Home Road Trip Road trip in Australia – Where to camp? Complete Guide

Road trip in Australia – Where to camp? Complete Guide

Road trip in Australia – Where to camp? Complete Guide

Embarking on a road trip across Australia offers an unparalleled adventure through diverse landscapes, from the rugged Outback to pristine coastlines, lush rainforests, and vibrant cities. One of the best ways to experience the true essence of Australia is by camping, allowing you to connect with nature, explore hidden gems, and enjoy the freedom of the open road. Here’s a guide to some of the best places to camp during your Australian road trip, ensuring a memorable and immersive journey.

Can we camp and sleep everywhere in Australia?

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.

In Australia, there are four types of camping:

  • Caravan parks: equipped campsites
  • Rest areas,
  • Paid camping areas (camp spot),
  • Free camp areas.

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. 

Sleeping in your vehicle in free camp areas

In Australia there are different ways of camping: caravan parks, camp spots, rest areas and unauthorized spots.

Rest Area

The rest areas are suitable for people who simply want to stop to sleep to get back on the road as soon as possible the next day. Depending on the place you are at, commodities, etc., they allow you to set up your tent or park you van for the night. Commodities are usually pretty simple with a tap, sometimes toilets and rarely some showers.

The downside? They are on the side of the road and can be noisy. Especially if they are accessible to heavy vehicles.


Freecamp is the peak of freedom. Here you are with your camp in the middle of nature. Goodbye drinking water, toilets, shower, electricity and 4G. Make sure to set up your camp in well-defined areas. To make sure of this, use the WikiCamps and CamperMate apps.

Unauthorised spots

Sleeping on unauthorised spots is forbidden with a simple tent or in your van. You are only authorized to set up your campsite if it is allowed on the area. You expose yourself to a pretty salty fine. However it is true that many Australians don’t mind doing it and if you respect the area and choose a quiet spot, most probably, nobody with come and kick you out. It is at your own risks guys!

Sleeping in your vehicle in paid camping areas

Caravan Parks

They offer all commodities, shower, toilets, washing machine, kitchen, sometimes even a TV room or a swimming pool. They are extremely common in Australia and usually indicated by blue signs on the road.

Paid Camp spots

Everywhere in Australia there are some camps spots for people to stop by. Not all camp spots are free but when you have to pay, they are usually inexpensive. In general as soon as the spot is located in a tourist area, camp spots are made available to travelers for a few dollars a night. Rates are quite variable depending on location, type of location (tent / van) and amenities. Although they are usually limited, you will usually find water and dry toilets (sometimes showers and electricity).

National Park and State forest Campgrounds

With more than 500 National Parks in Australia, you’ll probably spend a night in one of them. Rules are pretty strict. Usually collecting fire wood is prohibited and taking plants or animals is strictly prohibited. Facilities available vary from showers and toilets to no facilities at all.

Guides to camp in Australia

To be aware of all the information about camping in Australia we strongly advise you to get one of those guides:

Camp Australia wide

HEMA maps – $80

You will find it in most bookstores, NRMA agencies and some service stations. You can also order it online at www.campsaustraliawide.com. It is the most popular guide in Australia..

Cool Camping Australia

You will find it in bookstores at a price around $15.

In both guides you will have many maps, itineraries, campsites, etc. All the information a backpacker needs for his road trip around Australia.


Mobile application – $8

Available for IOS, Android and Windows.

You will find the same information as in the books. The advantage is that people using the app can leave comments to inform the community about any update on the information given. For instance if a free camp isn’t available anymore or closed for a short period, people will write it in comments. For more info www.wikicamps.com.au.


Mobile application Free

This application is just as practical as WikiCamps, but a little less complete. It remains compatible with Apple and Android mobiles and tablets. Test before buying WikiCamps!

How to find free campsites in Australia?

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!

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. 

Places to camp in famous areas

The Red Centre – Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory

Camping near Uluru, the spiritual heart of Australia, is an experience like no other. The Ayers Rock Campground offers powered sites for caravans, campervans, motorhomes, and camper trailers, as well as non-powered sites for pitching a tent under the stars. Witness the majestic beauty of Uluru at sunrise and sunset, explore the domes of Kata Tjuta, and learn about the rich Indigenous culture of the area.

Great Ocean Road – Bimbi Park, Victoria

Located in Cape Otway, Bimbi Park is nestled among the eucalyptus trees, offering a peaceful retreat after a day of exploring the Great Ocean Road. The park provides a range of camping options, including powered and unpowered sites, with access to the stunning beaches and rainforest walks. Don’t miss the nearby Twelve Apostles and the ancient Otway rainforest.

The Kimberley – El Questro Wilderness Park, Western Australia

The Kimberley region is known for its breathtaking landscapes, and El Questro Wilderness Park offers a base to explore this remote paradise. With camping options ranging from private riverside spots to a fully serviced campground, El Questro is the perfect place to unwind and discover the gorges, thermal springs, and unique wildlife of the Kimberley.

Tasmania – Bay of Fires

For those seeking a coastal escape, the Bay of Fires on Tasmania’s northeast coast offers pristine white sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and secluded camping spots. The area is managed by Parks & Wildlife Service Tasmania, providing basic facilities for a true nature experience. Explore the nearby lagoons, go snorkeling or kayaking, and enjoy the tranquility of this untouched paradise.

Fraser Island – Central Station Campground, Queensland

Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island, offers an adventure for 4WD enthusiasts and nature lovers. Central Station Campground is set in a lush rainforest, providing a cool retreat and a central location to explore the island’s highlights, including Lake McKenzie, the Maheno Shipwreck, and the Champagne Pools.

The Daintree Rainforest – Noah Beach Camping Area, Queensland

Experience the ancient beauty of the Daintree Rainforest, the oldest rainforest in the world, by camping at Noah Beach. Just 50 meters from the beach and surrounded by the dense rainforest canopy, this campground offers a unique opportunity to connect with nature and explore the rich biodiversity of the area.

Kangaroo Island – Flinders Chase National Park, South Australia

After the 2019/2020 bushfires, Kangaroo Island is recovering, and camping is once again available in Flinders Chase National Park. This offers a chance to support the island’s regeneration efforts while enjoying its natural beauty. See the Remarkable Rocks, Admirals Arch, and the island’s abundant wildlife, including kangaroos, koalas, and echidnas.

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. 

Practical Tips to Camp in Australia

Leave no trace

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!

Pick a good spot to sleep

– Avoid parking too close to other vans
– Park under a tree to be cool
– Watch out ! Identify spots prone to flooding … especially if rain is forecasted

Be careful with your food

To avoid attracting animals, store all your food in containers and don’t let food waste around your van

Be Prepared

Ensure you have sufficient water, food, and fuel for your journey, especially when heading into remote areas.

Equipment to sleep in a van

– Curtains: to prevent the light from waking you up and have some privacy
– Even in Australia, nights can be pretty cold. Remember to bring a few blankets with you. Your van is probably going to be over packed already but believe us, there is nothing worse than spending a night freezing in your vehicle.
– Mosquitoes Repellent : some areas are infested !
– String light: to have some light in your van or make it a bit more cozy, having a led string light can be a good option. You can find some for cheap at Kmart or Target.

For more information about your road trip in Australia check out these articles:

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