Babinda Boulders camping area, Tourism Queensland
Treat yourself to summer holidays accommodation that won’t even come close to breaking the bank with our list of free, no-bookings campsites across Australia (although you’ll find most camping areas down south).
And Victorians, you haven’t missed out. Even though Parks Victoria has introduced bookings and fees for many of their previously free campsites, the good news is that we’ve found plenty of other free campsites in Victoria (and around the rest of the country, of course!).
New South Wales
Mungo Brush camping area, Bernard Schmitz
Bendeela Recreation Area, Kangaroo Valley
This campsite in the Kangaroo Valley is a hidden and picturesque gem! The sites are on a large, shady area next to the river.
Big River camping area, Goulburn River National Park
This campsite rocks. Set above the Goulburn River, you’re only a hop, skip and a leap away from some great swimming holes.
Blackbird Flat Reserve camping area, Macleay River Public Recreation Reserve
Free, dog-friendly, spacious camping next to a river in summer? Count us in.
Bodalla Forest Park, Bodalla State Forest
The perfect stop off the Princes Highway, this picnic spot also doubles as a shady and spacious camping area.
Coachwood camping area, Chichester State Forest
We like Coachwood camping area so much we almost don’t want to tell you about it. This pretty-as-a-picture campsite is next to a river in Chichester State Forest, which neighbours the magical Barrington Tops National Park.
Daisy Plains Huts, Carrai National Park
These remote huts are left unlocked for campers to use. It might not be ‘proper’ camping with a roof over your head, but as you wake up to the black cockatoos squawking in the eucalypts, you won’t care so much about those pesky details.
Frying Pan Creek camping area, Chichester State Forest
On the other side of the Telegherry River to Coachwood camping area, this picturesque campsite is justifiably popular.
Glen Davis camping area, Glen Davis
It’s a campsite with a view – and then some! This free camping area overlooks the beautiful Capertee Valley in the Blue Mountains.
Ingar Campground, Blue Mountains National Park
What makes Ingar camping area so good? It’s near Wentworth Falls AND a swimming hole, has toilets and easily accessible walking tracks. There are only eight sites though, so if you snooze on the morning you’re meant to leave, you may lose out on a spot.
Jacob’s River camping area, Kosciuszko National Park
Only a short drive from Jindabyne, Jacob’s River camping area gives you more than enough reasons to visit the alpine area in summer. It’s an attractive camping area set next to Jacob’s River. While away the time swimming and fishing.
Manning River camping area, Barrington Tops State Forest
Cool down by camping on the banks of the Manning River under the temperate rainforest. The fishing’s not bad, either.
Newtons Crossing camping area, Timbillica State Forest
There are only five sites, but chances are people will overlook this lovely inland spot in favour of a place on the beach. Their loss – situated next to the river in the midst of the forest, Newtons Crossing camping area is a winner.
Paddys River Flats camping area, Tumbarumba
You’ll fall in love with this simple camping area near Paddys Falls, where you can swim, fish or go bushwalking.
Pindari Dam camping area, Pindari Dam
You don’t have to pay to camp here, but you’ll probably enjoy this small, casual camping area with its view over the dam so much you’ll be happy dropping a few coins into the donation box.
The Pines camping area, Olney State Forest
Give us a campsite among the pine trees at Olney State Forest, with good facilities and lots of shade.
Rocky River Fossicking Area camping area, Uralla
You’ll strike gold at this free campsite – maybe even literally! You can hire fossicking equipment at the visitors centre. Otherwise you can just relax at the shaded campsite and cool down in the swimming holes in the river.
Eight Mile Flat camping area, Lyndon Sparrow
Blue Pool camping area, Briagolong State Forest
Walk down the steep gorge to find a deep blue pool surrounded by trees. You can’t pay for a summer cool-down this good – and at Blue Pool camping area, within easy walking distance of the pool, you don’t have to.
Fort O’Hare camping area, Dartmoor
With clean, tidy, grassy and shady campsites on the bank of the Glenelg River, Fort O’Hare is a pleasant spot to camp.
