Be enveloped in some of the world’s oldest protected wilderness areas by camping in one of NSW’s 800-plus national parks and conservation areas. Sleep to the sound of the ocean near an unspoiled beach; mingle with grazing kangaroos in rugged bushland; spend days swimming and kayaking on glassy lakes; and view sacred Indigenous sites hidden among our ancient landscape.
A visit to Hill End will transport you to the legendary Gold Rush days. This once-booming town an hour from Bathurst is a nostalgic trip back in time; its well-preserved buildings dating to the 1870s. Australian painting greats including Brett Whiteley and Russell Drysdale have drawn inspiration from this now artistic hub. Less than a kilometre from the heritage centre, Village Campground features an amenities block, barbecues and power, and is a great base for creativity to flourish, to try your luck panning for gold, or savour a hearty feed at the 1872-built Royal Hotel.
Simple pleasures are often the most memorable: a gentle paddle along Cudgegong River to spot platypus and turtles; soaking up views of the waterways and surrounding unique rock formations after a short but steep climb to Pagoda Lookout; and cooking your own fresh catch over a woodfired barbecue as the sun sets. Located in World Heritage-listed Wollemi National Park, Ganguddy-Dunns Swamp campground near Rylstone is a basic campground surrounded by a woodland of scribbly gums, nestled in a rich landscape of forest, cliffs, rivers and canyons.
You’ll feel in awe of our incredible natural world as you stand in the middle of Newnes Campground, at the foot of dramatic sandstone cliffs that encompass you like a natural amphitheatre. This grassy, flat site for tents and trailers is basic but well-located for nature-based experiences in Wollemi National Park, north of the Blue Mountains. Glide serenely on the Wolgan River in a kayak; step through the ruins of an historic shale oil mining site now being reclaimed by nature; and feel wonder as the ethereal Glow Worm Tunnel twinkles with the blue light of these beautiful creatures.
Imagine sleeping under the dense canopy of an ancient World Heritage rainforest, surrounded by soaring booyong trees, Bangalow and piccabeen palms, and strangler figs. Nestled in Gondwana rainforests, Sheepstation Creek Campground in the Northern Rivers is a hiker’s paradise with three tracks leading from the campsite to refreshing creeks and cascades. By day’s end, cook a barbecue, pull up a chair around a campfire and listen for the sounds of the Alberts lyrebird, regent bowerbird and the elusive rufous scrub bird.
So close to the ocean you can feel the salty spray, beachside Diamond Head Campground is well-equipped with an amenities block and barbecues for long, languid stays in Crowdy Bay National Park near Port Macquarie. The 4.8-kilometre Diamond Head Loop starts at the campground, leading through paperbark forest, coastal heath peppered with wildflowers in spring, and along rugged coast and pristine beaches. Cool off with a refreshing ocean dip, keep an eye out for majestic whales as they pass by during migration season from May to November and be lulled to sleep by the sounds of crashing waves.
Nod good morning to the Eastern grey kangaroos who’ll likely be grazing around Pebbly Beach Campground. Feel in tune with the landscape as you slow down and watch lyrebirds as they fossick about and spot peregrine falcons and sea eagles soaring overhead, just some of the 90 species of birds that frequent Murramarang National Park on the South Coast near Batemans Bay. Tucked behind spotted gum forest, this campground is for ocean lovers, surfers, fishermen and bushwalkers, offering basic facilities such as cold showers, toilets and barbecues.
Spend your days lazing between golden sands, cooling off under the shade of spotted gums and strolling through hyper-green littoral rainforest. Feel joy when you spot playful dolphins who frequent the blue-green waters here, which are idyllic for snorkelling. Tiny travellers will love splashing about in the shallows of the rockpools, which hide many marine treasures and there are great spots for throwing in a line, too. The powered campground features hot showers, picnic shelters, barbecues and a pizza oven – a delicious addition for evenings spent around the campfire.
Perched on the shores of Wallagoot Lake on the Sapphire Coast, where swimming, fishing, paddling and sailing will be part of your daily routine, Hobart Beach Campground has all the comforts needed for an easy family getaway, including an amenities block and barbecues. There are also options to connect with the land on a deeper level: walk in the footsteps of local Koori people as an Indigenous guide points out bush tucker and medicinal plants on a cultural tour or join in a workshop to learn traditional weaving techniques.
Exhale as you escape the crowds (and phone reception) at Saltwater Creek Campground, a secluded spot located in Beowa National Park near Eden. A popular stopover for hikers on the multi-day 30-kilometre Light to Light walk, the campground, which has barbecues and toilets, is surrounded by a creek, surf beach and rough-barked apple gums. Between September and November, you’ll have one of the best vantage points for whale watching in NSW, as these majestic mammals calve and feed in the waters here.
Grab your mates or gather the family for a few days of swimming, bike riding, fishing and telling yarns around a barbecue or firepit. The only place you can camp in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, The Basin is a vast grassy camping-only site that overlooks sparkling Pittwater. It’s accessed by ferry and has an amenities block and barbecues. The national park is home to hundreds of significant Aboriginal sites; contemplate the staggering history on a cultural tour to see nearby rock carvings and artwork.
It’s just an hour northwest from Sydney CBD, but you’ll feel like you’ve completely escaped the daily grind at Cattai Campground – a comfortable site with amenities, surrounded by tranquil, open landscape. Birdsong is your ever-present soundtrack as rejuvenating days are spent fishing or kayaking in the mighty Hawkesbury River, watching mobs of kangaroos, and engaging in simple pleasures such as bike riding and relaxing around a barbecue lunch.
All campgrounds in NSW national parks require a booking. Stay safe in NSW national parks. Plan by checking the NPWS websitefor alerts and closures before visiting a park. For more safety tips and park alerts visit nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/safety.
Destination NSW acknowledges and respects Aboriginal people as the state’s first people and nations and recognises Aboriginal people as the Traditional Owners and occupants of New South Wales land and water.