Planning an amazing road trip around Australia and looking to try and stick to a budget at the same time? WikiCamps is a super handy and customisable app that allows you to find campsites all over Australia. Without it, It’s safe to say, my road trips wouldn’t have been the same!
Australia is simply a road tripper’s dream. From the twisting routes of the Blue Mountains to the jaw-dropping views on the cliff edges of the Great Ocean Road, Australia has it all. Since buying a car and camping in it, I’ve been able to see far more than I ever could have dreamed of and I can honestly say it’s the best way to travel. So when a handy little app like WikiCamps provides amazing information for things like free campsites in Australia, what’s not to love about it? So here’s my WikiCamps review and a load of tips to help you find free campsites in Australia.
Overview of WikiCamps
The app has a tonne of useful features to help you find your perfect spot to relax. You can search for campsites in a certain area by searching on the Map tab or even search for the name of a specific campsite if you know of one already. Alternatively, if you travel a bit more like I do, WikiCamps can locate you on the map and show up campsites nearby if you don’t have any solid plans and you just want to stop somewhere for the night. If you’re really lacking in plans then you can even see campsites throughout the whole of Australia and just zoom in for more details.
Whilst in the Map tab you can also apply different filters to show campsites that meet any requirements you might have such as toilets, showers, dog-friendly sites, BBQ areas and drinking water. There are loads to choose from making it easy to find a site that is perfect for you.
If planning is more your thing, WikiCamps has a Trip Planner option that allows you to plan a route going from campsite to campsite. I find it works best to create a trip and then go back into Map, find a campsite I like and then select to add that to the trip. This is a great way to plan a trip as it doubles up as a route and campsite planner as well. Sometimes campsites are on a bit of a diversion from your main route so it will also help you to judge journey times better. An added bonus is being able to download maps to be able to use it offline. No more worrying about losing signal!
How to find free and cheap campsites in Australia
One feature I haven’t touched on yet is the pricing side that the app allows you to filter by. I live by this feature when I’m camping and so far when looking for campsites along Australia’s east coast, It’s proven to be pretty good. So here are the steps to help you find the most budget-friendly spots for your road trip.
- Open up the Maps tab – this will bring you to a map of the whole of Australia with numbers indicating how many campsites there are based on your filters.
- Set your filters – For site types, choose to show campgrounds, caravan parks, hostels (you can sometimes pay a small amount to park on site and use their facilities) and day points and make sure you select ‘requires free’ or ‘requires donation’ in the sites features section (you can’t do both at the same time). The rest of the filters are up to you and will depend on what you need. I find that selecting only a couple of things to be the best way to find free or budget campsite as these sites are often more basic. The only requirement I generally select is for there to be toilets because I ain’t one for doin’ my business outside!
- Find where you want to search – Use the location finder or hit the button to find your current location to see the campsites in the area.
- Check out the campsites – Be sure to click onto the sites and read the comments from previous visitors to find out more about it, find the cost if there is one and check out the photos to get a better overall idea.
- Adjust the filters – As you can’t select both free and donation campsites to be shown at the same time, be sure to go back into the filters and adjust it.
- Get there – Once you’ve found your site either add it to your trip planner or just hit ‘get directions’ and Google maps will open up to take you there.
It can take a little bit of adjustment with the filters WikiCamps has to find a great campsite but there are actually loads of free campsites on the east coast of Australia, so you’re bound to find something right for you. It’s best to try and go basic and to be flexible with location. Many of the free and cheap campsites are off the main roads a bit so be prepared to factor this into your driving time. Although donation campsites are often very cheap, don’t rule out checking for the ones with a cost attached as they might be very reasonable and have better facilities.
Things to check on WikiCamps to find the best campsites
Because campsites can be added to WikiCamps by any user, as I mentioned before, it’s important to do a bit of digging to make sure you’re heading to a proper site where you’re allowed to stay overnight.
When you find a campsite, click on site details for the campsite and here you will find 3 handy features – comments, price and photos. Take a look around here and use your judgement to figure out if it’s somewhere you want to stay. Some people are great at leaving a review once they’ve stayed somewhere but be sure to you check the date of the comment. I’ve been really optimistic about a campsite but then read the comments and it’s made me think twice and go somewhere else.
Of course, the price will be a really useful feature to check out when not staying at a free campsite. Have a look at this feature to see what other people have paid to see if this fits in with your own budget and then check out the photos people have uploaded to get an idea of what you’re paying for and where you’re going to be staying. As WikiCamps does rely on the honest reviews and creation of new campsites from its users, I highly recommend also calling the campsite or person who runs it just to validate what WikiCamps says.
Additionally, some campsites are only accessible by 4×4, and trust me, some of the tracks into these can be pretty tricky. Don’t risk getting stuck somewhere just because it’s free or super cheap- getting a tow out of there will be sure to break the bank!
What are the free campsites like?
Free campsites are a budget travellers dream but you can get a real mixed bag when it comes to location. I can honestly say that some of them have been absolutely amazing. I’ve stayed in forests in national parks with breathtaking views, spots right next to the beach and even round the back of pubs, which is certainly nothing to complain about! But I’ve also spent nights right at the side of the road next to a cattle truck. It can be a bit hit and miss but it’s all part of the adventure.
For every campsite I’ve stayed at, the facilities have nearly always been as stated on WikiCamps which is always a relief after a long drive. However, the facilities are often basic with drop toilets (trust me, you get used to these) outdoor showers if you’re lucky to have any at all and probably no drinking water. The best thing to do is prepare yourself to be self-sufficient. Make sure you have a stove, hand sanitizer, torches and plenty of water for drinking, cooking and cleaning. Unsurprisingly, the free and cheap campsites can get busy really quickly so be sure to plan your trip to get to your spot in plenty of time and then that way, if you need to find somewhere else you can.
If you are staying at a really basic campsite, WikiCamps also has another great filter option which is day sites. These are all areas that can be used during the day and many of these have facilities such as drinking water and showers. It’s another thing you will need to factor in in relation to time, but just because your camping for free, doesn’t mean you have to go completely without.
This was taken at the campsite I stayed at last night. What you can’t see is the beer I’m holding too. Life’s pretty sweet. Hope you’re having a great weekend! Don’t forget to let me know what you’re up to. #escapesetc #findyourescape #affordabletravel #australianlife #australialovesyou #travelaustralia #traveltips #travelguides #travelnow #passportstamps #passportpassion #passportstories #budgettravel #roamingaround #simpletravel #travelphotographyguide #travelgirlsgo #gummareserve #nsw #nswtourism #vanlifestyle #vanlifeaustralia
The downside of using WikiCamps
I love the camping community feel that WikiCamps creates but it has one main downside that you’ll need to bear in mind. As users can create new campsites it’s fairly unmonitored and it can be hard to tell whether some places are genuine campsites. There can be hefty fines for camping overnight in places where it is not permitted and there have been times where I’ve found a campsite only to look at the comments which is full of people saying there are no camping signs everywhere. Wikicamps does allow campsites to be reported if they are not correct but this obviously takes longer to review and to get it removed than it does for a user to just create a site. Hence why you need to be checking the comments and photos before you decide guys!
When I was road tripping in Australia a few years ago, WikiCamps didn’t exist and quite frankly, I don’t know how I managed to find campsites. All I know is the ones I did find were expensive and had far more facilities than I actually needed for the one or two nights I was staying. This time around, WikiCamps has been a saviour, something that I have completely relied on and has saved me SO much money. I’ve met a lot of people from using it doing similar or opposite routes and have been able to experience places I would have otherwise driven straight past. WikiCamps is an essential app for a road trip, so be sure to get it before you go!