The 10 Best Free Camping Sites in NSW

Posted on: 06/12/2018

Free camping in the Blue Mountains

Blue Mountains 

 

What better way to escape the bustling metropolitan centres of New South Wales than to load up the wagon and head for the proverbial (or even actual) hills. There's a certain sense of freedom that comes with a carload of camping gear and a tank full of petrol. But for those of us who embrace the laissez faire nature of wilderness escape, nothing brings an end to that freedom like exorbitant campground fees.

 

Frugality, however, is only one of many reasons why you might opt for a free campground over the paid alternatives. They tend to be more pet friendly and have a more relaxed atmosphere overall. Their general tendency to have fewer facilities can help to keep away the rabble, and also means you often don't have to book ahead – perfect for the last-minute getaway. However, a degree of self sufficiency is required, which means you'll most likely need to take drinking water, firewood, and plenty of supplies to last the duration of your stay. So if you're searching for a top spot to pitch a tent, haul the camper or unfurl the swag without the need to fork out a fee, we've compiled a list of NSW's finest.

 

 

Dunphys Camping Area, Blue Mountains

 

This one's an absolute cracker of a campsite. There are 15 sites in a grassy clearing with views of Mount Cloudmaker and Wild Dog mountains. There are a number of day walks that head out from the area, as well as some good fishing along the Cox's River. Dunphys Camping Area is named Myles Dunphy, a conservationist who was central to the formation of the National Park, and given the diversity of plants, animals and birds that can be found here, we have no doubt he'd be happy in his namesake site.

 

Dunphys Campground is a well equipped spot, with undercover gas barbecues, fire rings, toilets and picnic tables. There's plenty of parking and the sites are suited to both tents and camper trailers.

 

For more info visit the NSW National Parks website

 

Hawkesbury River Canoe

Paddling the Hawkesbury River

Gentlemans Halt, Marramarra National Park

 

If you're after something a little more remote, then you can't beat Gentlemans Halt. To reach this secluded gem you'll need to hike in along Canoelands Ridge Track (approx 10km), or you can access the spot from the water in a kayak, canoe or small boat. The riverside campsite is a relaxing destination where you can enjoy the water, and keep an eye out for lyrebirds and bandicoots in the surrounding scrub.

 

Despite its remoteness, the campground has toilets, picnic tables and barbecue facilities, but the rest is up to you.

 

For more info visit the NSW National Parks website

 

Blue Mountains Three Sisters
The Three Sisters, Blue Mountains

Bethungra Dam Reserve, Bethungra

 

This is a great spot if you need lots of space to set up a big rig. The camping is right on the edge of a dam that was once used to supply water to Junee, but has since retired to a life of leisure. There are good places to fish, plenty of walks and the dam offers endless opportunity for paddling and swimming.

 

There are gas barbecues, sheltered picnic areas, toilets, fire-pits and rubbish bins, making it an easy spot to spend a few days in comfort.

 

For more info visit the Junee Shire Council website

 

Driving Turong River

Driving alongside the Turon River 

Turon Crossing Reserve, Bridle Track

 

This location is broken up into two sites along the Bridle Track. It's accessible in a 2WD vehicle, but only during dry weather. There are both shaded and sunny spots to pitch a tent, and plenty of space to set up a camper trailer if the conditions allow it to be hauled down the track. The area is known to give up gold to eager fossickers, so it might be worth trying your luck with a metal detector or a gold pan. Otherwise, you can enjoy the picturesque fishing and swimming, or just kick back and enjoy the fresh air.

 

The sites are serviced by composting toilets and built-up fire areas, but you'll need to carry in supplies and be sure to leave with all your rubbish.

