BEST SCENIC FREE CAMPING TRIPS


Our top 10 stunning affordable adventures mapped, detailed & rated

WORDS BY JONATHAN PULLEN PHOTOGRAPHY BY CARAVAN & MOTORHOME ON TOUR

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NORTH EAST TASSIE’S BEST TOURING LOOP

A free camping mecca – North East Tassie not only has ample amounts of free camping opportunities, but also some of the most stunning camps. You’re absolutely spoiled for choice in this remarkable region of OZ.

TOUR SNAPSHOT

Overall distance: Return trip to Launceston including side trips is 590km

Best time of the year to visit: February, to avoid school holiday crowds. Weather is mostly fine and warm.

Road quality: Sealed roads throughout however, you’ll find some mountainous sections between Scottsdale, St Helens and St Marys Pass. There’s narrow winding gravel road on access to the upper picnic area of Liffey falls.

Best places to eat: Cottage Bakery in Victoria Street Scottsdale, Paddle Wheel restaurant, St Helens Wharf and “50s Diner” Railway Street Deloraine.

Where to buy supplies: Woolworths supermarket Scottsdale, Super IGA St Helens and Woolworth’s supermarket Deloraine.

Where to fill up fuel: ‘United’ unmanned fuel depot three kilometres east of Scottsdale, Hillcrest Caravan Park, Chimney Heights Road St Helens and ‘United’ Service station on the A1 at Perth (Launceston suburb).

Where to fill up fresh water: Water available at Northeast Park, Scottsdale, standpipe in Quail Street St Helens, and dump point off Westbury Pde, Scottsdale.

Best RV-friendly towns: Scottsdale, St Helens, Fingal, Bracknell and Deloraine

Affordability rating: 3/5

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DON’T MISS THESE ATTRACTIONS

LOW HEAD PILOT STATION

From Georgetown proceed to the Low Heads Pilot Station and Maritime Museum for the oldest group of Pilot Buildings in Australia. The pilot service is the oldest in Australia and still operates today. The Museum holds static displays of early maritime history and the lighthouse, third oldest in Australia, is still in operation.

Ph: (03) 6382 2826 W: www.museum.lowhead.com

BAY OF FIRES

From St Helens take the Binalong Bay Road and visit the spectacular Bay of Fires. Learn that there is more to the area than photography by taking a boat cruise of the coast by local tour operator or do the four hour walk along pristine coastline from Policemans point to the Gardens.

LIFFEY FALLS

Liffey Falls are worth the hike, whether by the steep one kilometre rainforest walk from the upper picnic area or by the two kilometre ramble from Lower Liffey Reserve. Access to the upper picnic area is by narrow winding gravel road off the A5 – no caravan access, but offers a full range of excellent picnic facilities.

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TOP CARAVAN PARKS

BIG 4 HOLIDAY PARK ST HELENS

2 Penelope St, St Helens This 4.5 star park has everything you could ask for as a base to explore the wonders of Bay of Fires and the surrounding countryside. There’s a full range of services available in St Helens.

Ph: (03) 6376 1290

APEX RIVERSIDE PARK, DELORAINE

88 Reymond St, Forbes On the banks of the picturesque Meander River, this 3.5 star park is next to all amenities. Relaxing place for happy hours beside the river. Stroll by the riverside sculptures or walk up town for intriguing footpath sculptures. There are Arts and Crafts in abundance.

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THE BEST FREE CAMPS

NORTHEAST PARK, SCOTTSDALE

Ringarooma Road, Scottsdale

<<<7 day stay, toilets, showers, water, mobile service, shade, picnic tables, big rigs>>>

Enjoy the adjacent park with resident platypus and welcoming duck congregation. Explore the rainforest walk and see the chimneys of endangered burrowing crayfish. Showers are coin operated.

NORTH COSY CORNER, BAY OF FIRES

15km NE of St Helens, Binnalong Bay

<<<pets, fires, toilets, swimming, shade, fishing>>>

Postcard scenery outside your window, squeaky sand beach, safe swimming, fish if you feel like it, plenty of shady sites. Stay for a month for free.

FINGAL REST AREA, FINGAL

Esk Highway, Fingal

<<<24 hour stay, toilets, water, mobile service, shade, fires, rubbish bins>>>

Limited sites but has two free power points and free showers. There’s a dump point and BBQ area with limited level areas. This is a great base for exploring Fingal Valley and Evercreech Forest.

