Our expert team give you the run down on what you need to know about National Parks in Australia, before you go!
Did you know NT has online bookings only for their parks? Other states have ballots for some sites, or no bookings at all! It helps to know our Camping 101 tips…
Traveller Chris Rowlandson sent in a tip for everyone:
“I have the new CAMPS Pendium, however as of March 1 this year, all NT national parks have gone to online booking. As there is often no reception at national parks, people need to book before heading on to park. They need to register for NT parks first, then book. And just to make it more difficult, if using a mobile phone, you need to set it to desktop site as the bookings page is not user friendly and has you stuck on Litchfield!”
All our NT sites have the latest booking information in the CAMPS App (which you can download for free if you have a recent CAMPS guide – just scan the QR code). But here is some more tips for booking Aussie National Parks so you are well prepared for your National Park adventures!
In the Northern Territory, there are more than 80 national parks and reserves combined, covering over 50,000 square kilometres of land. You will be required to book ALL designated sites online (https://parkbookings.nt.gov.au/Web/) before you camp, noting that phone signal is reduced away from towns. Parks and Wildlife also have offices in Darwin, Katherine and Alice Springs open normal office hours, or you can call 1300 281 121 during limited daytime hours to make a booking. Sites vary, in that some are privately managed with fees directly paid to the campground managers, some are seasonal and require 4WDs, several being high clearance only, and prices alter depending on the facilities that are provided. Certain areas require special permits to be granted prior to entry which can take more than 5 days. There are stunning views to be explored and natural wonders to immerse yourselves in across the NT, just remember to plan ahead! For more information, go to: https://nt.gov.au/parks/camping
In Victoria, there are over 100 National Parks campsites and 400 visitor sites in the state’s forestry that span millions of hectares. Not all park sites need to be booked online, due to their varying facilities, opening times and fees, or lack thereof. It is important to check on the Park’s website (www.parks.vic.gov.au/where-to-stay/camping) prior to travel. Camping on Crown Land water frontages is permitted subject to specific rules and regulations, so doing homework is key! If you are planning on free camping with your furry friends in the State Forest Parks, an important planning tool is the ‘More to Explore’ app, produced by Forest Fire Management Victoria (www.ffm.vic.gov.au/visiting-state-forests/places-to-visit). Information about campsite facilities, access, photos and more are provided via the app, more so than the website, and booking is not required for most.
In Queensland, you will need a valid camping permit for all parks, forest and reserve sites. Most bookings are made online (https://qpws.usedirect.com/qpws/) and you will receive an e-permit to display on your vehicle/campsite. Permits can also be collected from over-the-counter booking offices or booked over the phone (13 74 68). Most fees are a standard $7 per person per night. It is essential to book ahead, particularly for popular sites, peak holiday times and regional areas. If you are visiting Bribie Island, K’gari (Fraser Island0, Mulgumpin (Moreton Island), Cooloola or Minjerribah recreation areas in a vehicle, you’ll also need to purchase a vehicle access permit.
New South Wales
In New South Wales, there are over 880 national parks and reserves, with all campgrounds requiring booking online (www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/) or over the phone 1300 072 757. Camping prices are based on a daily base site fee, additional people staying and a booking fee. For free sites, a flat booking fee is charged for the length of the stay. Remember that additional day fees are charged in a small number of parks, and these can be purchased as an annual pass. More information at: www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/campground-accommodation-booking-faqs
In Tassie, you’ll require a valid parks pass for all National Parks, but there are lots of spots that offer free camping within those National Parks, for instance the Bay of Fires Conservation area, Frenchs Farm & Encampment Cove on Maria Island. It’s a real variety here in Tassie, some camps are pay and display, some are bookings only, some just turn up and pay. Then in beautiful Freycinet they have a ballot system for busy periods like Easter & Christmas where hopeful campers send in an entry to ‘win’ a camping spot. The ballot is drawn & lucky campers know where their next holiday is! Others like Friendly beaches & River and Rocks are first come first served. You can explore parks in tassie here https://parks.tas.gov.au/explore-our-parks
In South Australia most National Park sites are paid but some self-sufficient bush camping is free with no booking required, for instance in some conservation parks. https://www.parks.sa.gov.au/find-a-park This link shows all your options. If you are unable to book and pay online, there are independent agents where you can book and pay , often at Visitor Centres. There’s a list of those here including agents that cover the Desert Park passes. https://www.parks.sa.gov.au/book-and-pay/where-can-i-book.
In WA the Parkstay website is where you search for your spot and book for paid sites, although there are plenty of non bookable campgrounds that are first come first served, in any of the 60 national parks. You just pop in your preferred site or just the name of the national park and the available sites will show up below. This is the favourite link I use to check out what’s available https://exploreparks.dbca.wa.gov.au/explore-wa-parks . Visitor fees apply in most NP’s here and if you’d like to visit a few of them, you can buy a holiday pass that covers all parks for 4 weeks (a bit of a money saver) Longer than that you’ll want an annual parks pass.
WA Parks have a new modern website which went live on July 3: http://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/ and a plan to create five million hectares of new National and Marine parks and reserves.
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