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Cost: Free

Address: Bretti Trail, Bretti, NSW 2422

GPS: -31.793745, 151.914713

Toilets: Yes (long-drop)

Showers: No

Campfires: Yes, and wood BBQs (check current fire restrictions)

Max Stay: One month

Road Access: 2WD

Water: BYO (creek water must be treated)

Number of Sites: Unmarked, loads of space

Power Available: No

Dog-Friendly: Yes (but there are roaming cattle)

Big Rigs: Yes

1. Bretti Reserve
Gloucester, NSW

Located on the banks of the Barnard River in the foothills of Barrington Tops, Bretti Reserve is a sprawling, grassy free camp. It’s half an hour north of Gloucester on Thunderbolts Way, which I reckon is one of the most beautiful drives in NSW, winding north through the lush, rolling hinterland of the Mid North Coast to the New England Tablelands.

Bretti Reserve has loads of space to set up on the banks of the river, which is shallow and rocky with the occasional deeper pool – ideal for swimming and floating around on a lilo, making it great for kids. There’s also the occasional trout lurking in the shadows so pack the fishing rod. 

From Bretti Reserve it’s easy to take a daytrip up into the beautiful Barrington Tops National Park for a spot of light 4WDing or bushwalking amongst the Antarctic beech trees and snow gums.

LIFESTYLE Bush Camps

RIPPER
BUSH CAMPS

5

Get lost (metaphorically speaking) in these wild and wonderful remote campgrounds

WORDS EMMA RYAN

IMAGES FROM TOP Wildflowers in Barrington Tops (credit: Destination NSW) // The view from nearby Thunderbolts Lookout (credit: Destination NSW) // Cool off in the Barnard River // Idyllic camping at Bretti Reserve

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Cost: Free

Address: Manari Road, Waterbank, WA 6725

GPS: -17.488359, 122.143847

Toilets: No

Showers: No

Campfires: Yes (check current fire restrictions)

Max Stay: 3 days

Road Access: 4WD only

Water: BYO

Number of Sites: Unmarked, loads of space

Power Available: No

Dog-Friendly: Yes

Big Rigs: No – lightweight off-road vans only

2. James Price Point
The Kimberley, WA

50km north of Broome up the unsealed, corrugated red sand of Broome-Cape Leveque Road you’ll find James Price Point, an absolutely stunning, remote stretch of iconic Kimberley coast. Here, a jagged red rock shelf stretches up the coast like a crimson wave frozen in time. It fringes white sandy beaches that melt into the turquoise Indian Ocean. The colour palate is truly something to behold.

You can set up camp on the rock shelf or the beach itself if your rig is suitable, and it’s a large enough area to find your own little patch of paradise – although its proximity to Broome can make weekends busy. There are no facilities so you’ll need to be completely self-sufficient, including vehicle recovery gear.

From James Price Point you can unhitch and spend the day exploring the beaches and red sandy inland tracks heading north towards Cape Leveque. Definitely bring the fishing gear, because the waters here are teeming with life. Nearby Willie Creek Pearl Farm is also an interesting place to visit, with tours available.

IMAGES FROM TOP Cape Leveque Road can be corrugated and rough (credit: Tourism Western Australia) // The colour palate in this remote corner of the country is something to behold // Dinner cooking on the fire on the beach, nothing better // Dreaming story of James Price Point

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Cost: $11 per adult and $3 per child, per night

Address: Francois Peron National Park, Shark Bay, WA, 6537

GPS: -25.5783, 113.464

Toilets: Yes

Showers: No

Campfires: No, but gas BBQs on site

Max Stay: None

Road Access: 4WD only

Water: BYO

Number of Sites: TBC

Power Available: No

Dog-Friendly: No

Big Rigs?: No – lightweight off-road vans only

3. South Gregories
Francois Peron National Park, WA

Coastal bush camps don’t come much more peaceful than South Gregories, a sleepy campsite on the northwest tip of Francois Peron National Park in Shark Bay on WA’s Coral Coast.

Francois Peron National Park is known for its outback-meets-the-sea aesthetic; it’s a peninsula of soft red sand carpeted in low-lying coastal scrub that juts into the dazzling blue waters of Shark Bay, where dugongs and turtles graze on sea grasses.

