The Mid-North Coast has some excellent outdoor adventures from ocean to hinterland – and to get you out there we’ve found some of the best free camping Coffs Harbour has to offer.

Coffs Harbour is home to the country’s biggest banana, but it’s also packing a lot of adventure! There’s more than enough to fill a long weekend so you might want to pack your tent. ‘But where will I pitch it?’ you ask – no worries, we’ve got the answer.

The Coffs Harbour region has some excellent free camping. Think next to waterfalls, alongside rivers, in leafy state forests and on the grassy plains of the hinterland. Whether you’ve got all the gear, or need a few amenities to camp in comfort, we reckon you’ll find a great spot on this list.

 

DNSW Love NSW heart, hands, kangaroos, beach, sunrise

Can you free camp in Coffs Harbour?

You can definitely free camp in the Coffs Harbour region – just not in the city itself. We’ve found a great selection of free camping spots just a short drive from Coffs Harbour. The best part is you might just stumble upon a little pocket of nature or a lesser-known adventure that could be the highlight of your trip.

Head to the coast for surfing, swimming, whale watching, and the Solitary Islands Marine Park. Or venture into the hinterland for waterfalls, mountain biking, and quaint little villages.

Wherever you choose to adventure, remember to Leave No Trace – always camp responsibly, and take all rubbish and belongings with you. Many free campsites will require you to be self-sufficient so be sure to check the facilities on offer when planning your trip.

8 Best Free Camping Spots in Coffs Harbour

Just a short drive from Coffs Harbour you’ll find some excellent free camping options that allow you to explore the hinterland, national parks, and the coast. We reckon these eight free camp spots are the perfect places to set up a base and explore the region.

1. Mobong Creek Campground

Location: Moses Rock Road, Bellingen, NSW
Distance from Coffs Harbour: 52km
Time: 1 hour
Dog friendly: Yes

Pitch your tent beside a waterfall and swimming hole for an excellent – and free – camping adventure. Wild Cattle Creek State Forest has a flat grassy area for free camping at Mobong Creek. It’s the ultimate place to relax. Pets are welcome and the campsite has a drop toilet, picnic table, and fire pit – but no drinking water so you’ll need to be sure to bring your own.

Walk along the footbridge to get some great views of the waterfall, or jump in for a refreshing swim in the pool below.

 

The town of Bellingen | Photo thanks to Bellingen Shire Council

2. Wedding Bell Creek Road Campsite

Location: Wedding Bell Creek Road, Bucca, NSW
Distance from Coffs Harbour: 33km
Time: 40 minutes
Dog friendly: Yes

If off-grid bush camping is your style, make your way up the coast to Woolgoolga and then head inland to the Wedding Bells State Forest. The free campground has space for four campsites with a central fire pit, and plenty of shade from surrounding trees. Four-legged friends are welcome and there’s plenty to do in the state forest.

Hit the hiking trails or bring your mountain bike and enjoy some epic descents on the Wedding Bells MTB Trails in nearby Woolgoolga.

 

Woolgoolga Beach

3. Bom Bom State Forest

Location: 10 Fire Road, Bom Bom, NSW
Distance from Coffs Harbour: 81km
Time: 1 hour
Dog friendly: No

If you’re driving south to Coffs Harbour, you can pull off the highway near Grafton to camp for free in the Bom Bom State Forest. The campsite is large, with plenty of space both for vehicles and to pitch tents. You can explore the walking trails, mountain biking trails, and 4WD tracks in the state forest. Or just sit back and relax – no one’s judging.

There are designated fire pits, but no amenities. If you need any supplies it’s less than ten minutes drive into Grafton, where you can pick some up.

 

Welcome to the historic city of Grafton!

4. Eastern Dorrigo Community Hall

Location: 13 Pine Avenue, Ulong, NSW
Distance from Coffs Harbour: 35km
Time: 40 minutes
Dog friendly: Yes

Head west from Coffs Harbour and enjoy a winding drive into the hinterland through lush subtropical rainforest. Stop in at the small village of Ulong, where you’ll find a free camping area with some great facilities. The Eastern Dorrigo Community Hall has a bush camping area that is large, flat, and grassy. Perfect for pitching a tent or parking a van!

Visitors have access to drinking water and toilets, and there’s a park and picnic tables at the site too. Fuel up at a cafe in town and then head out to explore the trails in the nearby Cascade National Park.

 

Crystal Shower Falls walk in Dorrigo National Park

5. Macleay River Hotel

Location: 10 Macleay Street, Frederickton, NSW
Distance from Coffs Harbour: 100km
Time: 1 hour
Dog friendly: Yes

If you’re heading north and need a stopover on the way to Coffs Harbour, the town of Frederickton offers free camping. The Macleay River Hotel – known as the Fredo Local – offer campsites for up to five vehicles, conveniently located right behind the pub. The only catch? You need to be a patron. With some trusty pub grub on the menu and plenty of options to quench your thirst, we can’t see this being a problem.

The campsite itself is a grassy block with picnic tables and access to drinking water. You also get some great views over the river.

 

Photo thanks to the Macleay River Hotel

6. Macksville Lions Park RV Stop

Location: Ferry Street, North Macksville, NSW
Distance from Coffs Harbour: 55km
Time: 40 minutes
Dog friendly: Yes

If you’ve got an RV, motorhome, or caravan, the Lions Park on the Nambucca River is a great place to free camp overnight. Just off the Pacific Highway in Macksville – about 40 minutes south of Coffs Harbour – you’ll find the Lions Park overnight parking area. There are only three parking spaces though so this one is a case of first-in, best-dressed.