LOWER LIFFEY CAMPING AREA, BRACKNELL

Bracknell Lane, Bracknell

<<<picnic tables, fires, toilets, fishing, river>>>

Set between two streams amid eucalypts and banksia. Level sites with shade and flush toilets. Two kilometre walk to Liffey Falls.

RIVERSIDE PARK, BRACKNELL

Bracknell Lane

<<<toilets, shade, water, BBQ’s, mobile service, picnic tables, fishing>>>

Limited area, shady sites, swimming and walk to village shop. Flush toilets and BBQ adjacent. You could plan to spend a night here and stay a week – it’s very quiet and peaceful.

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THE FLINDERS RANGES TO ARKAROOLA LOOP

With some of the most spectacular landscapes in Australia, the Flinders Ranges loop is the outback free camping adventure you can’t afford to miss.

TOUR SNAPSHOT

Best time of the year to visit: July-August offers the most consistent climate and temperatures, and there are no annoying flies around!

Road quality: The roads are bitumen to Wilpena Pound and Blinman. The Flinders loop track is a well-graded dirt road, as are the dirt roads to Arkaroola, Waulkaringa and Yunta.

Best places to eat: Arkaroola Village for sure. Yes, you’re going to pay a bit more because let’s face it, there’s not much else around. But it’s well worth the money.

Where to buy supplies: Hawker is the last town with a mainstream supermarket and service station, and is therefore your cheaper options.

Where to fill up fuel: Fuel and basic food can be bought at Arkaroola, Angorichina, Hawker, Leigh Creek and Yunta.

Where do people fill up with fresh water: Arkaroola, Angorichina, Hawker, Leigh Creek, Wilpena Pound and Yunta all have potable water available.

Best RV-friendly towns to visit in your region: Arkaroola Village

Affordability rating: 3/5

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THE ATTRACTIONS YOU CAN’T MISS

AMAZING ASTRONOMY TOURS

In the big smoke, city lights reflecting off the atmosphere make it hard to see into deep space, even with a decent telescope. But because there are no cities within cooee of Arkaroola, their astronomy tours open up a whole new world that would otherwise go unseen. You can either sit back and take it all in from the comfort of their unique star gazing chairs, or peer into galaxies millions of miles away through their self-tracking deep space telescope.

4WD RIDGE TOP TOURS

Want a closer look at the rugged countryside without putting your tow vehicle at risk? Well, why not go on a ridge top 4WD tour? The trained guides from Arkaroola Village take you back 1600 million years where you’ll learn about the history, culture and geography unique to the ranges.

Ph: (08) 8648 4848 W: www.arkaroola.com.au

RICH IN INDIGENOUS CULTURES

What’s unique about Lake Frome is that it’s declared a Cultural Use zone, which means it’s off limits to the public between 3pm and 5am because the local Adnyamathanha still use this area for hunting. Follow the only track in, you’ll drive along the Balcanoona Creek, cross the dingo fence and pass over low sand dunes before arriving at the western side of the lake.

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THE BEST FREE CAMPS

ARKAROOLA VILLAGE

Flinders Ranges

<<<small fee, fires, showers, pets, picnic tables, toilets>>>

The rocky mountain ranges surrounding your park make this quite unique. If you want a spacious site, head up the far end of the park as they get a little roomier the further you go.

WILPENA POUND

Flinders Ranges National Park

<<<small fee, water, fires, showers, picnic tables, toilets, BBQ’s>>>

This is the place you go if you’ve spent too much time in the dust and need a little R&R. Because it’s popular with overseas tourists, it’s got all the bells and whistles. Book in and arrive early if you want the pick of the sites.

WEETOOTLA GORGE CAMPGROUND

Gammon Ranges National Park

<<<toilets, showers, water, fires, BBQ’s, shade, pets>>>

This is the best place to set up base camp if you want the true Mallee outback free camping experience. Pull up alongside the Balcoona Creek where you can escape the crowds, do one of the many bush walks, or unhitch and explore the many easy selfdrive trails in your 4WD.

WAULKARINGA RUINS

Yunta-Arkaroola Road

<<<pets, toilets, fires>>>

Talk about a place rich in history and character. Head up closer to the old gold mining ruins (near the tall smoke stack not the hotel on the roadside) to make camp because it’s a lot more private. The old Waulkaringa Township and gold mine ruins will keep you entertained for hours.

