NSW camping: Our top 10 NSW summer camping spots
Whether you want to head to one of the hundreds of east coast beaches that are the envy of the world, escape inland to the mountains or spend time at a well-maintained, dog-friendly camping site, the great state of NSW has every summer camping option well and truly covered.
To help you plan your next trip, here are 10 of New South Wales best summer camping spots (in no particular order):
Picnic Point, Mimosa Rocks National Park
Located on the Sapphire Coast, beautiful Mimosa Rocks National Park is more than worth the drive to pitch your tent or pull up in your campervan. Nestled between two picturesque beaches, the 18-site Picnic Point campground is ideal for holidaymakers looking for a rustic, low-fi setting that perfectly complements the surroundings.
The one thing Picnic Point won't be accused of is false advertising - if you're looking for a quiet and relaxing spot for a picnic, it's just the ticket (as the name suggests). Holiday makers looking to enjoy a spot of fishing on their summer holiday break or spend time in the surf for a cooling dip after an invigorating walk along the local coastline will love it here.
In terms of camping facilities, Picnic Point has BBQs and toilets to service campers. All sites are unpowered. Getting there involves navigating a small dirt track but it's suitable for car, SUV and 4X4 alike. You'll need to bring potable water for cooking and drinking, along with your own firewood. Be warned that the beaches are unsupervised and swimming conditions can get very gnarly at times, so always supervise the kids and take extra care in the surf.
Gillards, Mimosa Rocks National Park
Thirty minutes away from Picnic Point, and similarly located in the Mimosa Rocks National Park, is Gillards campground. Catering for tents, camper trailers, caravans and motorhomes, this is an excellent choice for families keen to do some fishing, surfing and bush hikes on their summer break.
Gillards boasts 70 unpowered sites and provides picnic tables, BBQ facilities, toilets and a carpark for campers. Just like Picnic Point, you'll need to bring your own potable water and firewood. We recommend remembering to pack a torch so you can enjoy a memorable twilight bushwalk, which includes the opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with the park's animal residents when the conditions are right.
Cathedral Reserve, Blue Mountains
If you're after a summer camping break that doesn't involve busy coastal areas, the lush greenery of Cathedral Reserve at the edge of the Blue Mountains National Park in Mount Wilson is the place for you.
It's an ideal base camp 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. Although there's tank water on hand, you'll need to bring drinking water from home. Facilities include toilets (but BYO toilet paper from home), fireplaces, picnic tables and garbage bins. There are open fireplaces with BBQ facilities but you'll have to supply your own firewood.
South West Rocks Holiday Park, Mid-North Coast
Located on the mid-north coast, NRMA's pet-friendly South West Rocks Holiday Resort is an awesome summer camping destination for families.
The nearby beaches are among the best in the state but that won't stop the kids from losing their minds with excitement at the mere sight of Shipwreck Island Waterpark, located within the resort. As well as the usual beach holiday activities (make sure you check out the list of hire equipment available for guests), there are bushwalks to Trial Bay Gaol, Smokey Cape Lighthouse and the nearby Arakoon National Park to ensure you still meet your daily step quota, even while you're on holiday.
The choice of accommodation options includes luxury on-site villas and glamping tents, as well as sites for caravans and tents, many of which are pet-friendly too.
South West Rocks Holiday Park boasts an impressive list of facilities (subject to Covid restrictions): mini-golf, go-kart hire, a bouncing pillow, playgrounds (including dedicated playgrounds for 'tiny tots'), a swimming pool, half-size tennis court, a kids club and a café for the grownups who need a break from keeping up with the kids (and a good cup of coffee).
The park also offers wifi, amenities with universal access, BBQ areas, a camp kitchen and laundry facilities, and there are refuse stations and dump points to keep everything clean and orderly. A strictly enforced noise curfew ensures everyone gets a good night's rest.
The Basin, Ku-ring-gai
Popular with Easter campers, The Basin at Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is also the go-to destination for many Sydney-siders in the summer months who want to get away from home without travelling huge distances (not much more than 30 minutes away, to be exact).
Situated on Pittwater's western shore, The Basin accommodates up to 400 campers and, when it comes to facilities, boasts many of the essentials like showers, toilets, BBQs, drinking water and picnic tables. There are plenty of shaded sites at The Basin and the beach is perfect for stand-up paddle-boarding or kayaking, swimming and bodyboarding, which makes it attractive during the warmer weather. Failing that, you can pack a daypack and enjoy some of the spectacular bushwalks in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.
