There is a lot of information online for backpacking hostel-dwellers and cashed up grey nomads however not too much is written for those of us who are camping on a budget. This is obviously because we’re not great a business investment, always looking for the cheapest option! However there are a few places that you can turn to get great info about the free and cheap campsites in Australia.
This often referred to as ‘The Bible’ both in our tent and for many of those on the Australian road-trip circuit. This book lists thousands of free and cheap campsites in every state of Australia. The book costs about $50 depending on which style of book you purchase, and is well worth the investment. The book will let you know if the campsite is free or has a fee, whether you can camp there in a tent or whether it is for self-contained vehicles only, what facilities are at the campsite as well as access requirements. The downside of this book is that there are not any reviews or images, however a quick Google search can sort that out that problem. A great way to plan for some free camping in Australia.
I’ve heard a lot of praise for the Wikicamps app, however do not personally use it. The idea is that it give you crowd-sourced camping information. Much like Wikipedia, the information can be added and edited by anyone, images can be uploaded and reviews given for each campsite. These are the benefit that many people like about the app, the reviews and images section. My issue with the app is that you are not sure who is reviewing it. For example, someone in a large RV who wants to only park and have friends around to gossip with may think that site is fantastic, but for me in a tent, I find that there is no shade, no grass or sand to pitch on, only gravel. If there were a wikicamps that only campers in tents rated the sites, then I would be promoting the hell out of that app!
Don’t take my hesitance as criticism though, this is still a great resource for finding cheap and free campsites for camping in Australia.
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services
The Queensland government offers cheap campsites, like really cheap (under $6 per person per night) and these sites have great facilities. Most have toilets, running water (not always drinkable, so be sure to take your own along), great views and an amazing vibe. What more can you ask for at $6 per night? We are huge advocates for these QPWS campsites. Even with a conventional vehicle we have been able to access a lot of campsites and have not felt like we missed out on anything for not having a 4WD. To book these sites you can jump online or call up. You can also check the availability of sites online at anytime so you can find out whether you need to pre-book your site or wait until you have seen the camping grounds to book yourself in. Be aware that many QPWS camping grounds do not have mobile phone reception, however some have public payphones onsite.
Free Camping Australia
A great resources for free campsites, this website has a great social media presence also that is well worth following. It does tend to be overrun by grey nomads, but the website still offers some great info about free camping sites. I choose not to use this site as it’s not great for those in tents, most skewed towards those in campervans and motor homes, however if you’re travelling in a rental van or your own, Free Camping Australia could save you a lot of dollars.
Australian Campsites Website
This privately run website lists free and cheap camping grounds in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia. Two campers who were struggling to find the information they wanted about free and cheap campsites from existing websites built the site. The result is australiancampsites.com.au, head over and check it out.
Colour of Sunshine
A little bit of shameless self-promotion here! This is mine and my partner’s website. As we travel Australia we are documenting and reviewing every campsite that we stay at as well as some that choose not to stay at. We will let you know how tent-friendly every campsite is as well as the cost, vibe and facilities of each camping grounds. Every review has images of the campsite and a little about the area as well.
This is the most under-utilised resource and gives you the most recent and real information. Talk to other campers at your campsite about where they have been, where they recommend and what they have heard. You are bound to pick up some info about secret camping spots that are hard to find online. We tell everyone to book into Smalleys Beach, because we loved it and want to share that experience with you all! We have had some great tips from other campers, like Workmans Beach at Agnes Water, which we may not have visited if it were not for this info from fellow travellers. So get out of your vans and tents, and talk to you neighbours!