Don’t let the cooler weather put you off exploring the great outdoors – here, travellers reveal the best campsites to visit during winter.
The Australian caravan and campervan sharing platform Camplify recently consulted its knowledgeable community of well-travelled van owners to spill the beans on Australia’s best kept secrets for camping in winter. Here, find the crème de la crème of winter campsites around Australia. Now you just need to decide if you’d rather wake up in the desert, next to thermal pools or deep within a national park.
Beachcomber Holiday Park is fringed by the Eurobodalla National Park and puts you right in the heart of all that Potato Point has to offer. This stunning stretch of coastline boasts uncrowded beaches, river estuaries and ancient headlands – all of which are accessible from the holiday park. Most sites accommodate up to six guests in addition to a number of family sites that sleep 10.The majority of sites are unpowered, but there are a limited number of solar-powered sites which are powerful enough to run your lights, TV, radio, battery charger and small fridge.
Community says: “Beachcomber is right by the beach in a stunning setting. Close by to a lovely little town, the days are perfect for exploring, surfing and mountain biking while marshmallow melting and [sitting by the] campfire are the perfect activities in the evening before getting snuggly under the stars.”
This campsite is framed by Booti Booti National Park – its name is derived from a word that means “plenty of honey” in the local Worimi Aboriginal language – and the kinds of deserted, white-sand beaches Australia is known for. Foster’s Ruins Campground is part of the NSW National Parks offering, with cabbage tree palms and paperbarks setting the scene come winter. Explore scenic headlands, beautiful beaches, refreshing rainforest, and 11 kilometres of estuarine foreshore before retreating back to your campsite. The site offers picnic tables, barbeques, drinking water, showers and toilets.
Community says: “The Ruins Campground feels rugged and remote with wide-sweeping beaches and plenty of bush walks in the national parks. The location is perfect for making cooking fires on the beach and surfing. There are also some really lovely cafes at Blueys Beach.”
Bullara Station is an expansive outback sheep and cattle station located within driving distance of the turquoise waters of Ningaloo. Come winter you’ll find wildflowers blooming and diverse birdlife to admire. There are also pet lambs, kangaroos and cows to keep the kids amused. Join a 4WD tour to learn about local geography, bush tucker and how to identify animal tracks. This bush camping oasis offers a choice of powered and non-powered sites (no generators). There are communal fire pits, showers, toilets and a camp kitchen available to use.
Community says: “This authentic outback station experience is nestled in the heart of Ningaloo. Wake up to an array of animals including sheep, horses and cows roaming the campground and head to the local coast to find some amazing swimming spots. Communal campfires are available in the evening for a perfect way to wind down and swap stories with fellow travellers.”
If you like your winter holidays on the warmer side heading up north is a no-brainer. Rollingstone Beachfront Resort is just over 50 minutes’ drive north of Townsville – and with more than 300 days of sunshine a year it more than ticks the warmer weather box. This 32-acre tropical playground boasts a beachfront location and everything you need for an upscale camping holiday. First off, it’s every kid’s paradise; there’s a jumping pillow, bike track, activity room, basketball hoop and playground. Secondly, sleeping in a tent places you right next to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the area. There are sites right on the sand, or beside the barramundi-filled lake. Drop a line and put your feet up. You’re in Queensland, after all.
Community says: “Rollingstone is the perfect location to choose your own adventure and is ideal for beachfront camping, meaning you can just set up camp, drop a line in the ocean and relax. The resort is equipped with a pool, BMX track, jumping pillow and specially designed ponds for recreational fishing. With plenty of beautiful walks surrounding the resort, this location is perfect for an action packed winter vacation.”
Flanked by majestic paperbark trees, twisting pandanus and soft sandy beaches, nothing says ‘escape to the tropics’ more than this oasis of thermal pools located 200 kilometres south of Darwin. Rest your weary bones in the spot where the hot springs water meets the cool of the river, and watch bandicoots, quolls and flying foxes while fish nibble at your toes. The unpowered campsites have your basic necessities covered: find a pit toilet, shower, fire pit, barbeques, picnic tables and drinking water. May to September is considered the best time to go, so you won’t miss a moment of the dazzling winter beauty. Be sure to check for campsite closures beforehand.
If camping along the coast of Queensland doesn’t draw you in, then this remote 1600 acre working cattle farm will. Set on the upper Rocky River near Tenterfield NSW, Wunglebung is bordered by the magnificent Rocky River and Bicentennial National Trail. This is a bush retreat in every sense of the word. There is space dedicated for tents, vans and motorhomes. In the surrounding area there are tracks to follow and beautiful valley trails to drive and explore. Spend your day bushwalking, swimming, kayaking, and mountain biking and lots of big sky stargazing at night. Just note there is no mobile or internet service available, so prepare yourself for an off-the-grid experience.