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CHASING THE VICTORIA HIGHWAY, NT

The rugged and arid beauty of this tour is something every traveller needs to see

TOUR SNAPSHOT

Overall distance: Katherine to Kununurra is approx. 512km

Best time of the year to visit: Between May and early August as the temperatures, rainfall and humidity are lower. During the wet season, there are restrictions to some activities due to flooding. However, the woodlands are greener, waterfalls are larger, and campgrounds are quieter.

Road quality: The Victoria Highway is a sealed, good quality road. We were surprised by its 130km per hour speed limit! Sealed roads provide access to both Katherine Gorge and Leliyn Falls within Nitmiluk National Park.

Where to buy supplies: Supplies, fuel and fresh water are available at Katherine, Timber Creek, Victoria River Roadhouse and Kununurra.

Best RV-friendly town: Katherine

Affordability rating: 4/5

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A UNIQUE NT EXPERIENCE YOU WON’T FIND IN ANY TOURIST BROCHURE

NABILIL DREAMING SUNSET DINNER CRUISE

Includes a three course candle light dinner while watching the stunning colour changes of Nitmiluk Gorge and learning about the culture of the Jawoyn people.

Ph: 1300 146 743 W: www.nitmiluktours.com.au

MARKSIE’S STOCKMAN’S CAMP TUCKER NIGHT

Combines dining under the stars on traditional outback tucker, a billy spinning competition, and humourous yarns from the host, Geoff Mark. Located in the grounds of Top Didj, Gorge Road, Katherine.

Ph: 0427 112 806 W: www.marksiescamptucker.com.au

SUGARBAG CAFÉ

In the Nitmiluk Visitors Centre features an outdoor deck overlooking the beautiful Katherine River and is open for breakfast and lunch.

Ph: 1300 146 743

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MAKE BASE CAMP HERE

NITMILUK CARAVAN PARK AND CAMPGROUND, NITMILUK NATIONAL PARK

Featuring grassed, shady powered and non-powered sites close to the visitor centre, walking trails, cruise boats and canoe hire. A real treat is the beautiful resort-style pool adjoined by the Nitmiluk Poolside Bistro.

Ph: 1300 146 743 W: www.nitmiluktours.com.au

HIDDEN VALLEY TOURIST PARK, KUNUNURRA

Large, lush shady sites under enormous mango trees are a highlight of this park with Mirima National Park as its backdrop. We found it best not to camp too close to the amenities as they tended to be quite noisy throughout the night.

Ph: (08) 9168 1790 W: www.hiddenvalleytouristpark.com

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THE ATTRACTIONS YOU CAN’T MISS

NITMILUK NATIONAL PARK

This park protects both Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge and Leliyn (Edith) Falls. Take a cruise or canoe up the stunning gorge and see Aboriginal rock art along the way. Swim in the magnificent pools of Leliyn Falls – an awesome experience!

Ph: (08) 8972 1886 W: www.parksandwildlife.nt.gov.au

JUDBARRA/GREGORY NATIONAL PARK

In this rugged park you’ll find bushwalks up onto spectacular escarpment country, access to Victoria River, fabulous fishing, beautiful picnic areas, and Aboriginal art and cultural heritage.

Ph: (08) 8975 0888 W: www.parksandwildlife.nt.gov.au

KEEP RIVER NATIONAL PARK

This is a hidden treasure on the Western Australia border. Its walking trails meander through savanna woodland dotted with occasional boab trees, and around amazing sandstone formations, much like a mini Bungle Bungles. There’s also Aboriginal art and cultural heritage to see.

Ph: (08) 9167 8827 W: www.parksandwildlife.nt.gov.au

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THE BEST FREE CAMPS

LELIYN (EDITH) FALLS CAMPGROUND

Nitmiluk National Park

<<<small fee, showers, water, toilets>>>

This lovely landscaped campground is located right next to the falls plunge pool and has serviced non-powered sites, toilets, showers and a small kiosk. Be sure to arrive early in the day as the campground fills during the peak tourist season (June to Sept).

SULLIVAN CAMPGROUND

Gregory National Park

<<<24 hour stays, toilets, picnic tables, fires, BBQ’s, shade, pets, fishing>>>

This basic, but very pleasant campground is 17km east of the Victoria River Roadhouse. Situated beside a pretty permanent waterhole, pit toilets, fire places and picnic tables are provided. The silence of this remote location makes for very sound sleeping!

