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The best camping near Canberra and its surrounds

Times are tough for travellers. But with the world preparing to reopen in 2021, we're here to keep you dreaming and planning for your next adventure - whether that's a staycation or flying off to parts unknown. Until then, we've got the latest COVID-19 travel advice and updates to keep you up to date and ready to go.

Canberra is a hugely popular domestic travel destination. Many people know the capital for its city delights, but its bush getaways are some of its best kept secrets. Explore the Bush Capital and discover the best camping near Canberra. This includes free camping, dog-friendly reserves, iconic waterfalls and incredible spots to sleep under the stars just a few hours away by car.

Please note: Travel restrictions can change at any time. Stay updated on the official ACT government advice on the official government website.

1. Cotter Campground, Casuarina Sands

If you’re after a weekend jaunt within easy reach of Canberra, grab a swag and make for Cotter Campground. It’s just 20 minutes from the city to reach the serene banks of Cotter River, where you’ll find some of the best camping near Canberra.

It’s kitted out with hot showers, flushing toilets, potable water, the works! Travellers will be in for a stress-free camping experience thanks to Cotter’s no-booking policy. All you have to do is rock up with a cash fee payable to either the park ranger or the honesty box. Then you’re free to make use of the fishing, swimming and canoeing opportunities. The Brindabella Mountains also happen to be a short and scenic drive away.

2. Namadgi National Park

Namadgi National Park lies at the heart of the Bush Capital, offering fishing, horse riding, mountain biking and hiking trails galore. Naturally, with great recreational activities comes great camping near Canberra.

A classic creekside camping spot, Orroral Campground is a favourite with families. The grounds offer traditional tent sites, excellent facilities and children under the age of 15 are able to stay free of charge ($8 for everyone else). There’s easy access to the imposing Granite Tors, a walk worth exploring, as well as the Orroral Valley Tracking Station. Once integral to the Apollo missions, the station has fallen into disrepair but remains a fun spot for kids to frolic and learn a bit of history along the way.

If you’re intending to camp with a large group in tow, check out Honeysuckle Campground. They are equally well equipped in terms of amenities and provide a separate area for organised groups of campervans.

Find yourself off the beaten path at Mt Clear Campground, the most remote site in Namadgi National Park. Accessed via an unsealed road and offering basic facilities, you’ll be putting your wilderness skills to the test.

3. Micalong Creek Reserve, Wee Jasper

Wee Jasper lies just across the border in New South Wales. But being a mere 90 minute drive away, we couldn’t leave it off the list. Overhanging willow trees, swimming holes, a tiny island only accessible by bridge and a bubbling creek running beneath, it’s a campsite you won’t want to leave.

The campsite is also dog-friendly, so furry friends on a lead are welcome guests. The reserve offers basic unpowered sites as well as flushing toilets and hot showers. For the more adventurous campers, it’s also the starting point for all Micalong Creek walks, including the stunning cascades of the Micalong Falls.

4. Long Gully Campground, Morton National Park

Veering into New South Wales territory, Morton National Park is a popular wilderness getaway three hours from Canberra. Thundering falls, gaping ravines and pure, rugged bush makes it worth the drive.

Self sufficient travellers should make use of the free camping offered at Long Gully, it consists of unmarked sites and basic facilities (drop toilets and picnic tables) so it’s a very much a BYO experience. It’s set right by the Yadboro River at the foot of the towering Budawang Ranges. Savvy hikers can take advantage of the nearby Monolith Valley, considered to be the region’s crowning jewel.

5. Blue Waterholes Campground, Kosciuszko National Park

The idyllic Blue Waterholes Campground is yet another three hour drive from Canberra. It toes the line between ACT and NSW as Namadgi merges into Kosciuszko National Park.

The site is backed by breathtaking views of the limestone cliffs of Clarke Gorge, and travellers are able to camp beside their vehicle with tents or trailers. A short track will lead you to its namesake. The turquoise pools gained its brilliant blue hues from the high mineral content in the water and makes for an refreshing dip. In wet weather, you’ll need a 4WD to access the site.

6. Jervis Bay National Park

While we’ve flirted with the ACT and NSW borders, Jervis Bay may seem like it crosses the line. As it turns out, all Australian states are required to have a port and landlocked Canberra was gifted Jervis Bay by New South Wales. Try adding that to your Christmas wish list!

Jervis Bay is famous for its white sand beaches, something you won’t find in landlocked Canberra any time soon. However, if you’re content to simply visit the stunning national park, check out our article on the best camping spots in New South Wales.

Jervis Bay is great for camping
White sand beaches of Jervis Bay

There are plenty of great camping options near Canberra, especially if you’re up for a bit of road trip. Before you depart, be sure to double check the latest travel restrictions.

FAQs about camping near Canberra

Are there any free campsites near Canberra?

Canberra has a mix of free, paid and mixed campsites nearby. Some free campsites include Sawyers Ridge, Gunning Showground and Warri Camping Reserve.

Can I pitch a tent anywhere in a national park?

Not all national parks in Australia allow camping at all, but most do. In those ones, there are dedicated campsites. Some national park campsites are paid, while others are free.

Is wild camping legal in Australia?

Wild camping is illegal in Australia. This is generally due to land rights and their usage. If you want to camp, you need to either go to a campsite or have permission from the land owner.

Where can I go?

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Read more

Keep up to date with the latest travel retrictions and border closures with Skyscanner’s COVID-19 travel advice.

Find out more about the nation’s capital by reading about the incredible outdoor adventures available in Canberra.

The ACT is also home to a vibrant cultural scene. Learn about the best wine and dine spots in Canberra.