Australia is a huge country, and camping is extremely popular among both international tourists and local travellers. Free camping is a great option for those on a tight budget, and there are countless free campgrounds spread across our great country.
Some of these are overly basic, offering nothing more than a small gravel or dirt area to park for the night. But others are much more advanced, including toilets, BBQs, free drinking water, and various other facilities that campers can take advantage of.
Here, I've outlined some of the best free campsites in Australia. You will find a huge range of options, with everything from campgrounds beside rivers to locations with mountain views and national park proximity. Enjoy!
Best Free Camping Sites In New South Wales
The Ingar Campground sits amidst the wonderful Blue Mountains, just 100km west of Sydney. It offers great swimming and hiking opportunities and has become a favourite stop for walkers and mountain bikers.
Found on the NSW south coast, almost 300km south of Sydney, the Long Gully Campground sits on the banks of the Yadboro river. Here, you will find a drop toilet and numerous small creeks, making it an excellent weekend road trip destination.
The Brushy Mountain Campground sits halfway between Sydney and Brisbane in northern NSW. It features BBQ facilities, picnic tables, and various tent camping sites. You will find numerous walking tracks in the area, along with loads of wildlife and birds.
Best Free Camping Sites In Queensland
The Lloyd-Jones Weir sits inland from Rockhampton and boasts an excellent free campsite. View the numerous native birds that frequent the area, relax in the shade, or escape from the heat by swimming in the lagoon.
The Boulders Camp Ground sits around 7km west of Babinda, and it has plenty of space for large caravans and RVs. You will have access to a number of river-side walks, a swimming area, and picnic facilities.
The Gregory River boasts some of the best free camping in Australia. You can park beside the river and take advantage of the native scenery. Alternatively, walk up to the small town of Gregory for a coffee or drink.
Best Free Camping Sites In South Australia
The Horrocks Pass Bush Camp sits just kilometres from the Princess Highway between Adelaide and the Flinders Ranges. It's a dog-friendly campsite that allows campfires and has plenty of space for big rigs.
At the top of the Spencer Gulf, you will find the Fitzgerald Bay Campground, which offers beautiful beach camping opportunities. Facilities are very limited, but you can bring your pets along, and there are numerous excellent fishing spots.
The Red Banks Conservation Park Campground offers free bush camping in the midst of beautiful native fauna and flora. It's a small camp, with just 10 sites, but there are excellent opportunities for hiking, bird watching, and photography in the area.
Best Free Camping Sites In Western Australia
At Betty's Beach, situated in the middle of WA's rugged south coast, you will be able to select an unpowered campsite just metres from the beach. Toilets are available, and it's a great place for fishing, snorkelling, and just relaxing in the sun.
Dooleena Gorge sits just a short drive from Marble Bar, the hottest place in Australia. But if you visit this free campsite, you will find a beautiful waterhole, walking tracks, and even a small waterfall where you can cool off.
Wolfe Creek is the site of the famous Australian horror movie of the same name. If you're looking for a thrill, you can stay at the Wolfe Creek Crater campsite. It's situated in the Wolfe Creek Crater National park and offers easy access to the area's walking trails.
Best Free Camping Sites In Victoria
The Stevensons Falls Campground sits in the middle of the Otways, just north of the Great Ocean Road. Its location amongst the forest makes it a great place for a weekend getaway from Melbourne, and you can even bring your dog and have a campfire.
The Reeves Beach campground sits right on the world-famous 90 Mile Beach in Victoria's southeast. It's designed to take you back to the basics, with no phone coverage, drinking water, or electricity available. You will find a drop toilet, but even this is very basic.
The Ada River Campground is situated in Victoria's far eastern forests. The river itself offers fishing, swimming, and limited kayaking opportunities, and the surrounding forest provides ample opportunities for walking and spotting wildlife.
Best Free Camping Sites In Tasmania
Lagoon Beach Camping can be found just north of Hobart on Tasmania's east coast. Here, you will find rocks for fishing, an abundance of native birds and wildlife, and dog-friendly campsites.
At Lake Dulverton, you will find a beautiful overnight stopping area complete with toilets and showers. This is a popular site for grey nomads, though, and you may find it quite packed at certain times of the year.
At Policemans Point, you will find a selection of campsites set among the trees. Beach access is available from most sites, and there's room for large vehicles. Fires are allowed, but you will need to bring your own firewood.
