Camping in Sydney – 10 Campsites Near the City
Camping in Sydney is pretty limited. While there are many campsites outside the city and suburbs, campsites close to the town are few and far between. This list of campsites within 2 hour’s drive of Sydney will have you feeling worlds away without spending too long behind the wheel.
Last updated: 27/5/2019
I often get asked questions by backpackers and budget travellers about camping availability 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?
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 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 to pay for a campsite and commute to town for your sightseeing.
Frequently asked questions about camping in Sydney
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 city’s west, near the beautiful Hawkesbury River. There is also a list here.
Can you camp on the beach?
Camping on beaches and in car parks 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.
Can I camp for free in the Blue Mountains?
Finally, a 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 five sites.
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 Glamping 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 major attractions that I would recommend. While there are other parks in Sydney, most are run down, have little access to public transport or have multiple poor reviews.
Cockatoo Island – Sydney Harbour
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.
Booking: book on their website
Cost: powered campsites are $150 for 3 nights. Unpowered sites Getting there: There are excellent transport connections to the city, probably the best of all the caravan parks in Sydney.
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 Kur-Ring-Gai National 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. You will also find a laundry and handy vending machines for midnight feasts.
There is plenty to do here with a beach and lagoon for swimming, tons of great bush walks, and lots of wildlife. 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 campsite 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 setting 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 northwest of the city. There are sites for tents, campervans 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 are glamping tents, Sydney’s most luxurious camping experience.
There are two campsites within the park. A powered area – the area that was used by Home and Away as the Summer Bay Caravan Park and a non-powered area. Gum trees and the river surround the park.
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 directly on +61 2 98889133.
Cost: Campsites start at $37, and glamping will set you back $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. Bonnie Vale, the most popular spot has recently reopened after a huge renovation. 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 on the site. North Era is a beach site, and Uloola has a lovely swimming hole.
Booking: Uloola Falls has only 6 sites, and Era has 10. Both can book out in summer and holiday periods.
Cost: from $28 per night (for first 2 guests)
Getting there: Train to Heathcote or Waterfall and walk in – approximately 2.5 hours.
Bouddi National Park – Putty Beach
An almost undiscovered National Park on the NSW Central Coast with direct beach access Bouddi is a beach lovers dream. The views over the ocean from the walking tracks and the amazing sunrises will have you planning a return visit on your first night.
While there are a couple of camping sites on the edge of the park, Bouddi’s best-known camping spot is Putty Beach. Great for bushwalking, swimming and fishing and a short drive from civilisation at Killcare or Gosford.
If you plan on fishing, you need a current licence.
There are 20 unpowered sites with basic facilities, including BBQ and picnic tables, freshwater, one cold shower and toilets.
Booking: Via the National Parks website
Cost: $34 for first 2 then $17 each.
Getting there: Train to Woy Woy, then the Wagstaff bus and a 15 min walk.
Blue Mountains National Park – Euroka
Euroka campground in the Blue Mountains National Park Picnic tables, barbecue facilities, toilets. Wildlife spotting is the order of the day here, with plenty of birds, especially cockatoos and parrots, along with a mob of Kangaroos. You can also walk to the well known Red Hands Cave track to view indigenous art and the beautiful Jellybean pool.
Facilities include fire pits, pit toilets, BYO water and firewood. Limited phone reception.
Booking: 40 unpowered sites can be booked via the National Parks website
Cost: $24 a night
Getting there: Car is best; however, you can take the train to Glenbrook railway station and then walk 5.4km to the site.
Note: the gates close as early as 7 pm, so you need to be in before them to access your site.
Camp Sites South of Sydney
Outside of the National Park campgrounds, there are lots of private and council campsites to consider.
Coledale Beach Campsite – Illawarra
Located just 1 hour south of Sydney and directly on the beach with both powered and unpowered sites available. The camp offers Electric BBQ’s, hot showers, a kitchen and laundry. The beach is patrolled most of the year and suits families and surfers.
Booking: Check availability on the website – book via phone (02) 4267 4302 or email email@example.com
Cost: $$30-36 per site (2 ppl)
Getting there: Train from Sydney to Coledale – a short walk to the campground.
Campsites North of Sydney
Glenworth Valley is 3,000 acres of gorgeous natural bushland less than 90 minutes from Sydney. This is the perfect spot for an action and adventure weekend with horse-riding, kayaking, abseiling and quad biking.
Glenworth offers a whole range of options from basic tent sites to rental tents for up to 3 adults, glamping and even 2 tiwis. You can even rent an air mattress if roughing it on hard soil is not your thing.
Booking: Book on their website
Cost: from $12.50 if booking any other activities at the site. Otherwise, from $40
Getting there: Best by car. Train to Gosford and a 19km taxi ride.
Patonga Beach Camp Site – Central Coast
Just over 1 hour north of Sydney, Patonga on the NSW Central Coast is a quiet coastal village with a pretty beach. It is surrounded by Brisbane Water National Park with lots of great bushwalking tracks.
The Palm Beach ferry stops here, making it a great choice for exploring more of the area.
The campground features electric barbecues, laundry, kids playground. Tennis courts and a couple of shops are nearby.
Booking: 36 powered and 45 unpowered sites can be booked by phoning the camp on 4379 1287 or emailing PatongaCampingArea@centralcoast.nsw.gov.au
Cost: from $39 off-peak to $59 peak
Getting there: Train to Woy Woy station and local bus to Patonga.
Check out my article on more Unusual Places to stay in Sydney for information. You can also find more campsite information on Findacamp
You can read the NSW Governments official info on illegal camping (PDF) to check if the spot you has in mind will fit the bill.