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Camping in Sydney

Camping in Sydney is pretty limited. While there are plenty of campsites outside the city and suburbs, campsites close to the town are few and far between.  This list of campsites within 2 hours drive of Sydney will have you feeling worlds away without spending too long behind the wheel. 

Last updated: 27/5/2019

It’s important to know that you can’t just put up your tent anywhere you like in Sydney and even other parts of NSW.

I often get asked by backpackers and budget travellers about the availability of camping in Sydney.

  • Is it is easy to get a campsite close to the city?
  • Is it a good way to save money on accommodation?
  • Are there any free places to camp near the city?
  • Where can I go glamping in Sydney?
  • Are there any free camping sites in Sydney?
  • Is beach camping illegal?

Well, I have spent considerable time researching this and thought I would share my findings with you all here. If you are keen to camp or need somewhere to park your campervan during your visit read on. If you are only thinking about camping to save money, you will find it is almost always cheaper to stay in a hostel than pay for a campsite and commute to town for your sightseeing.

Frequently asked questions about camping in Sydney and NSW.

  1. Are there any free places to camp near Sydney city? The short answer is no, but the good news is that there are over 4,000 free and low-cost camping areas around the country. One of the closest spots to Sydney is in Richmond, in the cities west, near the beautiful Hawkesbury River. There is also a list here 
  2. Can you camp on the beach? Camping on beaches and in carparks is illegal in Australia and you can be fined up to $1000 if you are unlucky. Often you will be issued a warning and asked to move on. There are some beach camping sites including Putty Beach and Era Beach, both listed below.
  3. Can I camp for free in the Blue Mountains?  Finally yes, there is quite a lot of free camping in the Blue Mountains. Some of the best bets are Ingar Campground which has 6 sites and Murphy’s Glen which has 5 sites.
  4. Where can I go glamping in Sydney? There are lots of places both inside and outside the city.  Cockatoo Island offers a basic glamping package and Lane Cove National Parks Tandara is about as flash as they come.  For something completely different Taronga Zoo’s Roar and Snore program is a great family or animal lovers choice.

Campgrounds and sites in the city and suburbs

There are two only caravan parks/campgrounds that are within a comfortable travelling distance of the city and the main attractions that I would recommend.  While there are other parks in Sydney, most are either run down, have little access to public transport or have multiple poor reviews.

Cockatoo Island – Sydney Harbour

Camping tents at Cockatoo Island Sydney Harbour
Basic tents at Cockatoo Island

If you would like to camp but don’t have your own tent or fancy camping on a harbour island, then you will love Cockatoo Island, a national heritage-listed island in the western end of Sydney Harbour. If you have never tried camping before this is a great introduction.  Both basic sites and deluxe tents are available. There are also hot showers, flush toilets and communal fridges, a BBQ area and ample covered seating shed.  The facilities are wheelchair accessible, which is excellent; however, the tents are not and have a small step to access.

Booking: Book on their website – a ballot is held for NYE camping sites
Cost:  BYO tent (site only) $45 per site, camping packages with all equipment start at $89.

Getting there: Access is by ferry or water taxi – just 15 minutes by ferry from Circular Quay.

NRMA Sydney Lakeside Holiday Park – Narrabeen

A great place on Narrabeen Lakes and close to Narrabeen Beach this is the best choice for beach-loving campers.  The park has camp kitchens, free wireless, TV and games room and activities in the holidays.

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Booking: book on their website
Cost: powered campsites are $150 for 3 nights. Unpowered sites $101 For 3 Nights
Getting there: There are excellent transport connections to the city, probably the best of all the caravan parks in Sydney

Check the latest reviews on TripAdvisor because I have not stayed here.

National Parks Camp Sites near Sydney

Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park – The Basin

The campground at the Basin is the only camping spot in the Ku-ring-gai park and one of the most popular beach camping sites near Sydney. This extensive site can accommodate 400 guests, so it’s unlikely you will find solitude here unless you arrive in mid-winter however it does not feel overcrowded, even in high season.  The site looks out over Pittwater and is well set up with BBQs, shower and toilet block and even a public phone.  There are spots to charge your phones and other devices if you can’t leave them behind for your visit. There is also a laundry and vending machines for midnight feasts.

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There is plenty to do here with both a beach and lagoon for swimming, tons of great bushwalks and lots of wildlife spotting. You are bound to see goanna, Kookaburras and cockatoos. While wallabies, bush turkeys and ducks are also commonly spotted. Hopefully, you won’t discover too many snakes or spiders, but there is a chance 😉

The site is well monitored by rangers who keep a lid on noise and anti-social behaviour, so the site is more suited to families and couples rather than groups looking to party.

Booking: If you plan to visit between October and March I suggest you call and check availability before you set out.  Contact the National Parks and Wildlife office via email or phone.
Cost:  Basic sites $34 per tent. Eco Treasures also offer all gear set up ready to go from $369 for two nights for up to 6 guests. Extra nights are $999

Getting there: The site is not fully accessible by car – you need to walk in from West Head lookout – just under 3km. Alternatively, you can take the ferry from Palm Beach.

Lane Cove National Park

Lane Cove is an award-winning park in a bushland setting about 10km north-west of the city. There are sites for tent, campervan and motorhomes. This is a 5-star park and probably your best bet if you want to camp with a level of comfort in Sydney. Also on site is Tandara, Sydney’s most luxurious camping experience.

There are two campsites within the park.  A powered are – the area that was used by Home and Away as the Summer Bay Caravan Park and a non-powered area. The park is surrounded by gum trees and the river.

Lane Cove offers everything from wi-fi and camp kitchens to swimming pools, bike and boat hire and often regular guest activities during holiday periods. There are power outlets available for recharging phones and other devices in the camp kitchen.

Booking: You can telephone them directly on +61 2 98889133. Or email lccp@environment.nsw.gov.au
Cost: Campsites start at $37, and glamping will set you back almost $200-400 per night.

Getting there: less than 30 minutes from the centre of the city. If you do not have a car, the campsite is just under 1km or 15 minutes walk from North Ryde train station, where it is 7 stops or 30 mins to CBD.

Royal National Park – Era and Uloola Falls

The Royal, the second oldest national park in the world, has three camping sites. At the moment the most popular one Bonnie Vale is closed for repair work. That leaves North Era and Uloola Falls Campgrounds, both walk in with very basic facilities, there is no running water, no BBQs and no flushing toilets. What you will get for your money is peace and quiet in stunning natural surroundings and very few other tents in the site.  North Era is a beach site and Uloola has a lovely swimming hole.

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