The Ten Best Beach Camping Spots in Australia
Wake up to the sound of waves at these little beauties.
Australia has more than 47,000 kilometres of coastline and 10,685 beaches, according to the folk at Sydney Uni's Coastal Studies Unit, who've somehow managed to count them all. And there's no better way to get to know them than from the thin walls of a tent. With the waves just a stumble away and surrounded by kangaroos, wombats and echidnas, beach camping is a great was to immerse yourselves in all the best Australia has to offer. To get you started, here's the spots we reckon you'll find some of the nation's optimum beach camping conditions.
NOAH BEACH, DAINTREE NATIONAL PARK, QLD
Sir David Attenborough called the Daintree Rainforest "the most extraordinary place on earth" and Noah Beach sits right among it. Found about 80 kilometres north of Port Douglas, there are few places in the world where you can camp between a reef and a World Heritage-listed rainforest. Here in the Daintree you'll find never-ending treetop canopies and animals found nowhere else in the world. The campground is just 50 metres from the beach and facilities are basic, being limited to tap water and composting toilets, and with no mobile coverage it's the perfect place to disconnect from the world. Advance bookings are essential.
JERVIS BAY, BOODEREE NATIONAL PARK, NSW
Residents of Lucky Bay, WA, might tell you that their sand is the whitest in Australia (if not the world), but Jervis Bay's locals will argue. Found 200 kilometres south of Sydney, Jervis Bay is home to bottlenose dolphins, fur seals, penguins and 20 kilometres of unspoilt shoreline, protected for the most part by Booderee National Park. There are three beachside campsites to choose from — and for still water, go for Green Patch; if you're taking your surfboard, opt for Caves Beach. Bookings, available online, are essential. And for things to do and places to eat (and, most importantly, drink), check out our weekender's guide to Jervis Bay.
LUCKY BAY, CAPE LE GRAND NATIONAL PARK, WA
Forty minutes southeast of Esperance, in Le Grand National Park, sits five kilometres of sparkling shoreline known as Lucky Bay. And, with tent in hand, you can sleep just metres from its pristine, white sand. When you're done with sunbathing alongside kangaroos, conquer the 15-kilometre coastal track, which takes you to Rossiter Bay via Hellfire Bay — or the three-kilometre Frenchman Peak trail, which gives you epic panoramas. The campsite has 56 spots, as well as a camp kitchen, toilets and hot showers, but make sure to pack your own fresh water. Bookings are essential.
TIDAL RIVER, WILSONS PROMONTORY, VIC
Wilsons Promontory National Park covers more than 50,000 hectares of rugged mountains, empty beaches and rainforest at the southernmost point of the Australian mainland. One of the best campsites here is Tidal River, which puts you on the edge of both Norman Beach and the river, among wallabies, echidnas and wombats. The massive campground has nearly 500 campsites, toilets, hot showers and an open air cinema, which has been showing flicks since the 1960s. Campsites are divvied up via a ballot in the summertime, with advance bookings essential at all other times.
JOHANNA BEACH, GREAT OTWAY NATIONAL PARK, VIC
This is a popular one for hikers along the Great Ocean Walk, a 100-kilometre journey from Apollo Bay to Port Campbell. The site is nestled among sand dunes, behind spectacular Johanna Beach. Spend your days surfing, strolling and relaxing on the sand, and use your tent as a launching pad for day trips into Great Otway National Park. Its 103,000 hectares are home to lots of walks, koalas, pretty bays and spots for whale watching. Johanna Beach campsite has room for 25 tents and dogs on leads are permitted.
MEMORY COVE, LINCOLN NATIONAL PARK, SA
You'll find this precious piece of wilderness about 50 kilometres southwest of Port Lincoln (across the Spencer and St Vincent Gulfs from Adelaide). The campsite looks directly over the white sand and turquoise water of Memory Cove, from the shade of coastal mallees, and is limited to 15 cars per day to maintain the wilderness. When you're not lazing about, go adventuring in Lincoln National Park, where you'll experience some of South Australia's most beautiful coastline. There's a bunch of lovely walks, from the 2.7-kilometre Stamford Hill hike, which gives you excellent views, to the 12-hour Investigator Trail, which takes in many bays and beaches on its way to Cape Donington. Bookings at Memory Cove campsite are crucial — you can't get in without a key.
RICHARDSONS BEACH, FREYCINET NATIONAL PARK, TAS
Freycinet National Park, which covers a peninsula on Tassie's East Coast, is famous for its striking, pink granite and numerous tranquil beaches, including Instagram star Wineglass Bay. The campground stretches along a stunning coastal strip, behind Richardsons Beach and overlooking Honeymoon Bay. If you're heading during the summer season, a ballot is drawn in mid-August in order to nab on of the 52 spots, or else you can book through the visitor centre. If you find yourself feeling social or thirsty, there's a brewery and shops just up the road.
CRAYFISH BEACH, HOOK ISLAND, WHITSUNDAY ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK, QLD
If your idea of idyllic beach camping doesn't involve crowds, then pitch at Crayfish Beach, on Hook Island's eastern shore. The pocket-sized campground has space for only 12 people, the only way you can get there is by boat and there's no mobile coverage. So, there'll be no way of telling the world you're surrounded by forest-covered mountains and snorkelling among some of The Whitsundays' best-looking underwater communities. Facilities are limited to composting toilets. Be prepared to carry in everything with you, including drinking water.
CLOUDY BAY, BRUNY ISLAND, TAS
Bruny Island is just a 40-minute drive and 15-minute ferry ride from Hobart, yet it feels like it's a million miles away. There are loads of camping spots (including many free ones) all over the island, but one of the loveliest is Cloudy Corner, in the eastern corner of Cloudy Bay in South Bruny National Park. Getting there involves a three-kilometre drive along the beach at low tide. No bookings are taken, with campsites being allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Make sure to bring cash with you, too, as payment is taken via self-registration deposit boxes. While you're on the island, find the best whisky, oysters and outdoor activities via our 48 Hours on Bruny Island guide.
NINGALOO REEF, CAPE RANGE NATIONAL PARK, WA
There are a few road trip-worthy campsites scattered around Cape Range National Park for those looking for access to Australia's lesser known yet nonetheless extraordinary reef, Ningaloo. The UNESCO Heritage-listed wonder hugs the Western Australian coast 1200-kilometres north of Perth, and contain hundreds of fish and coral species. Ned's Camp is tucked away behind dunes, right next to a calm, white sanded beach, which is lovely for swimming, snorkelling and paddling — and is an affordable spot with just ten non-powered campsites. If you're looking to take your holiday up a notch, you could also head to Sal Salis' eco-luxe cabins. Just 15 minutes down the road from Ned's, they're not cheap (starting at $1798 for two nights in low season), but they're located just by the reef and come with meals and drinks, as well as kayaking, paddle-boarding and snorkelling gear.
Top image: Lucky Bay, Tourism Western Australia
Published on April 16, 2021 by Jasmine Crittenden