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Australia's Best Winter Camping Spots
Australia's long been known as a place of extremes and, when it comes to winter and camping spots, this couldn't be more the case.
The popular perception of Victoria and Tasmania is of cold, wet and dreary winters but, take one look at the beauty of Victoria's Alpine region and surf coast or Tasmania's Huon Valley and eastern coast, and those perceptions are completely shattered.
With the wet season traditionally over by the end of April, the Northern Territory comes into its own during the winter months. As well as access to some amazing 4X4 touring trails, temperatures in the top end hover between the mid 20s and low 30s, making May to late October undoubtedly the best time to seek out the Territory's best camping spots.
Queensland is a winter mecca for families from the colder parts of Australia who may be looking to escape the winter chills, especially during the mid-year school holiday periods. With a choice of beachfront, rainforest and wilderness camping options, the sunshine state is hard to toss.
Likewise, northern NSW's beaches remain popular for people looking for a break from the winter blues, while a trip to the state's south and the Kosciuszko National Park puts you right among world class snowfields, Lake Jindabyne and the beauty of the mighty Snowy River.
South Australia's best winter camping spots make it easy to enjoy the state's natural beauty, and also place you right in the heart of one of the world's best wine-producing regions.
Similar to the Northern Territory, the red dust of the northern half of Western Australia will leave you breathless, while the winter surfing conditions in the Margaret River and Albany area attract visitors from across Australia and around the world.
There's something for everyone when it comes to winter camping in Australia, and here are some specific spots for you to consider.
Granny's Flat Camping Area, Jamieson
Winter camping at Granny's Flat in Victoria's high country is massively popular for lovers of fishing, 4X4 off-roading and trail bike riding, and it's also the starting point for the 21-kilometre Mitchell's Bridle Trail walk, which follows the course of the Jamieson River. Additionally, the ski-fields of Mt Buller are only a little over an hour's drive away.
Granny's Flat is a great off-the-grid camping spot, with non-flush toilets and a picnic area, so bringing your camp cooking gear and meals as well as potable water and showering facilities - not to mention warm clothing - is essential.
Access to the campgrounds in winter is best by 4X4 or all-wheel drive vehicles with good ground clearance.
Marengo Family Caravan Park, Apollo Bay
If you're seeking a seaside winter camping escape, Marengo Family Caravan Park in Apollo Bay enjoys rave reviews.
While Apollo Bay, like much of Victoria's iconic surf coast, can get almost arctic in winter, much of its popularity comes from its proximity to attractions like the 12 Apostles, Cape Otway Lighthouse, Otway National Park and Otway Fly. If that's not enough, winter is also calving time for Southern Right Whales, so Logans Beach Whale Nursery in Warrnambool is an amazing experience for people of all ages.
Marengo's facilities are top-notch, including powered and unpowered sites, on-site cabins, laundry facilities, disabled bathrooms, communal kitchen and WiFi if you're staying in one of the cabins.
Probably best of all, Marengo welcomes pets, so your family's furry friend can take advantage of the many dog-friendly beaches dotted around Apollo Bay - and have a 'whale' of a time as well!
Lake Catani, Mt Buffalo
Victoria's alpine region is an idyllic winter escape, and Lake Catani in the Mt Buffalo National Park is the ideal base for winter bushwalks, cycling the popular Rail Trail or mountain biking tracks in nearby Bright. It's also handy for commuting to the nearby ski-fields of Mount Buffalo and Mount Hotham (even Falls Creek, if you don't mind a bit of time in the car). Lake Catani has outstanding freshwater fishing, so be sure to bring along your fishing rod too.
The park has 49 campsites set among gorgeous snow gum woodland, with sites suitable for small caravans and campervans, while others are for car camping and tents only. Walk-in (and even ski-in) campsites are also available if you crave some extra peace and quiet. Furthermore, there are campsites designed for visitors with limited mobility, incorporating wheelchair access to toilets and hot showers.
While Lake Catani offers campers communal dining, fireplaces, basic laundry services and dishwashing facilities, bringing your own potable water is a must, as is sampling the local produce and dining in nearby Bright, Porepunkah, Myrtleford, Beechworth, Harrietville or Wandiligong.
Glamping, Victoria's west
Glamping is camping's 'gateway drug', if you will - a chance for people who like the idea of camping but aren't too sure if they're ready to give up the creature comforts of home. So, it's no surprise that in parts of Victoria's west - like Daylesford, Hepburn Springs and Trentham (around 90 minutes from the Melbourne CBD) - there are some excellent glamping stays in some absolutely stunning settings.
