Along with fuel and food, accommodation is one of the biggest costs you’ll face on the road. There will always be times when you want and appreciate the comforts and facilities of a van park and, of course, you expect to pay for these luxuries.
What makes these camps winners? They all come in around (or well under) that budget-friendly $20 mark and all have something unique to offer – whether it’s glorious seclusion, beachfront views or easy access to great attractions. So get your pen and paper ready!
Keep River NP, NT
The Territory has some epic national park campsites and, as an added bonus, the camping fees are generally really reasonable, so it’s pretty hard to pick a budget-friendly favourite – there are heaps! However, Keep River NP is a particularly special place – a small park just 3km east of the NT/WA border that truly punches above its weight.
The Jarnem Campground is one of two camps in the park and is 32km from the park entrance along a sometimes-corrugated dirt track. The campground sits in the shadow of the surrounding hills, which glow a deep red in the late afternoon, putting on a majestic display for campers.
A fantastic 7km loop walk leaves from the campground and can be done in shorter sections if it’s too hot to contemplate that kind of distance. It winds around the back of the hillsides up to a spectacular lookout, offering views of the Purnululu-esque beehive formations of the nearby ranges.
THE DIGS: This is an excellent bush camp offering basic but clean facilities, beautiful scenery, great bird watching and proximity to some great bushwalks.
AROUND AND ABOUT: It’s worth checking out each of the different bushwalks on offer in the park – they’re all pretty special. Keep River is an excellent stop off en route to and from the Kimberley.
FACILITIES: Drop toilets, fire pits, picnic tables, drinking water.
BUDGET: $3.30 per adult.
WORKMAN’s BEACH CAMPGROUND
Agnes Water, Qld
This popular campground sits on the headland at the outskirts of the small beachside town of Agnes Water – a surfers’ oasis on the southern edge of the Great Barrier Reef, just north of Bundaberg.
Thirty-eight well-manicured campsites offer easy access to Agnes Water’s main beach as well as several smaller, secluded beaches – the closest of which is accessed via a short track down the hillside from the campground and is perfect for frolicking in the shallow waters or lounging on the sand under a shady tree.
Access to the camp from the main road is via a short dirt track and the flat sites are well spaced and suited to a variety of rigs. There’s also a large, grassy picnic and barbecue area – perfect for long, lazy Queensland afternoons.
THE DIGS: You can happily spend numerous days relaxing at camp here, cooling off at the beach out front. It’s also an easy 1km walk into town, and a great base to explore a protected pocket of the Great Barrier Reef.
AROUND AND ABOUT: Explore nearby Eurimbula and Deepwater national parks, the adjacent beach town of Seventeen Seventy, or jump on a boat to Lady Musgrave Island for snorkelling on the Reef.
FACILITIES: Well-maintained flushing toilets, outdoor cold water shower, drinking water, gas barbecues, picnic tables, rubbish collection, pet-friendly.
BUDGET: $9.20 per person.
Dampier Peninsula, WA
Quandong Point is, without a doubt, one of our favourite freebies. Here, a spread of campsites stretches along the pindan cliffs above stunning beaches in this remote corner of northern WA. But while it feels a million miles from anywhere, this great beachfront camp is only 50km north of Broome, so it’s an easy trip back into town to stock up on supplies if you want to stay longer (which you will, believe me!).
The campsites are spaced out behind the dunes in either direction of the sandy access road, so it’s worth exploring before you pick a site. There are no facilities at all, so you need to be fully self-sufficient. You’ll want your awning, too, as there’s little shade.
The huge tides change the beach dramatically, uncovering tantalising rock pools and miles of beach to stroll along, as well as plenty of platforms for fishing. If you’re lucky enough to visit during the annual whale migration, the cliff-top campsites offer uninterrupted views of these magnificent creatures. Other than that, it’s the perfect place to kick back and do absolutely nothing.
THE DIGS: Absolute beachfront camping – nothing beats watching the sun set over the water here as you relax by your campfire.
AROUND AND ABOUT: A good base for exploring Broome or as a starting point for adventures up to Cape Leveque.
The full feature appeared in Caravan World #572. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!