The East Coast of Australia. The most famous and popular backpacking destination for all travellers alike. If you’re going to visit Australia then the east coast has got to be somewhere you explore. From the treetops of the Daintree to the white swirls of the Whitehaven beach the east coast is home to some of the most beautiful places in the world. No matter how you travel down the coast your bound to have a fantastic time but, I must say the best way to do it is to drive! Whether that’s in a car or campervan you can’t go wrong. The most popular route is Cairns to Sydney which stretches over 4000 km and I dread to think how much fuel but it’s honestly the best road trip I’ve ever been on. It converted me to van life, living in campsites in Australia and showed me how amazing this planet really is.
Van life with a little luxury
It was October 2018 when we headed off on our first road trip down the Aussie east coast in a campervan! Now, even though I have been converted to living in the great outdoors I do still like a few luxuries. By that, I mean a hot shower and flushing toilet. Which I don’t think is too much to ask. So, one thing I knew that was certain was that I probably wouldn’t be staying on many free campsites! When browsing on Pinterest, which if you’re a travel blogger you’ll do all the time, I noticed that when looking for campsites in Australia a lot of posts talk about the free ones! Free campsites sound great. However, most of these campsites don’t include the above luxuries of a loo and a shower.
So that’s basically what inspired me to write this post! We stayed in some amazing campsites in Australia and I can’t recommend some of them enough! So, if you’re like me and heading off down the east coast in a campervan but still want to enjoy some facilities then I’ve got you! Of course, this list is by no means exhaustive these are just the campsites that we stayed at. I wouldn’t want to recommend any that I hadn’t been too. If you’d like any more information about any of these sites or just need some more camping in Australia tips, then please comment at the bottom of the post or just email me – I would love to help!
Ultimate List of the best campsites in Australia: on the East Coast
I apologise in advance that this post is going to be rather wordy as I didn’t take many photographs of the campsites! (Something I’ll be sure to do next time around!)
The starting point for most road trips down the Australian east coast, Cairns. Where two world heritage sites come together it really is somewhere that must be on your Australian bucket list. Cairns is where the rainforest meets the reef. Find yourself snorkelling with Nemo one day and hiking deep into the rainforest the next.
Cairns is surrounded with magnificent views of the Daintree rainforest everywhere you look, it really is spectacular. Hopefully, you’ll be able to spend a few days in Cairns and explore all it has to offer. The city itself is popular with backpackers offering a vibrant nightlife and cafe culture.
For our two night stay in Cairns, we choose NRMA Holiday Park. As our first holiday campsite in Australia, we were a little apprehensive about what we would get for a buck but after this stay, it was clear we had nothing to worry about.
Locations: 10-minute drive from the centre of Cairns
Facilities: Powered and Unpowered sites, Lodges, Swimming Pool, Toilet and Warm Showers, Reception, Free WiFi & BBQ Pits/Camp Kitchen.
An unpowered site from $31 AUD / 17 GBP
Powered site from $38 AUD / 20.50 GBP
I like to call the Atherton Tablelands the hidden gem of Far North Queensland. It isn’t because it’s very well known by travellers and locals but I hadn’t heard too much about this place until we arrived in Brisbane. A friend was raving on about how amazing it is and how we just had to go and visit.
So we decided to add it into our itinerary and I’m so glad that we did! The Atherton Tablelands is like taking a vacation to the countryside, away from the coast and into the peace and quiet. Most tourists stay in Cairns so it was lovely to be away from the hustle and bustle and out amongst nature. You can read a little more about The Atherton Tablelands here.
We stayed at Lake Tinaroo during our stay and camped at Lake Tinaroo Holiday Park, after wonderful campsite with great facilities. But it wasn’t the facilities that made this place special it was the fact it was on the Lake. We star gazed at night and walked around the Lake in the early morning. If only we had longer at this place and we’d have been kayaking and all sorts on Lake Tinaroo!
Location: Lake Tinaroo, Tablelands
Facilities: Powered Sites, Unpowered Sites, Lodges, Caravan sites, Pool, Jumping Pillow, Cafe, Shop Fuel, Boat, Paddleboard, Kayak Hire, Toilets, Showers, Camp Kitchen, BBQ areas.
Unpowered site $27 AUD/15 GBP
Powered site $35 AUD / 18.84 GBP
I haven’t spoken much about Townsville on my blog or social media accounts, follow us on Facebook here and Instagram here! Honestly, there isn’t much to in Townsville. It’s a small town on the beach with some cafes and shops. The reason that travellers go to Townsville is because of Magnetic Island. Townsville is the gateway to Magnetic Island where you can hire barbie convertibles and see heaps of Koalas! Unfortunately, we got caught up in a huge storm and didn’t make it across to the island. Luckily we had a nice campsite to enjoy for our stay inside away from the rain.
Location: Townsville Centre
Facilities: Toilets & Shower, Unpowered, Powered, Lodges, Beachfront, Gas, Ice, Shop, Tours available to purchase from reception, Free WiFi.
Unpowered site $31 AUD/17 GBP
Powered site $37 AUD/19.95 GBP
Don’t miss out on any more of my travel tips by subscribing to my monthly newsletter below!
Airlie Beach the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands and Whitehaven Beach! The most popular destination on the Australian east coast has got to be the Whitsundays. You won’t be spending much time at your campsite in Airlie Beach because it’s too amazing to not be exploring the area! Not to mention you’ll probably be on a boat for the majority of your stay here! It was in Airlie Beach where we made our first rookie camping mistake!
As we were about to set sail for three days we weren’t staying in our campervan. So we booked ourselves four nights in a campsite to leave the campervan there. Obviously, this was a pretty big expense for something we weren’t using. We later found out that other travellers had paid $10 to leave there cars and campervans in a carpark on the harbour. In hindsight, this would’ve been a much cheaper option so do think about that as you approach Airlie Beach.
