Dogs love camping. Suddenly the whole world’s a park and everything smells so good! Sadly though, the options for dog-friendly camping in NSW are kinda limited – most campsites are in National Parks and dogs aren’t allowed because they freak out the wildlife. They do exist though, we’ve rounded up 12 of the best dog-friendly campsites in NSW for you and pup to escape the cat race.
Love bushwalks with your dog? Read: 14 Fantastic Dog-Friendly Walks Near Sydney.
Dog-friendly campsites are awesome, here’s how to keep them that way:
- Keep your dog on a leash when required
- Pick up after your dog
- If your dog loves a good bark, consider the impact on other campers
- Don’t take your dog into restricted areas
Coachwood Camping Area
3.5 hours from Sydney
Tucked up under Barrington Tops National Park is a cute little spot called Coachwood Camping Area. It’s in the Chichester State Forest and has a ferny rainforest vibe, swimming hole and some gentle rapids. It’s a primo playground for your furry mate.
Coachwood Camping Area is first-come, first-serve and it’s free! There are bins, firepits and long-drop toilets but you’ll have to bring your own water. 2WD vehicles can make it in but be cautious in the wet or in low cars.
3.25 hours from Sydney
Further north, but still backing onto Barrington Tops, is the Riverwood Downs Campsite. If you’re looking to treat yourself and pamper your pooch by the river, while still getting very much in touch with nature, then look no further. It’s located in the Monkerai Valley on a 750-acre property with 5km of mountain river. There’s also an on-site bar and grill.
Riverwood Downs has everything you could need, there are spas (not sure if doggos are allowed in the spas). It’s not free though so make sure you book ahead.
Wollondilly River Station
2.5 hours from Sydney / 2.5 hours from Canberra
In the Southern Highlands south of Sydney, down the Wombeyan Caves Road from Mittagong, sits Wollondilly River Station. This true blue bush camping retreat is run by Ina and Brian Casburn and it’s refreshingly down to earth, just check out their website.
They’re not into squeezing every dollar out of the place, so it never gets too crowded and the grounds are pet friendly, so you can bring your ferret! Or dog, I guess.
Bookings by phone are essential and payment is in cash on arrival. There’s no internet, nice.
Glen Davis Camping Area
3.5 hours from Sydney
How’s camping on the edge of the second widest canyon in the world sound? Well you can do it with pup just over the Blue Mountains at Glen Davis Camping Area. It’s basically a park with some BBQs and a toilet block but hey, what more do you actually need?
This free campground is pretty rudimentary, but a fantastic base to explore the ruins of the oil shale mining in the area. Note, this campground is different to the nearby Coorongooba campground, which is in the national park and not dog-friendly.
Wee Jasper Reserves
4 hours from Sydney / 1.5 hours from Canberra
The Wee Jasper reserves offer a quiet off-grid spot where you can have some quality time with your best mate. There are bushwalks, strolls along the river and fishing spots across 5 different locations, all dripping in alpine bliss.
Dogs must be kept on leads, partly because surrounding bushland can have fox baits that aren’t so dog-friendly. Water is available at all sites except Carey’s Reserve. Bookings aren’t necessary and it’s $12 a night for adults, bring cash!
Wingello State Forest
2.5 hours from Sydey / 1.75 hours from Canberra
The plantation pine forests of Wingello State have a real North American vibe. You can camp at the dog-friendly HQ camp, which is a great base for nearby walks and mountain bike rides. Did someone say “trail dog?!”.
Camping in Wingello State Forest is free, but you’ll need to be self-sufficient as toilets are basically the only amenity.
NSW North Coast
5 hours from Sydney / 1 hour from Port Macquarie
This one’s special. A beachside camp, right next to the Goolwah National Park, Delicate Campground gets its dog-friendly status by being located in Goolwah Regional Park. Fetch on the sand? Tick. Dog surfing? Tick! Dog hair all through your tent? You bet.
Delicate Campground doesn’t take bookings, but you’ll want to get in early during peak periods. It’s $24 a spot (including 2 people, more for extra) and payment is in cash. You’ll need to be self-sufficient and BYO water but there are toilets.
Maca’s Camping Ground
2.5 hours from Brisbane / Half an hour from Byron Bay
Is there a more Aussie name for a campground than “Maca’s Camping Ground”? This quintessentially Australian spot is close to Mount Jerusalem National Park, but it’s got Garden of Eden vibes with peacocks strolling the lawns and wild macadamias and mulberries to pick. Of course, dogs are more than welcome to join in on the fun.
Maca’s Camping Ground is close enough to Byron Bay that it packs out with Bluesfest, Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festival campers, and prices more than double. Avoid these times if you’re looking for a quiet one.
Coopernook Forest Park
3.5 hours from Sydney / Half an hour from Port Macquarie
Just north of Taree, there’s a dog-friendly camping spot where you can hang out beneath the gum trees with your pooch. The spot is grassy and open, surrounded by walking tracks and the starry sky above. What more could you want?
Coopernook Forest Park has toilets and BBQs, but bring your own water. It’s free with no bookings required and as it’s just off the Pacific Highway, it makes a good spot to crash on road trips.
NSW South Coast
Scrubby Creek Picnic Area
Half an hour from Eden
Twenty clicks south of the windswept fishing town of Eden sits Scrubby Creek Picnic Area. The native bushland of East Boyd State Forest offers a super basic camping retreat that’s dog friendly. It’s the perfect spot to practice “sit”, “shake”, “heel” and “beer round the campfire”.
Expect tables, fire pits and not much else. It’s free! As well as dog-friendly camping, Scrubby Creek is a great rest stopover for self-sufficient campers on a coastal road trip.
North Head Camping Area
4.5 hours from Sydney / Half an hour from Bateman’s Bay
North Head Camping Area (different from the NSW National Parks run North Head campground) sits at the mouth of the Moruya River where it meets the ocean. Kick back with Fido as the sun sets, you’re in for a wet and sandy weekend!
You’ll need to call North Head Camping Area’s caretaker to book and fees change depending on the season. Expect water, toilets, cold showers, waves and vibes. BYO Shmackos.
Mystery Bay Campground
5 hours from Sydney / Half an hour from Bermagui
It’s a real mystery how one of the most mind-blowing coastal campgrounds in NSW has dog-friendly status. Gums dot the campsite that gives way to coastal cliffs and small beaches. Every beach has different regs but most allow dogs off-leash between 5.00pm and 9.00 am. You know, the best times.
You can’t book Mystery Bay Campground but get in early if it’s a busy weekend! Fees change throughout the year but it’s pretty cheap, long drop toilets and cold showers are the only real facilities. Oh and luuush scenery, of course.
Feature Photo by Michael Harris Photography