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AUSTRALIA’S 20 BEST CAMPSITES AS VOTED BY YOU!

Beach, River, Bush, Outback Tropical and more! OZ’s biggest RV community has their say!

COMPILED BY JOHNATHON PULLEN, PHOTOGRAPHY BY CARAVAN AND MOTORHOME ON TOUR

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OZ’S BIGGEST RV COMMUNITY HAS THEIR SAY!

There are countless wonderful camping options in this country, with more coming to our attention all the time. However, we all have that one campsite that we call our own – that one spot we go back to time after time. It may be a popular place that always has other campers there, or it may be disturbed only by birdcalls and the rustle of small bush creatures in the undergrowth.

Often, when we chat to others, we find that they, too, know about ‘our’ campsite and also love it. Others are delighted to add another good one to their list, and in response, tell us about their favourite. Which brings up an interesting question: what is Australia’s favourite campsite? Is there a clear ‘winner’?

Here at Caravan and Motorhome, we’ve tackled a lot of controversial and contentious issues over the last few years – but it turned out, none was as contentious as this one! Every one of us has been asked the ‘what is your favourite campsite?’ question by other travellers, but with the range of camping options in Australia, finding the answer is harder than you might think! That is… until now.

Each one of us knows what draws us to a certain place, but in order to find Australia’s best campsite, we needed to open up the debate to the caravanning community at large. What better way, we thought, than to go to our near 45,000-strong Facebook community with 20 absolutely amazing campsites that others had told us about, and let them vote? Knowing that we all love different destinations for different reasons, the campsites were split into five different categories – coastal, river, red dirt, bush, and tropical. We asked, you voted – and the results are nothing short of spectacular. So without further ado, here are Australia’s best 20 campsites, voted for by YOU!

THE BROADER THE TRAVEL, THE RICHER THE EXPERIENCE

If there’s one piece of advice that I can impart to travellers, quite simply, it’s travel widely! Don’t restrict or pigeonhole your adventures as you traverse Australia. We live in a nation that offers a rich tapestry of places, people and cultures. We all have our own preferred campsites – some prefer to stay coastal camping, others love the silence and solitude of the bush – but each campsite offers a unique experience and forms a piece of the great Aussie narrative. At the end of the day, you’re really limiting what this great country can offer you if you restrict your travel to one geographical element of Australia. There are so many stories: so many places to see with history to uncover. Stay hungry for adventure, experience and knowledge – get out there and live it all.

CATEGORY 1: BEST RIVERSIDE CAMPS

RUNNER UP: RENMARK RIVERFRONT PARK, MURRAY RIVER SA

<<<TOILETS, POWER, NO PETS, BBQS, SHADE, SHOWERS, FISHING, VIEWS>>>

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If you’ve had the opportunity to stay at Renmark Riverfront Caravan Park then you’ll understand why it won the 2014 SA Park of the Year! Enjoy the perfect combination of superb camping and scenery on the banks of the Murray River with the convenience of world-class amenities, comfort, security, and friendly hosts. The town centre of Renmark, a jewel in the South Australian crown, is less than 2km away and hosts a world of shops, attractions and sights for you to enjoy.

VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS: 4.5/5

CAMPSITE VIEW: 4/5

CAMP COMFORT: 5/5

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WHY YOU LOVED IT

Tracy Newbie: The banks of the Gwydir are inviting to all that visit both young and old with activities like horse riding , canoeing, fishing or just plain camping available to all. The locals are always warm and friendly.

Craig Schlein: Renmark Riverfront Holiday Park – if you have kids, it’s the top of the table! A water park, paddleboats, kiddie’s entertainment room, toddler room and BBQ facilities that are unbelievable.

Annette Marie-Bee: Home Valley! I’ve been a few times now along the Gibb River Road and this is one of the most peaceful and beautiful regions of Australia.

Kim Sutton: Birdcage Reserve is so nice and quiet; a perfectly tranquil waterfront camping experience.

