The Map Patrol's Favourite Free Campsites

Posted on: 02/02/2017

The Map Patrol's favourite free camps

Australia is home to many amazing free camping areas, so to uncover the best around we asked our resident adventure experts - the Hema Map Patrol - to tell us some of their favourites.

What makes a good campsite?

  • Things to do - Walking trails, four-wheel driving, historical sites to visit, mountain biking, lookouts etc.
  • Facilities - At least have a working toilet, showers are always a bonus.
  • Picturesque area- Amazing scenery or views with close by photo opportunities.
  • Not everyone knows about it
  • Sheltered from strong winds
  • Not overly crowded - Based on your personal preference.
  • Low cost - Not paying through the nose to stay the night is good but FREE is even better!
  • Close to water - Near rivers, streams, fishing, swimming etc.
  • Campfires allowed - Bonus if firewood is available onsite.
  • Shady areas - Big trees to get out of the sun on hot days.
  • Pets allowed - Particularly dog friendly campgrounds for dog owners.
  • Caravans or camper trailer access - Important for campers who are towing.

How do you find the best free camp grounds?

"Sometimes I will drive down a side track and be lucky enough to discover a new secret camp ground, but it's always best to have a backup plan such as a hard copy camping guide or offline GPS navigation with camps search." says Micah Brouwer, who is a part of the Hema Map Patrol. "Many people have a different idea about what makes a camping spot great. For me, some of the best campsites I have stayed at are extremely remote and rarely visited, usually with limited facilities. I have the place to myself and I can set up my site how I like."

1. Carawine Gorge Camping Area, WA

Location Marble Bar (21°28'59.4"S 121°01'44.4"E)
 Type Bush camping
Cost Free. No bookings required
Facilities No facilities. Closest fuel and shops in Nullagine (105km away)
Things to do Four-wheel driving nearby through Upper Carawine Gorge, Swimming, Fishing, Carawine Gorge (208m away), Running Waters Waterhole (24.6km away)
Pets allowed Dogs must be on leash at all times
Towing access Camper trailer and caravan access 
Campfires allowed Yes, not in hot or windy weather
Rubbish disposal No 
More information View map. Property privately owned (08) 9176 5900. Don't call to book.

Carawine Gorge 1

2. Desert Queen Baths, WA

Location Karlamilyi National Park (22°27'50.8"S 122°15'42.1"E)
 Type Bush camping
Cost Free. No bookings required
Facilities

No facilities. Closest fuel and shops in Parnngurr (52.4km away)

Things to do

Swimming, Walking, View rock formations, Tjingkulatjatjarra Pool (18.8km away), Watrara Pool (19.5km away)

Pets allowed No
Towing access 4WD camper trailer access only.
Campfires allowed No
Rubbish disposal No
More information View map. It's in a remote location so you will most likely have the whole place to yourself. You will need a capable 4x4 to get into the area.

Desert Queen Baths

3. Georges Junction Camping Ground, NSW

Location 80km East of Armidale on the banks of the Macleay River (30°45'08.7"S 152°11'26.7"E)
 Type Bush camping
Cost Free. No bookings required
Facilities No facilities expect a pit toilet
Things to do Four-wheel driving featuring multiple crossings of the Macleay River, Walking, Swimming, Fishing, Kayaking
Pets allowed Yes
Towing access Camper trailer and caravan access
Campfires allowed Yes
Rubbish disposal No
More information View map. Georges is on a stock route (part of the Bicentennial Trail) so be prepared for visits from very nosey cows who will quickly make a mess of your camp if they are allowed to come too close. 

Georges Junction, NSW

4. Granny’s Flat Camping Reserve, VIC

Location Located in the Victorian High Country 7km from Jamieson (37°17'25.0"S 146°12'53.8"E )
 Type Open grass camping
Cost Free. No bookings required
Facilities Toilets, Picnic area, Ranger. Closest fuel and shops in Jamieson (7km away)
Things to do  Four-wheel driving, Swimming, Fishing, Trail bike riding, Horse riding, Hunting, Walking
Pets allowed  Yes
Towing access  Camper trailer access
Campfires allowed Yes
Rubbish disposal No
More information View map

Grannys Flat Campground, VIC

5. Boggy Hole Bush Camp, NT

Location Finke Gorge National Park (24°8'21.13"S 132°52'2.8"E)
 Type Bush camping
Cost Free
Facilities No facilities
Things to do Four-wheel driving, Fishing, Swimming, Walking, Birdwatching
Pets allowed No
Towing access No
Campfires allowed No
Rubbish disposal No
More information View map. Finke Gorge Ranger Station (08) 8956 7401. This is a remote and peaceful campsite on the banks of the Boggy Hole Billabong where the track follows the Finke River. The surrounding red cliffs and ancient landscape are part of the natural beauty of this place.