Similarly, in and around The Grampians - one of Victoria's most popular camping destinations no matter what the time of year - you'll find a selection of glamping options that offer relative degrees of comfort and the chance to explore The Grampians National Park, nearby Stawell and wider Halls Gap regions.
Kakadu National Park
The World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park covers a staggering 20,000 square kilometres. It contains some of the most remote and rugged beauty you'll find anywhere in the world, alongside stunning rainforests, serene and crystal clear lagoons, truly unique wildlife and a powerful spiritual connection to our country's traditional owners that stays with you long after your visit.
As well as self-sufficient camping, Kakadu offers a range of accommodation options like wilderness safari retreats, self-contained cabins and a five-star luxury hotel.
Umbrawarra Gorge is arguably the Territory at its best - a secluded, crystal-clear azure lagoon, set among stunning red cliffs on a small, sandy beach 115 kilometres away from Katherine.
The gorge's campsite - close to a disused tin mine from the early 1900s - sits one-kilometre back from the lagoon with BBQ and toilet facilities. The traditional owners of the land - the Wagiman Aboriginal people - advise visitors to explore the gorge and their cave art in the early morning to experience Umbrawarra at its most beautiful and inspiring.
Accessible only by 4X4 between May and September, the rest of the gorge needs to be explored by wading, swimming and rock hopping.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and Uluru
At the other end of the Northern Territory is the remote, red dust beauty of Kata Tjuta National Park and the iconic, awe-inspiring Uluru - a place of immense cultural and spiritual importance to the Indigenous Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people.
Located more than 300 kilometres south of Alice Springs, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park offers campers sought-after walking and hiking tracks, historical art sites and refreshing rock pools for a cooling swim. Yulara, located at the Uluru Ayers Rock Campground, has grassy sites and a pool if freshwater swimming isn't your speed.
Litchfield National Park
No Northern Territory winter camping guide is complete without including Litchfield National Park. Renowned for its spectacular swimming holes and the unforgettable Florence Falls, Tjaetaba Falls, Tjaynera Falls and must-see Wangi Falls, Litchfield National Park boasts some incredible 4WD tracks and scenic drives, as well as mindblowing hikes and a selection of walks for a variety of ages and fitness levels.
NEW SOUTH WALES
Boyd River Campground, Kanangra-Boyd National Park
If you're after a scenic winter camping adventure, then Boyd River Campground in Kanangra-Boyd National Park should be high on your list. The park's sugar gliders, brushtail possums and tawny frogmouths that live in the tall snow gums - as well as nightly visits from wombats, wallabies and kangaroos - often leave campers with unforgettable memories and a truly immersive experience.
An ideal location for some peace and quiet, conversely, there's no shortage of activities to enjoy around the Boyd River Campground. Bushwalks and hikes to the lookout and nearby waterfalls remain accessible, and the mountain biking tracks only get more challenging in the wetter months.
The park provides picnic tables and toilets, but you'll need to bring your own shower, food, cooking gear, potable water and firewood from home.
Cathedral Reserve, Blue Mountains
Only two hours west of the Sydney CBD, Cathedral Reserve's lush greenery and rainforest surrounds at the edge of the Blue Mountains National Park in Mount Wilson is an idyllic winter camping experience.
This camping spot is a fantastic base for bush walks that take in the local wilderness of the stunning Blue Mountains National Park, or hikes to places like Mount Banks. A stroll through the nearby Cathedral of Ferns fires up the imagination no matter what the weather. Best of all, Cathedral Reserve is one of the dog-friendly camping sites in NSW, even though dogs are strictly prohibited in the National Park itself.
Sites at Cathedral Reserve are unpowered and offer a choice between camping in the open, or hidden amid the centuries-old ferns. Although there's tank water on hand, you'll need to bring drinking water from home.
Facilities include composting toilets (but BYO toilet paper), picnic tables and garbage bins. There is also a good number of open fireplaces with BBQ facilities, as long as you supply your own firewood.
The Snowy Mountains, Lake Jindabyne and Kosciuszko National Park
Like Victoria, NSW is blessed with some worldclass ski-fields for snowy camping experiences. And one of the most popular ways people like to enjoy the state's snowfields is by camping in the Kosciuszko National Park's Thredbo-Perisher area or the nearby town of Jindabyne - both within around 30 minutes' drive to Perisher and Thredbo ski resorts, and easily the most affordable way to enjoy a day or two in the snow.
