The cost of living might be biting at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up the joy of a weekend away. Waking up somewhere new to explore is still within reach, you just need the insider info on the right spot to head to without dipping too far into the savings account.
Here are six short nature breaks in NSW to suit every getaway vibe. The best bit? The bill comes in at under $200* every time.
Family beach bargain
Just 15 mins from holiday hotspot Forster, this is a beach stay for the whole family for a fraction of the price you’d expect.
The Ruins has all the facilities to keep everyone in the family happy including a recently renovated, modern amenities block with hot showers and flush toilets. The coastal cafes of nearby Pacific Palms are also close, so when the urge for a barista coffee from that early camping wake up strikes, you’re in luck.
Pristine Seven Mile Beach is only a few steps from the tent. If you can tear the family away from the swims and beach games, don’t miss the walk along the new Booti Hill track for stunning coastal and lake views.
Stay safe in and around the water with our beach safety tips.
Cost*: $139 for campsite, $16 for 2-day park entry, $25 for café coffees…and milkshakes for the kids = $180
Crew adventureView this post on Instagram
If you’re after a micro adventure with some friends, this spot, an easy drive from the Southern Highlands or Goulburn, is the place.
The big attraction here you may not have heard of but you’ll be Instagramming long after you’ve returned is the Bungonia Slot Canyon. Caving and rock climbing tours are available, but if you need to keep costs down, set out on Green Track for a 3hr bushwalk taking in all the sights including the view straight down into the 300m high limestone cliffs of the canyon.
Bungonia campground has everything your group needs – an enclosed kitchen area for whipping up a big team meal, a gas heater for everyone to warm up around and even a common room for hire for board games and banter in the evening.
Cost*: $98 campsite, $16 for 2-day park entry = $114
History buffs delightView this post on Instagram
Welcome to the roaring days of the gold rush! Hill End is an easy drive from Bathurst, Mudgee or Orange, or 3.5 hours from Sydney, but worth the trip for a truly unique weekend.
Set up your tent, caravan, campervan or trailer at Village campground, which is a convenient walking distance from the town centre. Good news: furry friends are welcome to stay too!
Start your exploration into the past at quaint museum Hill End Heritage Centre and spend the afternoon wandering around the town’s heritage buildings including the General Store where you can pick up some camp snacks. If you’re curious about life underground, join a tour of Bald Hill tourist mine and go deep down into the 1870s goldmine shaft.
It’s hard to believe, but Hill End once had 28 pubs in its heyday, so stopping in at the Royal Hotel, for dinner and a chat with one of the locals behind the bar is a must.
Cost *: $69 campsite, $20 mine tour for 2, $50 pub meal for 2 at the Royal Hotel, $20 snacks from the General Store, $15 bag of firewood = $174
Waterfalls and waves
30 mins from Wollongong, this is a hidden gem of a short break on the south coast.
Grassy Killalea campground is at the top of a hill overlooking the popular surf spot locals know as ‘The Farm’. Perfect for beginners and casual surfers, hire a board and give the usually gently breaking waves a go.
To explore another south coast wonder, road trip home via Minnamurra Rainforest. The Minnamurra Falls walk will take you deep into the lush rainforest, with wildlife spotting along the way (keep an eye out for lyrebirds) emerging at viewing platforms for the upper and lower parts of the waterfall.
Cost*: $139 campsite, $40 for 2 x surfboard hire for 1 hour, $12 car entry to Budderoo NP for Minnamurra Rainforest = $191
Did you know: Minnamurra means ‘plenty of fish’ in the language of the Dharawal people.
Rainforest hikes, comfy nightsView this post on Instagram
Road trip inland from north coast towns Ballina, Byron and Lismore to escape from it all in lush, World Heritage-listed Gondwana rainforest.
Bushwalking is the main activity here, so try one of the three walks that leave straight from the campsite. Start on the easy Palm Forest walking track and continue on Rosewood loop until you reach the crystal clear creek to stop for a dip, or challenge yourself with a longer half day hike along the Booyong walking track.
At the end of an active day, retire and enjoy the special feature which makes this campground extra comfy: camping decks for your tent – meaning no dirt in the sleeping bag, a perfectly flat sleep surface, and an elevated position looking out over the trees. Don’t forget to BYO firewood for stories around the fire.
Ranger tips: before you go, you should always check for park alerts, and keep updated with the latest fire safety info. If a park fire ban is in place you will not be able to light a campfire or solid fuel barbecue or stove. If a Total Fire Ban is in place you will not be able to light a fire out in the open.
Cost*: $98 campsite, $16 for 2-day park entry, $15 bag of firewood = $129
What about the most important part of any trip, we hear you ask. Where’s the food? Yes, feeding yourself and your camp companions adds some dollars, but it doesn’t have to blow out if you have a few clever camp kitchen hacks in mind.
For a group of four, about $25 per person will cover sausages and burgers on the barbie for dinners, tasty pre-made pumpkin soup brought along from home and damper cooked over the camp stove for lunch, and granola with yoghurt and fresh fruit at brekkie. Then all you’ll need is some leftover change for the real necessities: tea, hot chocolate, marshmallows, and biscuits for s’mores around the fire.
Check out our round-up of the 10 best camp meals for more inspiration, put it in the budget, and you’re all set to make plans to hit the road!
*Prices may vary. Costs calculated for a 2-night stay for 4 people at an unpowered site during peak season. Costs correct as at September 2023