting stars, drinking beers and toasting marshmallows. Booking into caravan parks and holidays resorts are slowly becoming a thing of the past and FREE camping is taking over. This article explores the joys and essentials of free camping in Australia, providing tips on how to make the most of this low-budget travel style while respecting the environment and local regulations.

Why you should camp in Australia

In addition to paid campsites and caravan parks, there are free camps almost everywhere around Australia. Some not so better than others with picturesque public barbecues and even hot free showers from time to time. Then sometimes it is a gravel pit on the side of the highway in the middle of nowhere. 

Either way, free camping is perfect for those who want to keep their budgets low. Not only does free camping offer the advantage of spending almost no money on accommodation, there is no other form of travel that offers so much freedom: you don’t have to book, you can camp where you want, stay where you like it, and drive on if you don’t like it. With a bit of luck, you might even find free camps right on the beach!  What could be better than opening your car door in the morning, peeling yourself out of bed and standing right on the beach?

The Allure of Free Camping

Free camping, or bush camping, allows you to set up camp outside of designated campgrounds, often in remote or minimally developed areas. It’s an opportunity to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life and connect more deeply with nature. From the rugged coastlines of Tasmania to the vast outback of Western Australia, free camping spots offer unparalleled access to some of Australia’s most breathtaking landscapes.

How to find free campsites

Wikicamps, Campermate and Co.

Many newcomers to camping will often purchase the free camping books but, a simpler way with more options is to download the very popular camping apps such as Wikicamps or Campermate. These apps will not only help you find the nearest free campsite but will also show the nearest public toilet, library, potable water stations, dump points etc. Another great feature of the apps, that the books do not contain, is a comments page. Other travellers reveal which campsites are recommended and which ones you should stay away from due to mosquitoes or other inconveniences. With a bit of luck, you can find real gems; free camps right on the beach, on mountain tops or tucked away by a secluded beautiful water hole.

You can also check the Australian government’s national parks website to find free camping spots.

Local Information

Visit local tourist information centres or talk to locals and fellow travellers. Often, the best spots are those not widely advertised. Locals can also provide you good tips on where to sleep for free in great spots!

The great outdoors become your new living room

You definitely cannot count on luxury if you choose to free camp. 80% of the time when free camping you will not have access to hot showers or toilets, let alone flushing ones. You might get lucky and come across a free camp that is run by the local council, designated rest areas, originations or national parks that offer these luxuries.  Even still, the sanitary facilities are usually very simple, if available.

Because of this, free camping in Australia requires some preparation. You should have your own water for drinking, cooking and rinsing. A dish is helpful for washing dishes, extra toilet paper for all places without sanitary facilities, a shovel to dig a hole when there are no facilities available and plenty garbage bags. 

free camping australia

Fortunately, Australia has an infrastructure that’s perfect for every camper. In almost every park there are clean public toilets. On the beach you can take a shower, there are many taps to fill drinking water canisters. There are also many public barbecues that make cooking easier. So, if you want, you can enjoy the sunset right on the beach and use one of the free barbecues there. 

Leave no trace 

When planning a camping trip, you should always stick to a few set of “rules”. First of all, wild camps are generally banned in Australia, which is why you should stick with the free camps. Camping in in residential areas is prohibited and if caught you will be fined. Often it is not necessary to camp within these areas as there are enough free camping opportunities around. In some cases, to avoid a fine, you will have to camp just outside of the city at the designated free camping area.

Furthermore, it is extremely important to follow the rule “leave no trace”. This means that you have to properly dispose of your garbage. Or should there be no trash can, take along and dispose of in the next town. Of course, this does not only apply to free camps, but also to all public facilities that you use. Remove ALL toilet paper if there are no facilities and use a shovel to dig a hole. Lastly, if you use a barbecue make sure to leave it clean for the next camper! 

Campfires risks

In the Australian drought, before making a campfire find out in advance if there are any fire restrictions in the area. Most of Australia prohibits open fires in the dry months to avoid bushfires. If campfires are allowed, take care to keep them under control. Properly clear them at the end of the night.

Remember, free camping in Australia, as well as other public facilities are a great privilege. They are provided by the states free of charge to make the regions attractive. However, if these facilities are littered or damaged, they will probably be closed or become a paid site. This will give the next traveller the opportunity to stand in the same incredible place as you could. 

How to rent a cheap camper or van in Australia? 

There are a few things you can do to get a better deal. Firstly, book your camper well in advance. Secondly, rent your camper from a rental agency in a big city (more information below). Thirdly, choose an older model, these are always cheaper, but are just as good. Lastly, rent the camper for a longer period rather than just a few days. The longer the rental period, the lower the daily rates. 

If you could not be bothered searching the entire internet to compare rental agency prices, use one of the many price comparison portals. We recommended using Motorhome republic. The comparison search is free, and you can even book online. 

More info: Cheap Campervan Rentals in Australia: How To Get A Good Deal

In conclusion: What You Need to Know

Self-Sufficiency: Free camping often means little to no amenities. You’ll need to be self-sufficient, bringing enough water, food, and camping gear. A portable stove, camping toilet, and solar-powered lights are essentials for a comfortable experience.

Leave No Trace: The principle of leaving no trace is crucial in free camping. Dispose of waste properly, use biodegradable soap, and leave your campsite as you found it or better.

Respect Local Regulations: Always check local regulations before setting up camp. Some areas may have restrictions due to environmental protection, cultural significance, or fire danger.

Safety First: Inform someone of your plans and expected return, especially when camping in remote areas. Be prepared for wildlife encounters and changing weather conditions.

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