Written by: WA Adventurer

Beginners Guide to Camping in Australia

Camping is, in our opinion, the best way to experience Western Australia’s natural beauty first-hand. Imagine setting up camp on the beach and falling asleep with the sound of the crashing waves outside your tent. Or falling asleep under the stars and amongst the trees in one of Australia’s national parks. Heaven, right? However, for first-timers, we totally get that it can seem daunting. Especially if you’re not sure what camping gear you need. This is our complete guide to camping in Australia for total beginners that will take the guesswork out of planning your first camping trip Down Under! We’ll cover everything from camping essentials to packing tips, so you can make the most of your WA camping adventure.

You might also like our Ultimate Checklist for Camping in Australia 2022

Essential camping gear for Australia

Tent: If you’re on a very tight budget, the good news is that you can pick up a tent for less than $40! But, as a first-time camper in Aus, we wouldn’t recommend that. It’s worth investing in some good-quality camping gear to make your first time comfortable and enjoyable. Make sure to choose a tent that’s fit for the Australian climate. If you’re planning on camping in hot weather, grab a tent that has good ventilation.

Sleeping bag and sleeping mat: Camping in the wilderness can give you the best night’s sleep you’ve ever had, with a little help from a good sleeping bag and mat. Again, ensure you choose something that’s suitable for the climate you’ll be camping in. In Australia, it can get cold at night even in summer, so make sure your sleeping bag is warm enough. 

Camping chairs: Invest in some decent camping chairs! Avoid chair-envy with a full-sized*, comfortable camping chair, ideally with a drink holder.  these are great for relaxing around the campsite or cooking dinner.

*We know people who have accidentally purchased children’s camping chairs which, although hilarious for us, made for an uncomfortable few days chilling around camp! 

Table: A small to medium-sized collapsible table will make life so much easier to prepare food and cook using a camping stove. 

Cooler box and ice blocks: An esky is essential for keeping your food and drinks cool in the Australian heat. 

Top Camping Tip #1: If you’re planning to arrive at camp late or after dark. Prepare a meal before your trip and keep it cool in the cooler box until you arrive at camp. Choose something nice and easy that can be thrown into a saucepan and heated up over the stove. 

Gas camping stove and gas bottle: Choose one with at least two gas rings so you can have two pans on the go at once.

Bug spray and fly nets: Camping in the wilderness can be quickly ruined by swarms of biting bugs or annoying flies. Avoid this by using decent bug deterrent and fly nets.

Now that you know what camping gear you need, it’s time to start packing! 

camping under the stars

Essential packing tips for an Australian camping trip

Make a list: Write down everything you need to take with you and check it off before you leave. As you fall in love with camping, you’ll think of other gadgets that’ll make your trip more comfortable, add these to the list as you think of them and use the same list each time you camp – there’s no need to write a new list every time!

Pack light: As this is your first camping trip you’re probably not going to be carrying all the gear with you at all times. If you are, respect to you! But, chances are you’ll be packing up a vehicle and parking next to your camp so you can definitely bring more with you. That said, only take things that you’ll really need. More stuff just gets in the way and makes unpacking/packing more difficult. If, on your trip, you didn’t take something you would have liked, add it to your list and take it next time. Chances are, you’ll take things on this trip and never use them, if so, take them off the list for next time. 

Pack smart: When packing up your vehicle, think about what you’ll need to take out first when you arrive at camp i.e. your tent. Pack your tent last (or make sure it’s easily accessible) so you can grab it out first without having to rummage through everything else. After a couple of times packing and unpacking, you’ll find what works best for you. 

Top Camping Tip #2: Use packing cubes to separate people’s clothes and clothing types e.g. underwear in one cube, t-shirts in another, and so on. And, remember to take a separate bag for dirty clothes!

So, now you have your list of absolute camping essentials and a few packing tips, let’s look at the campsite itself. 

Choosing a campsite in Australia for beginners

We’re blessed beyond belief to have such incredible beaches, bushland and weather here in Western Australia. All of this makes for a whole lot of choices of where to camp and choosing a campsite can seem a bit overwhelming.

Here are some things to look for when choosing a campsite. 

Toilets and showers: Not all campsites have toilets and showers so if this is essential for you, be sure to check their list of available facilities beforehand. Note that some toilet facilities are far more basic than others so check what you’re up against ahead of time if this concerns you. 

Rules: Check the campsite rules before you book to ensure you follow them. Some campsites, for example, allow seasonally permitted campfires, and others don’t at any time. 

Pets: Some campsites don’t allow pets so if your four-legged friend is a part of the trip be sure to check the campsite rules. 

Group camping: Some campsites don’t offer large group camping facilities as their sites are designed for just one tent and one vehicle. If you’re planning a group camping trip, be sure to check that the campsite can accommodate and put you all together. 

Beach camping: There are some incredible beach camping spots along the Western Australian coastline. Bear in mind that free beach camping is generally not permitted so it’s best to find an official campsite if you’re wanting a peaceful night next to the ocean. 

Running water: Not all campsites in WA have access to running water so if you’re staying at one of these secluded sites make sure you bring plenty of drinking water! 

Other camping facilities: Some campsites are as basic as they come, whilst others have awesome facilities such as camp kitchens, hot water, picnic tables, fire pits and firewood. 

– Things to do nearby: There’s nothing better than staying at a campsite that feels secluded and peaceful, but is close to heaps of cool things to do. Check out the area around the campsite and work out how far you’ll need to travel each day to do the things you like. The closer you can stay to things you want to do, the more time you’ll spend doing them and less time driving to them! 

– Read reviews: Finally, read what other people are saying about the campsites. You’ll be able to get a much better feeling of the vibe from the reviews. 

Looking for the best places to camp in Australia? Hema Maps’ Where to Camp Guide is a must have for camping in Australia.

Disclaimer: Some of our posts may contain affiliate links that, at no additional cost to you, may earn us a small commission. Thank you for supporting WA Adventurer.

Basic camping rules in Australia

Whether you are free camping or staying in a designated camping area, here are the basic camping rules to follow:

– Leave no trace whatsoever: Take all rubbish with you and leave the site exactly how you found it. Or, better yet, leave it cleaner than you found it.

Take a first aid kit: Just in case!

Know the emergency services phone number: especially for tourists or people new to the area.

Don’t leave campfires unattended: If you’re allowed to have a campfire, be responsible and keep it under control at all times.

Follow campground rules: Find a campsite that caters to your needs and respect the campground owners’ rules.

Be respectful of your camp neighbours: Don’t be that person, be courteous to your fellow campers.

Don’t leave your rubbish or any food out: Avoid unwanted visitors at night (and day!) by clearing away any food or rubbish that could attract all kinds of Aussie creatures.

Set your tent up on flat ground and ideally in daylight

Top Camping Tip #3: If you do arrive at camp after dark, park your vehicle so the headlights face the site giving you enough light to see what you’re doing and where you’re sleeping.

Enjoy it! Camping is such a brilliant way to connect with nature, explore the great outdoors and relax away from distractions. Follow these simple camping essentials and we’re sure you’ll have a bloody good time!

Happy camping! 🙂