Top 5 Summer Camps

Ali Millar — 12 December 2018

Point Plomer, NSW

Limeburners Creek National Park

An open, grassy campground set immediately behind a sweeping expanse of golden sand awaits you at this popular, family-friendly spot, between Port Macquarie and Crescent Head.
Point Plomer is the perfect place for a summer getaway, with plentiful opportunities for swimming, walking, fishing and surfing close by. The large campground offers beachfront views and easy access to the water via the boat ramp.

Wander over the headland for great views down the coast and take Happy Hour drinks with you to make the most of the sunset skies from this peaceful spot.

Set on a quiet stretch of coastline, the campground is a great base for exploring the numerous beaches and headlands along this part of the mid-north NSW coast. While you'll feel a world away from everything, the popular surf town of Crescent Head is just 25 minutes up the road and has all the essentials for stocking your van's pantry.

There are limited facilities at Point Plomer, but ice and firewood are available from the campsite office. Stop in at the laid-back Bush Cafe on the edge of the national park for a coffee and, if you’re there over the weekend, book in for a woodfired pizza dinner.

FAST FACTS

  • Point Plomer is an 80km drive north of Port Macquarie, via the Pacific Highway and Crescent Head. 
  • Camping costs $24 per site, per night for two people. Park entry fees also apply. Sites cannot be booked in advance. Camping fees are paid on arrival.
  • Campground facilities include cold showers, toilets, picnic tables and a boat ramp. 


Johanna Beach, VIC

Great Otway National Park

The Great Ocean Road is arguably Victoria’s most popular and well-known summer playground. The winding coastal road offers stunning vistas, with steep cliffs dropping into the Southern Ocean and lines of waves wrapping around the coast. Beach upon glorious beach offers golden strips of sand breaking up the rocky shoreline as you head west, away from the hustle and bustle of Melbourne.

Past Cape Otway and the popular holiday town of Apollo Bay, among rolling paddocks dotted with cows, you’ll find the grassy campground at Johanna Beach. Adjacent to a long, wild and particularly picturesque surf beach, this spot is popular with surfers, hikers and fishermen.

Facilities are limited to drop toilets and there’s not a whole lot to distract you from enjoying quiet time at camp, strolling along the beach or sitting up at the lookout watching the ocean and enjoying the views.

Johanna Beach is a stop-off on the Great Ocean Walk and there are also some shorter walking tracks in the vicinity which allow you to explore some of this beautiful coast on foot. It’s also a convenient base for exploring the rainforests and waterfalls of the nearby Otway Ranges.

FAST FACTS

  • Johanna Beach Campground is accessed via Old Coach Road, 45km west of Apollo Bay.
  • Camping must be booked online in advance and costs $26.80 per site, per night.
  • Facilities include non-flushing toilets. Dogs on leads are allowed.


Pebbly Beach, NSW

Yuraygir National Park

Sometimes the best camps require a little more effort and Pebbly Beach is one of those places. This remote campground on the NSW north coast is an absolute gem — accessed by driving down a long, open beach and crossing a saltwater estuary at low tide. If the sound of this little adventure is enough to whet your appetite, then this one’s for you.

Pebbly Beach’s campsites are nestled immediately behind the dunes, along the edges of a small bay, so you can set up within earshot of the water lapping at the gravel-like sand. This is the sort of place you set up to stay a while so you’ll want to be fully stocked before you arrive.

Enjoy walks around the headland and along the beaches. Peruse the rockpools as you wander or don your snorkel and fins to get a closer look at the underwater world along the rocky edges of the bay. Throw in a line off the beach or rocks, or try your luck along the sandy banks of the estuary.

And when you've had enough exploring, cook up a summer barbecue and relax at camp, content in the knowledge there’s nowhere else you'd rather be.