Best Free Camping Sites In The Northern Territory
The Pebbles Free Camp is a great place to stay on a budget near Tennant Creek. It's an aboriginal Dreaming Site, and the legend has it that the rock formations in the area are the fossilised eggs of the Rainbow Serpent.
The Gorrie Airfield campsite sits south of Katherine on the Stuart Highway. The 1800 metre long abandoned airstrip doesn't have any facilities, but its uniqueness makes it one of my favourite camping places in the whole country.
At the Robinson River Crossing, in the NT's northeast, you will find a number of small campsites accessible via a dirt road. There are no facilities, but you will be able to throw a line in the water and relax under the shade of the trees while you wait to catch dinner.
What Is Free Camping In Australia?
In Australia, free camping is perfectly legal in many places. Some shires offer 24, 48, or 72-hour stopping areas, and others have dedicated free camps with minimal facilities. In some cases, you will be required to be fully self-contained, including having your own camp toilet and waste storage equipment.
Free camping is an excellent option for those travelling long-term or on a tight budget. Many free camps are in breathtaking locations with ocean views and great bush camping opportunities.
The Dos And Don’ts Of Free Camping
Free camping is great, but many local councils are closing popular sites because people simply aren't doing the right thing. It's heartbreaking to see some of the camping options that I've used countless times over the years become inaccessible, and I'd encourage you to do your best to do the right thing to stop this from happening.
The Dos Of Free Camping
- Do take your rubbish with you (if there are no bins)
- Do use a chemical toilet if public toilets aren't available
- Do keep your pets on a leash unless there's plenty of space for them to run free
- Do use an app like WikiCamps to research free camping spots ahead of time
- Do put your fire out whenever you're not around
- Do store your food in a secure place to keep it away from wildlife
The Don'ts Of Free Camping
- Don't collect firewood from around the campsite
- Don't make a campfire unless it's specifically allowed
- Don't leave toilet paper or human waste lying around in the bush
- Don't free camp anywhere that it's prohibited
- Don't crowd other campers if there's plenty of space
- Don't leave rubbish or other waste behind
- Don't make excessive noise if there are other campers in the area
What To Take With You
If you're looking to stay somewhere for free, remember that you might be using a camp with basic pit toilets and limited facilities. Sometimes, even pit or drop toilets won't be available. You should take everything you would on a normal camping trip, along with anything else you need to compensate for the lack of facilities.
Some of the most important things to remember include:
- Ample fresh water for the duration of your stay
- A generator or other power source if required
- A chemical toilet if toilet facilities are unavailable
- Enough food for the duration of your stay
- Rubbish bags and other storage for your waste
- Your own firewood if you're planning to have a campfire
Of course, you will want to take your own cutlery and crockery, any equipment you require for recreational activities, bedding, a tent or swag, and whatever else you need to be comfortable throughout your trip.
How To Find The Best Free Camping Spots?
In my experience, the best way to find free camping spots is by using an app such as WikiCamps or CamperMate. These list countless options for every style of camping, including staying for free. You can filter sites by their cost, location, phone service, facilities, and more.
Another decent way to find free campgrounds is to speak with locals and other travellers. Sometimes, lesser-known sites aren't found on maps or the internet, and a little local knowledge can be an excellent thing to have.
Free Camping FAQs
Can you camp anywhere for free?
No, free camping is only allowed in designated areas in Australia. Camping outside of these can result in significant fines.
What is camping for free called?
In Australia, you will generally hear camping for free simply referred to as "free camping". Other terms include Boondocking, off-grid camping, pirate camping, and dispersed camping.
Is it illegal to free camp in Australia?
No, it isn't illegal to free camp in Australia, as long as you obey local regulations. However, you will want to ensure that you're staying in a campsite where free camping is allowed, or else you may be fined for illegal camping.
Is wild camping legal in Australia?
Technically, wild camping isn't legal in Australia. However, it's accepted in many places, especially in the outback and remote coastal locations. Make sure you avoid any areas with "no camping" or "no overnight stopping" signs. I've also found speaking to locals to be a good idea to find out whether or not wild camping is accepted in an area.
Is it legal to sleep in your car in Australia?
It's completely legal to sleep in your car in almost every state in Australia, as long as you're not parked somewhere that camping is illegal. In Queensland, the only place you can sleep in your car is in a designated campsite.
*The information on this site is based on research and first-hand experience but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new activity, we recommend consulting with a physician, nutritionist or other relevant professional healthcare provider.