free camping

The Ultimate Guide to Free Camping in Australia

In March 2018, overnight domestic caravan and camping trips in Australia increased by 3.5% from March 2017, totalling 11.84 million! These record-high numbers clearly show that the Australian wilderness is something everyone goes crazy over. Maybe you want to get in on the hype, but don’t have tons of cash to spend and prefer free camping?

Whether you’re a local or tourist, everyone can benefit from some free camping in the Outback. Keep reading for the ultimate guide to free camping in this country!

How to Start Camping for Free

The main thing you’ll need to do free camping in Australia is a campervan. If you’re only in the country for a short period of time, then you’ll be better off just renting one.

However, if you live in Australia and would like to continually go camping, then a rental would be a waste of money. In this case, think about going all in and purchasing a nice campervan. You can even sell it at the end to recoup your costs, if you wish.

Owning a campervan gives you other benefits as well. For instance, while you’re travelling, you can earn some extra cash by giving others rides.

Campervans to Consider

Don’t know where to start for campervan rentals? Then here are some suggestions: Apollo Camper, Camperman, Aussie Campervans, Wicked Campers, Hippie Campers, Vroom Vroom Vroom, and Camper Champ.

The last two options on the above list are comparison sites, which means you’ll be able to nab the best deals on campervan rentals through them.

Otherwise, if you’re looking to buy, don’t purchase a brand-new camper, especially if you’re planning on getting rid of it sometime in the future. Your best bet will be Gumtree, where you’ll not only find cheap campervans for sale, but also other camping necessities as well! Talk about killing 2 birds with one stone!

What to Bring With You

So you’ve decided on the right camper for your needs. Now what?

The next thing is packing all the essentials. Read on for what some of these are.

Proper Things for Hiking

Obviously, you need a good pair of hiking boots. Don’t just throw any old boots into your luggage; you’re going to be on your feet all day, after all. Bringing a top-rated hiking boot can make all the difference in your comfort levels while camping.

If you’re a woman with a small bladder, you should think about bringing a Shewee. This convenient device allows you to urinate standing up, meaning you won’t have to risk squatting somewhere unpleasant. This also means you won’t have to forego proper hydration, which is super important when you’re doing vigorous activities in the hot and bright sunlight.

Appropriate Clothing

While you’ll probably spend most of your nights in the campervan, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t carefully consider the clothing you bring. Depending on where exactly you’re travelling to in Australia, the seasons can be either very mild (southeast and west coast) or harsher (northern areas).

Make sure you study up on what the forecast is going to be like while you’re travelling. It’s better to be overprepared than under, so throw in things like rain boots, scarves, and gloves if need be.

Solar Lantern

Relying on something battery-powered can lead to disaster if the batteries somehow fail and it’s your only source of light at night. You can avoid all that trouble by using a solar lantern instead.

Not only is this powered by something you get freely while camping, but they’re usually waterproof as well. Some models are also made to collapse so they won’t take up much room.

Camping Chairs

Surely you’ll want to sit around outside instead of stay cooped up inside your camper while on the camping grounds. You can’t always count on these sites to have benches and tables, plus, they’re not always very comfortable.

Bring your own foldable camping chairs so you can all gather around the campfire and have a great fantastic time bonding over a barbecue or some s’mores.

Some Great Places to Camp for Free

Great, so now you know what campervan and items to bring with you! The next thing to determine is where you want to hit up while exploring the great Outback.

While you can find some great free camping sites through apps such as Campermate and Wikicamps, here are some of our personal suggestions. Remember, you can’t just pull up anywhere you’d like and camp out, so make sure you do your research if you go somewhere that’s not on our list!

Byron Bay

Byron Bay is an excellent place to camp in Australia. It’s super popular with tourists since it has a beautiful beach with a laidback vibe.

Because it’s such a busy and popular place, it may be hard to find free camping. With your campervan, you can spend the night in the rest areas, which have limited facilities.

Otherwise, you can drive out a little bit and set up shop in the Yelgun Rest Area. You’ll be located right next to South Golden Beach, so make sure to arrive early, as others will want this stunning view as well.

Fitzgerald Bay

Are you thinking of visiting South Australia? Then head over for some free camping at Fitzgerald Bay!

This area is known for the Stranded Shingle Beach Ridges, which are one of a kind. You won’t find this geological phenomenon anywhere else in the world, so you’re truly in for something special.

Murtho Forest Landing

This is another campsite that’s located in South Australia. It’s very closeby to Paringa, which is known for its amazing vineyards.

If you like to fish, then you’ll want to make sure you hit up Murtho Forest Landing. Here, you can catch fish like golden perch and carp. Plus, you’ll see other wildlife, like pelicans and kangaroos.

Do note that this campsite doesn’t have toilets or showers, nor does it have cell phone reception. So if you’ve been wanting to completely disconnect from technology, this is the place to do it.

Important Information About Camping

Going camping sounds very exciting, and it is! But some people have unrealistic expectations in their minds, especially when it comes to free camping. Here are some important things you need to keep in mind.

Don’t Expect Luxury

Yes, you’ll have a campervan to stay in, but that’s about as luxurious as it gets. Many free camping sites don’t have hot shower and toilets, so you’ll have to make do with what you have on board your camper.

You’ll have to come prepared with supplies and be ready to improvise at a moment’s notice. Don’t think of any issues as a hindrance; instead, view them as challenges. That way, you’ll have all the more reason to celebrate and be proud of yourself once you figure out a way around them!

Do Your Research on Campfire Laws

You may think that just because you’re camping, this means you can make a campfire. But it’s not that simple.

Australia has hot and dry summers, which means any small spark can instantly turn into a bushfire. For that reason, you’re not allowed to make open fires in those dry months.

Before you start a campfire, make sure you check the fire danger ratings in your area. If the rating is “very high” or worse, then don’t make a campfire. 

You should also check if there’s a total fire ban. If you’re caught with a campfire during one, you can go to jail for 12 months, be fined up to $25,000, or both.

Leave Sites Clean and as You Found Them

It’s amazing that Australia lets you camp for free in certain places, so don’t abuse that privilege. These spots are beautiful, so do your part in ensuring they stay that way.

This means cleaning up and picking up all your trash. No trash cans around? This means you take your garbage with you in your camper and dispose of it the next chance you get.

If there are no toilets on-site and you need to dig a hole as a makeshift bathroom, make sure there’s no remaining toilet paper there when you leave. Bury your waste properly so no other campers get a nasty surprise.

Enjoy Free Camping in Australia

As you can see, you don’t have to break the bank to see what wonders the Outback has to offer. With so many ways to do free camping, you can get a firsthand look at the Australian wilderness.

Whether you rent or buy a campervan, travelling across the country and camping all over the place will be an experience you’ll never forget.

Planning on going on the Kokoda Trail? Then find out all about it by reading our blog posts about it!

By Kokoda Gear Places to Visit