Hot tips for low cost and free camping sites along the unspoilt NSW South Coast.
The Shoalhaven is a nature-lovers paradise with 100 beaches, 70% of land devoted to coastal parks and forests and plenty of places to pitch a tent or park the van. Keep in mind, though, that there are very few free camping sites in the Shoalhaven. You've got to plan well in advance because these popular South Coast camp spots are usually fully booked! Iconic national park campsites like Green Patch Beach, Cave Beach, Bristol Point and Honeymoon Bay are allocated to visitors via a ballot each August. Never fear, however, your best bet for a coastal campsite with our many holiday parks. Plus we're the experts in riverfront camping, with several options on the grassy banks of the Shoalhaven River - even at Shoalhaven Zoo! If you feel like it, spend your first few nights keeping costs low but then splurge at the end of your trip with a luxe glamping experience to cap off your stay under the stars in style. Book now for next year, and if you're chasing wilderness camping, make sure to enter the ballot for Cave Beach and Green Patch in August for Booderee National Park, or Honeymoon Bay in Beecroft Peninsula. Download our camping and caravanning directory here, or search online below.
Camp by the river, then day trip to the beach
Wake up by the river in your own camp or let someone build it for you! The Shoalhaven River and Kangaroo Valley offer the most variety with a few more on the Clyde River. Shoalhaven River Coolendel, a particularly favourite campground for its beautiful grassy grounds and river frontage and you don't even have to set up your tent if you book a glamping stay with Flash Camp. Pet friendly, Grady’s Riverside Retreat also offers dirt surfing on mountain bike trails. Closer to town you can sleep to the sound of lions roaring at the Shoalhaven Zoo Camping Reserve or stay at North Nowra Riverfront Caravan Park (Shoalhaven Ski Park). In Kangaroo Valley, Bendeela offers free camping on a 'first in, best dressed' basis.
Be cool this summer
We love having you here and want you to have a great time, so here are some tips if you are heading our way especially during the summer! Rangers regularly patrol our beaches and camping grounds so plan ahead when you are stopping for the night so you don't get moved on or fined. Our best advice is to book ahead, slow down on the roads and be respectful of our communities, our environment and it's animals. Beach fires aren't cool, and neither is getting moved on by a ranger. Remember, party like your grandmother's next door!
Camping by the Beach
Waking up beside the seaside is a pretty amazing way to start your holiday but we don't want it to end in a fine! We've got dozens of well-priced holiday parks along our 120-kilometre coastline, from Shoalhaven Heads to North Durras. While this is one of the more expensive camping options over summer, it still won't break the bank and you're rewarded with beachfront access, fabulous facilities and perhaps some outdoor pizza or movie nights too. Explore camping sites, caravan sites, cabins and safari tents. See the full list below and make sure you book ahead! Our beach carparks are quaint and tiny and it's part of our charm, but they're not official places for overnight stays. So even if you're tempted please don't park up on our beaches, treating them kindly is what keeps them so unspoilt.
Camping in National Parks and State Forests
Our national parks sites are first-come, first-serve so please have a plan B as these bad boys tend to go fast! Campgrounds are around Jervis Bay, Meroo National Park and Murramarang National Park. (4WD recommended) You can also start planning to camp next year by checking out the ballot process. Check out Sunburnt Beach, Meroo Head, Termeil Point, Pebbly Beach, Pretty Beach and Depot Beach. Booderee National Park at Jervis Bay has three very different campgrounds, two of which are filled by ballot each August. Green Patch Beach Campground is very family friendly boasting individual drive-in and walk-in campsites, while Bristol Point Camp Ground is walk-in only and ideal for larger groups. Cave Beach is a great location for surfers. In Beecroft Weapons Range, Honeymoon Bay is hugely popular and summer sites are booked by ballot. At all other times campsites are allocated on a first-come, first served basis and bookings aren't available. Although we have many State Forests, Yadboro is the only one set up for camping. Sprawled by the river with neighbouring Morton National Park and Didthul Pigeon House Mountain makes Yadboro a popular playground but make sure you get in early before to secure a spot. Hot tip: driving in with a 4WD is recommended for this one!
Van lifers and caravanners can stop over at any one of three showgrounds in the Shoalhaven, each with a dump point. Berry Showground is one of the best in Australia, with a pool, historic buildings, cosy camp kitchen, shady areas, onsite caretaker and a great location that is close to Berry's Queen Street and train station. Prices at Berry range from $12 (unpowered) to $14 (powered) per night. Nowra Showground has elevated views of the Shoalhaven River from Hanging Rock, and front row access to Ben's Walk and the grottos and forests that line this part of the Shoalhaven River. Nowra Showground has no showers, and no tent sites, and prices range from $11 (unpowered) to $14 (powered) per night. At Milton Showground Camping Area you can take the dog, pitch the tent on the grassy grounds and enjoy great facilities. There are no bookings, but the caretaker visits every afternoon to collect payment. The eateries and delights of Milton are a short walk away, and the beaches a quick trip in the car. Sites are $20 (unpowered) - $25 (powered) per night.
Coming from Canberra? Check out Main Road 92!
Main Road 92 is the shortest route to the white sand beaches of Jervis Bay as well as Canberra’s closest surf breaks. Recently upgraded and fully sealed, it's the road less travelled from Canberra to the coast. Enjoy the 2.5 hour drive through quaint country towns, Morton National Park’s breathtaking sandstone escarpments and convict history to arrive at the unspoilt coast. Read our blog for more inspo - Road Tripping Along Main Road 92. Check out these camping grounds along the way, most have no booking system and require you to be self sufficient and take all rubbish with you. Explore camping at Stewarts Crossing, Wog Wog in Morton National Park, Bombay Reserve, Muloon Creek in Tallaganda National Park, and Endrick River Crossing.
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