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10° & CLEAR SKY ON TUESDAY 23 JULY IN SYDNEY
By Georgia Booth
January 16, 2014
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The Ten Best Camping Getaways from Sydney

A digital detox is just a few hours away.
By Georgia Booth
January 16, 2014
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If you don't have the money, time or inclination to travel overseas right now, think about taking a pennywise break in your very own country instead. Australia has a reputation as one of the most beautiful places in the world for good reason, and the abundance of coastal beaches and inland lakes in New South Wales means you can close your eyes, point to a map, and end up in a place that possesses its own unique beauty.

So next time your friends are boasting about their European extravaganza, just think of how stressed they will be catching planes, eating weird food and spending a fortune, while you go on a breezy drive, catch fish, swim at deserted beaches and spend quality time with your other half or bunch or mates, sinking beers and catching up on all those books you meant to read during the year. You know who'll be having the last laugh when you return to work tanned and revitalised instead of broke and jetlagged.

Here are ten places we suggest checking out during the warmer months, all within easy driving distance of Sydney.

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seal-rocks-lighthouse

SEAL ROCKS

At this beautiful coastal spot three hours from Sydney, you can take your pick from four beaches to swim, surf or fish in. If you're feeling energetic you can walk to Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse and watch the whales meander past, or go for a bushwalk in the surrounding Myall National Park. The campsite has a modern toilet, BBQs, fresh water and sinks for washing up.

Where to stay:
Seal Rocks Holiday Park

How much:
Powered sites $36 p/night, Unpowered $32 p/night

Getting there:
Driving from Sydney to Seal Rocks takes about three hours (Google Directions)

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durras-depot-beach

DURRAS BEACH

This campsite is perfect if you have a foreign friend wanting a true-blue Australian adventure - you'll be camping amongst kangaroos, possums, goannas and a million birds. Probably best to warn them though, as our overseas friends don't seem to realise how freaking huge kangaroos actually are. There's heaps to do here - snorkelling, surfing, canoeing and mountain bike riding as well as an open-air cinema in summer. There are hot showers and wood-powered BBQs to grill the fish you've caught too.

Where to stay:
Durras Beach Camping Ground

How much:
Powered sites $35 p/night, Unpowered $30 p/night

Getting there:
Durras Beach is a four hour drive south of Sydney (Google Directions)

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coledale

COLEDALE BEACH

Only an hour south of Sydney, this small, grassy campsite is so close to the beach you can almost reach out of your tent and touch the sand. With a glorious backdrop of green hills and all the amenities, including a kitchen with power points, this is a no-brainer for a very relaxed weekend.

Where to stay:
Coledale Beach Camping Reserve

How much:
Powered sites $30 p/night, Unpowered sites $25 p/night

Getting there:
Coledale Beach is an hour and quarter's drive from Sydney (Google Directions)

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cockatoo-island-camping

COCKATOO ISLAND

If you are in need of a romantic escape but are short of time or a bit nervous about going bush, then go 'glamping' at Cockatoo Island. Tents are pre-erected right by the water so you have excellent views of the harbour and the surrounding suburbs. Inside the tents you'll find camping beds with actual mattresses and linen, towels, sun lounges, cushions and a lantern. After a sleep-in, wander over to The Canteen for a hot breakfast and a coffee, then on to The Island Bar for cocktails in the sun. Only a short ferry ride from Circular Quay, this is the perfect place for campers who hate camping.

Where to stay:
Cockatoo Island Camping Ground

How much:
Unpowered sites Monday - Thursday: $89 p/night; Friday - Saturday: $99 p/night

Getting there:
Jump on a ferry at Darling Harbour or Circular Quay (or stops in between) on the Paramatta or Balmain/Woolwich route to get directly to the island (Google Map)

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patonga-camping

PATONGA

Patonga is Pearl Beach's quieter, down-to-earth sister. With a calm beach on one side of the council-run site and a creek on the other, you can switch between them depending on your mood. If you're feeling recharged from all the salty air, you can hire kayaks or a tennis court, or go on a guided bushwalk into Brisbane Water National Park. Palm Beach is a short ferry ride away if you're in need of shopping and entertainment, and there are hot showers and a laundry so you can spruce up before you go.

