10 of the best free campsites in Australia

Are you looking for the best free campsites in Australia?  If driving the Big Lap of Australia is on your travel bucket list then this list is for you.

There’s no question, driving around Australia is an epic adventure, and we think a road trip is the best way to see Australia.  We spent 3.5 years driving 80,000km around this big, beautiful country.  But let’s be honest, it can be EXPENSIVE!!

One of the main ways we saved money was by staying in free campsites as much as possible.  Sometimes the free camps are literally a carpark, and other times, they can be EPIC.

In this post we will count down our top 10 free campsites in Australia, based on location, facilities and proximity to beautiful scenery.  Bonus points if the camp wasn’t crowded! 

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Campervan at Betty's Beach Free Camp

What is a Free Campsite?

Our criteria in choosing this Top 10, is that the campsite had to be free, and also an official camp; not a stealth spot or a wild camp.  

We find our campsites on the WikiCamps app, which I’ll be honest, isn’t perfect, but it does have some great recommendations and the reviews from other campers are helpful.  

There’s also a few that we found on social media, or recommendations from other travellers.

So, let’s count them down from 10 to 1.

10 Long Waterhole, Winton Qld

Our first foray into the outback took us to the Dinosaur trail in outback Queensland. Numerous dinosaur fossils have been found in this area centred around the towns of Winton, Richmond and Hughendon.  

We spent a couple of days checking out museums and replica dinosaurs, and a couple of pubs, and while we were there we stayed at the Long Waterhole free camp just outside Winton.  The Long Waterhole is a man-made billabong with bird life and apparently plenty of fish.

The campsite is located 2km out of Winton on the Jundah Road.  Follow the signs to Long Waterhole a couple of kilometres down a dirt road. 

You can’t book the campsites, and they are not numbered.  It’s just a matter of pulling up anywhere you like.  When we visited there were lots of caravans parked around the shores of the lake, but we chose somewhere that was more removed from everyone else.

There are no facilities at this camp, so you’ll need to be self contained.  Parts of the track are rough, but you should be able to get into the main part of the camp in a 2wd or towing a caravan.

Why we love it:  Close to town, quiet and peaceful, great sunrises and sunsets.

Campervan at Long Waterhole Campsite near Winton, Qld

9 Badgery’s Lookout, NSW

Badgery’s Lookout is one of those places we learned about on Instagram.  It’s one of the first free camps we stayed in on our journey, and we loved it so much we came to stay there again on our way home.  While we couldn’t get the best shots with our camera on the first visit, being able to put the drone up really shows how special this spot is.

Badgery’s Lookout is near the town of Tallong, a short drive off the Hume Highway between Sydney and Goulburn.  The road is sealed all the way.

Both times we visited here we were the only ones camped there, which we still find amazing.  For somewhere so close to the city, we expected it to be a lot busier.

The views from the lookout are incredible, and there’d been heavy rain the day we arrived the second time, so there were waterfalls off the escarpment down into the gorge.  

There is a walking track down into the gorge, which apparently goes all the way down to the river.  Sue walked half way down on our first visit (Nigel was injured so couldn’t go).  When we visited the second time in 2024 the trail was really overgrown, and we decided to give it a miss because of all the recent rain.

There are 2 drop toilets here, they weren’t the cleanest!  There’s also a couple of picnic tables and fireplaces.

Why we love it:  Peace and quiet, secluded, great views.

Campervan parked at Badgery's Lookout Free Campsite

8 Mt Franklin (Lalgambuk), Vic

One of the things I loved about Victoria was the National Park campsites – many of them are free, have decent internet and a 28 day stay rule.  Perfect for a digital nomad.  I stayed at several campgrounds in Victoria for extended periods while Nigel was away working, and my favourite was Mt Franklin (Lalgambuk).

Lalgambuk campsite is located around 10km north of the very popular spa town of Daylesford.  It’s in the middle of the crater of an extinct volcano, so the setting is quite unique.  

The sites aren’t numbered, and most of them aren’t level, so you’ll need your levelling blocks.  This campsite gets very busy on weekends, but during the week it can be very peaceful.

