We’ve never had to use anything other than WikiCamps, local connections, or national parks websites to find a campsite. So this might actually be more of a WikiCamps guide than anything else.
Over the last 312 days, we have stayed in 75 different places. Keeping in mind we worked in one place for 138 days, we essentially changed camp spot every 2-3 days. Here is a little info-map (that I recommend you use) on WikiCamps. We made sure to favourite the best places we stayed at, here is the result:
So to this date, 29 of the places we’ve stayed at were free camp sites. 19 were national parks. 8 day rest areas, which are often unofficial or “no camping” areas, allowing a 24h stay only. 3 were caravan parks. And lastly, two hostels; one in Sydney, where our adventure began, and the other in Noosa, where Sina, our lovely fundraising colleague, now worked.
So how did we find the campsite every night? What did we look for?
A lot of it really depends on your set up. Are you driving with a trailer? Do you have a caravan? Are you with a 4×4 and a swag? Do you have a roof tent? Do you need to set up a tent on the ground? Do you have a way to cook or do you need a BBQ? Using the filters in WikiCamps accordingly will truly help you find your spot. Below are the ones we searched for most often.
We prepared ourselves for most situations. Though we couldn’t provide a toilet and a shower we never needed to use the bush toilet. Toilets were never more than a 30 minute drive away, whether at gas stations, local councils, or caravan parks. If you just remembered before entering your campsite that this toilet will be the last one before you head to bed, and act accordingly, you won’t need to go into the Aussie bush at midnight and in the dark. WA and the East coast seem to have the most publicly accessible toilets. Point is: they’re easy to find. Showers are also all around. Whether a 3$ entry to a recreation centre (that’s what some swimming pools are called), a donation to the Royal Doctors at gas stations, or gyms, we have never been too smelly in our one year camping stay. Or so we hope… So keeping these things in mind, we focused on finding a levelled spot that had nice scenery, bins (we don’t like keeping trash around), and is accessible by 2WD.
It helps to set up your camper van with a dual-battery system. This allows you to have electricity in the van. We really recommend this to anyone who intends to Vanlife! It’s pretty cheap, easy to set up, and if you drive just 30-45 minutes a day, you cover your entire power usage. At least we did. But if you still need power, caravan parks and national parks are your best bet. They always have paid power sites available.
If we haven’t stressed the practicality and beauty of national parks enough, we will once again. If you realise many campsites are full due to peak season. Go. To. National. Parks. They are often great quiet getaways from saturated cities. Be sure to get a state parks pass and use it to its full extent (FYI: most parks are free in Queensland).
So set up your filter for what you need and go for it. Use the comments to guide you, be honest about the places you stay at, be sure to leave reviews, and always leave the place cleaner than you found it. Please. Australia truly is a land of backpackers, simply because of sheer amount of free campsites and their accessibility (even if far). If we trash them they will be taken away. We’ve noticed this with many smaller towns closing down their campgrounds or turning them from free sites to expensive caravan parks. Stay friendly, mingle with the people who are also traveling this beautiful continent, be respectful to others, and always make space. There is always space for one more van in campsites. there forever will be. Do not force someone who is tired and looking to settle to continue driving. Driving at night in Australia is pretty dangerous! Make space, have a cook out together, or don’t, but make space. Remember: we are much better at making compromises when we are the ones in crappy situations 😉
PS. Don’t trust the Telstra reception icon in Wikicamps, it seems to fluctuate based on what phone you have as well.