UPDATED OCT 25, 2019
The hubbub of city life can overwhelm even the thickest of skins, and often that means getting out of town and way off the grid. So, get out and discover the best camping and glamping grounds to pitch your tent, soak up the sun, and allow the flora and fauna to take your stress away.
Seal Rocks, a small coastal settlement in the Mid North Coast region of New South Wales, is surrounded by flourishing green forests and stunning beaches, featuring plenty of coastal hikes and aquatic life to keep you occupied. Once settled in from your journey, take advantage of your renewed energy and hike up to Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse to whale-watch; walk and explore the nearby Myall Lakes National Park; and swim or surf at one of Seal Rocks’ incredible beaches before retiring to one of the many nearby campgrounds. In case you want to ditch the sleeping bags, book one of the fantastic beach tents from Seal Rocks Holiday Park; they come with fully equipped kitchens and beds. Or, for ocean views and a more comfortable (read: luxurious) snooze, grab one of the beach bungalows or standard cabins that are stocked with all the essentials of home.
The Basin Campground at Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is considered one of the most popular beach camping spots in all of Sydney, and it’s only an hour’s drive north of the CBD! We suggest taking a ferry or water taxi from Palm Beach Wharf to avoid the 2.8km trek from West Head Road car park to the camping site, especially if you’re carrying heavy equipment with you. Once you’re finished setting up the tent, light up the barbie and enjoy the views of Pittwater. Make this the perfect weekend getaway by taking a stroll (or cycling) through the national park as you discover native wildlife in the area such as wallabies, bush turkeys, kookaburras, and goannas. Then, beat the heat with a swim at the beach or the peaceful lagoon. Fitt Tip: you’ll likely be turned away if you don’t book ahead — we told you it’s popular!
Whether it’s deluxe waterfront glamping, a premium economy camping package, or bring-your-own-equipment type of an affair, Cockatoo Island caters to all. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is just 30 minutes away from Circular Quay and offers stunning views of the Sydney Harbour. Though close to home, you can make the most of your escape on this tiny island: share stories around a campfire, go kayaking, play vintage lawn games, take a haunted history tour, and sleep under the Sydney stars.
Take advantage of the 200-acre secluded riverfront campground at Glenworth Valley, and perhaps spruce up your trip with one of their glamping or cabin packages. The location, which is just an hour’s drive from the CBD, also hosts one of the largest horse riding centres in Australia if you’re into a day of horseback riding. For the rest, fret not because you can go quad biking, kayaking, or hiking and biking on the trails of the Popran National Park. Along the way, make sure to walk up to the Emerald Pool for a view of crystal clear waters (or maybe a quick dip on a hot day).
Durras Beach, just north of Batemans Bay, is blessed with shores that stretch further than the eye can see. We suggest a full weekend experience, and the Durras Lake North Holiday Park won’t let you down because guess what: you’re guaranteed to spot a kangaroo (Durras North assures it), the weather is perfect for kayaking on most days, and the sunsets are beyond beautiful. Just grab a bicycle to make your way around and take in the true-blue Australian waters that will almost 100% make you want to go snorkelling or surfing. Once you’re done with the day’s activities, catch a movie at the open-air cinema before calling it a night.
If the eight-kilometre Bouddi Coastal Walk is already on your bucket list, then you might as well turn the hike into a full-on camping affair to make the most of the surrounding coastal rainforest and stunning cliffs. Pitch a tent at Little Beach for a quiet retreat, where facilities at the six-site remote location are limited to picnic tables, BBQ pits, and toilets. Or you can rock up at the Putty Beach Campground and make yourself at home at one of the 20 sites — it’s just a stone’s throw away from sandy shores and rock pools.
At the mouth of the Hawkesbury River lies the Patonga Camping Ground. Patonga is the perfect spot for a relaxing holiday amidst the stunning natural beauty of the Brisbane Water National Park. With a beach on one side and a creek on the other, plus hot showers, electric BBQ kits, tennis courts for hire, and a laundromat at the camping site, how can you get a better holiday than this? Also, if you get tired of eating hot dogs and s’mores, there’s a fish and chip shop at close proximity to help you get rid of those hunger pangs.
Glamp it up among the kangaroos, deer, and native birds at Sierra Escape, which is Mudgee’s award-winning, adults-only “luxury eco glamping experience”. It’s an incredible escape from city life, offering fully-furnished bungalows with rolling hills as a backdrop, as well as plenty of adventures nearby. Possible adventures include: indulging in wine tasting at the beautiful vineyards after enjoying the great outdoors with a morning horse ride; taking a walk to the lookout to watch the sunset; and treating yourself to an energy-healing massage to feel renewed and rejuvenated.
Sydneysiders love camping at Booderee National Park because it feels like a Caribbean escape, especially when the sun is shining bright or setting low. If we had to pick one of the campsites here, we suggest setting up at Green Patch, which is 500m away from the stunning beach. There, you will be greeted by turquoise blue waters and soft white sand to curl your toes in. Opportunities to swim, snorkel, bushwalk, boat, and cycling abound, and between the camp and the beach is a picnic area where kangaroos and birds are frequently sighted — so if you’re into wildlife, this is also the place.
Did we save the best for last? For the classic camper, the answer may be yes. Euroka campground, found in the Blue Mountains just south of Glenbrook, hosts five different camping areas, each with ample access to wildlife and nearby recreation. You’re likely to see epic birdlife—like kookaburras, cockatoos, and parrots—and kangaroo sightings aren’t uncommon. For a morning walk, try the Nepean River walking track — it’s a 1.8km loop that begins at the Darug camping area and will take you through woodlands and rainforest to the calm, swimmable water.