In an increasingly ever more hectic society with deadlines and work restrictions, plus a myriad of other commitments, not everyone has the luxury of days to devote to travel when the urge to getaway hits. For many of us, a couple of hours travel time is about all we can spare before it becomes nonviable to bother getting away at all. So what are my recommendations for quality camping experiences within, say, 3 hours of each capital city? Believe it or not, all over Australia you are spoiled for choice but let’s take a look at my go to spots.
Camping near Adelaide
I absolutely love Adelaide, it’s the city that is the gateway to the desert country that I simply can’t get enough of. Heading north over the Adelaide Hills and on into red dune country is something else but it’s a bloody long way and for many a major expedition and isn’t a weekend away. So a very solid option instead is the Robe region to the south-east. This stretch of coast is absolutely stunning and it’s the only place in Australia I’ve managed to catch a snapper from the beach (that could be more my poor fishing skills than the location though). There are several camping options from beach to bush depending on the time of year, and the beach driving, while soft in parts, is spectacular. Leave Friday after work, be home Sunday arvo having spent a quality couple of nights under the stars.
Camping near Perth
“Going down south” is the catch cry for just about every single Perth person with a few days of leave under their belt. With good reason too; the Capes region, roughly 3 hours south of the city is in my humble opinion one of the single nicest parts of Australia (yeah I’m biased but I’ve been backed on this many times). However for something a bit different, head north to the little camping zone of Sandy Cape. Perched under shady trees on a huge bay, Sandy Cape is a location that many would scream past on their annual winter migration north to Exmouth without giving it a moment’s thought. With great amenities, safe swimming, good fishing and champagne camping this is a spot worthy of its own getaway and well under 3 hours from Perth…plus it’s not DOWN SOUTH!!
Camping near Darwin
You top end mob are absolutely spoiled for locations to quietly slip away to after work and almost be guaranteed of having it to yourselves. Three hours will get you a fair old chunk of options out of Darwin but one little spot I bumped into a few years ago lies to the south west of the city, nestled by a river and beach just near the hamlet of Dundee. Follow Fog Bay Rd out to Five Mile Beach and enjoy sunsets over a millpond like ocean while you dine off fresh barra and mud crabs caught that very day within walking distance of your swag. Or, if you'd rather relax and someone else do the cooking, take the under 10km drive north to the iconic Lodge of Dundee and enjoy a pub with a difference. Ah Darwin, you little ripper; I can’t wait to get back!
Camping near Sydney
Tricky, very tricky thanks to population and traffic. That said, it’s not impossible to escape the rat race and be shaking off the stresses within a 3 hour drive of the metropolis. I’m going to list 3 options here as Sydney needs a little bit more planning depending on time of the year so let’s start with one of my all-time favourite spots just near Lithgow to the west of Sydney; Lake Lyell. The campsites are impeccably run and all of them are perched on the banks of the impossibly beautiful Lake Lyell. While summer is the time of choice for many (with fishing, swimming and skiing the main attractions) I don’t think you can beat winter with big campfires and the place to yourself. Next let’s go north just far enough to hit Myall Lakes camping zone, a little south of Forster. With Middle Camp and Seal Rocks being my picks you really can’t go wrong here.. Finally, south of the city, let’s head for the little hidden gem of Currarong. It’s surrounded by big name holiday destinations but remains quietly doing its thing right on the beach. Trust me and give this one a go.
Camping near Melbourne
When I think Melbourne, I think the Victorian High Country. But given the enormity of the region, while you most certainly could access it within 3 hours, you'd never see more than a fraction of what’s on offer. So let’s stretch the 3 hour time limit just a fraction and head for the beautiful Little Desert National Park. It'll feel like you’re crossing the Simpson Desert yet you’re in Victoria, such is the remote feel and look of this gem. The campsites are huge and firewood plentiful. This is one of those 4WD only locations that I can almost guarantee you'll have to yourself and that will really give you a unique experience.
Camping near Hobart
Let’s face it, within 3 hours you could be almost anywhere in Tasmania and it’s no secret that I am in love with the state, so much so that have day dreams of living there! Tasmania is utterly spoiled for campsites and the vast majority are the best in Australia. However my choice for this occasion is going to be Bruny Island. You have to catch a ferry to access it then head directly down to Cloudy Bay, being sure to pick up a couple of dozen of the best oysters you'll ever eat on the way. The campground is stunning and the local wildlife will have you reaching for your camera.
Camping near Brisbane
Brisbane has many options within 3 hours but I’m going to have to go with one of my favorite Australian locations as my pick. The first time I visited Moreton Island I wasn't expecting much. I just figured it would be a smaller Fraser… and in a sense I was right, but it’s so much more. The western beach camps are my pick and unlike Fraser you are allowed campfires. The other benefit is visitor numbers are so, so much less and in my humble, the amenities are way better. Enjoy sunsets over a dead calm ocean and the Brisbane city skyline, as you sip something cold and enjoy the serenity of Brisbane’s best and closest, camping destination. ; just make sure you’re vehicle is serviced and you are self-sufficient.