WINNER: GWYDIR RIVER, BINGARA NSW

<<<SHADE, SWIMMING, CAMPFIRES, FISHING, VIEWS, WALKING TRACKS>>>

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Taking over a massive 50% of the community vote, your winner is the Gwydir River and its adjacent township of Bingara, the heartland of NSW’s pristine New England region. What is it that makes this riverfront camping experience so special? Readers praised the Gwydir for its bankside serenity, picturesque river scenery and its wealth of outdoor activities to suit the desires of any traveller. Throw in a line, take to the water in your canoe, or just go for a swim – there’s no limit to the ways you can make this experience entirely your own.

Perhaps you’d prefer to just sit around a cheerfully crackling campfire on the banks of the Gwydir, or throw out a blanket and enjoy a lunchtime picnic. With the Gwydir’s peaceful natural surrounds and relaxing atmosphere, it doesn’t matter how you approach it – it’s going to be one of your most memorable riverfront stays.

The town of Bingara itself is becoming an increasingly popular destination with RVers thanks to its welcoming locals, attractions and overall RV friendly attitude! Be sure to add the Gwydir and Bingara to your travels before too many cotton on!

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VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS: 3/5

CAMPSITE VIEW: 3/5

CAMP COMFORT: 3/5

CATEGORY 2: BEST COASTAL CAMPS

RUNNER UP: SWIMCART BEACH, BAY OF FIRES TAS

<<<TOILETS, CAMPFIRES, WALKING TRACKS, BBQS, FISHING, BOAT RAMP, PETS>>>

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We couldn’t be happier that Swimcart Beach on the Bay of Fires coastline, TAS, got an enthusiastic thumbs up. It came as no surprise that this pearler of a coastal camp made it to runner-up in our coastal category. This gem, set on an idyllic stretch of land, incorporates everything that makes Tassie’s west coast unique. It is ideally situated for RVers who want to venture out on day trips from Swimcart to Binalong Bay, Pyengena, St Columba Falls and even around the NW coastline. Many travellers attested that even after several months, they felt they could have prolonged their stay! Red rocks unique to the regions and unbelievably blue turquoise waters make this a coastal camp unlike anywhere else in Australia – this one is a must!

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VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS: 5/5

CAMPSITE VIEW: 4/5

CAMP COMFORT: 3/5

WINNER: LUCKY BAY, ESPERANCE WA

<<<WALKING TRACKS, SWIMMING, VIEWS, FISHING, WATER, FEE, BBQS, BOAT RAMP>>>

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Presenting the reigning champion of coastal camping – it’s Lucky Bay Camping Area, the jewel in the crown of Cape Le Grand National Park! 61km southeast of Esperance lies a haven of heathlands, wildflowers and imposing granite peaks. Lucky Bay is characterised by its wide and sweeping sandy beaches, aquamarine waters and abundance of natural wonders and coastal scenery to explore and appreciate.

Taking top place with a considerable margin, readers praised Lucky Bay for its natural beauty and the quality of its open water and beach fishing, pristine white sands and overall well-maintained environment. Notable amenities include warm solar powered showers, free gas BBQs, and immaculately maintained toilets.

Camp for weeks on end enjoying one of the best coastal camping sites in Australia – for those with self-sufficient vans, this is an unbelievable opportunity to truly put your rig through its paces and live off the grid like never before in a coastal haven!

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For more information on how you can live the dream in Lucky Bay, call ahead and have a chat with one of National Park’s friendly park rangers on (08) 9075 9072.

WHY YOU LOVED IT

Bart and Max: Lucky Bay offers beautiful beaches, great walks, swimming and fishing! The wildlife is friendly, there are warm showers, water, free gas BBQs, toilets and the rangers are fantastic!

Stephen Bond: Definitely Swimcart Beach! I can park my big rig right up to the beach and fall to asleep to the sound of the great surf – best of all, it’s free!

Manny and Karen Coles: Kurrimine beach was unforgettable, setting up right on the beach beneath the palms and watching the sun set behind the ocean horizon.