There are drop toilets here and a rainwater tank (boil before drinking).  Fires are allowed except during times of Total Fire Ban.  The internet is good here, as there is a mobile phone mast on top of the hill

You can walk up and around the crater rim which I loved for my morning exercise.  It’s only around 2km, but the walk up the hill is a great heart starter.

Why we love it:  Good walking trail, good internet, proximity to town for supermarket, water and dump point.

Lalgambuk, one of the best free campsites in australia

7 Stingray Head, Dundee Beach NT

We thought there would be a lot more free campsites in the Northern Territory, but most of the time we stayed in National Park campsites.  

One free camp that we absolutely loved was Stingray Head at Dundee Beach, not far out of Darwin.

This camp is accessed down a bumpy, narrow dirt track.  Apparently there is also access along the beach, but that seemed a bit rougher to us.  Once there, it’s a beautiful place to camp up for a few days to relax.  

The views were beautiful, and although we couldn’t swim, it was nice and cool next to the beach.

Sadly, this camp is no longer.  The land is actually privately owned, and what was once a little-known hidden gem, became very popular thanks to social media (and wikicamps).  

Unfortunately, too many people ignored the “self-contained” rulings, and abused the privilege of staying here.  The landowner obviously got sick of cleaning up after disgusting humans and restricted access to day use only.  

This is what happens when people ignore the self-contained rulings.  We would encourage you to practice Leave No Trace principles.  If you don’t have a toilet, at least bury your business, and your TP!

Stingray Head - one of the best free campsites in Australia

6 Betty’s Beach, WA

There are not a lot of Free Campsites in Western Australia, but the one that really sticks out with us is Betty’s Beach.  

Betty’s Beach is located west of Albany on WA’s south coast.  Access to the free camping area is down a dirt road; which was in good condition when we were there.  The campsite even had a camp host in residence, who was responsible for allocating the campsites.  (Update June 2024 – I spoke to someone last week who was staying here and she said there was no camp host in residence now)

The main campsites are located down by the toilet block, but we were lucky to be assigned a place up on the bluff overlooking the ocean.

Despite it being the middle of summer (January) when we visited it was quite cold and windy, although we did manage to get the drone up for some shots, and Nigel had a swim.

Why we loved it:  Perfect place to chill out for a few days.  Good walks along the beach and tracks to other nearby beaches.  Good fishing (apparently!)

Betty's Beach - the best free campsite in Australia?

Lake Rosebery, Tasmania

Tasmania is well known as having some of the best free camping in Australia, and there are definitely some great spots here.  So much so that we struggled to choose just two for this list.  

The first is the beautiful lakeside campground at Lake Rosebery.  This campground is small, with only space for a couple of campers, and it was quite busy when we arrived.  Our first night we were back from the lake, but in the morning we moved down closer when someone left.  

We spent a day relaxing here while Nigel was recovering from a nasty bout of Manflu.  But being sick wasn’t enough to stop him having a swim!

Now I’ll be honest, this campsite is kind of out of the way, but it is quite close to Montezuma Falls, the longest waterfall in Tasmania, so it’s a great place to stay if you’re doing the hike out to the falls.

There are no facilities here, so you’ll need to be fully self contained.  The road to the campsite is sealed.  We had reasonable phone and internet coverage here (Telstra).

Why we love it: views of the lake and Mount Murchison, peaceful, good internet.

View of Mount Murchison from Lake Rosebery Free Camp

Bunda Cliffs, SA

The Bunda Cliffs is one of those iconic free campsites that everyone looks forward to on their Big Lap of Australia.  Situated in South Australia, along the Nullarbor Plain, the Bunda Cliffs rise up over 100m above the southern ocean.  

There are plenty of options for free camping along the Bunda Cliffs, you’ll see little dirt tracks making the way down to the cliff edge.  In September 2023 several of the camping places were closed as the cliffs became unstable, but as you can see from the WikiCamps App there’s still plenty of places.