Given there's no car access to The Basin campground, your best approach is to arrive by water taxi, boat or the ferry that leaves from Palm Beach Wharf. If you still want to bring the car, you'll find parking at West Head Road but getting to the campgrounds involves an uphill two-kilometre walk - not ideal if you're lugging heavy camping gear and wrangling kids eager to start their summer holiday.
Honeymoon Bay, Jervis Bay
If you're looking for a picture-postcard, white-sand summer camping experience, look no further than Honeymoon Bay in Jervis Bay, just three hours south of Sydney.
This area is renowned for its family-friendly swimming and the chance to snorkel among garfish and yellowtail fish in one of the many surrounding beaches. However, if you just feel like doing nothing more taxing than putting your feet up and enjoying the sun (in a sun-smart way, of course), then you've come to the right summer camping spot.
Note that there are no fires allowed at Honeymoon Bay, so you'll need to bring gas cooking equipment from home. All sites are unpowered but there are rubbish bins and also portaloos for when it's time to go potty, although you'll need to supply your own toilet paper, potable water and showering facilities.
Sadly, with no pets allowed, your furry friends will have to holiday at home without you.
Diamond Head Campground, Crowdy Bay National Park
If you've ever seen those images on camping websites or Instagram where happy people have their tents open, gazing out at perfect, tranquil azure waters lit by the morning sun, and you've thought "I'll have some of that", then Diamond Head campground is one of the holiday parks in NSW that makes this image a reality.
As well as lazy surises and unforgettable sunsets, Diamond Head is unbeatable when it comes to enjoying the beautiful waters of the South Pacific Ocean and the usual beach hi-jinx like kayaking, stand-up paddle-boarding, snorkelling, beach cricket or soccer. There's some outstanding hiking and bushwalking to experience in Crowdy Bay National Park, as well as the visually stunning Diamond Head loop hike via Indian Head, or the shorter - but equally amazing - Mermaid Lookout track walk.
Boasting 75 unpowered sites and accommodating tents, campervans, caravans and motorhomes, facilities at Diamond Head include an amenities block with showers and toilets, gas BBQs and picnic shelters with tables. There are also outdoor showers right next to the beach.
You'll need to pack your own supplies and potable water as part of your camping kit, and campers are encouraged to support nearby Laurieton (10kms away) for stocking up on supplies while supporting local traders.
Reflections Holiday Park, Corindi Beach
NSW's northern beaches are the ultimate destination for many summer holiday makers and campers, and Reflections Holiday Park at Corindi Beach - located approximately 30 minutes north of Coffs Harbour - is a standout choice for families wanting the best of those beaches in a pet-friendly, bushland setting.
A great holiday park for a lazy, sun-soaked summer escape with A-grade fishing spots, Corindi also works as a perfectly situated basecamp 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. Cap off every day of your holiday by falling asleep to the sound of the Pacific Ocean meeting the shores of Corindi Beach.
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.
Putty Beach Campground, Bouddi National Park
Putty Beach Campground in the Bouddi National Park is an awesome summer camping spot if your holiday to-do list includes ocean fishing and swimming. Putty Beach is also home to some absolutely spectacular coastal walks that will have you rubbing shoulders, so to speak, with the native wildlife. If that all sounds too taxing, you're more than welcome to simply sit back, breathe deeply and let nature and a comfy camp chair do the rest.
Located only 90 minutes north of the Sydney CBD, the 20-site Putty Beach Campground is well-equipped with showers, toilets and BBQ facilities but remember to bring your own cooking and drinking water.
Del Rio Resort, Wisemans Ferry
The park has plenty of boat parking space, with three boat ramps for launching. There are also two jetties and a walk-in ski beach. If you prefer more land-based activities, choose from 10 kms of walking tracks and mountain biking trails around the park. Finish a round of golf on the park's 9-hole course - or a day's swimming, fishing or boating - with a visit to Del Rio's entertainment hub, featuring a bar, bistro, café and beer garden.
You'll also find jumping pillows and a playground for the little ones, beach volleyball, basketball, netball and tennis courts, a pool, a BMX track and mini-golf - more than enough activities for the whole family to enjoy.
Del Rio offers two luxury villas - Escape and Serenity - contemporary riverside villas, and waterfront and park view villas. If you and the family are looking for something more down-to-earth, there are 150 large campsites with a mix of powered and unpowered options with amenities, a camp kitchen and BBQs dotted throughout the park.