 

For more info check out the Visit NSW website

 

Sculptures in the scrub walk

Sculptures in the Scrub walking trail

Sculptures in the Scrub, Timallallie National Park

 

If you're seeking something with more of an artistic edge, then look no further than the Sculptures in the Scrub campground, nestled within the Pilliga Forest. This large site is perfectly suited to caravans and campers as well as tents, and is a perfect base to explore the area, but is most notable for the walking track of the same name. The award-winning Sculptures in the Scrub walking trail is a 2km loop that takes you through a series of artworks produced in collaboration with local Aboriginal elders and young people, each one representing a different story from the region's history and culture. It's also a great place to see some illusive wildlife and bask in the glory of a desert sunset.

 

There are sheltered picnic tables and barbecue facilities, as well as access rainwater (we recommend boiling or treating before drinking) and toilets. Most of the campground gets a lot of sun, so be sure to take lots of drinking water.

 

For more info visit the NSW National Parks website

 

Chichester Surrounds

Chichester's lush surrounds

Coachwood Camping Area, Chichester State Forest

 

Coachwood is best described as a fairytale campground. Its lush grassy sites are surrounded by shady trees and provide easy access to fishing and swimming spots along the Telegherry River. There's a short walking track to Problem Creek Falls (2km return) and the river will provide plenty of entertainment for the kids as they try their luck yabbying or spooking the eels.

 

This is a good site for dogs and is suitable for campers and caravans. There are composting toilets and wood barbecues, but no drinking water or picnic tables.

 

For more info visit the Forestry Corporation website

 

Kosciusko National Park

Kosciusko National Park

Cooinbil Hut Camping Area, Kosciusko National Park

 

Camping here is free, however seasonal park entry fees may apply and access roads are closed during winter. The site is made up of two halves, we'd recommend sticking to the northern side unless you're camping with a horse (the southern section provides access to horse yards and a loading ramp). This alpine area provides a great vista over Long Plain, plenty of hiking, fishing, 4WDing and mountain biking – there's certainly no shortage of activities to fill your days here.

 

There are few facilities at Cooinbil Hut Camping Area aside from toilets and wood barbecues, so be sure to pack everything you might need.

 

 For more info visit the NSW National Parks website

 

Grass Trees Coolah Tops National Park

Grass trees near The Barracks

The Barracks, Coolah Tops National Park

 

This charming campsite is in a secluded spot with only a handful of sites dotted among tall eucalypts. There's a creek nearby, as well as an impressive stand of grasstrees that have been growing there for several hundred years. Be sure to pack your walking boots and, if you're inclined, load up the mountain bike. There are stunning views across the Warrumbungle Range from the end of Pinnacle Road, while you might catch sight of a red-necked wallaby or a wombat a little closer to the tent.

 

Though there are wood barbecues at the site, it's best to bring along a gas stove as well. You can tow a caravan into the campground, or simply pitch a tent, and you'll have access to toilets and picnic tables.

 

For more info visit the NSW National Parks website

 

Crossing the Murray River

Crossing the Murray River

Koondrook State Forest

 

There are plenty of spots to camp along the Murray River throughout the Koondrook State Forest. Some sites are large enough for a few caravans to fit comfortably, while others are slightly smaller. There are plenty of water-based activities to be enjoyed on the Murray, such as fishing, canoeing and water-skiing. There's also some good 4WDing and plenty of places to wander among the old river red gums.

 

For the most part, the facilities at these sites are minimal, though most will have access to toilets and fire-pits. However, please note that there are fire bans in summer, so bring along a gas stove.

 

For more info visit the Forestry Corporation website

Warrumbungles Coolah Tops

The Warrumbungles, Coolah Tops NP

Paddys River Falls Camping Area, Riverina (Close to Tumbarumba)

 

A large grassy campground sitting right alongside Tooma Road. The falls themselves are an 18-metre drop in the Paddys River, just a short walk camp. While you're there you can enjoy plenty of hiking trails and fishing spots, there are also a number of trails open to mountain bikes and horse riding. This is a popular spot, however, and can fill up easily when it's loaded with camper trailers – it's wise to have a backup.

 

There are toilets and picnic tables at the campsite, and Tumbarumba is only 18km away if you need to pick up any other supplies.

 

For more info check out the Visit NSW website