Horseyard Flat camping area, Alpine National Park
At this simple campsite among the trees, you’ve got access to walking and lookouts (but no actual horseriding facilities, sorry!).
Jones camping area, Toombullup Ranges
A good spot for anglers next to Hollands Creek near Mount Samaria State Park.
Pineapple Flat camping area, Alpine National Park
Bounce in with your 4WD, set up tent on the grassy, shaded sites, enjoy how picturesque it looks, before bouncing off again to tackle some of the 4WD tracks in the park.
Vaughan Springs camping area, Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park
Victoria has less free campsites than it did at this time last year, so expect Vaughan Springs to increase in popularity. The sites aren’t the most scenic, but it is a spacious camping area with swimming nearby.
Waterfalls camping area, Pyrenees State Forest
Pleasant sites under the trees near some excellent bushwalks.
Western Beach camping area, Lake Albacutya Park
On the shores of Lake Albacutya, this camping area is peacefully situated under the river red gums.
Port Parham camping area, Port Parham
You’ll find this family-friendly camping area north of Adelaide. Splash about in the shallow waters or try your hand at crabbing – just don’t get crabby if you come up empty handed.
Campsites along the Heysen Trail
These campsites are all well maintained and normally free! There are sometimes huts at these campsites so you can ‘camp’ with a roof over your head.
Tiparra Rocks camping area, Yorke Peninsula Reserves
One of a few free camping areas along the coast in the Yorke Peninsula Reserves, come here for the water-based activities. Permits required.
Campsites along the Bibbulmun track, south-west of Perth
Designated campsites along the Bibbulmun Track are free and no-bookings sites (although the sites are normally small), so go to town and camp all along the track (some of the camps are walk-in only)!
Bidjar Ngoulin camping area, Munda Biddi Trail
This basic campsite is on the Munda Biddi Trail. The peace, quiet and beauty of Bidjar Ngoulin, nestled as it is in a towering forest, more than makes up for the limited facilities.
Wungong camping area, Munda Biddi Trail
A bush campsite surrounded by Western Australia’s remarkable jarrah trees. This campsite is on the Munda Biddi Trail, which is always a good option for free campsites.
Babinda Creek camping area, Babinda
This free campsite is 6km from Babinda, near the swimming hole at Babinda Boulders (which rates as one of our favourite swimming holes on the east coast) and has toilets, showers and barbecues. Note: you can only stay for 48 hours.
Caliguel Lagoon camping area, Condamine
Camping in Queensland in summer? You’ll be glad there’s a lagoon nearby where you can cool down. A seriously charming campsite with good, clean amenities and plenty of water-based activities.
Wuruma Dam camping area, near Eidsvold
This increasingly popular camping area has good facilities and great fishing. The view’s not bad either.
Apsley Waterhole camping area, Douglas–Apsley National Park
As you swim in the Apsley River swimming hole near your free campsite in Douglas–Apsley National Park, you’ll ask yourself: does life get any better than this?
Boltons Green camping area, Southwest National Park
Boltons Green is the end of the road in Southwest National Park – from here it’s all walking tracks and endless ocean vistas. You need to get a permit for this camping area.
Dago Point camping area, Lake Sorrell
Set on the shaded banks of Lake Sorrell, camping doesn’t get much better than this. And since fishing is banned, it doesn’t get as crowded as you’d expect.
Green Point camping area, Marrawah
Water, water everywhere at Green Point camping area. This unprotected camping area (bring a strong tent!) overlooks the wild and beautiful Southern Ocean.
Hastings Forest Picnic Area camping area, Southern Forests
You might expect a free camping area to be ugly, with bad facilities and nothing to do. Well, may we introduce you to Hastings Forest Picnic Area camping area, which is nestled beside Esperance River on soft, mossy ground with toilets and all the activities you could want nearby?
Lake Barrington West camping area, Lake Barrington
Come here for the angling (permits required) and stay for the views and peace and quiet.
For more of Australia’s best camping, check out Australia’s Best Camping by Kerryn Burgess.