Camping Planning

Planning a camping weekend away from Sydney

Are you based in Sydney and planning a camping weekend away? The more I camp, the more I realise the type of camping weekend I’m looking for differs. This can be dependent on the season but my need for a remote spot comes in waves. Sometimes, I just fancy heading somewhere with a bit of a town or at least a few cafes to have more of a foodie weekend relaxing and taking it slow. 

To help with the decision-making process, here are five different types of camping weekends I tend to go between. All of them offer the ability to escape the daily grind but help you to relax in different ways thanks to what is, or isn’t, close by.

Hopefully, this list will help you work out what kind of camping getaway you’re in the mood for to plan your next camping trip.

 

Treachery Beach, Seal Rocks, NSW
Treachery Beach, Seal Rocks

 

1. Beach camping in a National Park

 

Pros

This type of weekend fully allows you to get away and switch off. These campsites are worth foregoing a shower and some home comforts for their stunning location within a National Park. Opt for one of these and you will be rewarded with the feeling of being completely remote and like the beach is all yours. Either because the number of spots is often limited or, simply because you are geographically far from civilization.

Cons

The remote nature of this type of weekend means you have to be better prepared and buy all your food, drink (and sometimes water) in advance. Plus, everyone wants a slice of this camping pie so expect to book at least 3 months in advance but typically 6-8 months for the more popular places. Especially a spot in a campsite closer to Sydney (the Central Coast for example), over a weekend (i.e. Friday and Saturday nights) and during peak and shoulder seasons (October to April). 

Where to camp

Little Beach and Putty Beach campgrounds when camping in Bouddi National Park, Fraser campground when camping in Munmorah State Conservation Area, Depot Beach campground when camping in Murramarang National Park, Sandon River and Illaroo campgrounds when camping in Yuraygir National Park.

 

Ilaroo Campground, Yuraygir National Park, NSW
Ilaroo Campground next to Sandon Beach in Yuraygir National Park

 

 

2. Beach camping with more facilities and coffee options

 

This weekend still offers you all the benefits of camping and being remote. The difference is you don’t have to sacrifice all your home comforts and it’s an easier getaway to prepare for.

These campsites will guarantee you a hot shower and everything to suit your camping needs. They tend to be independently-owned, or part of a smaller chain of holiday parks instead of the bigger chains like Big4 or NRMA, but still feel remote due to close proximity to a National Park. This means they are still in great locations, next to a beach, but still, give you the sense of being away from civilization. 

Pros

They give you the best of both worlds: a feeling of being away from it all without having to compromise on the comfort of a hot shower and barista-made coffee. They are also more likely to be available to book last-minute or only a few weeks in advance, instead of months.

Cons

Because they offer the best of both worlds, in my experience this type of campsite tends to be further away and at least a 3-hour drive away from Sydney.

Where to camp

Treachery Camp or Seal Rocks Reflections Holiday Park when camping at Seal Rocks, Lakesea Park when camping in South Durras, Holiday Haven Bendalong when camping in Bendalong, The Ruins Campground when camping around Blueys Beach, Woody Head Campground when camping near Iluka.

 

 

Single Fin Coffee, Seal Rocks, NSW
Grab a coffee and a pastry from Single Fin Coffee

 

 

3. Beach camping near cafes

This kind of weekend makes camping easy and hassle-free. Leaving you to enjoy the benefits of camping life mixed with a cheap weekend getaway.

These campsites let you enjoy your days in and around the beach whilst also spending the evening eating or having a drink out. This type of campsite is particularly suited to camping during the winter months when the days are short and it’s dark come 5pm. 

Pros

You don’t have to cook every meal and you can still have a drink out without worrying about having to find a taxi to get you home (which is often not an option in a small seaside village).

Cons

Being closer to civilisation means you lose the sense of being completely remote.

Where to camp

Bonny Hills Reflections Holiday Park when camping in Bonny Hills, Holiday Haven Huskisson Beach when camping in Jervis Bay and Crescent Head Holiday Park when camping in Crescent Head, Calypso Holiday Park Yamba when camping in Yamba.

 

 

Yamba, NSW
Yum Yum Angourie Cafe and General Store in Yamba

 

 

4. Beach camping near a coastal town

This is the sort of weekend where you can explore a whole area for the day whilst still enjoying coastal camp life.

Pros

Particularly good over the winter months when it’s too cold to just sit around the campsite when the sun goes down early.

Cons

You have to drive (and have a designated driver in the evenings).

Where to camp

Ingenia Holidays One Mile Beach when camping in Port Stephens, Werri Beach Holiday Park near Gerringong, Trial Bay Gaol Campground near South West Rocks, First Sun Holiday Park and Ingenia Holidays Byron Bay when camping in Byron Bay.

 

 

Balcony Bar & Oyster Co, in Byron Bay
Balcony Bar & Oyster Co, in Byron Bay

 

5. Inland camping

I am definitely more of a coastal camper but camping inland is also a great option. The Blue Mountains and Kangaroo Valley are my go-to places for inland camping and enjoying a weekend of waterfalls and walking.

Pros

You get to explore places inland; enjoying the sounds of the bush, dramatic vistas and nearby waterfalls. There are also more options for free camping inland.

Cons

It can get colder at night when camping inland.

Where to camp

Bendeela Recreation Area when camping in Kangaroo Valley (it’s free). Catherdral Reserve when camping in the Blue Mountains (also free). 

 

 

Bendeela Recreation Area, Kangaroo Valley, NSW
Bendeela free camping area in Kangaroo Valley

 

Planning your camping weekend

Now you’ve sussed out what type of weekend you’re after (or perhaps what kind of break you need), to help you plan your next trip I’ve pulled together a list of the things I research and look out when planning a camping trip.

Research what’s around the campsite

If you’re trying to work out if there will be an opportunity to buy breakfast or a coffee locally, then look it up on Google first. Type in ‘cafe’, ‘coffee’ or ‘restaurant’ and you’ll very quickly get a good idea of how many options there are around the campsite.

Work out if there are places you actually want to visit nearby

Do some quick research to establish if it’s the type of place worth having closeby to visit. Photos on the Google listing can help but I also find the photos don’t always do a place justice. So read a few reviews to gauge the quality of food (plus how others rate the coffee). Because if there’s nothing closeby you might prefer to take all your food to cook with you in advance. Or, choose a different campsite.

Check to see if there is a Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) serving up food and drink

If you’re going to be camping near a patrolled beach with a Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC), it’s worth investigating whether it has its own kiosk or cafe on site. In my experience, they serve up great food that is good value for money (e.g. bacon and egg rolls for $10). Their location also makes them the perfect place to grab a takeaway and enjoy breakfast on the beach.

 

 

I hope this helps you plan your camping weekends a little easier. I often plan to go away but don’t book anywhere until a couple of days before. This is because I find that my mood can often change depending on if I’ve had a busy week at work and am craving the stillness of somewhere remote, or if I’ve had a quieter (healthier) few weeks and am up for eating and drinking out. It also means you can keep an eye on the weather forecast to avoid any thunderstorms!

Happy planning and happy camping!