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Also known as holiday parks or tourist parks, caravan parks in Australia are well organised and welcoming, most featuring built accommodation as well as spacious grounds for campers. Campervan sites are usually surfaced with grass or compacted soil, at least partially shaded, with adjacent water/power points and sometimes hard stands for awnings and outdoor furniture. Communal facilities include bathrooms, laundries, camp kitchens (often open-air) and barbecue areas. WiFi, games rooms, playgrounds and swimming pools are also common, with spa pools, go-karts, grocery kiosks, tennis courts, bike and kayak hire a bonus. Most have sewage and greywater dump stations.
Fees and bookings: A powered site for two people averages around AU$28–40 per night. Bookings are strongly advisable during the four school holiday breaks and major local events; otherwise you can normally just cruise on in. The majority of the 2500 or so caravan parks in Australia rally under the banners of state holiday parks associations, listed under 'Get Going' below.
National Park campsites
If you'd like to immerse yourself in nature, you'll be wowed by the thousands of vehicle-accessible campsites spread across more than 500 national parks. The majority have toilets, with many also sporting fire pits and communal shelters. A water supply is not guaranteed so it will pay to ensure your freshwater tank is full. Some popular national parks boast powered sites, hot showers, rubbish collection, laundry facilities and barbecues.
Fees and bookings: Many unpowered national park campsites are free, while others hover around the $10 per night mark. Fees can climb to $60 at the most popular parks in peak season, with some sites allocated by ballot. If you wish to camp in national parks during busy times, contact the relevant parks service in advance for bookings. At other times and places, sites are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, with fees paid to the ranger or via a self-registration station.
State Parks & Shire camping grounds
There are thousands of camping grounds in Australia's state parks, forest parks and riverside reserves, as well as public domains such as sports grounds. These are administered by local authorities – either the state government or local council – and vary widely in their facilities and cost. Regional tourism brochures are a great way to find these, as is the guidebook (and app) Camps Australia Wide.
Fees and bookings: The majority of State Park & Shire campgrounds are cheap (around $10–15 per site per night), or even free.
Back-to-basics free camping can be found in Australia's national parks, state parks and other reserves, with many sites located along riverbanks. Few have powered sites or dump points, and fresh water may not be available. Each state and territory has different rules concerning free camping, and there are tough penalties for those who break them. If you're unsure, ask a local or contact the nearest Visitor Centre. Australian Campsites is also a useful resource.
Fees and bookings: Free camping in Australia is first-come, first served. Many camps have limits on the number of campers allowed, so it will pay to have a back-up plan – particularly during peak times.