Camping in Australia is a fun, rewarding thing to do - trust me, I do plenty of it!
But it can be a little different from camping in other countries. Us Aussies can seem like a strange bunch, and we sometimes do things a bit differently Down Under.
To help you understand more, I’ve drawn on my years of camping experience to bring you this list of 10 things you absolutely have to know about camping in Australia vs in other countries.
1. Free Camping Is A Thing!
One of my absolute favourite things about camping in Australia when compared to the rest of the world is that there’s virtually always a free campsite within driving distance. In the more popular areas, these tend to be very basic, and you may be limited to a 24 or 48-hour stopover.
But once you get out into the bush, the free campsites have to be seen to be believed. Many of them don’t have any facilities, so you will have to be equipped with your own chemical toilet and cooking equipment.
For me at least, it’s worth the extra hassle. It’s not uncommon to have an entire campsite to yourself if you get off the beaten track - except, of course, for the local wildlife. Think kangaroos, emus, possums, birds, and loads of other fun critters.
2. Tap Water Is Safe To Drink
That’s right, you can almost always find free tap water when you’re stopping over at a town, and it’s usually safe to drink - it will be clearly signposted if not. I like to carry a few large water containers and refill them from time to time to save a bit of money on buying water.
If you’ve camped in other countries, this may surprise you. Tap water often isn’t drinkable, as it’s either contaminated with heavy metals and toxins or puts you at risk of certain diseases or parasites.
3. You Can Often Have A Campfire
One thing you will quickly learn in Australia is that it’s not really camping unless you have a campfire. And the best thing is that in most places, you can light a small cooking fire throughout the year.
I personally love to get a fire going as soon as I’ve set up camp. With a nice bed of coals, cooking up a feast becomes super easy.
But the legality of campfires can vary a little, and local councils in more populated areas usually impose a fire ban over the summer months. This makes it illegal to light any type of fire, so make sure you look up local fire restrictions before you head out camping.
4. We Have Beach Camping!
If you’ve never been lucky enough to pitch your tent directly on the sand, you’re missing out. In Australia, we have countless beaches that you can drive on, and many of these even let you set up camp.
There’s nothing better than waking up metres from the ocean. The sound of crashing waves and seagulls is refreshing on even the coldest mornings, and there’s always loads to do at the beach.
One thing to remember is to always clean up after yourself. Take all your rubbish with you, respect the local ecosystems, and if you have a fire, carry your ashes out and dispose of them responsibly.
These British Campers were surprised that beach camping was allowed and have a passionate dislike for red sand!
5. Australia Has More National Parks Than Any Other Country!
Yep, that’s right! We have more than 500 National Parks spread across the country, and most of these have campsites. You will often have to pay to enter and camp in a National Park, but it’s worth it!
Take Kakadu, for example, in the Northern Territory. At almost 20,000 square kilometres in area, it’s bigger than many small European and Asian countries.
6. Not Everything Is Trying To Kill You
Yeah, that’s just a tale we tell everyone to make Australia seem more exciting. Sure, there are spiders and scorpions around the place, and you will need to be careful of snakes, but you really don’t have to be too worried.
A little bit of common sense goes a long way, and following local regulations and recommendations will help keep you out of harm’s way.
And no, drop bears aren’t real either.
7. Fuel Gets Very Expensive In Remote Areas
Australia has quite cheap fuel compared to most of the world - when you’re in metropolitan and heavily populated regional areas. However, the price of fuel can get extremely high when you’re in the outback, so expect to pay a significant amount when you go to fill up.
One thing I’d recommend doing to offset this cost is carrying a few jerry cans with you. You can fill these up when you come across cheap fuel, extending the range of your vehicle and allowing you to wait for more cheap fuel.
8. Drive On The Left In Australia!
This might seem like an obvious one, but I’ve met loads of people who don’t realise that you have to drive on the left in Australia.
This will become pretty obvious once you get on the road, but it’s important to adjust quickly so you don’t become a hazard to yourself and other road drivers.
And yes, I have seen people accidentally drive down the wrong side of the road on occasion, so it happens!
9. Swags Are Super Popular
Almost everyone who camps even semi-regularly has a swag. These are a mix between tent and bed, with a canvas exterior and a foam mattress inside. They provide excellent weather protection, are super comfortable, and can be rolled up into a compact bundle for travelling.
If you’re camping on your own or with a partner, I’d seriously consider getting yourself a swag. They’re great for taking to parties and festivals as well!
10. It’s Safe To Camp Throughout Australia
Australia has something of a reputation for being dangerous for tourists and campers from other countries. Movies like Wolf Creek come to mind, and you will hear stories of serial killers and missing backpackers throughout the country.
But you shouldn’t worry too much. These are extremely rare occurrences, and stories are usually over-told to boost Australia’s reputation as a scary, “untamed” country.
All things considered, it’s completely safe to camp throughout the majority of the country, and Australia has much lower crime rates than most of the rest of the world.
One must-have resource for camping in Australia is the WikiCamps app. With this, you can find campsites, water points, showers, and other interesting landmarks near you. It also enables you to filter by free and paid campsites, and it’s excellent if you’re on a tight budget.
Here are a few other useful resources that you might like to take a look at:
- A full list of Australia’s National Parks.
- The official Tourism Australia website.
- The Fuel Map Australia app to help you find cheap fuel.
- The Australian Visitor Centres app.
Every state and territory has its own tourism websites which I’d highly recommend checking out for more regional information. Many small towns also have a tourist information centre where you can find out more.
Camping in Australia is great, and I’m sure that you’re going to love it! Use free camps, tour our beautiful National Park network, and take advantage of some of the best beaches in the world.
But above all, remember that Aussies are among the friendliest people in the world. If you have any questions, just ask a local and they should be happy to help you out!
*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.