Are you planning a road trip in Australia? If yes, you would be happy to know you won’t have any difficulties to find a place to camp at. Saying that, you need to be a minimum prepared. Camping is part of the Australian culture and there are heaps of options to sleep on the road (tent, van, motorhome, 4WD). However they are some rules to acknowledge, camping spots are sometimes difficult to find and you often don’t have reception on your phone. In this article, you will find tips and advice to be all ready to camp during your road trip around Australia.
Can we camp and sleep everywhere in Australia?
We absolutely cannot sleep everywhere, even inside your vehicle. Most of the time carparks are forbidden. In big cities or in busy places, you will most probably be fined (and it is expensive). In Queensland and the Northern Territory, for example, wild camping is prohibited. It is mandatory to camp in a dedicated place.
In Australia, there are four types of camping:
- the equipped campsite (caravan park),
- the rest area,
- paid camping areas (camp spot),
- and free camp areas.
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.
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 placed 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.
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
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
Here again, 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!
Practical Tips to Camp in Australia
Respect the environment
– Keep it quiet, don’t be to noisy
Pick a good spot to sleep
– Park under a tree to be cool
– Watch out ! Identify spots prone to flooding … especially if rain is forecasted
Be careful with your food
Equipment to sleep in a van
– 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: