Best camping spots near Sydney
Distance from Sydney: 40km north/1hr drive.
Price per night: $34.
Arrive in presidential style by seaplane (the 20-minute flight from Rose Bay is yours for around $360) or slum it on the public ferry from Palm Beach. Either way, the Basin campsite is a pleasingly democratic contrast to the resort-wear brigade who long ago colonised the area. During school holidays, this Pittwater paradise becomes the United Nations of the camping world, with bronzed Anglo grandmas, Indian kids and cricket-playing blokes happily jostling for space. The sites are unmarked and unpowered and it’s for tents only.
Distance from Sydney: 200km south/3hr drive.
Price per night: $13 in off-peak, $20 in the shoulder season and $25 in peak.
Booderee is the Canberra of national parks: generously funded and bureaucratically staffed. There’s even a roundabout at the entrance. But when the sun shines on the beach at Green Patch campsite, it feels more like the Caribbean than our nation’s capital. Booderee, in Jervis Bay Territory, is one of only three mainland national parks run by the federal government (along with Kakadu and Uluru-Kata Tjuta). Campsites offer privacy amid scribbly gums and banksias, and great facilities are made for comfort.
Distance from Sydney: 95km northeast/1hr 45m drive.
Price per night: $24 at Tallow Beach campground and $34 at Putty Beach campground.
If this campsite were any closer to the beach, you’d be sleeping on a waterbed. Stake out a spot here and you can keep busy for a week: hike the 8km Bouddi coastal walk to MacMasters Beach (views! rainforest! whales!), walk to Killcare for brunch at the Fat Goose, lie on the beach and perve at the surf lifesavers. The northern bit of beach, closest to the campsite, is heaven on a stick if you prefer calm, clear water.
Distance from Sydney: 30 minutes from Circular Quay.
Price per night: Ranges from $45-$360.
Did you know the largest island in Sydney’s harbour is also home to camping and glamping sites? Get over to Cockatoo Island and choose from three options: deluxe waterfront glamping (from $150 a night); a camping package (the premium economy version, from $89); or BYO everything (from $45). Each have killer views of the harbour, by the way.
Distance from Sydney: 50km south/40m drive.
Price per night: $12.
The rewards of hiking to this spot deep in the interior of Royal National Park (OK, 6km from Waterfall Station) include an intimate campsite by the creek and likely solitude. Round out the trip with a swim in Karloo Pool (another 2.3km), then finish up at Heathcote Station for a total hiking distance of just over 11km. Cycling option: bike along the fire trail from Waterfall Station, then return the same way (the last 200m are for walkers only).
Distance from Sydney: 413km south/6hr drive.
Price per night: $12 per adult, $6 per child.
The perfect campground for those headed south towards Eden, Gillards Campground sits pretty between the beach and the bush of Mimosa Rocks National Park. Sites are unpowered so, yes, it’s perfect for that digital detox you’ve been planning. Swap scrolling for strolling along the beach and lazing about on sandy shores. Bookings aren’t required here and you can pay on site when you arrive. Keep an eye out for potoroos who like to roam around after dark.
Distance from Sydney: 70km northwest/1hr 15m drive.
Price per night: $24.
You’re not full bushing it at Cattai – there are hot showers and flushing toilets – but you’ll still be surrounded by gloriously vibrant greenery and the Hawkesbury River which means fishing, canoeing and kayaking are on the menu. Bring your bike for a ride around the park and your binoculars if you like spotting rare native birds.
Distance from Sydney: 260km northwest/4hrs drive.
Price per night: $6 per adult, $3.50 per child (bring cash!)
The little-known Wollemi National Park is full of dramatic landscapes: big leafy ferns, big deep valleys, historic ruins, rocky pagodas and even a glow worm tunnel in the neighbouring town of Newnes. The campground is perfectly placed to explore it all – there’s no marked spots so just find a quiet corner to plant your pegs and enjoy. Keep your eyes peeled for passing wallabies, purple swamp hens and, if you’re very lucky, long-necked turtles and platypus who might pop up along the dam.
Distance from Sydney: 66km west/1h 15m drive.
Price per night: $24.
Everyone knows a trip to the Blue Mountains promises seclusion and serenity among the gum trees, and with such a wealth of great accommodation options to try in the area, camping means you get up close and personal with it all. Euroka Campground can get pretty crowded during peak times, but it’s popular for a reason. The campground is surrounded by tall gums, big picnic benches and the pièce de résistance two (two!) wild swimming holes, Jellybean Pool and Blue Pool.