Boggy Hole, NT

6. Sand Dunes, Simpson Desert, SA

Location Anywhere within 50m of a public access track in the Simpson Desert Conservation Area
 Type Bush camping
Cost Camping is free but entry to the Simpson Desert requires a Desert Parks Pass.
Facilities None
Things to do N/A
Pets allowed No
Towing access No
Campfires allowed Yes
Rubbish disposal No
More information View map. Camping on top of a sand dune while in the centre of the Simpson Desert. Red sand with 180° views to the horizon and amazing starscapes. True feeling of remoteness. 

Simpson Desert Sand Dune NT

7. Lake Crosbie Camping Area, VIC

Location Murray Sunset National Park (35°03'20.8"S 141°43'49.7"E)
 Type Bush camping
Cost  Free. No bookings required
Facilities

Toilets (non-flush), Information booth, Picnic area, Gas BBQ. Closest fuel and supplies at Walpeup (28.2km away)

Things to do

Four-wheel driving, Walking, Salt mining, Mountain biking, Underbool Recreation Reserve (14.6km away), Pink Lakes Lake (15.8km away), O'sullivans Lookout (36.2km away)

Pets allowed No
Towing access Camper trailer and caravan access
Campfires allowed Yes
Rubbish disposal No
More information View map. Visit the Victoria Parks Pink Lakes camping page or call 13 19 63. Recommended for 4WD vehicles only.

Lake Crosbie Camping Area

8. Dalhousie Springs, SA

Location Witjira National Park, the western edge of the Simpson Desert (26°25'23.2"S 135°30'8.96"E)
 Type Bush camping. 4WD access only 
Cost Free. Self-registration on arrival. 
Facilities Toliets, Showers, Drinking water
Things to do Swimming at Dalhousie Springs, Fishing, Walking, Four-wheel driving
Pets allowed No
Towing access Yes
Campfires allowed No 
Rubbish disposal No
More information View map. Desert Parks Hotline (08) 8648 5328. Dalhousie is an oasis in the desert with a natural billabong fed by spring water at a steady 38 degrees celsius. This is a great place to camp, particularly after crossing the Simpson from East to West. Nothing beats soaking in the warm spring water after the dust of the crossing!

Dalhousie Springs, SA

9. Paddys Flat, NSW

Location

173km (3hrs drive) from Byron Bay and 181km (3.5hrs drive) from Gold Coast (28°43'21.1"S 152°24'53.8"E)

 Type Open grass camping
Cost Free. Bookings not required
Facilities

Toilets, Drinking water, Picnic area. Closest fuel and shops in Bonalbo (20km away)

Things to do

Walking trails, Swimming, Canoeing, Kayaking, Fishing, Historical (World War 2 tank traps), Horse riding
Tooloom Falls (25.8km away), Tooloom Lookout (27.6km away)

Pets allowed Yes
Towing access Yes
Campfires allowed Yes
Rubbish disposal No
More information View map. Phone (02) 6948 9100 or visit tumbarumbaregion.com.au for more free camping sites in the area.

Paddys Flat map

10. Wonnangatta Valley Camping Area, VIC

Location Alpine National Park - 349km (6.5hrs drive) from Melbourne (37°12'26.7"S 146°49'56.3"E)
 Type Bush camping. 4WD access only.
Cost  Free. Bookings not required.
Facilities

Toilets, Picnic area, Information booth, Ranger. No fuel or shops in the area.

Things to do

4WDing, Walking trails such as Bryce Gorge Trail (12.1km away), Visit the Wonnangatta Homestead, Horse riding, Fishing, Dimmicks Lookout (11.2km away), Bryce Gorge Trail (12.1km away), Lookout Rock (13km away), Minogues Lookout (13km away), Gantner Hut (13.5km away), Cross country skiing.

Pets allowed No
Towing access 4WD camper trailer only.
Campfires allowed Yes
Rubbish disposal No
More information View map. Visit the Victoria Parks Alpine National Park camping page, download their PDF guide or call 13 19 63.

Wonnangatta Valley VIC