Viv May: The isolation, the peace and the quiet – that’s what made Notch Point so special for me.

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OUR PICK: BALGAL BEACH, QLD 

With Fred Wright

Now I know this place is no secret, but I feel it’s still worth a mention! Balgal Beach in QLD really is one of the more enjoyable beaches in Australia – if you’re lucky enough to pinch a site that is! Take a dip in the azure blue ocean, stroll along the beach, or go for some enjoyable walks in the nearby rainforest – this little spot has got it all. For a free camp, I’ve always found the amenities to be functional and well maintained! Definitely give a Balgal Beach a try on your journey north – you won’t regret it!

CATEGORY 3: BEST TROPICAL CAMPS

RUNNER UP: GREGORY DOWNS, GULF OF CARPENTARIA QLD

<<<SHADE, BIG RIGS, PETS, NO TOILETS>>>

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Running a close second in our tropical category is the idyllic riverside free camping opportunity provided by Gregory Downs on the Gregory River. Camps are few and far between that provide a relaxed and leisurely camping experience similar to Gregory Downs.

Pull up on the banks of the river, set up your campsite then stretch out and breathe in your stunning surroundings as the river bubbles past. With warm and temperate waters right at your door, why not go for a swim? Or when it comes time to think about what will be cooking over the fire that night, try your luck and drop a couple of craypots in, or cast a line!

Gregory Downs requires a self-contained rig but you can find a dump point and supplies at the nearby pub!

VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS: 3/5

CAMPSITE VIEW: 4.5/5

CAMP COMFORT: 4.5/5

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WHY YOU LOVED IT

Chris and Ken Melville: Lake Argyle, always – a patch of unsurpassed, stupendous beauty amidst the raw red hills and valleys of beautiful far north WA. The infinity pool is breathtaking, as is the sunset cruise.

Anne Temple Gollan: Gregory Downs! We’ve been staying beside that river since 1983 and every time has been amazing. We can’t wait to go again, and again.

Michael Insole: Loyalty Beach, what an unbelievable gem to find up top. Fishing and beachfront camping, we couldn’t have asked for more – our tropical gem!

Sheree and Grant Leggett: Remote camping at its finest, just the thought of packing up everything we need for three nights next to the turquoise waters of Barred Creek has us excited.

WINNER: LAKE ARGYLE, THE KIMBERLEY WA

<<<POWER, BBQS, PICNIC TABLES, VIEWS, SWIMMING, CAMPFIRES, SHADE>>>

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It was a neck-and-neck battle in the polls but in the end Lake Argyle, WA, took the crown as Caravan and Motorhome’s top tropical camp! Quite commonly referred to as “the jewel of the Kimberley,” Lake Argyle delivers a top-end experience unlike anything else in Australia.

On arrival it won’t take you long to notice that the camp grounds themselves are as pristine as the jaw dropping red rock formations that surround you. Over 100 powered sites are on offer in the park grounds, shaded by the rolling hills to the west. There are ample amenities and facilities on site, all of which are immaculately maintained. It is the perfect base camp – there’s even the opportunity on site to stock up on supplies before venturing out.

While the park features are world-class, it’s the truly mesmerizing panoramic views of the lake and the ancient red rock formations that astound. The perfect way to appreciate this sight is from the park infinity pool. Gazing out across the lake, you feel that you are surveying it all from the edge of the world – you’ll have never seen anything remotely close to it and it’s a sight you’ll never forget.

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Fill your days with engaging activities like hiking, swimming, and exploring – truly experience the best the Kimberley has to offer. Head out on your own and explore the region’s wild network of nature trails or grab a canoe and coast along the surface of the iconic Ord River.

