We didn’t do much camping in Australia as we were lucky to have wonderful friends who let us stay at theirs. However, we managed five nights on campsites, caravan parks and in wilder campgrounds run by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
What we found was brilliant service and very clean ‘amenities’ as they tend to call toilets and showers down here. Some of them were so clean that you felt like having a shower before entering. Even the older and somewhat run down caravan parks were totally spotless.
What surprised me a few times was that you could just walk right into some of them, there was no big fence around the place which can be typical of campsites in Europe. A few times we were looking for a toilet and we drove down to either the beach or the local park in hope of finding a public toilet and ended up in a campsite. By the look of it, some campsites do take care of the local public toilet and BBQ spots along with the camping.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service has some campsites in their parks, which are way off the beaten track down gravel roads. We were lucky to be directed to a few by locals, so it’s worth doing some research before you set off as they’re not well signposted.
Like Shipwreck creek, a beautiful place next to a great beach, 15km down a dirt track. It had big clean long drops, fire/bbq area, big pitches which weren’t right on top of each other. And the very amazing campsite at Minyon Falls in the Nightcap National Park which is a rain forest, which you get to by driving through a river and on a ridge with steep drops on each side.
These are typically a clearing in the rainforest, or by a secluded beach on the coast where you can pitch your tent, sometimes with a little spot for a fire or BBQ along with a long drop loo. The long drop is a simply a hole in the ground, in a wooden shelter, where you do your business. Even in the deepest and darkest forests, the long drops we found were clean, and quite often had toilet paper. Some of these campsites have clean running water but mostly it is rain water, which you have to treat or boil before drinking. Taking extra water is a good precaution. The campsites in the National Parks we visited were run on an honesty box system: you put your fees (between $10-20 for two people) into a little envelope, drop it into a post box, and attach the receipt to your tent. We really liked that these fees went to the upkeep of the campsite and the conservation of the park: a very good idea and money well spent.
Pretty much all the lay-bys we came across would have a BBQ area with benches. Where (sometimes for free) you can cook your food while you are having a break.
The big camp grounds or caravan parks are under the umbrella called the “Big4”, spread all over Australia. But don’t let the name fool you as there are over 170 campsites in the Big4 holiday parks “group”. Some got everything that you and your family need while holidaying, pool, play ground and a discount card. Yes the Big4 might not be the place you are looking to camp while cycle touring, but a great place to get washed, since they are not that expensive.
And then there is all the independent one, which I’m sure a good old search will find. We didn’t do any wild camping, but I did spot plenty of places where it was possible. Though just remember to respect the nature, the locals etc and be ready to leave if asked, which I’m sure that if you are the one who do a spot of wild camping already knows all about.
Everywhere we went all these places were clean not garbage left behind, even the ones that didn’t have a bin. The Aussies have learned to take their garbage with them, something that the Brits need to learn. Though when I found it very clean, my Australian friends was telling me that it was getting worse. So do “take in, bring out”, it is pretty simple and everyone can do it.