FAST FACTS

  • Pebbly Beach Campground is around 50km north of Coffs Harbour. Access is via unsealed roads, dune tracks, beach and a saltwater creek crossing. This campground is suitable only for smaller vans, towed by high clearance 4WDs.
  • Camping costs $12 per adult, per night. Sites cannot be booked in advance, so it’s best to arrive early, particularly in summer. Camping fees are collected on site. Park entry fees also apply. 
  • Facilities are limited to non-flush toilets. 


Pondalowie Bay, SA

Yuraygir National Park

Sometimes the best camps require a little more effort and Pebbly Beach is one of those places. This remote campground on the NSW north coast is an absolute gem — accessed by driving down a long, open beach and crossing a saltwater estuary at low tide. If the sound of this little adventure is enough to whet your appetite, then this one’s for you.

Pebbly Beach’s campsites are nestled immediately behind the dunes, along the edges of a small bay, so you can set up within earshot of the water lapping at the gravel-like sand. This is the sort of place you set up to stay a while so you’ll want to be fully stocked before you arrive.

Enjoy walks around the headland and along the beaches. Peruse the rockpools as you wander or don your snorkel and fins to get a closer look at the underwater world along the rocky edges of the bay. Throw in a line off the beach or rocks, or try your luck along the sandy banks of the estuary.

And when you've had enough exploring, cook up a summer barbecue and relax at camp, content in the knowledge there’s nowhere else you'd rather be.

FAST FACTS

  • Pebbly Beach Campground is around 50km north of Coffs Harbour. Access is via unsealed roads, dune tracks, beach and a saltwater creek crossing. This campground is suitable only for smaller vans, towed by high clearance 4WDs.
  • Camping costs $12 per adult, per night. Sites cannot be booked in advance, so it’s best to arrive early, particularly in summer. Camping fees are collected on site. Park entry fees also apply. 
  • Facilities are limited to non-flush toilets. 


Barmah Lakes, VIC

Barmah National Park

Beautiful Barmah National Park offers vanners a majestic camping experience among (but never under!) the extensive forest of river red gums that are protected by the park. River reds are renowned for dropping their branches, so setting up your van beneath their limbs is a mistake you don't want to make.

The park extends along the banks of the Murray River, whose sandy beaches and fresh water offer a less frenetic alternative to the summer crowds on the coast. There’s a pleasant camping and day use area at Barmah Lakes, or you can explore further afield and find your own peaceful patch of riverfront to set up camp.
Watching the skies above the river come alive with birds in the stillness of a summer evening is a sight to behold.

The Murray is the lifeline of this landscape, supporting numerous wetlands and an array of waterbirds.

Canoeing is popular on the waterways and there are four canoe trails to choose from in the park. There's also plenty of opportunity for fishing in close proximity
to camp.

FAST FACTS

  • Barmah Lakes is about 70km north of Shepparton. Access the campground via the park entrance near the town of Barmah.
  • Camping is free, no bookings required.
  • The Barmah Lakes camping area has toilets, fireplaces and tables. There are no facilities if you opt to camp along the riverfront.


Beat the heat (and the crowds!)

  • Research first: Summer is often the busiest time of year for camping, so check whether you need to book ahead to avoid disappointment. Where you can’t book, arrive early in the day for the best pick of the sites. Sun shelter: Keep your cool and try to pick a campsite with some shade. This will not only provide shelter, your batteries will also thank you for keeping for van out of the full sun. Get your awning out early, too, for extra coverage.
  • Water toys: Nothing cools you off like splashing around in the water and long summer days lend themselves to an array of water-based activities, so pack accordingly. Don’t forget your snorkel, fishing gear, surfboard, inflatable tube or kayak.
  • Summer treats: There’s nothing like an icy-cold drink or refreshing treat on a hot summer’s day, so come prepared. If you have a freezer on board, pack some icy poles — try making your own with pureed fruit before leaving home.
  • Insect invasion: Insects tend to be more prolific during the summer months and they really can ruin your camping fun. So be sure to pack clothes that allow you to cover up while keeping cool and don’t forget the repellent. Keeping insect screens closed will make a world of difference in your van and personal fly nets can come in handy outside.