NSW is blessed with a swagload of great campsites. But there’s only one thing better than finding a beaut campground, and that’s finding a campground that doesn’t cost you a penny. Time to check out the best free camping NSW has to offer.


We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Countries on which these adventures take place who have occupied and cared for these lands and waters for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

Finding the Best Free Camping in NSW

When we asked our crew of seasoned Explorers to recommend their favourite free campgrounds in NSW, there was no doubt that they’d deliver, and just like a regular bunch of legends, they’ve come up with some absolute low-cost belters.

Yes, these free camping sites might have limited facilities; yes, some of them require a walk from the car; and yes, they’re all worth checking out.

So you’d better get your calendar out because these free campgrounds are primed for a cheeky micro; or better yet, a full-blown NSW assault.

Looking for NSW adventures? Head to our NSW Adventure Hub

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Looking Further Afield?


Best Free Camping in NSW

1. Sunburnt Beach Campground

Time from Sydney: 4 hours
Location: South Coast

Sat in Meroo National Park, on the NSW South Coast, this beachside campsite is simple and sweet. Not quite a full-on hike in experience, nevertheless you’ll need to carry your camp gear 50-100m from the car park. Not great for luxury campers, but perfect for keeping the crowds away.

Enjoy relaxing in the natural bush setting, watching the abundant wildlife, exploring the beach or catching waves when the swell is just right.

Important info: This campsite requires 4WD access and camping spots are suitable for tent camping only – no camper trailers or vans. This campground has picnic tables and toilets, but you’ll need to bring your own water and firewood.

Book Here


5 Ways to Actually Connect With Nature While Exploring, Jon Harris, Meroo, beach, sunset, man, beach walk

Photo thanks to Jon Harris

2. Cascades Campground

Time from Sydney: 5 hours
Location: Wadbilliga National Park

Head south to Cooma and instead of continuing onto the Snowy Mountains, head east into Wadbilliga National Park for a stay at Cascades Campground. With just six sites for trailers and tents, there’s every possibility you’ll be able to camp completely by yourself. Set up camp, then explore the beauty of the Tuross River.

Don’t just stick to the banks, bring your SUP, kayak or canoe and get on the water for a different experience.

Important info: Make sure you’ve planned this one out as bookings are essential year-round. This free campground has picnic tables, BBQs, and toilets, but you’ll need to bring your own water and firewood.

Book Here


Photo thanks to Jackie Martin

3. Bendethera Valley Campground

Time from Sydney: 6 hours
Location: Deua National Park

Please note! Entry to Bendethera Valley Campground via the west is currently blocked due to damage to Middle Mountain Road. Please check NPWS website for current updates.

Load up the 4WD and head deep into Deua National Park for a slice of remote valley life. Nestled between the South Coast and Snowy Mountains, Bendethera Valley Campground is a stellar free camping spot for a peaceful getaway.

The Deua River flows through the valley, offering the chance for a cool swim or a paddle. This large open space has plenty of room to spread out the trailer, bring a crew, and fire up a barbie.

If you’re chasing more adventure, head (safely) into the Bendethera Caves or check out the extensive hiking trails.

Important info: There’s 4WD access only to this very remote campground, so travel safely and be prepared. This campground has picnic tables, BBQs, and toilets, but you’ll need to bring your own water and firewood.

Book Here


4. Thredbo Diggings Campground

Time from Sydney: 5.5 hours
Location: Kosciuszko National Park

This free camping mountain beauty is open year-round and has great access to the start of Kosciuszko National Park. Come in winter and you’ll need to be prepared for the cold, as there’s often snow to be found next to the frozen Thredbo River. Or come in summer, the water might still be frigid, but there’s plenty on offer by bike, foot, or tube.

There are basic facilities at the campground and a decent number of sites for vans, trailers and tents.

Important info: Thredbo Diggings is a free campsite, but you’ll need to make sure you’ve paid for the National Parks Pass (obtainable in Jindy or from the ticket gate on the way in). This campground has picnic tables, BBQs, and toilets, but you’ll need to bring your own water and firewood.

Book Here


The Mountains Are Calling // Thredbo (NSW) Jon Harris river, sunrise, thredbo diggings

Thredbo Diggings Campsite – photo by Jon Harris

5. Newnes Campground

Time from Sydney: 3.25 hours
Location: Wolgan Valley

Please note! Newnes Campground is currently closed due to a landslide at Wolgan Gap. Please check the NPWS website for current updates.

Far enough from Sydney that you’ll be away from the day-trippers, but close enough for an after-work overnighter.

Newnes Campground sits in the Wolgan Valley in Wollemi National Park, to the west of the Blue Mountains, and is surrounded by sandstone cliffs by the banks of the Wolgan River. Drive in, park up, and get exploring.

This free camping spot is also a perfect home base for checking out the nearby Glow Worm Tunnels or Newnes Industrial Ruins walk.

Important info: This free campsite has BBQ facilities and toilets, but you’ll need to bring your own wood for campfires and water.

Book Here


Rhys Tattersall Newnes Wollemi National Park NSW tent

Photo thanks to Rhys Tattersall

6. Spring Gully Campground

Time from Sydney: 4.5 hours
Location: Goulburn River National Park

If you don’t mind sharing camp with kangas and wombats, then Spring Gully Campground in Goulburn River National Park is the perfect getaway. Relax around this beautiful free camping spot or take a dip in the Goulburn River if the water levels allow.

The open campground has space for all your needs, so go minimal with the hammock or fully loaded with the trailer, the choice is yours.