In Kosciuszko National Park, the Island Bend, Gungarlin, Ngarigo and Thredbo Diggings campsites rate highly for people keen to mix some snow adventures with mountain biking, fishing and hiking, or taking in the amazing scenery.
Discovery Park, Foreshore Park and the NRMA's Jindabyne Holiday Park offer a unique lakeside winter camping experience that's hard to top. No matter which option suits you best, knowing how to stay warm is an important part of enjoying Snowy Mountains camping in winter time and making sure that you have purpose-designed snow clothing in your pack.
Reflections Holiday Park, Corindi Beach
NSW's northern beaches are the ultimate destination for many summer holiday makers and campers but they're just as popular in the winter months. Reflections Holiday Park at Corindi Beach - located approximately 30 minutes north of Coffs Harbour - is a standout choice for families and campers looking for a respite from rainy skies and cold southerly winds in a pet-friendly, bushland setting.
As well as some awesome fishing spots, Corindi's a great base for day trips to the almost endless list of places on the Coffs Coast, not to mention world-class dining, cafes and shopping in Coffs Harbour itself.
Reflections Holiday Park offers self-contained, on-site cabins on the beach foreshore, as well as powered and unpowered camping, caravan, camper trailer and motorhome sites. The park has WiFi, an amenities block with laundry, playgrounds for the kids, a tennis court, BBQs, a camp kitchen, skate park, a dog wash station, a fish cleaning station and a dump point for your caravan, camper trailer or RV.
Wilpena Pound Resort, Ikara Flinders Ranges National Park
Wilpena Pound Resort is surrounded by some of the most unforgettable and romantic scenery South Australia has to offer. Accommodation options range from hotel rooms and glamping safari tents to powered and unpowered camping sites.
Take a guided tour through the park with the traditional custodians of the land - the Adnyamathanha people - or charter a scenic flight for a truly remarkable exploration of the park's 800-million-year-old landscape.
Dhilba Guuranda, Innes National Park
Located 300 kilometres west of Adelaide and managed by the traditional custodians - the Narrunga people - the seven different campgrounds that make up Dhilba Guuranda Innes National Park come together for one of South Australia's most popular, family-friendly camping destinations.
Great for fishing, surfing, stargazing and a range of hikes and bushwalks, there's also a wealth of historical sites to check out, including Cape Spencer Lighthouse and Ethel Wreck.
Little Dip Conservation Park
If you're the kind of family that loves off-the-grid camping, then Little Dip Conservation Park - located just over 340 kilometres southeast of Adelaide and a stone's throw from the town of Robe - should be added to your list of places to visit in winter.
Only accessible by 4WD tracks that combine rugged sand dunes with stunning lagoons and inland lakes in equal measure, Little Dip has some awesome hiking and bushwalking tracks to explore, as well as being home to fantastic fishing spots.
Chookarloo Campground, Kuitpo Forest
Located less than an hour from Adelaide and on the doorstep of the famed McLaren Vale wine region, Kuitpo Forest's Chookarloo Campground is a fantastic winter camping location. The dense canopies provided by the surrounding eucalypts provide excellent shade and create an immersive vibe, and it's an outstanding base camp for enjoying either the Chookarloo or Heysen hiking trails.
With a morning soundtrack courtesy of the many native birds that call Kuitpo Forest home, Chookarloo features 23 designated camp areas, picnic tables, fire pits and a hybrid toilet system with disability access.
Windjana Gorge, Bandilngan (Windjana Gorge) National Park
The quintessential Western Australian outback camping experience, Windjana Gorge is one of the Kimberley's most revered locations and the ideal base for exploring the unique landscape of this magnificent area.
Windjana features two areas within the camp: a quiet camp where generators aren't permitted and a separate area for campers with generators. It also features hot water showers, picnic tables and flushing toilets.
Access to the campsite is by high-clearance 4WDs and high-clearance camper trailers and caravans only. All sites can accommodate large tents, rooftop tents, large campervans, large caravans and large camper-trailers.
Karijini Eco Retreat, Karijini National Park
It's one of the best campsites the country's west has to offer. There's the traditional outback camping adventure for the more experienced and self-sufficient campers, while Karijini Eco Retreat's glamping tents have got you sorted if you're not so experienced at the whole camping thing but want to experience the red dust with some style and creature comforts.