The tracks in the park are narrow and very soft, so it’s suitable only to small off-road vans being towed by drivers with experience towing off-road. South Gregories is one of several campsites in the park, providing sheltered camping a stone’s throw from the water. A striking, blood-red rock shelf gives way to deep water where large predatorial fish patrol, so this spot is perfect for those who like fishing. Tinnies can be launched from the beach here in good conditions.

Nearby Peron Homestead is an historic site offering a glimpse into life on the land back when the national park was a working sheep station. It’s well worth a stop to wander around the old shearing shed and take a dip in the ‘hot tub’, filled with delightfully warm artesian waters. Just the ticket after a few nights of bush camping.

IMAGES FROM TOP These fishermen told us of the huge thing they saw swim past... // Camping right beside the calm waters of Shark Bay is bliss // Step back in time (and into warm artesian water) at Peron Homestead // Feed wild dolphins at nearby Monkey Mia (credit: Tourism Western Australia)

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Cost: Free

Address: Upper Dargo Rd, Cowa VIC 3862

GPS: -37.385744, 147.277930

Toilets: Yes

Showers: No

Campfires: Yes (check current fire restrictions)

Max Stay: None

Road Access: 2WD

Water: BYO

Number of Sites: 100+

Power Available: No

Dog-Friendly: Yes

Big Rigs: Yes (check current road conditions)

4. Ollies Jump Up Campground
Dargo, Vic

Just a few minutes north of the quaint Victorian High Country town of Dargo via the gravel Upper Dargo Road, Ollies Jump Up is a large, well-shaded grassy campground on the banks of the Dargo River. It’s 2WD access, except possibly after heavy rain. 

There are loads of unmarked sites, with the best spots being right next to the river. It’s first in, best dressed at this free camp, with no need to book ahead. The open space provides easy manoeuvrability for larger vans.

The river provides plenty of entertainment, especially in the warmer months. Kayaking, fishing, swimming and drifting around on inflatable swans would all be suitable ways to pass languid days at Ollies Jump Up.

If you prefer a bit more action, unhitch the van and take the 4X4 to explore the High Country; there are some excellent tracks nearby including Billy Goat Bluff Track.

And don’t forget to call into the Dargo Hotel for a beer and/or a meal. This iconic pub oozes High Country charm and warm hospitality, and they do a mean feed, too.

IMAGES FROM TOP Ollie’s Jump Up is one of many riverside campsites just outside Dargo (credit: Visions of Victoria) // The Dargo River is a beaut spot for a dip or a fish (credit: Geoff and Denise Martin) // The scenery of the surrounding mountains is breathtaking – this is 4WD heaven (credit: Geoff and Denise Martin) // The iconic Dargo Hotel is a must-see (credit: Geoff and Denise Martin)

Cost: $16/night for two adults

Address: Coorong SA 5264

GPS: -36.286406, 139.711804

Toilets: Yes

Showers: No

Campfires: Yes (check current fire restrictions)

Max Stay: 5 days

Road Access: 2WD

Water: Rainwater tanks – water must be treated

Number of Sites: Approx 40, unmarked

Power Available: No

Dog-Friendly: No

Big Rigs: Yes (check current road conditions)

5. 42 Mile Crossing Campground
Coorong National Park, SA

A large grassy campsite accessible by 2WD, 42 Mile Crossing is located at the southern end of Coorong National Park, around 70km north of Kingston SE. It’s an easy few kays from the Princes Highway on a good quality gravel road. The campsite is tucked among the sand dunes about a kilometre back from the beach, and so is protected from the wind. There are no marked sites so it’s easy to find somewhere to park larger vans – unless very busy.

Coorong National Park protects a unique string of coastal lagoons that stretches for 130km, with the lagoon network separated from the Southern Ocean by Younghusband Peninsula. The northern reaches of the Coorong form the mouth of the Murray River, so this is a diverse ecosystem and a really beautiful and interesting place to visit.

It’s also a 4WDers paradise with kilometres of beach to drive along. From 42 Mile Crossing the beach can be accessed via a 1km 4WD-only track. The sand is very soft so be sure to drop tyre pressures accordingly. Pack the surf rods, too, and you might just land a mulloway or Coorong mullet.

