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If you are exploring the East Coast on a budget you will be particularly eager to find a free place to stop over that has sufficient facilities. This guide gives you a preview of some free campsites we have found during our travels.

 CAMP_sites_NSW

Swans Creek Crossing

Swans Creek Crossing

Popular with both the locals and visitors, this free camping ground is a NSW gem. At Swans Creek Crossing you will find a large open grassy area surrounded by native forest and hardwood plantations. This area is suitable for tents, caravans and campervans, however there is no power available. The nearby shallows of Upsalls Creek is a popular swimming hole and the camping ground itself is located in the Kerewong State Forest. Just a 20 minute drive from Kew (halfway between Taree and Kempsey) Swans Creek Crossing is a quiet and peaceful camping ground with sufficient facilities for a couple of nights stay. If you want to stretch your legs and explore, Longworths Tramway Heritage Walk is a short drive away and there is also a number of walking trails at the camp site.

Where: 16 km NW of Kendall
Toilets: Yes
Camp Fires: Yes
Pet friendly: Yes
Showers: No
Water: Yes
Power: No
Mobile Reception: No
Big Rig Access: Yes
Getting There: Turn North 4 km West of Kendall, off Kendall-Lome Road onto Upsalls Creek Road for 12 km (10 km on a dirt road).

Old Olney Camping Area

NSW_899

If you are travelling along the Central Coast of New South Wales Olney State Forest is a great spot to stop over. Located in a popular recreation area, this free camp site is great for both families and small groups. Located west of Lake Macquarie, the area is impressively green and is bordered by Watagan State Forest, Wyong State Forest and Watagans National Park. In both 2012 and 2013, the State Forests of the Watagan Mountains won the Gold Award for Adventure Tourism in the Hunter Central Coast Tourism Awards and won a bronze award for tourist attraction in 2011. It’s safe to say you won’t get bored during your stay.

Where: 16 km West of Cooranbong
Toilets: Yes
Camp Fires: Yes (BBQs available)
Pet friendly: Yes
Showers: No
Water: Yes
Power: No
Mobile Reception: Yes
Big Rig Access: No
Getting There: Take Martinsville Road and Watagan Forest Road (8 km dirt road)

Rocky River Fossicking

NSW_931

If you are looking for a free camping area rich with Australian History, you will find it at Rocky River. A major gold rush ensued in this area in the 1850s after gold was found in 1851. Although the site is historic, there isn’t much to see other than holes – the traces of eager hands and machinery digging for gold. By 1856 the fields in this area were the largest in northern NSW with approximately 4000-5000 miners working the site. There is a visitor centre nearby where you can hire equipment to try your luck fossicking. The best way, though, is to explore the fields with Uralla Goldfield Tours (Tel: 02 6772 6828). There is also a picnic located closeby next to the river where you can frolic and explore.

Where: 6 km West of Uralla
Toilets: Yes
Camp Fires: Yes (BYO firewood)
Pet friendly: Yes
Showers: No
Water: Yes
Power: No
Mobile Reception: Yes
Big Rig Access: No
Getting There: Turn off New England Highway 800m South of the Tourist Information Centre. Take Kingstown and Deconcourt Roads.

Ellenborough Reserve

NSW_1058

Ellenborough Reserve camp site provides a grassy rest area among trees on the banks of the Hastings and Ellenborough Rivers in NSW. This is a particularly great spot for canoers, kayakers and birdwatching enthusiasts. The area is home to a wide range of birds including bowerbirds, kingfishers, king parrots, wedge-tailed eagles and honeyeaters. You may also come across native Australian animals such as kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, possums and echidnas if you are quiet enough. Goannas, platypus and turtles are less commonly seen, but are known to live in the area. The camping area itself is a reasonably large grassy area with space for caravans, campervans and tents. You will need to bring your own water for showering and drinking, as well as your own firewood if you want to use the wood powered BBQs.

Where: 500m North of Oxley Highway
Toilets: Yes
Camp Fires: Yes (BYO wood)
Pet friendly: Yes
Showers: No
Maximum Stay: 14 days
Water: No
Power: No
Mobile Reception: No
Big Rig Access: Yes
Getting There: LOT 7018 Main. 500m North of Oxley Highway on the East side of the bridge.

Bretti Reserve

NSW_1077

A beautiful camping and picnic area located in a serene environment. Although the facilities are basic, Bretti Reserve features large open spaces and a flowing river that makes for a refreshing swim. The river is frequented by birdlife and don’t be surprised if a few cows graze close to your site. There are no showers and taps, however you can drink water from the river if you boil it for at least 15 minutes. If you have packed your canoe you can explore the river and look forward to a cooked meal on the wood BBQs after you have worked up an appetite.

Where: 44 km South of Nowendoc and 34 km North of Gloucester
Toilets: Yes
Camp Fires: Yes
Pet friendly: Yes
Showers: No
Maximum Stay: 1 month
Water: No
Power: No
Mobile Reception: No
Big Rig Access: Yes
Getting There: Approximately 33 kms from Gloucester on sealed road. Proceed past Gloryvale on Thunderbolt’s Way and turn right into Bretti Reserve.

Wingello State Forest

Wingello

This free camping site is located on a large grassy area among Wingello State Forest in NSW. There are over 50 campsites to choose from and it is just a 5 minute drive from the small town of Wingello, where you can pick up some supplies. The surrounding forest is a mixture of pine plantations and native forests with peppermint, manna gum and stringybarks. Forest management practices in the area ensure biodiversity, soil, water quality and cultural heritage sites are protected while also allowing sustainable timber production. Wingello State Forest is a popular area for horse riding and mountain biking and it is also a popular camping area for all types of campers.

Where: 4 km South East of Wingello
Toilets: Yes
Camp Fires: Yes
Pet friendly: Yes
Showers: No
Water: Yes
Power: No
Mobile Reception: Yes
Big Rig Access: Yes
Getting There: From Wingello, head SE along Wingellow Forest Road (dirt).

Other resources

If you would like more information about camping sites throughout Australia you might be interested in one of our camping guides. These cover thousands of great sites for people looking for low cost and free camping.