The scenery here is just spectacular as you stand on the edge of the cliffs looking down onto the ocean knowing the next land is Antarctica. If you’re here at the right time (late June to October) you might see Southern Right Whales and their young.

We spent a couple of nights camped up in two different locations – and we were super lucky with the weather.  We’ve heard from other people about the wind howling here, but it was still enough for us to be able to fly the drone.

There are no facilities here, so you’ll need to be fully self-contained.  There is no phone or internet reception.

Why we love it: Bucket list worthy destination!

Sunset at the Bunda Cliffs free campsite

3 Notch Point, Qld

Notch Point is touted as one of the best free campsites in Australia.  We had heard this before we went, and were worried it wouldn’t live up to the hype.  We needn’t have worried, it was just as epic as we’d heard.

Notch Point Campground is about half way up the Queensland Coast, between Rockhampton and Mackay. From Ilbilbie, head towards the coast, following signs to Notch Point.  You’ll go through a gate, then make your way down a bumpy dirt road, dodging pot holes and puddles, as you make your way down to the water.

The camping area at Notch Point is huge.  When you first arrived you’ll see people camped up along the water’s edge by the mangroves, but if you continue on, you’ll come to the best area.  

When the track splits, take the left fork – don’t go up the hill to the right.  This track leads you to a beautiful area, with plenty of space for campers to spread out.

While the beach here looks inviting, swimming is not recommended from October to April due to the possible presence of Box Jellyfish.  Crocodiles may also be present in these waters.  Having said that, we did see families swimming with their young kids… in January!

There’s quite a few rope swings around… for the kids, and the big kids!

We would have stayed at this campsite a lot longer, but we ran out of water.  Fires are allowed here, and there are friendly cows who wander through the camp.

Remember to shut the gate when you come out, and dump your rubbish in the big skip bin.

Facilities: None – you’ll need to be fully self-contained.

Why we loved it: Perfect place to chill out and relax for a few days.  Nice beach walks.

Notch Point - one of the best free campsites in Australia

2 Curdimurka Siding, SA

When you drive along the Oodnadatta Track, you’ll see the ruins of the original Adelaide to Darwin Railway.

The section from Marree to Oodnadatta was built from 1884 to 1891.  In the 1980s a new line was built further west to avoid washouts on the flood plains along this route.  The original Ghan Railway fell into disrepair, and now all you’ll see is ruins, several bridges and original siding buildings. 

Curdimurka Siding is one of the old railway sidings of the original Ghan Railway.  We camped out the back of the siding on our last night on the Oodnadatta Track, and this was one of our favourite campsites.  

We were able to explore the old siding building and we drove down to the railway bridge which isn’t visible from the road.  It was a bit creepy exploring the ruined building just after sunset, but that just added to the appeal.

There are no facilities here at the siding, so you’ll need to be fully self contained for this one.

Why we loved it:  This is such a unique place to stay and it was great to be completely alone here.  Great outback sunset and sunrise.  Completely silent.

Sunrise at Curdimurka Siding Free Camp

1 Swimcart Beach, Tasmania

Earlier we mentioned how good the Free Camps are in Tasmania, so It’s little surprise that our number one Free Campsite in Australia is in Tasmania.  Drumroll…

We’d heard about Swimcart Beach campsite on social media, and heard how crowded it gets.  We actually got super lucky, as we arrived around mid-morning and noticed someone packing up their site, so we waited about 20 minutes for them to leave and slotted straight into their spot.

Talk about Million Dollar Real estate!!

There’s a toilet here, just make sure you have plenty of food and water to last your stay, because once you leave, chances are you’ll lose your spot!

Why we love it: This is a great spot to watch the sunrise, walk on the beach, swim, Nigel Dive… you name it!

Campervan parked at Swimcart Beach Free Campsite

Conclusion – are these the best free campsites in Australia?

Did any of these campsites surprise you?  Are there any that we left off that we should add to our bucket list for our next lap? We’d love to hear about your favourite free campsites in Australia. Drop us a comment down below or send us an email.

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