Everything You Need to Know About Free Camping in Australia

One of the most cost-effective ways to tour is to avail a campervan or motorhome rental in Australia and hit the road. You will find free and low-cost campsites are quite common throughout the country, so there are many opportunities to stay the night in beautiful environs completely free of cost. That means that over the course of a week-long trip, you could easily save hundreds or even thousands of dollars on trip expenses.

But what do you need to know about free camping in Australia before you start planning your itinerary? Do free campsites offer you the same level of quality and the same amenities as paid campsites? Let’s provide answers to some frequently asked questions so that you will be ready to plan your camping adventure.


Where is it legal to camp for free in Australia? Where is it not legal?

You cannot park your campervan or motorhome just anywhere. You must park in a specifically designated area in RV Friendly Townorder to spend the night. If you are looking for a free spot in town (not a campground), search for signposts which read “RV Friendly Town.” Councils which post these signs know that you will probably spend money on food and gas before leaving town, so they are okay with you parking at no cost.

These free spots in towns are not that common along the coastline, which is heavily populated and has a lot more commercial parks. In smaller communities in the Outback however, you may find quite a few of these opportunities along with other overnight rest areas.

You will also find free campsites in many of Australia’s national parks. Bush camps which are free to camp in also are located off the main highway near smaller towns.

If you are looking for a place to sleep for the night while driving on a highway, “Rest Areas” are also a good option.


How do I find free campsites in Australia?

There are more than 4,000 sites you can use throughout Australia for free or low-cost camping. The best way to search for free campsites in Australia is to check online before you head out on your trip. There are a number of websites and apps which you can use to hunt down free campgrounds.

You can also visit national park websites, or call the parks directly and ask for information. Another useful option is to chat with locals and other tourists as you are travelling across Australia. This is one of the best ways to discover hidden bush camps near small towns.


What kinds of amenities will I find at free campsites in Australia?

Sometimes free campsites have toilets, but not always. Showers are less common, but you may still find them in some locations. So it is useful to travel in a self-contained camper. But if you are in a remote area, this may not be all that important. If you are tent camping in a secluded location after all, you do not expect a toilet to be available. If you have adequate privacy, you can get by without one. Bring toilet paper and a plastic bag with you. Bury your waste, but do not leave toilet paper behind. Throw it in a rubbish bin.

campsite amenities


What are the water and fire rules and availability?

Each camp has different rules when it comes to fires and barbecuing, and they may or may not be written down. Check in advance to see if there are any written rules about open fires and collecting firewood. If open fires are not permitted, then you will want to have a gas cooktop. If you are staying in a national park, you may not collect firewood, whether there is a sign posted or not. You have to bring your own if fires are allowed.

Some sites have safe, drinkable water, while others do not. You should always bring your own water supply with you everywhere you go, just to be safe.


Will my phone get reception?

Maybe, maybe not—it all depends on the campsite. Many free campsites in Australia are quite far-flung and may be far out of range. For this reason, you should consider bringing a set of two-way radios with you.


Are free campsites in Australia clean?

Some free campsites in Australia are clean and well-kept-up, while others are not. It depends partly on whether other campers have been courteous and removed their rubbish, but also on how often camp administrators get out to check the place out. Check out reviews while planning your trip to get an idea what you can expect.


What do I do with my trash?

If rubbish bins are provided at the site, you should dump all allowable waste inside. If you have any rubbish which is not permitted in the bins (or there are no bins), then take it with you when you leave and dispose of it in another location. Do not leave your trash lying around.


Are free campsites in Australia safe?

Generally speaking, yes, they are quite safe. The vast majority of travellers in motorhomes visiting Australia are middle-aged and senior couples. Most of the people you encounter will be friendly and will want to trade travel stories with you. But if you want to be left alone, you will find plenty of secluded sites where you can enjoy your privacy.


What are the basic etiquette rules?

Be mindful of the hours you drive into and out of free campsites; try not to disturb sleeping travellers early in the morning or late at night. Remember, a lot of campers have driven a long way and are very tired. So watch your noise levels as well, especially after 9:00 pm.

When you set up, make sure you do so a reasonable distance away from others so that everyone has the privacy they need. Be careful not to block access roads.

Follow the rules regarding fires, wood and rubbish. If water is available, be sparing with your use of it, especially in arid regions.

Many parks have a donation box. If you can afford it, consider leaving something so that the site can remain open for others.


How long can I stay?

That depends on the campground that you are staying at. Free campgrounds are not intended for long-term stays, so most of them have strict time limits. Check signage in the campground and look online. You can also ask around to find out what the maximum stay is.


Conclusion: Free Campgrounds in Australia Help You Cut Back on Travel Costs

Australia’s thousands of free and low-cost campgrounds provide you with an amazing alternative to paid campgrounds and hotels. The majority of them are clean, safe, and set in beautiful surroundings, oftentimes in or close to the national parks that you are journeying to see in your campervan or motorhome. When you save on accommodations costs, you can put that money toward other aspects of your trip—like extending your vacation for a longer stay and exploring even more of what the Land Down Under has to offer!

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