Spring Gully’s surrounding area has a rich history thanks to the people of the Wiradjuri, Gamileroi, and Wonnarua Clans. The valley where the river runs through Goulburn River National Park was an important trading route between the Aboriginal people who lived on the East Coast and the western plains.

If you’re up for the hour-long drive, don’t miss The Drip walking track and Hands on the Rock Aboriginal art site in Ulan as a worthwhile opportunity to pay respect and learn more about the history of this area.

Important info: This free campsite has BBQ facilities and toilets, but there are no water drinking facilities here, so make sure to BYO water. Also, take your rubbish with you as there are no bins. Everything you take in, you take out.

Book Here


Our Explorers' Pick Of The Best Free Camping Spots In NSW by Mattie Gould, photo by Jessica Mutton Spring Gully

Photo thanks to Jessica Mutton

7. Bretti Reserve

Time from Sydney: 4 hours
Location: Barrington Coast

Cows may wander through this grassy free campsite, but there’s plenty of room for everyone to park up the van or pitch their tent.

Bring your watercraft for a paddle on the Barnard River, take a swim or cast your line. This free camping spot is also pet friendly, so let the pooch out to stretch their legs.

Fire pits are permitted, but make sure you’re responsible and check local fire warnings.

Important info: Bretti Reserve has everything you need, from picnic tables and wood BBQs to drinking water. However, there’s no power available at this campground and the amenities has basic toilet facilities only.

Book Here


Our Explorers' Pick Of The Best Free Camping Spots In NSW by Mattie Gould, photo by Lara Apollonov Bretti Reserve

Bretti Reserve – photo by Lara Apollonov

8. Roses Park Rest Area

Time from Sydney: 6 hours
Location: Bellingen

If you haven’t explored Waterfall Way, near Dorrigo National Park, ‘water’ you waiting for! Roses Park Rest Area is right off the side of the road, so might not be the most peaceful site you come across. However, as a free campsite (pay by donation) in such a great part of NSW, you can’t really complain.

Head west from Roses to explore more of the National Park, or head back east to Bellingen for coffee and small town hangs.

Important info: Don’t exceed your welcome, 48 hours is the longest you can stay here.


A Wet Monday Morning In Dorrigo National Park (NSW), Liam Hardy, waterfall, rainforest, pool, behind a waterfall, rainy

Photo thanks to Liam Hardy

9. Shelley Head Campground

Time from Sydney: 7.5 hours
Location: Yuraygir

7km along the Yuraygir Coastal Walk, you’ll arrive at the semi-remote beauty of Shelley Head Campground in Yuraygir National Park. This ocean-fronted, free camp is perfect for swimming, surfing or sea fishing. It’s also a great spot for relaxing away from any crowds, so maybe just pack a book and put your feet up.

Try this one in winter and you might get treated to views of migrating whales!

Important info: As with any remote campsite, particularly one that has no road access, make sure you’ve planned your visit, taken precautions and stay safe.

Book Here


Jacquie Tapsall // Explorer Of The Month - February '18, Yuraygir NP, girl, yoga, handstand, cave, ocean, clouds, sky

Yuraygir Coastal Walk – photo by Jacquie Tapsall

10. Mt York Campground

Time from Sydney: 2 hours
Location: Blue Mountains

If you’re looking for a quintessential free camping adventure, Mt York Campground is a perfect spot from which to explore the Blue Mountains. With over 300 climbing routes in the area, this is a rock climber’s paradise, so be sure to check out TheCrag before you head off if you’re keen to send it.

There’s a small limited camping area suitable for tents that’s completely free and doesn’t need a booking, but you’ll have to get in quick to beat all the Sydney climbers. There are also some great views only a short walk away such as the Mt York lookout and Barden lookout.

Important info: This campsite has toilets, but you’ll need to bring your own water and firewood. Campers are also only allowed to stay for four days at a time.


Want to make new friends? Hiking might be the answer! - Kate Reid, Castle Head, blue mountains

Photo thanks to Kate Reid

Essential Gear For Camping in NSW

  • Tent
  • Sleeping mat
  • Sleeping bag
  • Camp kitchen set up
  • Camp chair
  • Drinking water
  • Insect repellent

Leave No Trace

It’s always best to assume that every campground you visit doesn’t have rubbish bins and collection – because nine times out of ten, they don’t! Come prepared to take out everything you bring in to make sure you leave no trace. Don’t forget the rubbish bags!

FAQs Free Camping NSW

Do I need to book in advance?

All campgrounds specifically in NSW National Parks now require a booking, which charges a $6 booking fee, so take this into account when exploring the ‘free’ camping NSW has to offer.

Some other free campgrounds may be outside of NSW National Parks and therefore may not require a booking or charge booking fees. Either way, it’s always important to check before you head off on your camping trip.


Is it illegal to free camp in NSW?

Free or wild camping, AKA being able to camp wherever you please, doesn’t exist in Australia in the way it does in some other countries. You’re generally only allowed to stay at appropriate sites that allow overnight camping.

That being said, you’re allowed wild camp in certain national parks, many allow it, but you have to check with the rangers or the park’s plan of management.

If you don’t want to be camping illegally, you need to be pitched up at an official campground, or private property, or somewhere that has a plan of management that incorporates wild camping.


How do I know if a campground is open?

Campgrounds may be affected by natural disasters or severe weather, so always check the NSW National Parks website or contact local council areas for up-to-date information on closures before camping.


How can I camp for free in Australia?

There are plenty of free campsites around Australia that won’t cost you a penny to stay at. However, each state and territory runs the booking of campgrounds a little differently to the next so it’s best to check the relevant national park or state forest website for the area you’re planning to camp in before you head out.


Feature photo by Jon Harris