Our sunburnt country is blessed with some of the best beaches in the world
Where will you escape to this summer? Will you join the beachfront crowds at a popular holiday park close to home, or adventure far afield to that remote, pristine spot only you know about? When it comes to picking the best summertime camping destinations, these top 10 are more than a little bit special.
They offer some of the most spectacular vistas on our 59,000 kilometres of coastline, and are the best places we know about to swim, surf, snorkel, paddle, fish and watch the sun go down. Each offers a range of facilities and best of all, time-out in any of these choice camps won’t blow your summer-fun budget.
Red Bluff, Carnarvon, WA
The headland swell that peels off Red Bluff has magnetised West Coast surfers for decades, drawn to this remote beach camp, a bumpy, two-hour drive north of Carnarvon. The famous ‘Bluff Barrel’ is as powerful as ever but it’s Red Bluff’s invigorating seascape and the rustic campsites nestled against the cliffs that will excite adventurous travellers to this one-in-a-million West Coast surf Mecca.
Red Bluff’s appeal stretches beyond its world-famous waves: the endless white sand beach here is utterly pristine and although camping facilities are limited to pit toilets, you can order up a frothy cappuccino at the on-site Red Bluff Store, served to you on the deck as you gaze out to sea.
There are coral reefs and wreck sites to dive and snorkel, great beach fishing, and the best blowholes on the West Coast – all within easy reach of this remarkable wilderness camp.
Located on Quobba Station at the southern edge of Ningaloo Marine Park and accessible only to 4WD vehicles with tough rigs or tents, Red Bluff offers the quintessential back-to-basics camping experience!
Location: 138km northwest of Carnarvon.
Camping: unpowered sites cost $15/adult, $5/child (5-15 years).
Facilities: pit toilets, BYO all water.
Pets: on leads.
Bay of Fires Conservation Area, St Helens, Tas
Cool weather and sunny skies make Tassie a top destination for summertime camping and this stretch of shimmering white sand and bright blue bays in the state’s far northeast can’t be beaten. Offering free, month-long stays atop golden granite headlands, on wild, sunny beaches and tranquil lagoons, Bay of Fires is quite possibly the best camping destination on the island, and just about impossible to move on from.
There are eight amazing campgrounds to choose from, all catering to different rigs and camping styles, and all allowing pets on leads. Topping my list is the tiny curl of sand that arcs around Sloop Reef, perfect for compact campers. From here you can rockhop around the headland to beachcomb along Taylors Beach, or paddle a kayak through the great flocks of waterbirds that congregate on nearby Big Lagoon.
Anglers love the grassy, free-range camp on Grants Lagoon, Swimcart Beach is famed for its surf fishing, and Cosy Corner camps are secluded and spacious. I love the lofty camps above Jeanneret Beach and highly recommend tackling unsealed Fire Road to reach a wilder camp at Policeman’s Point at the mouth of Ansons Bay.
Named by Captain Tobias Furneaux in 1773 for the indigenous campfires he spotted burning ashore as he sailed on by, Bay of Fires Conservation Area provides just the basics – toilets, fire pits and tables. Campfires still burn today but you’ll need to bring your own wood (and drinking water) and take your rubbish 10km back to St Helens when it’s time to resupply.
Location: 10km northeast of St Helens (via Binalong Bay Road, C850).
Camping: free for up to four weeks.
Facilities: toilets (at some camps), picnic tables and fire pits.
Pets: on leads.