GOORRANDALNG CAMPGROUND

Keep River National Park

<<<picnic tables, BBQ’s, toilets>>>

This shady bush campground includes picnic tables, barbecues and pit toilets. From here you can take the short Goorrandalng Walk (two kilometres, one hour) that meanders through mini Bungle Bungle style sandstone formations and provides magnificent views.

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ATHERTON TABLELAND TO CAPE TRIBULATION

Waterfalls, jungles, and pristine coast lines – this is the ultimate tropical adventure you can do on a shoestring budget!

Tropical far north Queensland is a budget vanners paradise. From the cool waterfall wonderland of the Atherton Tableland to the challenges of the jungles of Cape Tribulation this area deserves a stay of weeks not days. In a broad brush summary our tour headed up into the southern Atherton Tableland from Innisfail, meandered north though the high country, and descended to Mossman and on to Cape Tribulation via the Daintree Ferry. Free, low cost camping and budget van parks abound, like – Danbulla State Forest on the shores of Lake Tinnaroo and the Mareeba Rodeo Grounds. We “sussed out” spectacular lesser visited natural attractions including the waterfall circuit at Milla Milla and north Queensland’s most beautiful beach, Noah’s Beach on Cape Tribulation. For “tourist icons,” try the crater lakes Eacham and Barrine, and Kuranda’s arts and crafts village. On the Tableland there are more than 20 aweinspiring waterfalls. The Yungaburra “Cooler than Cairns” art, craft and restaurant heritage listed precinct is a must. Herberton’s 50 plus fully restored village buildings is world class. At unique Granite Gorge the cost of $14 at Granite Gorge Nature Park camping includes entry fees, normally $10 each, to the “house sized” jumbled boulders and crystal streams. At Cape Tribulation it’s crocs, cassowaries, jungle and pristine beaches beaconing.

TOUR SNAPSHOT

Overall distance: Innisfail to Cape Tribulation is 300km approx. – incorporate additional 150 – 200km for detours

Best time of the year to visit: Dry season in winter

Road quality: The roads up and down the Tableland are a bit steep and winding but excellent. At Cape Tribulation the roads are bitumen but narrow and very winding. Larger rigs need great care at the Cape Tribulation.

Best places to eat: Yungaburra would be a good choice and at Cape Tribulation, Mason’s Cafe, at the northern end of the cape, offers mixed platters of Aussie wildlife.

Where to buy supplies: Atherton and Mareeba have large supermarkets but the last supermarket before Cape Tribulation is at Mossman.

Where to fill up fuel: You’ll find the cheapest fuel in Mareeba and Atherton

Best RV-friendly town: Mareeba is probably the most RV friendly town where the Rodeo Grounds looks more like an RV convention with hundreds of happy campers.

Affordability rating: 4/5

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TOP-PICK CARAVAN PARKS

MALANDA FALLS CARAVAN PARK

This council run park is very good value for money ($20 without power). It’s within easy drive to most southern tableland attractions. The best chance to see a tree kangaroo is at the nearby Nerada Tea plantation.

Ph: 07 4096 5314 W:www.malandafalls.com.au

LYNC-HAVEN CAMPING (CAPE TRIBULATION)

Surrounded by tropical jungle it’s a wonderful wildlife experience. Cassowaries emerge from the jungle here. Doris the 4m croc gets a regular feed. Not the most modern but the experience makes up for it.

Ph: (07) 4098 9155 W: www.Lynchaven.com.au

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THE ATTRACTIONS YOU CAN’T MISS

HERBERTON HISTORIC VILLAGE

It is world class! Most of the 50 or so buildings are from Herberton’s foundation years. Walking through, visitors are given a sense of being in a real township with completely stocked chemist, garage, school, bank, grocery store, printery, frock saloon, toy shop and much more. Tickets last three days.

Ph: 07 4096 2002 W: www.historicvillageherberton.com.au

MILLA MILLA WATERFALL CIRCUIT

There are six falls within a 10km radius. The three most visited are along a 15km circuit just east. Two of the most picturesque on the Tableland are here, Millaa Millaa (most photographed in Australia) and Ellinjaa Falls.

