The Best Free Camping Spots Near Sydney

At these NSW campsites, all you need is enough money for snacks, wine and petrol to get you there (and back). Then you can just sit back and enjoy some of the state's greatest natural landscapes.
Jasmine Crittenden
Published on September 13, 2023

Desperate to get out of the big smoke and into nature, but still waiting for that next paycheque to hit? Here's your solution: book one of NSW's best free camping spots.

Sydney is surrounded by stunning campgrounds that don't cost a cent. All you need is a tent, supplies and enough petrol to reach your destination (and back — a minor detail worth remembering).

Whether you want to sleep on the banks of the state's most pristine river, wake up to panoramas of Heritage-listed wilderness, rest within a cooee of a good coffee, or stay around the corner from an old fashioned country pub, it's all possible. Scroll to discover some of the best free camping spots near Sydney.


Recommended reads:
The Best Beach Camping Spots in NSW
The Best Multi-Day Hikes to Conquer Near Sydney
The Best Spots Where You Can Camp, Hike and Swim with Your Dog in NSW
The Best Mountain Hikes Near Sydney

CATHEDRAL FERNS RESERVE, MOUNT WILSON - one of the best free camping spots near Sydney, NSW

Mount Wilson, Destination NSW


This pretty campground is on the outskirts of Mount Wilson, a village just north of Mount Tomah in the Blue Mountains. Run by the local council, the site is an expansive, flat grass area dotted with beautiful eucalypts and deciduous trees. Just ten minutes walk away is the Cathedral of Ferns, 22 acres of rainforest canopied by towering trees and filled with mossy stones and ferns. If you can, visit at night, keeping an eye out for fireflies.

Facilities are limited to bins, toilets, fire pits and fairly new barbecue facilities. Cathedral Reserve is about two hours northwest of the city, with a stopover in Bilpin a definite possibility on your way up or back.


Ingar Campground by Wentworth Falls - one of the best free camping spots near Sydney, NSW

Wentworth Falls Track, Destination NSW


If you're craving mountain time, but don't want to jostle with crowds at tourist attractions, go experience another side of the Blueys at Ingar Campground. This gorgeous little spot is just a hop, skip and jump away from Wentworth Falls, home to one of the state's best scenic mountain walks.

In warmer months, take a dip in the nearby dam or bring a kayak and make it a paddle. While relaxing at your campsite, keep an eye out for sugar gliders, possums and bandicoots, who are all common in these parts. Ingar Campground is 90 minutes west of Sydney in the Blue Mountains National Park. Among the facilities are toilets, barbies and picnic tables — helping make this one of the best free campgrounds in NSW.


The Pines in ONley State Forest - one of the best free camping near Sydney, NSW

Destination NSW


Sleep among pine trees at this roomy campground in Olney State Forest, which you'll find just west of Lake Macquarie. The site is an excellent springboard for exploring the Watagan Mountains. Alternatively, for a stroll that doesn't involve any driving, head along the Pines Walking Trail, which passes through rainforest before reaching a rockpool. Alternatively, you could take the Abbotts Falls Walking Trail, which carries you into blue gum forests. The Pines is about two-and-a-half hours north of Sydney. Toilets, fireplaces and picnic tables make up the facilities.



This picturesque spot is on the banks of the Kangaroo River in the lovely Kangaroo Valley. If you're keen to get active, then embark on a paddling escapade, try your hand at fishing or take a swim. Alternatively, jump in your car and explore the local area, stopping by these foodie spots, conquering a few bush walks in Morton National Park and swinging by Fitzroy Falls. Bendeela is about two-and-a-half hours southwest of Sydney.

Facilities include drinking water and toilets, and Kangaroo Valley village is about ten minutes away by car. It is a free NSW campground but you do need to book your place in advance.


Colo Meroo Campground - free camping near Sydney NSW

Bob Turners Track, Colo Heights, Destination NSW


Colo River is one of the most picturesque waterways in the state and this magical campground puts you just 100 metres from the water. Spend your days swimming, looking out for platypuses and losing yourself in the dizzying sandstone cliffs that tower above, or venture over to the Bob Turner Walking Track close by.

Come nighttime, prepare for millions of stars. It's a good idea to arrive prepared: the only way to get here is on foot, along a 2.5-kilometre trail, and you'll need to carry all your food and water. Also, if rain's been falling, be sure to check flood warnings. Colo Meroo is in Wollemi National Park, about 90 minutes northwest of the city. Facilities at the free NSW campsite consist of toilets and barbies.


Wheeny Creek Campground - best free camping in New South Wales

NSW National Parks


You could easily spend a week doing, well, very little, at this idyllic spot, which inhabits a tranquil gully along Wheeny Creek. There's a sandy beach, a swimming hole, crowds of lush ferns and tall gum trees which provide plenty of shade. The picnic spots on site offer a perfect place to set up dinner for the night before getting some shut-eye to build the energy to explore the lush surrounds of Wollemi National Park's southern end.

Wheeny Creek is about 80 minutes northeast of Sydney. As far as facilities go, there are toilets and barbies only, but Kurrajong is a short drive away so there's no need to panic should you forget the wine.


Acacia Flat - free camping NSW - near Sydney

Grose Valley, Destination NSW


Head deep into the Blue Mountains and you'll be waking up to magnificent vistas of heritage-listed wilderness. Start your journey at Perrys Lookdown which looks directly onto the sandstone cliffs, heath-covered plateaus and ancient Blue Gum Forest of Grose Valley. From there, conquer the Perrys Lookdown to Gum Forest Walking Track, a steep, adventurous, four-kilometre trail that takes you towards the valley floor where you'll find the free campground Acacia Flat. Perrys Lookdown and Acacia Flat lie two hours and 15 minutes west of Sydney. Facilities at the NSW camping site are limited to toilets.

Editor's note: Perrys Lookdown and Anvil Rock will be closed from 3 October to 20 December 2023 due to road and trail upgrades. 


Gentleman's halt - free camping sydney

Hawksbury River kayaking, Destination NSW


This one's for fit campers, as it's a ten-kilometre walk-in — and you'll have to carry all your supplies. The good news is you can count on big rewards for your efforts. The campground perches right on the banks of the Hawkesbury River and, given its remoteness, you might well find that your only fellow creatures are lyrebirds, bandicoots, wedge-tailed eagles and sea eagles.

If you've ever wondered what Sydney's wild places were like before European invasion, this is about as close as you'll get. Gentlemans Halt lies at the end of Canoelands Ridge Walking Track in Marramarra National Park, about 90 minutes northwest of the Sydney CBD. If all the hiking hasn't worn you out, you can also head around to the other side of the river where you'll find kayak hire.

At the campsite, toilets, picnic tables and barbecues comprise the facilities. And while it is technically a free NSW campsite, there is a $6 booking fee.


Top image: Olney State Forrest, Destination NSW

Published on September 13, 2023 by Jasmine Crittenden
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