Finding camps along the New South Wales Pacific Coast

One of the frequent queries we receive is why aren’t there free camps along the Pacific Highway?

Historically, the rest areas allowed free overnight stays. However, as travellers abused the 24 hour limit, with locations so close to beautiful beaches and towns… the government cracked down what was allowed.

You will notice that listings were deliberately kept in the CAMPS book, so travellers could have a spot to rest overnight (not necessarily “camp”).

Some of these regions were trialing an RV stopover at the rest areas – we felt it was important to provide options along the Pacific coast where sometimes the only alternative was caravan park (outside the $ limit so not included in the Camps book).

These listings generally have a note to obey signage or check signs. You can also read the explanation of a Rest Area on Page 12 of your CAMPS 12 guide.

If a site has been removed, it is generally because an authority has advised us they are closed for “camping”, sometimes an Indigenous corporation. Alternatively, if the rest area is now day use only – you will find them in the CAMPS App. 

However, if you are looking to camp between Sydney and Brisbane, we can share some places mid-way on the Pacific Coast that are lower priced (south to north): 

Bulahdelah Golf Club

Donation site, pet friendly for self contained vehicles. Plus, it is right on the highway – great for golf lovers. (Like this golf club route in Queensland!)

Bulahdelah Showgrounds have also reopened and there are other options for camping. 

Coopernook Hotel (near Taree)

Buy your dinner and drinks to stay the night at lovely Coopernook Hotel. It is very close to the highway, opposite the river, and we definitely recommend. Toilets are now open 24 hrs, but they do specify self contained RVs.

Johns River Tavern and Cafe

Free for patrons, pet friendly. Only for self contained vehicles.  


This town has a pub stay for self contained vehicles and a donation site with facilities. Both are 24 hours and pet friendly. 

Macleay River Hotel, Frederickton

Riverside, you can park up to 48 hours behind the pub on the grass. Free for patrons and pet friendly. There is a park next door with toilet and playground, too. 

Macksville RV Parks

Macksville Lions park (free pet friendly) NSW
Macksville Lions park (free pet friendly) NSW

With four small, but FREE and pet friendly, RV stops (two on the Nambucca River) and close to town, we think Macksville is a terrific stop off! Access is excellent with north and south bypass roads – they are close to the Pacific Highway. They are for self contained vehicles, however, most have toilets. 

Burdett Park and Roses Park

Located near Bellingen – these sites are well off the highway, up the hill. Bellingen is a beautiful area with two donation camps located between it and Dorrigo, on the popular Waterfall Way.

Hotel Motel 5, Grafton 

Hotel Motel 5 is by donation, pet friendly, do patronise the hotel please.

Pacific Highway

Find more in the CAMPS App and guides. Do look for budget stops as well. Important: when searching for free camps in the CAMPS App, use the $ symbol – not the black moon and star symbol. Read why here

Please keep letting us know of other updates or suggested sites you come across. Be assured our CAMPS guides are still full of free rest areas, other free and budget places for you to camp! 

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