THE DISCOVERY CENTRE (CAPE TRIBULATION)

An excellent audio-visual interpretive guide explains the flora and fauna of the jungle. The extensive system of elevated board walks and canopy tower provide different perspectives from ground level, mid story level and upper story of the lush unspoilt greenery. Make sure your Interpretive Guide Book is signed, to return free for a week.

Ph: (07) 4098 9171 W: www.discoverthedaintree.com

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THE BEST FREE CAMPS

KAURI CREEK CAMPGROUND

Danbulla Drive, Lake Tinaroo, Danbulla State Forest.

<<<small fee, toilets, fires, swimming, hiking>>>

Get there early to ensure prime water front locations and avoid busy weekends. Book online BEFORE you arrive as there is no phone reception. The dirt road in is not supposed to be suitable for caravans, but it is! Must be booked in advance, either on line or by phone Fees $5.95/person/night)

NOAH BEACH CAMPGROUND, CAPE TRIBULATION

Daintree National Park

<<<small fee, toilets, fishing, hiking>>>

Camping is in pre-chosen individual sites. When booking with a van choose “camper trailer” from the online options. Track access is very narrow. Sites are NOT suitable for rigs or vans longer than eight metres. Book well in advance: no phone reception. The campground is situated in magnificent dense rainforest with individual sites. It’s adjacent to Noah’s Beach, the most beautiful beach in north Queensland and can only be accessed from the park. So, not many get to it.

Ph: 137468 Fees $5.95/person/night

ROCKY CREEK WAR MEMORIAL PARK

Kennedy Highway, Tolga

<<<72 hour stays, toilets, shade, picnic tables, BBQ’s, rubbish bins, big rigs, pets>>>

Located 23km south Mareeba and 12km north Atherton. This is a very popular camping area, because of its central location and can get crowded. It is free, but there is a donation box!

IRVINEBANK TOWN COMMON

Irvinebank

<<<pets, water, big rigs>>>

28km west of Herberton along 14km gravel road. Free with hot showers. It is “slap bang” in the middle of a “living museum”. Mining town buildings from the 1800s are still being lived in. Unique! Here you are camping in the middle of small, isolated, ex-tin town still stuck in the early 1900s. The buildings and the mine are only a short walking distance from the very large grassy camping area.

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CONQUERING THE YORKE PENINSULA

With some of the best food and wine trails in Oz, plenty of comfortable free camps and one of the most scenic coastlines in Australia – the Yorke Peninsula should be your next Southern adventure!

TOUR SNAPSHOT

Overall distance: 600km approx. 

Best time of the year to visit: Popular all year round – best month is October for comfortable touring

Road quality: Main roads are sealed, however there are many smaller well-maintained dirt roads across the peninsula that do not require 4WD or high clearance.

Best places to eat: Warooka Inland Sea Restaurant offers delicious local fare

Where to buy supplies: Minlaton, “the Barley Capital of the World” should be your chosen hub for all supplies, fuel and accommodation – such a friendly place that loves RVers!

Affordability rating: 4/5

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THE ATTRACTIONS YOU CAN’T MISS

BUBLACOWIE MILITARY MUSEUM

Sometimes privately owned museums are the best! This little gem is operated by former Vietnam and Malay veteran, Chris Soar. Chris keeps the memories and sacrifices of fellow vets alive with extensive memorabilia from WWI, WWII, Vietnam, Korea and Gulf conflicts.

Ph: (08) 8853 4357

INNES NATIONAL PARK

If you’re going to stop and enjoy one National Park, make it this one. Stunning beaches, rugged cliffs and thriving coastal scrub – this is paradise! No ordinary NP, don’t miss the shipwrecks off the coast, the ruins of Inneston or the opportunity to setup camp here for a few nights.

Ph: (08) 8854 3200

RAKE BLUE SWIMMERS

No trip to the peninsula is complete without a stop in Ardrossan to catch, clean and cook up a blue swimmer crab feast! The local caravan park hires out crabbing gear and people often return to camp with a great catch, so cooking up on return to the park is a regular, and delicious occurrence. Some might disagree but I reckon the best crabbing spots are to the north of town.

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THE BEST FREE CAMPS

WAURALTEE BEACH CAMPING AREA

17km S of Port Victoria, Wauraltee Road

<<<pets, fishing, swimming>>>

Here’s a lesser-known camp you’re going to love. Popular with fishos, you can cast a line in, swim in the temperate waters or explore the vast coastal reserves. Quiet, secluded and for the self-sufficient only – there are plenty of sites available here to shack up and escape the hustle and bustle.

ALFORD RECREATION RESERVE

Spencer Highway, Alford

<<<72 hour stays, toilets, water, mobile service, shade, picnic tables, BBQ’s, rubbish bins, big rigs, pets>>>

It might be just off the highway but I can vouch for minimal noise, clean amenities and some really handy electric BBQs! Supplies are fleeting in town but they’ve got a top pub that’s a short meander from camp and does some delicious meals at a low cost.

BARKERS ROCKS

Barkers Rocks Road, Bluff Beach

<<<fires, pets, fishing, hiking>>>

Just 13km out of Minlaton Barkers Rocks is one of our favourite free camps in Oz. Why? The fishing! Absolutely terrific rock fishing. If you give it a crack, just remember to wear a life vest. The camp itself is very basic with little facilities, but the walk from the beach to Port Rickaby more than makes up for it.

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MILDURA TO MENINDEE LAKES

One of Australia’s best kept secrets, the Mildura to Menindee river run is a free camping adventure you’ll never forget

TOUR SNAPSHOT

Overall distance: 406km

Best time of the year to visit: Spring is best! Try late September early October

Road quality: Sealed with exceptions for a few free camps

Best places to eat: Stop in and a grab a bite at the beaut Nagiloc General Store and Tavern

Where to buy supplies: Stock up in Mildura before you head off on this one

Where to fill up fuel: Starting point in Mildura or Wentworth – Pooncarrie as you move towards Menindee

Where to fill up fresh water: Mildura, Wentworth, Menindee

Best RV-friendly town: Before you head north to Menindee, stop by in Robinvale

Affordability rating: 4/5

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GREAT CARAVAN PARKS

MENINDEE LAKES CARAVAN PARK

If you’re so inclined to spend some time in a quality caravan park, you can’t go wrong with a spot right on the water’s edge of Menindee Lake. It’s a very clean and well-maintained park with nice large sites – 89 of them to be precise. Ample amenities and facilities and a lovely manager make this a great park.

Ph: (08) 8091 4315

FORT COURAGE CARAVAN PARK

For those after luxury and security this is the park for you. Fort Courage has over 70 acres of Murray River frontage and access to Frenchman’s Creek, Rufus River, Darling Anabranch and Deadman’s Creek. So it goes without saying that is a good one for the anglers!

Ph: (03) 5027 3097

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THE ATTRACTIONS YOU CAN’T MISS

MURRAY SUNSET NATIONAL PARK

Whether it’s an overnight stay or extended tour of the park you’ll love your adventure in Murray Sunset National Park. This is pure bush and outback camping – and just 66km from Mildura! The mix of the arid red dirt and grassy knolls is something otherworldly – completely unique. Favourite campsites include Pink Lakes, Mopoke Hut and Shearer’s quarters.

Ph: 131963

KINCHEGA NATIONAL PARK

On the opposite end of your route you’ll find another cracking park begging to be enjoyed. Just picture yourself sitting on the banks of the Darling River beneath the shade of the gums, drink in hand, fire crackling without a care in the world – that’s what time spent here is all about! Camping here is divided into three sections but our favourite runs along River Drive beside the Darling.

Ph: (08) 8080 3200

CHAFFEY HISTORICAL TRAIL

If you feel like getting out of the bush for a day or two, a popular attraction with caravanners is the Chaffey trail – an historical trail leading to points of interest that detail the origins of Australia’s first irrigation colony, Mildura. If you free camp at Psyche Bend, you’ll be ticking one off the 10 trail attractions off already!

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THE BEST FREE CAMPS

HORSESHOE BEND MERBEIN CAMPING AREA

Wentworth Road, Merbein

<<<toilets, shade, picnic tables, big rigs, pets, swimming>>>

Easily one of our favourite free camps in the region! Just north of Merbein and right on the banks of the Murray – this is a cracking camp for fishing. The grounds slopes downwards towards the river so you might need to pack the levelling blocks – that being said there’s plenty of space, but the best spots are at the north end.

PSYCHE BEND CAMPING AREA

Psyche Bend Road, Irymple

<<<mobile service, big rigs, shade, pets, fishing, hiking>>>

This is another gem just a stone’s throw out of Mildura. Again, Psyche Bend is another of the many free camps on the banks of the Murray. An interesting feature of this camp is a nearby1900’s irrigation station – definitely check it out. This is a quiet camp with plenty of kindling for fires – and don’t forget to go on one of the bush walking trails.

POLICE, BUXTONS AND GRACES BENDS CAMPGROUNDS

Just south of Nagiloc

<<<water, fires, swimming, fishing>>>

Some of the best riverside camping in Oz – this is true bush camping. There’s plenty of space here to set up in your style, whether that’s more secluded in the shade further back from the banks of the river, or you can set up much closer out in the open. The birdlife here is stunning so bring the binoculars.

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OUTBACK QLD

Despite a lengthy drought, Outback QLD remains a haven for caravanners offering plentiful free camps, attractions, culture and hospitality – this is one of the ultimate free camping trails!

TOUR SNAPSHOT

Overall distance: 691km Longreach to Birdsville

Best time of the year to visit: Late in the dry season end of August and early September is beaut

Road quality: Mostly sealed but for some free camps you’ll have to leave the blacktop

Best places to eat: This trip isn’t complete without a camel pie from the Birdsville Bakery!

Where to buy supplies: The main hub for picking up supplies on this route is Longreach

Where to fill up fuel: Best to in Longreach however you can in Windorah, Jundah, Stonehenge, and Birdsville

Where to fill up fresh water: Easiest in Longreach – remember water is at a premium out here

Best RV-friendly town: More facilities in Longreach but the iconic free camps are near towns like Windorah

Affordability rating: 4/5

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TOP PARKS

YARAKA CARAVAN PARK

Yaraka is a must-visit town, and they want you to visit! “How much?” you might be asking – enough to offer caravanners a free caravan park! The park comes with free powered sites, amenities, BBQs, covered seating and even a tennis court! This is no dust-bowl either, the grounds are beautifully maintained.

Ph: (07) 4657 5526 W: www.yaraka.com.au

WINDORAH CARAVAN PARK

Support the small towns that support you! A quaint little caravan park set in bush surrounds. You’re guaranteed a relaxing stay here with well-maintained grounds. Amenities are clean and in ample supply. The park is a short walk from the centre of town and this year all facilities are being upgraded.

Ph: (07) 4656 3063 E: windorahinfo@barcoo.com.au

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THE ATTRACTIONS YOU CAN’T MISS

THE BIRDSVILLE RACES

3 – 4 September 2016

It might not be the race that stops a nation but we still love it! Every year thousands flock to Birdsville to don fascinators, dress up and celebrate at one of the biggest desert races in the world. The energy is electric with heaps of entertainment around town. Riverside free camping is available during the races as well.

W: www.birdsvilleraces.com.au

AUSTRALIAN STOCKMAN’S HALL OF FAME

You can’t go through Longreach without calling into the Hall of Fame. This unique museum celebrates the history, struggles and triumphs of outback pioneers. The stories of explorers, pastoralists and stock workers are told through five captivating galleries.

Ph: (07) 4658 2166 W: www.outbackheritage.com.au

PUB CRAWL

A lot of the stops on your way will be one-pub-towns with iconic outback hotels. Stopping to grab a meal and a schooner makes all the difference to these communities – so make yourself a check list of outback pubs to stop at and enjoy on the way!

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THE BEST FREE CAMPS

COOPER CREEK

12km northeast of Windorah

<<<toilets, shade, picnic tables, big rigs, pets>>>

This has to be one of Australia’s iconic “must-do” free camps. A short drive out of Windorah you can pull in and choose a spot on either side of the creek. There’s heaps of room here, so no biggie if you’re pulling a big rig. There’s no water and little firewood so stock up on both before you arrive. That said, you’ve got access to fishing, swimming and more. Everyone has their own favourite spot here – so private or more open – find your perfect spot.

DEON’S LOOKOUT

Birdsville Developmental Road, Betoota

<<<toilets, fires, big rigs, rubbish bins, pets>>>

While there might not be immediate signs of how special this little gem is, Deon’s lookout at sunset becomes the perfect amphitheatre for views of the surrounding desert. With 360° vision of your entire surrounds, the colours of the outback come to life. Basic amenities make this a beaut night stop over – all in the name of slowing down and enjoying the little things

KYABRA CREEK CAMPING AREA

Diamantina Development Road, Eromanga

<<<shade, fires, rubbish bins, big rigs, pets>>>

It might not be on our primary touring route but a short detour about an hour south out of Windorah you’ll find this pearler of a free camp. Kyabra is a prime example of how life can flourish in the desert – the creek is teeming with birdlife. Drive in as far as you can to minimise highway noise, setup and relax!

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THE VICTORIAN HIGH COUNTRY

Not just for off-road caravanning, here’s how you can conquer the high country and experience the best of this beaut region with an on-road caravan

TOUR SNAPSHOT

Overall distance: 162km from Stratford to Mansfield

Best time of the year to visit: November through to February. Seasonal track closures operate in this region from the long weekend in June to the end of October

Road quality: Blacktop and dirt trails are extremely well maintained

Best places to eat: Grab a bite and a beer at the Dargo Hotel and you can free camp out back

Where to buy supplies: Fuel, food, and basic supplies can be bought at the general store in Dargo or in Stratford Where to fill up fresh water: South of Stratford at the Sale Showground Best RV-friendly town: RV friendly facilities in Sale – but you’ll get a warm welcome just about everywhere you go

Affordability rating: 4/5

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THE PERFECT RV HIGHLAND ROUTE

1. You can set your van up at the Stratford on the River Tourist and use your tow vehicle for day trips on this route.

2. Start heading north up Briagolong Road until you hit Freestone Road

3. Freestone Road will turn from bitumen to dirt, but the trail is well maintained and should be a comfortable drive.

4. Keep following the road through the state forest and you’ll find five outstanding free camps – the first is $10 a vehicle a night, but the remaining four won’t cost you a cent.

5. Take your time enjoy these beaut riverside camps, keep following Freestone Creek Road until you hit Dargo Road – the next leg of your journey. Dargo Road is going to take you to, you guessed it – Dargo.

6. Grab a meal and free camp at the Dargo Hotel or follow Dargo High Plains Road for about three kilometres, turn right onto Upper Dargo Road follow for about five kilometres and you’ll find a slew of gorgeous Highland free camps with heaps more room and scenic beauty than back at the hotel.

7. From this point on you’re spoiled for choice with natural attractions, remnants of a pioneering and driving past and more free camps than you can shake a stick at.

8. Go at your own pace, follow the trails, and enjoy the tour until you wind down to Bright and head to Mansfield – congratulations, you’ve completed a world-class highland tour and you’re no worse for wear.

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THE ATTRACTIONS YOU CAN’T MISS

THE DARGO HOTEL

The Dargo is one of our Quintessentially Aussie bush pubs. It’s beloved by thousands and has been feeding, sheltering and whetting the whistles of Highland travellers since opening its doors in 1898. No trip up the trails is complete without a stop-in here, a meal, drink, a free camp stay!

Ph: (03) 5140 1231 W: www.thedargohotel.com.au

CRAIG’S HUT

Craig’s Hut was made famous as a set piece for the iconic film – The Man from Snowy River. Today it remains recognised as one of the most popular High Country Huts. Packing a picnic and heading up here for the views, the clean fresh air, and at night a s tunning spot to see the Milky Way, is something you won’t regret!

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THE BEST FREE CAMPS

TWO MILE CREEK CAMPING AREA

Upper Dargo Road, Dargo

<<<toilets, shades, picnic tables, fires, BBQ’s, pets, swimming, fishing>>>

When you’re heading up the Upper Dargo Road, make sure this is one of the campsites you definitely stop at. Lush green grass and large open sites make this a comfortable spot to spend a night or two. Cattle, wallabies and birdlife are nice denizens of the camp, and you can fish and swim in the creek.

DELATITE ARM RESERVE CAMPING AREAS

Delatite Plantation Road , Lake Eildon

<<<toilets, shade, pets, swimming, fishing>>>

Just one kilometre outside of Mansfield on the banks of Lake Eildon you’ll find this cracking overnight stop. The facilities here are clean and with the opportunity to go on a cracking walking trail you won’t be bored. Get in early as sites are limited and it’s a first come, first served basis.

BLUE POOLS CAMPING AREA

Freestone Creek Road, Briagolong

<<<toilets, mobile service, shade, picnic tables, fires, BBQ’s, rubbish bins, pets, swimming>>>

You might only be starting your journey up into the highlands but while you’re following Freestone Creek Road, take a turn off and go for a dip in Blue Pool! This couldn’t get more perfect in the hot season and we reckon you’ll feel so tranquil here you’ll want to stay the night! There’s even walking tracks and a lookout.

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