The Basin, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
So, you’re new to camping. Let’s start you off slowly, since you don’t want to forego your city luxuries like showers and hot meals. The Basin is a camp staple for Sydneysiders who love being near the beach and under the stars but without roughing it too hard. Just shy of two hours from the city, it’s super convenient, plus it’s got killer beaches and walking tracks that’ll shape up your pins in time for summer. Got a day up your sleeve and itching to make the most of your time up North? Hit up Barrenjoey Head across the pond for the lighthouse and the unbeatable views over Palm Beach. It’s a 45 minute ferry ride each way and you’ll want to leave plenty of time for exploring the lighthouse path. Summer Bay starlet spotting not guaranteed.
Did you know: The Basin is a walk-in campground (i.e. no cars). Take the easy option, and jump on the ferry from Palm Beach (under $20 return), or park on West Head Road, load up and walk or cycle the 2.8km track
Euroka Campground, Blue Mountains National Park
Possibly the best thing about Euroka campground in Blue Mountains National Park is its gang of adorable grey ’roos. They’re friendly, so you can even take a few snaps of them while you’re listening to kookaburras and cooking your snags in the late arvo. What’s more beautifully Aussie than that? The campground is walking distance to Nepean River, which you can swim in, and the nearby Tunnel View lookout offers unmissable views. No surprise, Euroka’s incredibly popular, so book your campsite in advance (you can book up to a year ahead).
Kingfisher Pool Campground, Heathcote National Park
Sometimes you get that email or text or notification that just pushes you over the edge. “I need to stop looking at my phone so much,” you say. A likely story, we say. But if you’re serious about unplugging, Kingfisher Pool campground feels about as far from civilisation as you can get but it’s actually close to Sydney and just a few kms from Waterfall station. There are limited facilities here (picnic table and a toilet, phew!), but you’ll need to BYO water, ready-made cuisine and shelter, and be okay with going bush. The perk: your very own natural ‘pool’, fringed with Gymea lilies, tea trees and waxflowers.
Little Beach Campground, Bouddi National Park
Beach, cliffs, forest – need we say more? The cove at Little Beach is an ideal base for trips along the gorgeous Bouddi Coastal walk, one of the most rugged headlands in the state. Do a beach-crawl from Putty Beach to MacMasters Beach, and bring your board to take advantage of that early swell.
Bents Basin Campground, Bents Basin State Conservation Area
This campground’s so decked-out, even the most high-maintenance camper won’t whinge. Bents Basin, the primo watering hole that gives the park it’s name, is a safe and scenic pocket of the Nepean River, perfect for swimming, fishing, kayaking and bringing the fam. Take some food for the BBQ plus floaties and an inner tube, and snack and float the day away. Bliss.
Cattai Campground, Cattai National Park
It’s not just the campground at Cattai National Park that’s impressive. Though it has everything you need for a camping getaway – think grassy open spaces for biking and badminton, essentials like BBQs and facilities blocks (there’s even mobile coverage!), inquisitive wildlife, and ribbons of beach. The major draw is the nearby historical site along the Hawkesbury River. Set up camp then go exploring the colonial buildings that have been there since the 19th century, then have a swim or do some fishing.
Tandara, Lane Cove National Park
Is ‘glamping’ really camping? Who cares! Have you seen this place?! Tandara is one of the most luxurious camping options in the state: we’re talking an exclusive safari-style tent with your own deck (complete with lounge chairs and over-sized BBQ), king-size bed, plasma TV and DVD, and a slick bathroom with both bathtub and shower … so, it’s nicer than my own house. If you manage to leave the tent (it’s hard, we know), check out the water dragons, sugar gliders, tawny frogmouths and even endangered bandicoots scampering around outside your door. It’s only 10km from Chatswood, but it feels like the jungle.
Bonnie Vale Campground, Royal National Park
Why is Bonnie Vale the most popular campground on our list? Well, it could be the appeal of all mod-cons like flush toilets, hot showers and drinking water. Or maybe it’s the large sand spit and sheltered Hacking River, great for swimming or kayaking on weekends. Actually, Royal National Park is a huge drawcard in itself, since – you know – it has some of the most amazing natural beauty in the state. Convinced yet? It’s also one of the easiest to access from Sydney. Spots at Bonnie Vale campground are so sought after that there’s usually a six month wait. As always, book ahead!
Did you know: While you’re planning, book a tour with an Aboriginal Discovery ranger and learn some essential history about the area, including how the Dharawal people used to live with this land. Don’t miss the tour of ancient rock carvings at Jibbon Point.