Community says: “Wunglebung is a true bush retreat, teeming with serenity. This dog-friendly location offers bushwalking, kayaking, mountain biking perfect for those looking for adventure during the day. After a busy day, Wunglebung is transformed by the night sky and offers some amazing stargazing.”
If you enjoy feeling like the only person in the world this secluded campsite on the banks of the Murray River and Barmah Lake is about as off-grid as it gets in these parts. Pitch a tent on one of the two circuit loops with 22 semi-designated and dispersed campsites. There is a boat ramp nearby, making this an ideal spot for canoeing, fishing and the like. There are also several marked hikes around the lake and Indigenous cultural sites.
Community says: “Located in the Barmah State Forest about 30 kilometres from Echuca on the Murray River is a key place for those who love to be at one with nature. By a large expanse of water, campers can canoe, swim and fish. For those who would like to stay on land, there’s an array of bush and cultural walks. The secluded nature of this location makes for amazing stargazing in the evening around a campfire.”
Beechworth is by far the best-preserved 19th Century gold mining town in Australia. Taking a visit here is a lesson in charming streetscapes, thanks to the impeccably-preserved architecture that was largely constructed in the same style, at roughly the same time, and with the same material – the local honey-coloured granite. Beechworth Lake Sambell Caravan Park is your lakeside base camp for exploring the region. Over 50 powered sites are set among shady trees, with concrete slabs for caravans and motorhomes, and taps providing town water. For an off-grid experience, enjoy unpowered camping on the banks of Spring Creek. There are over 70 available, with campfires permitted in designated areas. Sambell Park provides easy access to the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail and many walking tracks. There are two under-cover barbeque areas, a playground, mini golf, volleyball court, LPG and a well-stocked kiosk.
Community says: “This relaxing campsite features the sound of running water from the nearby creek and the smell of pine trees that surround the site. This picturesque location is ideal for long barbeques, swimming, birdwatching and stargazing.”
Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park is located on the south-western tip of the Yorke Peninsula, approximately 300 kilometres by road from Adelaide via Port Wakefield, Ardrossan, Minlaton and Warooka. The spot is a favourite among campers, fishers, swimmers and bushwalkers. Come winter, it transforms into a fresh green landscape, with wild seas and large surf. Visit one of the surrounding lighthouses, or learn about the tumultuous maritime history of South Australia at the shipwreck of Ethel. Explore historic Inneston – an abandoned township surrounded by bushland. Then retreat to your campsite to catch some of the best coastal views in South Australia. The entire park is accessible by 2WD.
Community says: “A favourite for camping, this national park has an abundance of activities for road-trippers to enjoy. Explore the park by bushwalking on trails from 30 minutes to four hours. Head down to the beach for some surfing and finish the day with a warming campfire.”
Stunning beaches, turquoise waters, access to the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef, hiking, climbing, camping, water and wildlife… Cape Range National Park is utterly perfect. There are a range of campgrounds within Cape Range National Park and coastal sites with eight bookable through Explore Parks. They are in very high demand from April to October so bookings are recommended. The bookings apply to campsites at:
- Osprey Bay
- Yardie Creek
- North Kurrajong
- Ned’s Camp
- North Mandu
Explore some of the park’s famous attractions including Shothole and Charles Knife canyons, with a five-kilometre bushwalking trail that connects the two and offers some stunning outback scenery, wildlife, and wildflowers in season. Check out Yardie Creek and Turquoise Bay for some more stunning scenery.
Community says: “If you’re keen to take your time and experience everything Western Australia has to offer, be sure to include the Cape Range National Park in Exmouth, which is a special sight, particularly in the winter months when the weather is warm and people come to experience the extraordinary scenery and wildlife. Swim with whale sharks and snorkel at Turquoise Bay. The panoramic views over Cape Range National Park and Ningaloo Reef are a must see, and some may even spot some of the native wildlife including emus, kangaroos, dingoes and even eagles.”
Freycinet National Park is home to some of Tasmania’s most incredible camping spots, which may explain why you need to enter a ballot system to camp during peak times (Easter and Christmas). This makes winter a great time to venture south without the crowds and enjoy the sleepy sand dunes. Wake up to breathtaking views, and explore the beautiful bays by day (Honeymoon Bay, Sleepy Bay and Wineglass Bay) – with panoramic views of wondrous Wineglass Bay the main drawcard for visitors. The campground is a small coastal strip along the dunes of Richardsons Beach and the granite knoll of Honeymoon Bay – and while there are plenty of options, they go fast. Freycinet Camping Information provides everything you need to know to enter the ballot, and for non-peak times, you can book your site through the Freycinet Visitor’s Centre.