Camping in Australia is a fantastic way to get up close and personal with a beautiful corner of the globe, that’s slightly on the larger side! The country’s natural attractions are its best features, and you can see them all when you rent a motorhome. Just hit the roads by day and park up at night.
It is also an inexpensive way to travel. Small campervans are relatively cheap to hire and run, and they combine transport and accommodation in one. The campsite costs can also be kept to a minimum, if you know what you’re doing and where you’re going. Here is Motorhome Republic’s guide to camping in Australia: where to go, what to do and what you’ll need.
Find a site
Expensive but very well-equipped, privately owned holiday parks and caravan parks are the way to go if you prefer a little luxury on your camping holiday, but facilities and prices vary hugely. The top range delivers powered sites, pools, play areas for children, kitchens, laundry facilities, internet, BBQs and plenty more, while some have on-site shops. Prices range from $20 to $50 per site, per night, depending on whether you require power, your site location and how many people are staying. Privately owned parks like these often have pride of position in the small towns around Australia, and are great for when you need to do laundry, cook a meal or have a decent shower.
National Park campsites are state-run and more basic than private facilities. They are also cheaper, usually ranging from $5 to $20 per night. Some offer nothing but a space to park, while others have running water and drop toilets - you may even find flush lavatories, BBQs and rubbish disposal. Visit the website for each state’s national park system to browse campsites and book - here is the example for New South Wales. It is important to be aware of the environment when staying in a National Park campground and leave everything as you found it.
Free camping in Australia
It is possible to camp for free in many designated places around the country, but there are a few things you need to know. Only free camp in self-contained vehicles, so you don’t leave anything behind or have a negative impact on the environment. Park up on public land that permits free camping - some farmers don’t mind people staying for the night, but unless you ask, there is no way of knowing. Some camps only allow limited stays, so be aware of this - and in all regards, be respectful. Don’t leave any rubbish behind, as free camping is a privilege which can be abused, which has lead to many camps being shut down.
There are plenty of websites out there to help you find a free campsite, and you can also download apps to guide you. Do your research before setting off so you don’t get caught out!
People say that in Australia nature is trying to kill you. And while it certainly has its fair share of deadly wildlife, the animals and bugs shouldn’t be a problem as long as you take precautions. Don’t leave out any food that might attract fauna, keep tents zipped and doors closed and beware of inland bodies of water which may contain crocodiles. When walking in grass or bush, wear sturdy shoes and make plenty of noise - snakes and spiders don’t want to come into contact with you either.
The bushfire risk is another safety issue when camping. If you are using National Park campsites and free campsites, check the rules on open fires. They are permitted in some places, while others have very specific fire bans - parts of Australia are very prone to bushfires, especially during dry months, so rules must be strictly followed. In addition, it is illegal to collect firewood and kindling in National Parks.
Equipment for an Aussie camper holiday
Beyond clothes and food, there are a few important things to pack for your motorhome camping trip.
Ropes and cords: versatile and handy, use as a makeshift washing line.
Mobile phone with Australian sim, in case of emergencies.
Baby wipes: these are great for cleaning hands and faces.
Bug spray: very important in Australia!
Outdoor table and chairs: So you can enjoy the fresh air and eat outside.
Torches aka flashlights: A headlamp is useful for late-night trips to the toilet.
First-aid kit: this might come with your motorhome rental, check with the supplier.
Warm clothing: even in the summer you might need some pants and a sweater.
Sun protection: a hat, sunblock and sunglasses for the Australian sun.
A GPS unit: always very helpful and sometimes necessary in finding your way around!
If you are flying in to pick up your motorhome rental, you will have to pack light due to airline weight restrictions. Check with the rental company whether any of the equipment can be rented along with the vehicle - you will almost certainly be able to get a GPS and outdoor furniture for a small extra fee. You can also pick up things like bug spray, baby wipes and ropes at department stores such as Kmart and in supermarkets.
Australia not your location of choice? Take a look at what New Zealand has to offer for campervan rental. Christchurch is a great starting point.