IMAGES FROM TOP Gateway to 4WD heaven (credit: Mark Fitzpatrick) // Literally miles of beach waiting to be explored (credit: Offroad Images) // 42 Mile Crossing Campground from the air (credit: Offroad Images) // Drop tyre pressure to around 15psi before hitting the beach

1. Bretti Reserve
Gloucester, NSW

Located on the banks of the Barnard River in the foothills of Barrington Tops, Bretti Reserve is a sprawling, grassy free camp. It’s half an hour north of Gloucester on Thunderbolts Way, which I reckon is one of the most beautiful drives in NSW, winding north through the lush, rolling hinterland of the Mid North Coast to the New England Tablelands.

Bretti Reserve has loads of space to set up on the banks of the river, which is shallow and rocky with the occasional deeper pool – ideal for swimming and floating around on a lilo, making it great for kids. There’s also the occasional trout lurking in the shadows so pack the fishing rod. 

From Bretti Reserve it’s easy to take a daytrip up into the beautiful Barrington Tops National Park for a spot of light 4WDing or bushwalking amongst the Antarctic beech trees and snow gums.

Cost: Free

Address: Bretti Trail, Bretti, NSW 2422

GPS: -31.793745, 151.914713

Toilets: Yes (long-drop)

Showers: No

Campfires: Yes, and wood BBQs (check current fire restrictions)

Max Stay: One month

Road Access: 2WD

Water: BYO (creek water must be treated)

Number of Sites: Unmarked, loads of space

Power Available: No

Dog-Friendly: Yes (but there are roaming cattle)

Big Rigs: Yes

RIPPER
BUSH CAMPS

5

Get lost (metaphorically speaking) in these wild and wonderful remote campgrounds

WORDS EMMA RYAN

LIFESTYLE Bush Camps

IMAGES FROM TOP Wildflowers in Barrington Tops (credit: Destination NSW) // The view from nearby Thunderbolts Lookout (credit: Destination NSW) // Cool off in the Barnard River // Idyllic camping at Bretti Reserve

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2. James Price Point
The Kimberley, WA

50km north of Broome up the unsealed, corrugated red sand of Broome-Cape Leveque Road you’ll find James Price Point, an absolutely stunning, remote stretch of iconic Kimberley coast. Here, a jagged red rock shelf stretches up the coast like a crimson wave frozen in time. It fringes white sandy beaches that melt into the turquoise Indian Ocean. The colour palate is truly something to behold.

You can set up camp on the rock shelf or the beach itself if your rig is suitable, and it’s a large enough area to find your own little patch of paradise – although its proximity to Broome can make weekends busy. There are no facilities so you’ll need to be completely self-sufficient, including vehicle recovery gear.

From James Price Point you can unhitch and spend the day exploring the beaches and red sandy inland tracks heading north towards Cape Leveque. Definitely bring the fishing gear, because the waters here are teeming with life. Nearby Willie Creek Pearl Farm is also an interesting place to visit, with tours available.

Cost: Free

Address: Manari Road, Waterbank, WA 6725

GPS: -17.488359, 122.143847

Toilets: No

Showers: No

Campfires: Yes (check current fire restrictions)

Max Stay: 3 days

Road Access: 4WD only

Water: BYO

Number of Sites: Unmarked, loads of space

Power Available: No

Dog-Friendly: Yes

Big Rigs: No – lightweight off-road vans only

IMAGES FROM TOP Cape Leveque Road can be corrugated and rough (credit: Tourism Western Australia) // The colour palate in this remote corner of the country is something to behold // Dinner cooking on the fire on the beach, nothing better // Dreaming story of James Price Point

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SCROLL TO CONTINUE

3. South Gregories
Francois Peron National Park, WA

Coastal bush camps don’t come much more peaceful than South Gregories, a sleepy campsite on the northwest tip of Francois Peron National Park in Shark Bay on WA’s Coral Coast.

Francois Peron National Park is known for its outback-meets-the-sea aesthetic; it’s a peninsula of soft red sand carpeted in low-lying coastal scrub that juts into the dazzling blue waters of Shark Bay, where dugongs and turtles graze on sea grasses.

The tracks in the park are narrow and very soft, so it’s suitable only to small off-road vans being towed by drivers with experience towing off-road. South Gregories is one of several campsites in the park, providing sheltered camping a stone’s throw from the water. A striking, blood-red rock shelf gives way to deep water where large predatorial fish patrol, so this spot is perfect for those who like fishing. Tinnies can be launched from the beach here in good conditions.

Nearby Peron Homestead is an historic site offering a glimpse into life on the land back when the national park was a working sheep station. It’s well worth a stop to wander around the old shearing shed and take a dip in the ‘hot tub’, filled with delightfully warm artesian waters. Just the ticket after a few nights of bush camping.