For more infomation call: (08) 9168 7777 or visit www.lakeargyle.com

VALUE FOR MONEY: 4.5/5

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS: 3/5

CAMPSITE VIEW: 5/5

CAMP COMFORT: 4.5/5

CATEGORY 4: BEST RED DIRT CAMP

WINNER: MACDONNELL RANGES, NT

<<<FEE, PICNIC TABLES, TOILETS, VIEWS, CAMPFIRES, WALKING TRACKS>>>

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It seems that travellers can’t go past the allure of NT’s Macdonnell Ranges, a clear crowd favourite – in particular, the Ridgetop Camping Area, Redbank Gorge. This is remote camping at its finest! Settle in amongst the mulga shrubs and experience the otherworldly pleasures of the red centre. Understandably, facilities are limited – although you will find several free-to-use gas BBQs, picnic tables and toilets. Just remember it’s of the utmost importance to bring water with you!

As you explore the Redbank Gorge you’ll discover truly fascinating flora and fauna that have flourished despite the harsh conditions of the red centre. Stunning waterholes, weathered white ghost gums and wildlife retreats are just a few quintessential sights you’ll see that characterise this beautiful slice of Oz. Best of all, all these sights are within walking distance to your campground.

VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS: 4/5

CAMPSITE VIEW: 4/5

CAMP COMFORT: 3/5

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WHY YOU LOVED IT

Jenny Adams: Devils Marbles makes you feel like you’re on another planet. The sky at night is so mesmerizing that you’ll be lucky to not get a sore neck from staring upwards for hours on end.

Jenni King: McDonnell Ranges, for its aridness, diversity and beauty. Quite simply, it’s the best of the Aussie Australian outback.

Pat Gray: There’s nothing like a night under the stars on the Diamantina

River. Once you experience this iconic region you’ll truly appreciate how there nowhere else like it in Australia.

David and Anita Hampton: Paroo River of course, some of our fondest memories are from exploring the bush around the river! You can even go for a fish or relax on the water.

WINNER: DEVILS MARBLES, NT

<<<VIEWS, CAMPFIRES, WALKING TRACKS, PETS, PICNIC TABLES>>>

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It came as no surprise one of our finalists would be the famous “Devils Marbles,” or “Karlu Karlu,” as it’s known by indigenous locals. Sometimes simple really is better, with Devil’s Marbles providing a basic campsite with minimal facilities including toilets and picnic tables. There’s very little surrounding the site, with the nearest township being Tennant Creek, some 105km away.

The precariously balanced boulders fascinate onlookers in the shadowed bush camp below. While there are no official walking trails marked around the Boulders, there are clear-cut paths that have been used by previous travellers. To truly appreciate the size of the boulders and the humbling atmosphere of this ancient and sacred sight, we can’t stress just how important it is that you take to these trails and get up close to the boulders!

VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS: 4/5

CAMPSITE VIEW: 4.5/5

CAMP COMFORT: 3/5

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WHY I LOVE DEVILS MARBLES

With Trina Morris

Observing the Indigenous Elders on the tors above this beautiful place shifted my soul. They helped me understand the importance of country, and how a spiritual appreciation of sacred places is extended to anyone who takes the time to stop, listen and feel – no matter what their skin colour. This is why we travel.

CATEGORY 5: BEST BUSH CAMP SITES

BRADYS LAKE, TAS

<<<SHADE, BOAT RAMP, NO WATER, PICNIC TABLES, PETS, FISHING>>>

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There is no denying that the Bradys Lake Camping area at Whitewater Point, located in our southernmost state, offers campers one of the most memorable bush stays in Australia.

You’ll be happy to hear that Bradys Lake isn’t just a freedom camp, but also offers campers a whopping 7-day stay limit. Bradys Lake brings together the best of water-based activities around Claypit and Kangaroo Bays as well as the Dee Tunnel inlet, with a genuine bush camp aesthetic. Spacious campsites are easily accessible and can accommodate big rigs, but with limited access to amenities and facilities, a self-contained setup is ideal. Remember to bring rubbish bags and lots of water. To restock on supplies, Tarraleah is a short 20-minute drive down the Lyell Highway.

VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS: 3/5

CAMPSITE VIEW: 4/5

CAMP COMFORT: 3/5

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WHY YOU LOVED IT

Harry Neilson: Arkaroola, there’s no contest – awe-inspiring, ancient, and fascinating, there’s something for everyone. Free camping along the dry creek beds, and powered and unpowered campground options. This really is a peaceful and spiritual place.

Lesley Santana: Bradys Lake is so serene – there really is nothing there but pristine nature and you. If you haven’t been, add it to your list!

Marion de Rooy: Lake St Clair – so beautiful with so many nature walks which aren’t too difficult with lots of opportunities to see the amazing creatures of the region.

Brent Gibbons: There’s no other park in Australia like Halls Gap! There’s wildlife roaming the grounds, peaceful camping, lush green sites and the stunning Grampians backdrop – amazing.

WINNER: ARKAROOLA, FLINDERS RANGES SA

<<<TOILETS, NO PETS, BBQS, SHOWERS, PICNIC TABLES, SWIMMING, VIEWS, CAMPFIRES, WALKING TRACKS>>>

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Many travellers credit Arkaroola with offering an awe-inspiring bush camping experience in its arid highlands, with stunning views of ancient peaks and gorges. For the self-contained camper, this is a grand opportunity to get out there and camp amongst what have been described as some of Australia’s most striking geological formations and wonders. This phenomenal free camp also offers premier amenities, facilities and services for those that prefer a more comfortable and secure stay.

If you enjoy bush walking, you have over 9 self-guided trails to explore with an option to suit any level of experience or mobility – two popular trails include the Mawson Valley trail and Acacia Ridge. For a more engaging experience with locals in the know, why not take a guided walk or drive? This will help you to gain a deeper understanding of your aweinspiring surrounds and the delicate ecosystem it supports.

If you love “billion star” accommodation you’ll relish a night out under the stars – make use of one the camp’s three observatories to truly appreciate the outback night sky! Bird enthusiasts will be pleased to hear that there over 160 variations native birds in the area – a twitcher’s heaven.

For more information call (08) 8648 4848 or visit www.arkaroola.com.au

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VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS: 5/5

CAMPSITE VIEW: 5/5

CAMP COMFORT: 4/5

ROUNDING OUT THE TOP 20!

HOME VALLEY STATION, THE KIMBERLEY WA

<<<TOILETS, SHADE, VIEWS, SHOWERS>>>

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LAKE ST CLAIR, NSW

<<<POWER, BBQS, CAMPFIRES, SHOWERS, TOILETS, BOAT RAMP, SHADE, VIEWS, SWIMMING, FISHING>>>

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BIRD CAGE RESERVE, MURRUMBIDGEE RIVER NSW

<<<PETS, MOBILE SERVICE, SHADE, WATER, FISHING, VIEWS>>>

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DIAMANTINA RIVER, OUTBACK QLD

<<<VIEWS, TOILETS, NO WATER, NO MOBILE SERVICE>>>

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LOYALTY BEACH, CAPE YORK QLD

<<<SHADE, TOILETS, SHOWER, FISHING, CAMPFIRES>>>

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HALLS GAP LAKESIDE TOURIST PARK, HALLS GAP VIC

<<<BBQS, CAMPFIRES, DUMP POINT, WALKING TRACKS, VIEWS, POOL, NO PETS>>>

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QUONDONG POINT, BROOME WA

<<<NO RUBBISH BINS, NO WATER, 72 HOUR STAY, VIEWS, CAMPFIRES, PETS>>>

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PAROO RIVER, OUTBACK NSW

<<<TOILETS, PICNIC TABLES, BBQS, FISHING, SHADE, BIG RIGS, VIEWS, PETS, WATER>>>

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YARRAWONGA NOTCH POINT RESERVE, QLD

<<<PETS, NO WATER, CAMPFIRES, SWIMMING, FISHING>>>

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KURRIMINE BEACH HOLIDAY PARK, NORTH QLD

<<<SWIMMING, BBQS, PETS, FISHING, TOILETS, SHOWERS>>>

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