Ever wondered where you should stay when travelling around Australia? Not sure if you should free camp or pick a comfy caravan site? Looking for some suggestions?
A camping trip around Australia is possibly one of the best ways to see this wonderful country. We used a variety of sources (Camp 8 guidebook, Wikicamps & face-to-face recommendations) to make our selections for where to pitch our tent for the night. Some places were more successful than others but everywhere was an experience we will never forget.
Here’s a list of our favorites:
Strayleaves Caravan Park is the only caravan park that makes it onto this list, though we stayed in a few whilst on our travels. When we first arrived in Shepparton, hoping to secure some fruit picking work, we were welcomed at Ardmona Caravan Park. This was perhaps one of the worst places we have ever camped!
I’m not going to go into too much detail about how bad this was so let’s just say that it was never cleaned, toilet roll was never provided, the kitchen bins were full of big buzzing flies and we couldn’t get more than two hours sleep due to the hoards of inconsiderate lazy travellers who stayed up all night playing Yahtzee and drinking goon.
Strayleaves was a saving grace for us. It is a beautifully maintained caravan park with plenty of amenities and a fully equipped kitchen. Debbie (the manager there) is a superstar who looks after all the campers as if they were family. This caravan park is perfect if you’re working in the local area – it is a common pick for fruit pickers so can be quite sociable without being rowdy. We made lots of friends here and have lovely memories. The grass is watered daily, there is a small metal kids climbing frame and the sites can accommodate all set ups. WE LOVED IT.
Disclaimer: don’t even go near Ardmona.
Allenvale Campsite is a beautiful spot in the middle of the woods near Lorne on the Great Ocean Road. We set up our tent overlooking a small stream and spent the evening listening to the kookaburras. This is a walk in campsite only so you have to be comfortable with leaving your car about 200 metres away in the small parking lot. For this reason, it is not really suitable for anything other than tents.
We enjoyed fully chilling out here. It was so peaceful. I can’t really describe the experience of being in the centre of the forest and waking up a few metres away from a pair of kangaroos. I nearly walked straight into one on my way to the car at 6am the next morning – what a daze I was in…
If you’re looking for somewhere to connect with nature then this is it. And guess what? It’s a free camp. So that means no flushing toilets or showers, but also no fees!
The Blue Mountains in NSW was our first camping destination in Australia. We couldn’t have picked a better spot.
Unfortunately we arrived late to the area (our timing of the journey from Coffs Harbour wasn’t the best) and didn’t secure a space to camp until 8.30pm. Ingar Campground is 10 kilometres down a dirt track and is quite difficult to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
Because we arrived so late, we had to set up the tent – for the first time ever – in the dark. This was obviously thrilling. Trying to avoid the mosquitos and hammer in the tent pegs under the spotlight of our Coleman personal lantern was very entertaining for anyone in the vicinity. I remember being so angry at the time.
However, when we woke up this was our view:
Would you be complaining?
If you’ve read our article about our Top 5 Hikes then you’ll already know that we love Karijini National Park. Dales Gorge campground is great – you’re right in the National Park and feel completely away from civilization. What makes this such a nice spot to camp is that all the sites are spread out from one another, separated by trees and bushes. It feels very private.
At night we could hear dingoes howling in the distance which was quite the novelty, if not a little unsettling! It was great to be so near the Dales Gorge waterfalls and trails also. About a five minute walk away is the path down to Fortescue Falls, Fern Pool and Circular Pool. We found this a brilliant location and spent three nights here. Being only $10 a night per adult, this would have to be one of our must-go-back-to sites.
Once you get past the cockroaches roaming the outside drop toilets and the lack of showers, you’ll realize just how beautiful this location really is. Cape Range National Park has some of the best beaches and crystal clear waters we’ve ever seen. We booked Mesa Campsite online – best to book a week in advance if you want to make sure you get a spot in peak periods!
One thing to note is that there is no drinking water here so be prepared with your own supplies. It is also a hard surface campground which is not an issue if you have a caravan but possibly if you’re tenting – we definitely had trouble pegging our tent in the ground. We weren’t prepared at all and weren’t aware that we would need to buy larger, thicker pegs for camping spots like these. Consequently Leo spent over an hour trying to hammer the tent down. We ended up using rocks to help secure the corners.
So, despite all these difficulties, why have we picked this one as our Number 1 campsite?
It’s simple really.
Our site was situated on the beachfront so every time we stepped out of our tent we were blinded by sights of the clear blue sea in front of us. We watched other campers go kayaking or dip their toes in the water a few metres away from our tent. Not only did we have a beach on our doorstep, but behind us were huge sand dunes. These sand dunes were so large that they almost created a barrier between our Campsite and the rest of the world. One evening we walked up the dunes at sunset – there was a vibrant orange glow radiating across the horizon. I haven’t seen anything so vivid since.
Just try camping here and you’ll understand.
Note: these photos don’t even do it justice!
Please note: All photos taken by Leo Cox. All images copyright © Leo Cox 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.