Hike to nearby Joffre Gorge or take in one of the many guided tours of Karijini National Park for a mesmerising experience.
Conto Campground, Margaret River
Like all of the best surfing spots in Australia, the Margaret River area is popular all-year-round and, when it comes to winter camping that doesn't empty your bank balance, Conto Campground is the pick of the bunch.
Positioned at the heart of the Cape-to-Cape walking trail in Margaret River, Conto Campground features 116 non-powered sites and caters to everything from small tents to large caravans, camper trailers and RV motorhomes. Conto provides campers with eco-toilet facilities, but you'll need to pack your camp showering equipment. Campfires in designated areas are permitted between mid-April and the end of November, while gas fuel fires are permitted all-year round, except on total fire ban days.
Waychinicup National Park
Approximately 400 kilometres southeast of Perth near Albany, Waychinicup Camp at Waychinicup National Park is a great winter camping spot for lovers of bushwalking or just taking it easy and escaping city life by the ocean.
Family-friendly Waychinicup can be accessed by both 2WDs and 4WDs, although the camping area isn't well-suited to caravans. Waychinicup Camp can be subject to flooding and, when the rains hit, entry is restricted to 4WDs only. We recommend contacting the Department of Parks and Wildlife Service in advance for updates on the conditions during winter.
You'll need to bring your own fresh water, food and camp cooking essentials. It's also suggested you equip yourself with a generator or solar energy power source for running fridges, freezers and other necessities such as mobile phone rechargers and water heaters for showering in the cooler months.
The park offers long-drop, sealed vault toilets, so not having to pack the camp toilet should give you some extra space in the car or 4WD.
Cable Beach, Broome
Cable Beach Caravan Park in Broome is located only metres from the iconic beach with which it shares its name.
With facilities such as laundry, disabled toilet and showering facilities, on-site café, guest wifi, children's playground and barbeques, holidaymakers are able to strike an almost perfect balance between enjoying the great outdoors, without sacrificing many of their creature comforts.
The park boasts 400 generous-sized powered and unpowered caravan and camping sites, which makes for a less remote and more communal camping experience, close to the restaurants and cafés that Broome has to offer.
Bunya Mountains National Park, Bunya Mountains
Three hours northwest of Brisbane lies the Bunya Mountains, home to the largest stand of ancient bunya pines in the world, cool mountains, relaxing waterfalls and a lush, green rainforest environment.
Bunya Mountains National Park features three campgrounds. Firstly, Dandabah in the park's southeast is a large, flat and well-grassed open area - great for active kids with WiFi, electric BBQs and room for tents, caravans, motorhomes and camper trailers - while the Westcott and Burtons Well areas are set within stringybark trees and ancient grass trees. The latter two sites are only suitable for tents and include a walk from nearby car parks.
Facilities include BBQ equipment, flush toilets, picnic tables and wood-fuelled campfires.
Rainbow Beach Ultimate Camping
When it comes to camping on the Sunshine Coast, Rainbow Beach Ultimate Camping at Inskip Peninsula - 12 minutes north of Rainbow Beach Village - is a special camping experience.
While you're more than welcome to bring your own tent and camping equipment from home, this camping spot offers guests fully prepared camping sites right on the beach. The park's owner is passionate about inspiring future generations to fall in love with camping while protecting the environment, so packages here (not to be confused with the glamping trend) include a complete set-up and pack-down of your campsite (pitch and pack) and everything else you need to cook, sleep and eat including your own private toilet and shower as a way of showing the young ones the fun of camping.
If you're not using one of the camping sites, there are long-drop toilets scattered throughout the park and you'll need to bring your own camp shower. Mobile phone reception can be sketchy within the grounds but campers can get a good signal on sealed roads and parts of the beaches.
Rainbow Beach Ultimate Camping is both campfire and pet-friendly, and the nearby town has excellent food and cafe options.
BIG 4 Gold Coast Holiday Park, Gold Coast
There is no shortage of accommodation options on the Gold Coast but you'll be hard-pressed to find something that beats the Big 4 Group's Gold Coast Holiday Park for a memorable family - and dog-friendly - winter camping spot that is feature-stacked.