Where to stay:
Patonga Camping Area

How much:
Powered sites $50 p/night, Unpowered $40 p/night

Getting there:
Drive through the Northern Beaches to Palm Beach, then take the ferry across to Patonga (Google Directions)

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berowra-creek

BEROWRA CREEK

Just north of Hornsby, this site is set amongst the gumtrees - see if you can spot peppermint, blackbutt, scribbly or blue gums. Berowra Creek is very close by so you can walk down with a picnic and skip rocks. This one's great for little ones as it has a bike track and playground.

Where to stay:
Crosslands Reserve Camping Area

How much:
Unpowered sites $23 p/night

Getting there:
Once you're on the north side of the Harbour Bridge, it's about a 45 minute drive up the Pacific Highway (Google Directions)

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lake-macquarie

LAKE MACQUARIE

This site has cabins as well as a camping ground, some of which are right on the edge of the creek. You can find the usual helpful amenities like toilets, hot showers and a laundry, and there is a train station nearby if don't have a car. You can fish, sail, swim, bushwalk or climb rocks to keep you from getting too bored. Horseriding is a popular activity in the area as well, and there are a few places that offer rides along bushland trails. Nearby is the Hunter Valley Wine Region if you decide you prefer a top drop of Semillon over billy tea.

Where to stay:
Lake Macquarie Village

How much:
Powered sites $29 p/night, Unpowered sites $12 p/night

Getting there:
From Central, take a train on the Newcastle and Central Coast line and get off after 2 hours at Morisset. It takes an hour and a half to drive from Sydney (Google Directions)

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coxs-river-camping

COX'S RIVER

Deep in the Blue Mountains, this one's for the hardcore bush lovers. There are pit toilets and water to drink (it has to be treated first) and a few picnic tables. On the plus side, no booking is required and camping is completely free. There are excellent bush trails (but beware of the feral cows) and beautiful spots to swim in the river, which is also an excellent place to catch trout.

Where to stay:
Cox's River Campsite

How much:
Free

Getting there:
The campground is around 2 hours drive from Sydney. Unless your very good at reading maps, take a GPS and type in coordinates

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eden-camping

EDEN

About halfway between Sydney and Melbourne, this would be a perfect pit-stop or a good choice if you want to really feel far from Sydney. It is nestled in between Aslings Beach and Lake Curalo, which has an awesome boardwalk. From the beach you can whale watch (or if you are out of season, go to the Whale Museum in Eden's township), go fishing off the rocks or just hang out on the sand. Nice bathrooms, BBQs and an unpretentious atmosphere are included.

Where to stay:
Eden Tourist Park

How much:
Powered sites $42 p/night, Unpowered $35 p/night

Getting there:
Eden is a six and a half hour drive south of Sydney (Google Directions)

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lane-cove-national-park

LANE COVE NATIONAL PARK

This is another easy spot for those who are car-less or need an interesting date idea. There's four amenities blocks, a pool, wireless internet (if you need to send a get-me-out-of-this-date emergency email) and fully equipped kitchens. This park has won loads of awards so for don't diss it as too easy. A fun fact for Home and Away die-hards: this is the site they use for Summer Bay Caravan Park.

Where to Stay:
Lane Cove River Tourist Park

How much:
Powered sites $37 p/night, Unpowered $35 p/night

Getting there:
At Central, take a train on the North Shore and Western Line to Chatswood, then change to the Northern line and get off at North Ryde. Walk east down Delhi Rd, turn left at Plassey Road and continue to the end. If you're driving, it's 20 minutes from the city centre (Google Directions)

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Published on January 16, 2014 by Georgia Booth

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    Milly - May 13, 2016

    Hawks Nest, Blacksmiths, Lithgow, Kanangra Boyd campground - plenty more to explore that are free around Sydney

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    Anna Roberts - April 14, 2015

    Durras Beach is a Family fav! The kids love the beach, and the amazing amount of kangaroos around. Can get busy in the holidays though

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    Newnes - April 10, 2015

    That was very helpful, Coledale Beach is awesome Could you maybe next time show Free campsites near sydney?

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