Top 5 cool camping spots in Victoria and New South Wales

Dunphys camping area, Nic Hanson, used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Dunphys camping area, Nic Hanson, used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

It’s been a few weeks since your last holiday and you’re feeling the camping itch. But you don’t want to stay at just any camping ground.

You want to camp in a spectacular location with activities that take you outside your comfort zone.

The campsite doesn’t have to have state-of-the-art facilities – in fact, you’d really like it to be tent-based camping. Something that takes you back to nature, and that feels relaxed and separate from the bustle of your daily life.

Basically, you want to go ‘cool’ camping.

We’ve picked out some of the best cool camping spots in Victoria and New South Wales. So why not leave the heavy camping artillery at home and give one of these sites a go? Let us know which sites you think live up to the cool camping manifesto in the comments.

Dunphys camping area, Blue Mountains National Park, New South Wales

Narrow Neck Plateau, Destination NSW

Narrow Neck Plateau, visible from Dunphys camping area, Destination NSW

Wind your way down into the peaceful Megalong Valley from the charming town of Blackheath. Keep going along the Megalong Valley Road for another 19 kilometres (you can stop off for a delightful tea break at the Megalong Valley Tea Rooms if required) before heading up into the mountains on the other side of the valley.

Don’t worry, you haven’t reached the end of the civilisation. You’ve just arrived at the splendidly isolated Dunphys camping area – a cool camping spot par excellence.

Dunphys is one of the most scenic camping areas in the Blue Mountains. Its view of the swooping escarpments and tree-carpeted valleys is truly spectacular, and, unlike many other campsites in the mountains, its scenic aspects aren’t obscured by trees. This also means that Dunphys is one of the few campsites in the Blue Mountains that enjoys the sun’s warming rays in winter.

Once you’ve set up tent, grab a drink (you’ll have to have brought one with you) and sit back and enjoy the sunset. But don’t drink too much – you’ll find it hard to resist the fantastic walks accessible from the camping area, including the well-known Six Foot Track.

Kangaroo Valley Tourist Park, New South Wales

You might not think that a tourist park would tick all of the cool camping boxes. After all, there are cabins on offer here – and isn’t cool camping about getting back to nature? Don’t let the cabins distract you from the other charms of this tourist park. Kangaroo Valley Tourist Park has dedicated sites for camping with plenty of space for you to spread out.

Set in the delightful Kangaroo Valley in New South Wales’ Southern Highlands, this park has the nostalgic feel of a park from a lost time. In fact, the whole valley has a similar feel, which first hits you as the cross the distinctive, turreted bridge into the valley.

It’s easy to lose track of time here, whether you’re reading a book on the riverbank, strolling into town for a cuppa, or riding the park’s bikes around the valley. If you feel the need to wake yourself up from this relaxing idyll, getting out on the Kangaroo River in a canoe is a fantastic way to do it.

Kangaroo Valley Tourist Park’s proximity to the river is one of our favourite things about the park and you can give the canoeing a go even if you haven’t had any experience.

Buchan Caves camping area, Buchan Caves Reserve, Victoria

Buchan Caves camping area, by Attila con la cámara's, used under CC BY-NC 2.0

Buchan Caves camping area, by Attila con la cámara’s, used under CC BY-NC 2.0

You’ll come for the caves and stay for the camping. Buchan Caves Reserve is famous for its network of subterranean caves with incredible limestone formations that almost seem to drip off the ceiling. People have been touring the caves since the early 20th century, and the caves are just as worth visiting today.

Once you emerge from the caves, you’ll find the reserve filled with beautiful European trees, which adds to the feeling of not quite being in Australia, a feeling that lasts until the first kangaroo bounds past your campsite. You can camp under the shade of these European trees at the designated campground.

While you are at Buchan Caves, make sure to grit your teeth for a dive in the pool. It’s fed by an underground stream, and rumour has it the pool is one of the coldest in Victoria.

Sealers Cove camping area, Wilsons Promontory National Park, Victoria

Sealers Cove, by Skeggsy, used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Sealers Cove, by Skeggsy, used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

To get to Sealers Cove, you’ll have to leave your four wheels behind and get there on two legs. Due to flooding, the only way to reach Sealers Cove at the moment is via an overnight hike from Oberon Bay (you’ll need a permit for all hikes in Wilsons Promontory).

The hike almost transports you to a hidden land, and while the toilets and signs at Sealers Cove will clue you in to the fact that people have visited this delightful cove before, that won’t detract from the feeling of serenity and calm at this campsite.

The shady, tent-only camping area has glimpses through to the splendid beach below, which is overlooked by the Wilson Range.

Aire Crossing camping area, Great Otway National Park, Victoria

Have you been camping in Great Otway National Park? Chances are you’ve stayed at Johanna Beach or Blanket Bay camping areas. It’s not hard to see why – with their spectacular ocean views and laid-back vibe, these camping spots embody what the Great Ocean Road is all about.

But secreted away in the depths of the national park is another sort of campsite, one without ocean views and not a surfer in sight. Campers at Aire Crossing are more likely to be seen drinking tea and gazing at the old-growth trees in the temperate rainforest than hitting the waves.

Triplet Falls, Tourism Victoria

Triplet Falls, Tourism Victoria

As you’d expect for a hidden rainforest campsite, the facilities at Aire Crossing are limited, but the activities are not. Some of the best walks in the park are in the vicinity of the camping area, including the walk to the beautiful Triplet Falls. A nature escape doesn’t get any better than this.

For more cool camping spots, check out Kerryn Burgess’s Cool Camping Australia: East Coast.