How would you like to enjoy an island getaway – without breaking the bank? Luckily Australia has plenty of islands with campsites where you can set up tent and while away a weekend on a budget. Sure, you might be making your own pina coladas, and the vibe might be more Robinson Crusoe than Richard Branson, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
This is the most isolated camping area on this list – that is, if you can forget about the luxury resort that’s hidden on the other side of the island. Lizard Island is part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, around 93 kilometres north of Cooktown in far-north Queensland, and is only accessible by boat or plane (yup, that luxury resort means there’s an airstrip on the island). But once you’ve waved goodbye to your transport, you’ll feel very Robinson Crusoe; there are only extremely basic amenities (even the water has to be boiled before drinking) and the island is still very wild (keep an eye out for crocs).
If being in Tasmania isn’t island escape enough, then head to Cloudy Corner camping area in South Bruny National Park on Bruny Island. This 4WD-only camping area is on the opposite end of the island to Bruny’s main settlement, Adventure Bay, and can only be accessed at low tide. And, of course, it’s for totally self-sufficient campers. If that all sounds appealing, you’ll be rewarded with excellent fishing, glorious (yet chilly) swimming, and the sort of scenery that’ll have you returning every year.
During the early days of Australia’s European history, Kangaroo Island was a wild outpost for escaped convicts and pirates. While the island is slightly more civilised these days, you can still see a glimpse of that wild isolation at West Bay camping area, which is in Kangaroo Island’s spectacular Flinders Chase National Park. The camping area is around 22 kilometres from the visitors’ centre, on a west-facing bay with breathtaking views.
Grab your bike or your hiking boots and hop on a ferry to French Island. This island is a relaxed farming community, without the big attractions that draw people to neighbouring Phillip Island. But that means you might just be lucky enough to have the camping area to yourself! Fairhaven camping area is a back-to-basics spot, so you’ll need to be completely self-sufficient. Once on the island, lean into the slower pace of life and… relax. You might even spot a koala or two.
If you like a few more amenities with your island paradise (including hot showers, drinking water and toilets), then this spot might be for you. Of course, you’ll have to leave those fantasies of Robinson Crusoe behind, as this camping area – the only one on Rottnest Island – is extremely popular. Rotto, as the locals call it, is just a ferry ride away from Perth, and the camping area is right next to the main settlement. The camping fee is on the expensive side, but you’re paying for the facilities and island vibes (and beaches!). Word to the wise: avoid this camping area during November, as it’s flooded with school leavers.