Facilities include toilets, picnic tables, and a playground at the reserve next to the park. You can also explore a bit further to check out the mountain bike trails in the Yarriabini National Park or go surfing at nearby Scotts Head.

 

Scotts Head, just south of the Nambucca River

7. Arrawarra Rest Area

Location: Pacific Highway, Arrawarra, NSW
Distance from Coffs Harbour: 33km
Time: 25 minutes
Dog friendly: Yes

Park up for the night at this 24 hour rest area that’s just 25 minutes north of Coffs Harbour. There are plenty of spaces and your furry mates are welcome to join you.

It’s essentially an asphalt car park so it’s not the place to pitch a tent but it does have basic facilities – toilets, a dump point, and picnic benches – so you don’t need to be self-sufficient to park here. From the rest area you can hit the Wedding Bells mountain bike trails or check out the point break at Arrawarra Headland.

 

Arrawarra Headland

8. Roses Park Rest Area

Location: 2656 Waterfall Way, Thora, NSW
Distance from Coffs Harbour: 50km
Time: 40 minutes
Dog friendly: Yes

Roses Park Rest area is a great place to stop in and camp for the night when exploring New South Wales’ Waterfall Way. The small town of Thora is just 50km from Coffs Harbour and welcomes campers with a large, grassy, free camping area. Note that this campsite does ask for donations, which we reckon is a great way to keep free camping spots open for others to enjoy.

There are toilets at the campsite, a convenience store right next door (convenient indeed!), and dogs are welcome. Find yourself a shady spot to set up camp and relax! Or stroll down the short walking track to the Bellingen River to swim, kayak, or throw in a line.

 

Bellingen River

Best Cheap Camping Spots in Coffs Harbour

If the free campsites aren’t cutting it for you, there’s plenty of cheap camping options near Coffs Harbour as well. If you like your campsite with plenty of amenities you might want to splash – just a little bit – of cash on staying at these campgrounds.

9. Bellingen Showground

Location: 37 Hammond Road, Bellingen, NSW
Distance from Coffs Harbour: 36km
Time: 30 minutes
Dog friendly: Yes

The hinterland town of Bellingen is filled with opportunities for outdoor adventures. And you can do them all while camping on the cheap. Walking distance from the town centre, the Bellingen Showgrounds welcomes campers in everything from RVs to swags. You can set up camp with some great amenities: showers, toilets, drinking water, and power.

Plus you can explore the local area by paddling a canoe on the river, hiking in the Dorrigo National Park or road tripping along Waterfall Way.

 

Bellingen River, Fernmount

10. Valley Stay Campground

Location: 4 Mastons Road, Karangi, NSW
Distance from Coffs Harbour: 9km
Time: 10 minutes
Dog friendly: Yes

If you like to be close to nature but also prefer to have some amenities on hand – the Valley Stay Campground might be what you are after. It has a camp kitchen with fridge, toaster, stovetop, kettle and microwave for pure cooking convenience. There’s also fire pits, a BBQ area, picnic tables, drinking water and toilets.

The proximity to Coffs Harbour makes it a great base from which to explore the coastline and beaches – and maybe even check out the Big Banana.

 

No caption necessary!

11. Nana Glen Sports, Rec and Equestrian Centre

Address: 75 Morrows Road, Nana Glen, NSW
Distance from Coffs Harbour: 28km
Time: 25 minutes
Dog friendly: Yes

Just a short trip north from Coffs Harbour is the village of Nana Glen which takes its name from the Gumbaynggirr word, Ngarla, meaning two-tailed lizard. Nestled in the hinterland, there’s some great wineries and cafes to check out – and a cheap camping option just outside of town.

The Sport, Rec and Equestrian Centre welcomes campers with vehicles and tents. Amenities include hot showers, power and water hookups, BBQs, fire pits and toilets. It’s an easy drive in to Coffs Harbour giving you option to check out the coast as well as explore the hinterland.

 

The vineyard at Two Tails Wines, Nana Glen

12. Coffs Harbour Camping and 4WD

Location: 1119 Bucca Road, Bucca, NSW
Distance from Coffs Harbour: 25km
Time: 25 minutes
Dog friendly: No

Located on a 230 acre property, Coffs Harbour Camping and 4WD is a great base for camp set-ups of any kind. You can explore the property on bush walks, take a picnic, and say hello to the farm animals on site. Or set up a base and explore nearby Moonee Beach or the Lower Bucca State Forest.

The only facilities provided are a Portaloo in the main camping paddock. If you’re self-sufficient you can camp in the dam paddock, where there are no facilities.

 

Moonee Beach

So, is it time to go camping?

What do you think of these free camping sites? Have you stayed at any of the spots on our list? Do you know of any others in the region? Let us know in the comments!

 

Supplementary photos thanks to Destination NSW

Header photo thanks to @pippa.heidi

Table of contents photo thanks to @the_endless_honeymoon

We’ve shared these recommendations because we genuinely rate them and want you to enjoy them too. Our writers use a mix of personal experience and research to compile these lists, and they’re also encouraged to be honest when things aren’t up to scratch. For more information on our approach, check out our Editorial Standards.