Just jumped off the plane in Australia or packed up to do the big lap and escape? Here is our guide on how to find a spot to rest after a day of adventures in Australia!
Australia is home to some of the best camping on offer in the world that will make pulling up for the night some of your biggest highlights while seeing the outback! While it is true there are some amazing campsites to stay at they can vary enormously in cost, accessibility, remoteness, facilities, requirements, maximum stay time, seasonality, and hazards. Any one of these factors can make or break a good night’s rest! Here we bring all the resources out there together and help you plan your trip so you don’t miss out on how to camp smarter!
Australia’s campsites on offer range from volunteer organisations, private businesses, council tourism, national parks, state parks, and forests, farm and station stays, online private land camp listings, recreational clubs, show grounds, and road government initiatives. Here is where to look and find a camp that suits your needs.
Wikicamps & CamperMate
Wikicamps and CamperMate are the 2 major phone applications used to find campsites across Australia. They are such highly recommended applications because places are reviewed, updated, and offer more than just campsites including places of interest, fuel stops, water fill-up points, and more. They list campsites ranging from free to paid and range from no facilities to completely self-contained accommodation.
Council Websites & Tourist Information Centres
Some towns and councils are RV Friendly and advertise facilities to travelers. In other towns, you need to visit information centres (blue and yellow signs) to learn what is available and can be unexpectedly surprised by what is on offer besides map directions. Discount vouchers, hidden gems, free facilities, and deals are all possible perks if you enquire at the information desk. Check the council websites to find free and low-cost campsites available to travelers too. Sometimes council campsites have no facilities and others have playgrounds, bins, water access, toilets, and showers occasionally. Some councils also require travelers to register information before camping so check and comply to avoid being fined. Councils will differ in their regulations of where you can camp so check and do not stay anywhere that advertises no overnight use or camping.
State Road Authorities
Laws vary from state to state on regulations around sleeping in a vehicle. Most states do have a map that shows all the rest stops and rest areas that vehicles are able to stop on long trips. This does vary from a few hours to even 48 hours but please respect the limitations signed. Most rest areas that you can stay overnight have either no facilities or toilets, picnic tables, and bins. They tend to be more exposed to traffic noise and less picturesque but useful being on route to towns and attractions. Websites with rest area maps are:
- Victoria – Vic Roads
- New South Wales – Transport NSW
- Queensland – QLD Traffic (Max 20 hour stay)
- Northern Territory – NT Government
- Western Australia – Main Roads Western Australia
- South Australia – Location SA
- Tasmania – Doesn’t currently have a map to rest areas available.
These road authorities also provide up-to-date advice on road conditions relevant to each state and your vehicle. Be advised that weather can often dictate conditions on any road from snow to the hot desert heat. Always take plenty of water, a first aid kit, and have roadside assistance when driving dangerous roads or long distances!
HipCamp is the equivalent of Airbnb but for camping and glamping where private landowners lease their land out to camp on. There are a lot of campsites listed with them in good locations, for low cost, and in picturesque places. It is a great alternative in populated areas where minimal low costs sites are available. While some sites will have facilities like a pool or pizza oven others will simply be a back paddock. Be aware many of the sites only allow self-contained campers so again having a toilet in your vehicle will be an advantage. HipCamp is searchable by location or map and available here or as an application.
National & State Parks & Forestry Reserves
National parks in Australia are run under each state authority but are uniform in providing signage, walking trails, some facilities, and campgrounds. The vast majority of national parks do not allow pets but there are a rare few sites that allow them. State parks are similar with their pet policy but will also have campsites available at cheaper rates too. Some national and state parks have free camping so always check the rate for a specific site. Parks in Australia are maintained by staff and volunteers so abide by the rules and understand fees contribute to maintenance and conservation. Forestry and flora reserves also have camping available sometimes so ask information centres as it is often free if allowed. Below is the park authority for each state:
- Parks Victoria
- NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service
- Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service
- Parks & Wildlife Commission Northern Territory
- Parks & Wildlife Service (Western Australia)
- National Parks & Wildlife Service South Australia
- Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service
Parks and reserves are a great option to camp in even if they do cost because of the wildlife you can see and are some of the most picturesque camps. While you would not normally see nocturnal wildlife on a hike – camps are ideal for this. A lot of Australian wildlife is nocturnal due to the climate. Treat a park stay like paying for an experience – because it really is worth it! For more tips on seeing wildlife see our post A beginner’s guide to Wild Australia.
Caravan Parks are typically found in most major stops and towns, Australia-wide. These will often include more facilities and easily be found by typing “caravan park near me” into a search engine for everything in range. These campsites will vary in price from $15-$60 per night can depend on:
- Holidays & seasons (summer/dry season more expensive).
- How many people are on one site.
- Powered or unpowered site.
- Waterfront or standard site.
- If a town has a high/low demand for accomodation.
While these are more expensive you can expect better facilities, closer locations to towns and shops, camping accomodating to pets and noise curfews to ensure a peaceful sleep. If your camping setup is somewhat inadequate – caravan parks can become important refresh and refuel stops. If you’re interested in a DIY van build or to level up your current build visit The plan that dictates all of the van conversion – the layout!
In parts of Australia, there are simply no free campsites at all and you will have to opt for a paid campsite instead (legally). Some campers (particularly converted vans) have tried to outwit where there are no free camps by “stealth camping”. This is parking up on a quiet street in suburbia appearing to be nothing more than a trade van parked on the street. While it has been done, laws vary state by state and also by council so we recommend a camp where you know you can stay legally and don’t need to sleep with one eye open.
If you plan on bypassing paid campsites, here are places you can also access facilities on the road:
- Gyms, swimming centres, truck stops, shopping centres and tourist information centres – for toilets and showers.
- Public toilets are available for free, Australia-wide. Download “Where is Public Toilet” to see the closest near you.
- Laundromats are in most major towns and are coin and card-operated – for washers and dryers.
- Parks, petrol stations and even some businesses (if you ask politely) have water taps available to fill up for free.