Australia is the biggest island country in the world, so it’s unsurprising that there’s an unbeatable number of amazing beachfront camping areas to enjoy. Here’s our pick of the best coastal campsites that also show off our island home’s wild diversity.
Whalesong, Pender Bay WA
The Kimberley’s ability to transition from red Outback sand to glittering beaches is unique and breathtaking, and Whalesong makes it easy to enjoy this dramatic contrast. The campsites here range from sheltered bush retreats to clifftop spots, from which you can look down at the hooked bay below and whale watch. The red pindan cliffs that join the beach to the mainland vary in height, which means you can find a low point easily enough to clamber down and enjoy the ocean up close – often without anyone else around.
Noah Beach, Cape Tribulation QLD
Cape Tribulation distils so much of what locals and tourists alike love about Tropical North Queensland and Noah Beach delivers it to you in one neat package. Rainforest meets sand, water and reef in an epic collision of Cape York ecosystems, and it does so in a way that makes it feel like you’ve washed up on your own private island. The campsites are tucked away 50m from the beach in amongst the forest, but the sounds of lapping waves are always there to remind you that you’re in paradise.
Bunda Cliffs, Great Australian Bight SA
The Nullarbor Plain is a huge and mainly empty expanse, but once you hit the coastline things become a whole lot more interesting. Staying at Bunda Cliffs feels like camping at the edge of world: its jagged coastline descends far below to a raging ocean that extends south for what seems like forever. Windy, exposed and devoid of any facilities, Bunda Cliffs is incredibly remote and is only suitable for travellers who are well prepared.
Pebbly Beach, Yuraygir National Park NSW
It may only be 50km north of Coffs Harbour, but something about Pebbly Beach feels remote in the best way possible. Getting to the campsite, which sits just behind the beach and is dotted with She-Oaks and carpeted with grass, requires you to cross Station Creek (a tidal water crossing) and drive along the beach for a time. Once you’re there, it’s easy to understand why the campsite is so admired by those in the know: there’s plenty of shade to relax, plenty of sun to soak in, plenty of beach to enjoy and plenty of nature to explore.
Bay of Fires, Northeast Tasmania TAS
The Bay of Fires extends for 50km from Binalong Bay to Eddystone Point and there are numerous campsites along the way from which you can enjoy the views and secluded vibes. The sand is pure white and the ocean is crisp blue, while much of the Bay of Fires is peppered with weather-worn boulders that make this part of Tasmania so recognisable. Equally jaw-dropping about many of the campsites is that they are completely free, meaning you can take in one of Australia’s best natural scenes without spending a dollar.
Smith Point Camping Area, Garig Gunak Barlu National Park NT
The most remote campsite on this list, Smith Point looks out onto the Arafura Sea and sits right on the edge of Arnhem Land. Hard to get to and hard to leave, Smith Point Camping Area is wild in the best way possible (except for the saltwater crocodiles and box jellyfish that make swimming impossible). The national park is only open during the dry season and is 4WD-only, while you need to bring ample supplies of food, water and fuel. Some might see these provisos as reason to stay away, but those who are properly prepared will reap the rewards.
Sandy Cape, Jurien Bay WA
South West Western Australia has more idyllic coastal campsites than any other region in the country – in fact, we could easily make a list of campgrounds just from the area around Perth. Sandy Cape, however, is one that shines particularly bright. It delivers all of the good traits you come to expect from Western Australia’s beaches – blinding white sand, electric waters and a sheltered bay – in a perfect combination that feels almost dreamlike. With so many recreational activities to enjoy, including 4WD tracks and off-shore pastimes like snorkelling, Sandy Cape is an all-rounder of the highest quality.
Aire River Campgrounds, Great Otway National Park VIC
Close to the Great Ocean Road but far from the crowds, the Aire River Campgrounds each offer something different while also sharing some true highlights. Both the East and West Aire River Campgrounds are located on the edge of the river and are around a 20-minute walk to the quiet beach, which is also where the mouth of the Aire River meets the ocean. There are plenty of places to hike too, both to the lush inland forests or along the clifftops that overlook the ocean – both are unforgettable.
Teewah Beach, Cooloola Recreation Area QLD
It’s a strange possibility that, in amongst South East Queensland’s mix of sand island paradises (Moreton, Fraser and North Stradbroke), the region’s best beach campsite might be on the mainland. Teewah Beach sits right in the middle of the Cooloola Recreation Area, sandwiched between the café-cultured shores of Noosa and the quiet outpost of Rainbow Beach, and its beach camping area stretches for a massive 15km. The camping zone is a part of one of Australia’s longest beach drives and in parts it backs on to spectacular cliffs of red, yellow and orange. With Double Island Point to the north, Fraser Island a barge trip away and plenty of inland tracks to explore, Teewah Beach is the very definition of a ‘classic’ Australian beach camp.
Big Lagoon, Francois Peron National Park WA
Leaning out into the Indian Ocean, Francois Peron National Park is a 4WD-only, crowd-free paradise. Known for its red cliffs and intense blue waters, the park has a range of tracks, scenic spots and activities such as dolphin feeding at Monkey Mia. Better yet, it has a range of coastal campsites at which you can spend the night (and days). Possibly the best of the lot is Big Lagoon, which has well-spaced sites and some facilities to boot – plus the chance to spy dugongs, dolphins and plenty more marine life that calls Shark Bay Marine Park home.