An extensive selection of self-contained on-site villas and cabins, with wheelchair access for accommodating families of almost any size, are located directly opposite the Gold Coast's famed theme parks. If you want to pitch a tent or park the caravan - including big rigs and motorhomes up to 26 feet/8 metres - Big 4 Gold Coast features roomy, well-grassed powered and non-powered sites.
Big 4 Gold Coast also offers WiFi, showers, toilets, family bathrooms and a disabled bathroom. There are BBQs, a camp kitchen, LPG bottle refills or swaps, ice and a laundry boasting large-capacity washing machines and dryers. Furry family members are accommodated with an off-lead area at the rear of the park and 'puppy pamper palace' for a good bath or cooling down.
Carnarvon Gorge Camping Area, Carnarvon National Park
One of the best family-friendly wilderness camping experiences in Queensland has to be the Carnarvon Gorge camping spot in the Carnarvon National Park. Set under a shady canopy of trees and forest ferns in the heart of the 302,000 hectare Carnarvon National Park, it's the perfect place for setting up camp for a relaxing stay or getting your hiking boots on and exploring the amazing array of animals, plant life and Aboriginal culture synonymous with the park.
Carnarvon Gorge hosts 35 sites and features electric and wood-fired BBQs, wheelchair access, WiFi, a pay phone and flush toilets. It accommodates tents, camper trailers, caravans and tent or swag camping next to your car or 4X4.
The camping area is open during Easter and the Queensland school holiday period but, if you're looking for something a bit more rustic and adventurous, Carnarvon National Park's other camping grounds - Big Bend, Ka Ka Mundi, Mount Moffatt, Salvator Rosa and the hike-in, hike-out spots along the Carnarvon Great Walk - are definitely worth considering, and are open pretty much all-year-round.
River's Edge Wilderness Camping
Located in the stunning Huon Valley south of Hobart, you'll find River's Edge Wilderness Camping. It's remote enough to give you that feeling of tranquil isolation but close enough to 'civilisation' to access anything you might need. Set on the banks of the amazing Russell River with shady or sun-drenched, flat, well-grassed and generous sites, River's Edge accommodates tents, caravans, camper trailers and RVs with ease.
Renowned for its trout fishing, hiking, mountain climbing and attractions like the Tahune Airwalk, the Huon Jet Boat and the South Cape Bay Walk, the Huon Valley is a nature lover's dream, but it's also just as good for jumping in your car or 4X4 for a day trip to Hobart exploring MONA, the Derwent River, and the countless art galleries and restaurants in Tasmania's capital city.
River's Edge Wilderness Camping has powered and unpowered sites, a communal kitchen, an amenities block with toilets and showers, and disabled facilities. There are wood-fired BBQs, composting toilets located right across the park, and your pets are also welcome.
Cradle Mountain, Lake St Clair National Park
Anytime of the year is a good time to visit Lake St Clair National Park but it absolutely comes into its own in winter. A prime example of Tasmania's diverse natural beauty, Cradle Mountain combines amazing rainforest terrain with an uncompromising and, at times, stark wilderness setting to make it a natural paradise.
One of the most photogenic National Parks in Australia, Cradle Mountain offers a unique variety of places to pitch your tent on the five-day Overland Track hike or there are plenty of day walks to explore before heading back to the indulgence of the Waldheim Spa at Cradle Mountain Lodge. Dine like royalty, retire to your room and do it all again when the sun rises the next day.
Bay of Fires
The clear waters, white sand beaches and giant granite rocks of the Bay of Fires are impossible to resist for many of Tasmania's camping enthusiasts. Stretching over 50 kilometres, it's the perfect base in the winter months for some wildlife watching, hiking or rugging up to de-stress with some mindfulness practice at one of the many beaches in the region.
The area has a selection of camping options - from off-the-grid in the Bay of Fires Conservation Area to something a bit more refined such as glamping at the Bay of Fires Bush Retreat.
Honeymoon Bay, Freycinet National Park
Home to the most stunning sunrises and sunsets imaginable, Honeymoon Bay is a favourite spot for many Tasmanians and interstate visitors looking for a relaxing coastal escape in winter.
Spend your day hiking up to the famous Wineglass Bay lookout point. Relax in front of a blazing, open fire with some of your favourite books and fall asleep to the night-time chatter of your neighbours - the wildlife of Freycinet National Park.
And before you head out to any of our top picks for the best camping across Australia, make sure you have all the equipment and gear you need by exploring our entire camping and hiking range.