If summer’s too hot for camping, and winter’s too cold, now must be the perfect time to pack up and head out. Here are some ideas for that last-minute autumn camping trip
1 – Coledale Camping Reserve, NSW
Enjoy a lovely seaside holiday at Coledale Camping Reserve, a small, quiet park run by the local surf life-saving club in the beautiful Wollongong region. You’ll get to look out over the picturesque beach, which has gentle waves that are perfect for families and is framed by pine trees, so there’s ample shade for picnics. Before arriving, you will first get to enjoy the stunning Grand Pacific Drive via Sea Cliff Bridge.
There’s an amenities block with toilets and showers, a kitchen with power outlets and sinks, and a laundry. Cook up dinner on a free electric barbecue on the grassed area as you watch the sun set over the water. You can bring your caravan or camper-trailer down, or pitch a tent. You won’t miss the sign as you drive down Lawrence Hargrave Drive. Please book well in advance, as this spot is very popular. Payment must be made on or prior to arrival. For bookings, call 02 4267 4302.
2 – Saunders Beach Park Rest Area, Qld
If you’re seeking a family-friendly, beachfront camping spot that’s free and has all the amenities you need, Saunders Beach Park Rest, just 27km north of Townsville, is one to put on your list. This small, shady rest area on the northern end of Saunders Beach gives you direct access to the lovely beach, and has toilets, cold showers, non-potable water, bins, barbecues and a shaded playground with sheltered picnic tables. Bring the fishing gear along, because there’s some ideal fishing spots around this area.
The well-maintained camping area with level, grassy sites (and some shade) has plenty of room and is suitable for van and tent-based camping. This spot can get quite busy due to it’s convenient location off the highway. To get there, simply follow Bruce Highway and take Saunders Beach Road 7km out to Reef St, which will take you to the rest area.
3 – Ah Youngs Camping Area, Vic
This camping area ticks a lot of boxes – it’s free, it’s pet friendly, you can enjoy a campfire, and there’s plenty of room for your caravan or trailer on the large, grassy site. Ah Youngs is an easy-to-get-to spot that’s a part of the Buckland Valley State Forest, once a hub for fossicking during the gold rush era, located 22km south-west of Bright. When you’re not relaxing at your campsite, you can go swimming or fishing or simply explore the beautiful forest that surrounds you.
There’s not much in the way of amenities apart from a drop toilet and some fire pits, but that’s what bush camping is all about, right? The dirt road in can be a tough trek for 2WDs in bad weather conditions, so it’s best to take a 4WD. If you want a shady spot, be sure to set up somewhere on the edge of the camping area where the trees cast their shadows.
4 – Trig Campground, Deep Creek Conservation Park, SA
Trig Campground is located in the Deep Creek Conservation Park, the only national park within 100km of Adelaide where you can camp. The park is the biggest portion of remaining natural vegetation on the Fleurieu Peninsula and is home to hundreds of bird species and native wildlife like grey kangaroos, short-beaked echidnas and glossy black cockatoos. Reconnect with nature by going on one of the many hikes, like the Heysen Trail, or trek down to the rocky beach at Deep Cove.
After the sun goes down, start a campfire on one of the fire pads (if there’s no fire ban) and roast some marshmallows as you soak in the peace and quiet (thanks partly due to the fact that generators are not permitted). There’s drop toilets and a rainwater tank with a tap. The rangers are very friendly and accommodating, so have a chat with them if you have questions during your stay. Payment and bookings are online only.
5 – Bradys Lake, Tas
This one’s for the experienced campers who like to tough it out in true bush camping style. Fishermen will tell you it’s well-worth it just for the wild brown trout, of which Bradys Lake has some of the finest in the world. Regardless of whether you’re into fishing though, this spot makes a lovely, peaceful retreat from suburban life.
You can get to Bradys Lake off the A10, 17km north of Tarraleah, where you can set up camp right on the shores of the freshwater lake. There are no amenities so be sure to pack your own fuel, stove, water and rubbish bags. The area is suitable for larger vehicles, so you can bring along the camper-trailer or caravan if you wish, however bear in mind that it’s not a very large campground. There are several stone fire pits available, so don’t forget the marshmallows.