That said, it was safe. The carpark isn’t secure and we had our lives crammed into that one campervan so I’m actually glad that we chose to leave it at the campsite as it was much safer and less likely to be broken into.
Location: 10 minutes drive the main strip in Airlie Beach
Facilities: Toilets & Showers, Pool, BBQ areas, Camp Kitchen, Lodges, Tents for hire, Unpowered sites, Powered sites, Free WiFi, laundry, daily bird feeding to watch, children’s playground and go-karts/buggies for hire.
Unpowered Site: $30 AUD/15 GBP
Powered Site: $40/ 21.70 GBP
Book with booking.com to save on campsites in Australia!
A town often skipped by many backpackers on the east coast of Australia. Agnes Waters is a small beach town that comes hand in hand with 1770. Both tiny but equally as beautiful. Head to these towns for a sleepy few days away from the crowds and no phone reception. Another reason to visit is that Agnes Water is home to the best campsite this side of the east coast…
If you’ve ever dreamt of seeing over fifty kangaroos all in one places then your dream may be about to come true! Welcome to Horizon Kangaroo Sanctuary. The owners of this campsite live on the premises and rehabilitate orphaned joeys from the area. The funds that they receive from the campground go towards helping these little fellas out. There aren’t many pitches and it the campsite is really only available for campervans and cars. Go to sleep and wake up with Kangaroos bopping around, it’s the ultimate Aussie experience! Kangaroos aren’t all you’ll find at this campsite either we saw possums, peacocks and an array of birds. There’s also an epic sunset that you watch from over the hills too!
Location: 10-minute drive from the beach at Agnes Water
Facilities: Toilet, Shower and fire pit.
Powered from $30
Unpowered from $25
Ah, Noosa another beach town classic! Popular with surfers Noosa is a beautiful beach town lined with cafes, bars, restaurants and boutique shops. I often feel like Noosa and Byron rival each other and for me, Byron always wins but Noosa is lovely. We visited a little shop as we strolled the streets of Noosa and a local said to us…Welcome to Noosa, nothing much happens here which means nothing bad ever happens here either...a local chatting about his beloved Noosa - sounds like the opening to a horror book don't you think? Click To Tweet
Like many of the Australia beach towns, nothing much does happen in Noosa but that’s the beauty of it. After living in Australia for a year there’s nothing I loved more than packing up a campervan and taking off for a weekend on the beach. The Australians live for their lazy weekends in places like Noosa. If you like drinking, surfing, sunbathing and BBQing then you’ll enjoy Noosa no matter what.
When we arrived in Noosa it was first of many stays we had in the Ingenia Holiday Parks and I must say, their facilities are wonderful. After very basic toileting and showering needs in Agnes Water, it was lush to have a hot shower with no time limit! These holiday parks come with everything you need and even had a little bit of luxury to your camping trip! We also stayed at Igenia Holiday Parks in, Coffs Harbour and Hervey Bay so I won’t talk about them again in this post. The prices can vary depending on location so make sure you check, Noosa being a little more expensive.
Location: 20 minutes drive down into Noosa.
Facilities: Shower, Toilets, Powered sites, Unpowered Sites, Lodges, Pool, Jumping Pillow, Camp Kitchen, BBQs, Reception area.
Powered Sites: $50 AUD/30 GBP
Unpowered Sites: $40/20 GBP
Ah havening been to Byron twice it was hard to decide which campsite to list here as they were both awesome! Check out this post for my review of both of these campsites! But the one that triumphs the other again has to be Discovery Parks. The main reasons being that on the weekends they offer free yoga – what else could you ask for?!
Location: 15-minute drive from the town centre
Facilities: Free Yoga, Pool, Kids Waterpark, Swimming Pool, Tennis Court, Jumping Pillow, Cabins, Lodges, Tents, Powered and Unpowered Sites, Camp kitchen, Toilet, Shower
Powered Site: $45 and upwards / 24 GBP
Unpowered Sites: $30 AUD/ 17 GBP
We stayed at a gorgeous little campsite in Coffs Harbour which was actually an Ingenia campsite. Head back up to Noosa for the review as they are more a less identical. Though I felt that there wasn’t much to do in Coffs Harbour it’s going to look at the marina and Sealy lookout. Sealy lookout looks out over Coffs and out onto the ocean with views for miles, the hill to climb up is pretty steep but if our old Toyota Hiace can make it then anything can!
Not to be mistaken for Port Macquarie. We stumbled upon Lake Macquarie by accident. Our plans were to stay at Port Macquarie but when we arrived at lunchtime there wasn’t much going on and two campsites that we phoned were fully booked. So we got back on the road and ended up staying at Lake Macquarie and wow were we impressed! This was our final night on the road and to end up staying in this beautiful place was just amazing. We parked our campervan right on the edge of the lake and watched the sun go down from afar. There was wildlife everywhere from pelicans to families of ducks it was peaceful and exactly what we needed to finish our spectacular road trip off.
Location: Right on the lakeside
Facilities: Lakeside, Toilets and Shower, Camp Kitchen, BBQ areas, Free WiFi, gorgeous walks around the lake – bonus!
Powered: $50 upwards / 27 GBP
Unpowered: $36 standard / 19.50 GBP OR Lakeside $41 / 22 GBP
And then we reached the big city of Sydney, so we said goodbye to our van! Don’t get me wrong there are a few campsites you can stay at for free on the east coast. But campsites in Australia that are free are few and far between. Of course, you can camp in national parks for a lot cheaper but you don’t get your power etc then! Dave is diabetic which also adds to why we have to stay at campsites that have power so we can keep his medication insulated! and we enjoy some luxuries like a hot shower and nice-ish toilet!