Cost: $11 per adult and $3 per child, per night

Address: Francois Peron National Park, Shark Bay, WA, 6537

GPS: -25.5783, 113.464

Toilets: Yes

Showers: No

Campfires: No, but gas BBQs on site

Max Stay: None

Road Access: 4WD only

Water: BYO

Number of Sites: TBC

Power Available: No

Dog-Friendly: No

Big Rigs?: No – lightweight off-road vans only

IMAGES FROM TOP These fishermen told us of the huge thing they saw swim past... // Camping right beside the calm waters of Shark Bay is bliss // Step back in time (and into warm artesian water) at Peron Homestead // Feed wild dolphins at nearby Monkey Mia (credit: Tourism Western Australia)

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SCROLL TO CONTINUE

4. Ollies Jump Up Campground
Dargo, Vic

Just a few minutes north of the quaint Victorian High Country town of Dargo via the gravel Upper Dargo Road, Ollies Jump Up is a large, well-shaded grassy campground on the banks of the Dargo River. It’s 2WD access, except possibly after heavy rain. 

There are loads of unmarked sites, with the best spots being right next to the river. It’s first in, best dressed at this free camp, with no need to book ahead. The open space provides easy manoeuvrability for larger vans.

The river provides plenty of entertainment, especially in the warmer months. Kayaking, fishing, swimming and drifting around on inflatable swans would all be suitable ways to pass languid days at Ollies Jump Up.

If you prefer a bit more action, unhitch the van and take the 4X4 to explore the High Country; there are some excellent tracks nearby including Billy Goat Bluff Track.

And don’t forget to call into the Dargo Hotel for a beer and/or a meal. This iconic pub oozes High Country charm and warm hospitality, and they do a mean feed, too.

Cost: Free

Address: Upper Dargo Rd, Cowa VIC 3862

GPS: -37.385744, 147.277930

Toilets: Yes

Showers: No

Campfires: Yes (check current fire restrictions)

Max Stay: None

Road Access: 2WD

Water: BYO

Number of Sites: 100+

Power Available: No

Dog-Friendly: Yes

Big Rigs: Yes (check current road conditions)

IMAGES FROM TOP Ollie’s Jump Up is one of many riverside campsites just outside Dargo (credit: Visions of Victoria) // The Dargo River is a beaut spot for a dip or a fish (credit: Geoff and Denise Martin) // The scenery of the surrounding mountains is breathtaking – this is 4WD heaven (credit: Geoff and Denise Martin) // The iconic Dargo Hotel is a must-see (credit: Geoff and Denise Martin)

5. 42 Mile Crossing Campground
Coorong National Park, SA

A large grassy campsite accessible by 2WD, 42 Mile Crossing is located at the southern end of Coorong National Park, around 70km north of Kingston SE. It’s an easy few kays from the Princes Highway on a good quality gravel road. The campsite is tucked among the sand dunes about a kilometre back from the beach, and so is protected from the wind. There are no marked sites so it’s easy to find somewhere to park larger vans – unless very busy.

Coorong National Park protects a unique string of coastal lagoons that stretches for 130km, with the lagoon network separated from the Southern Ocean by Younghusband Peninsula. The northern reaches of the Coorong form the mouth of the Murray River, so this is a diverse ecosystem and a really beautiful and interesting place to visit.

It’s also a 4WDers paradise with kilometres of beach to drive along. From 42 Mile Crossing the beach can be accessed via a 1km 4WD-only track. The sand is very soft so be sure to drop tyre pressures accordingly. Pack the surf rods, too, and you might just land a mulloway or Coorong mullet.

Cost: $16/night for two adults

Address: Coorong SA 5264

GPS: -36.286406, 139.711804

Toilets: Yes

Showers: No

Campfires: Yes (check current fire restrictions)

Max Stay: 5 days

Road Access: 2WD

Water: Rainwater tanks – water must be treated

Number of Sites: Approx 40, unmarked

Power Available: No

Dog-Friendly: No

Big Rigs: Yes (check current road conditions)

IMAGES FROM TOP Gateway to 4WD heaven (credit: Mark Fitzpatrick) // Literally miles of beach waiting to be explored (credit: Offroad Images) // 42 Mile Crossing Campground from the air (credit: Offroad Images) // Drop tyre pressure to around 15psi before hitting the beach