Whether you prefer camping in secluded wilderness with limited facilities, or ‘glamping’ with the comforts of hot showers, electricity and toilets, National Parks across Australia offer a range of experiences to suit everyone.
Australian National Parks are managed independently by each state authority, meaning entry fees, permits and camping costs vary across states and campsites.
Fees for camping are standardised across the state according to the level of facilities and services at each site. There are three permit fee categories, plus fees for special products, such as overnight hikes and roofed accommodation.
Campsite fees range from $38 per night for a ‘mid’ category site up to $68 for a ‘very high powered’ category site. Where fees apply for camping, bookings must be made and paid in advance either online or by phone.
No fees apply and no bookings are taken for ‘basic’ category campgrounds. Free camping in Victorian National Parks is on a first-in, first-served basis.
Visit Parks Victoria to plan your stay.
South Australia has a number of cost-effective options depending on the duration of your travel. For $80, we found the ‘Holiday Park Pass’ coupled with the ‘Camping Pass’ a cheap way to camp and explore some of the state’s most popular parks. Passes can be pre-purchased online or by visiting a parks pass outlet.
Keep in mind that for most parks in South Australia campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Bookings are required for popular sites, including Mount Remarkable National Park, Innes National Park and Memory Cove Wilderness Protection Area.
Fees apply for vehicle entry to some parks. We purchased an ‘Annual All Parks Pass’ for $88, which allowed vehicle entry for 12 months. Visit the Department of Parks and Wildlife Western Australia for more information.
The Parks Pass doesn’t include camp fees. These range from $7.50 per adult for basic facilities to $12 per adult for popular campsites, such as Purnululu National Park.
In Northern Territory National Parks where camping is permitted, camp fees vary according to the standard of the campground facilities. Each site is graded with an A–D category, with sites ranging from $3.30 to $6.60 per adult per night.
Most National Parks in the Northern Territory do not charge entry fees, but there are some exceptions, including Kakadu National Park, which has a $50 entry fee.
Visit the Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory for more information.
Before camping in a park, forest or reserve, a camping permit and payment of camping fees is required. Most camping areas can be booked online, at an over-the-counter booking office, or by phone.
Camp fees are $5.95 per adult per night, and additional vehicle access permits only apply for some National Parks, such as Great Sandy National Park, Fraser Island.
Visit the Queensland Department of National Parks for more information.
New South Wales
Vehicle entrance fees apply for 45 of the more than 850 NSW National Parks and reserves, with single-day entry passes available for around $8, or four types of annual passes to choose from. Visit NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service for more information.
Day use and camping fees are charged separately, with adult fees from $6 for ‘budget’ campsites, or $12 for a ‘mid-range’ site per night. There are also plenty of free camping options available in NSW.
There are a number of different pass options for visitors to Tasmania, but the ‘Holiday Pass’ range appears to be the most cost effective. This covers entry into all of Tasmania’s National Parks for up to two months, and also provides free use of the Cradle Mountain shuttle bus.
Camp fees are in addition to National Park entry fees and bookings are required for some campsites. Visit Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania to plan your adventure.
Young Nomad tips to keep in mind
- Remember phone and internet reception can be patchy. Where required, book campsites before travelling to remote areas.
- In most cases discounts will be given for seniors, students and those with concessions. Visit the relevant Parks website for information.
- Many campsites cannot be prepaid and operate on an honesty box system, which you will find at the entry to each campsite. Have the correct money available to pay for your site when you arrive.
- The money raised from park fees goes directly towards the upkeep of your parks and reserves, such as maintaining and upgrading visitor facilities, walking tracks and information booths.
Drew and Court are a Melbourne couple who are travelling around Australia for 10 months. They’re writing about their experiences for Without a Hitch, giving us the real story of life on the road.