Camping with your dog is one of the best ways to travel with a dog in Australia. There’s plenty of great dog-friendly campsites in Australia. But how do you find dog-friendly places to camp? And what about the rules and etiquette for camping with your dog?
How to Find Dog-Friendly Camping in Australia
It would be terrific if all campsites in Australia permitted your dog to camp with you; after all, they’re part of the family. But naturally this is not the case. For starters, many camp sites are located in national parks, a no go place for travelling with a dog in Australia.
So, what are the easiest ways to find dog-friendly camping sites in Australia?
Use the WikiCamps App
My favourite method to find dog-friendly camp site in Australia is the WikiCamps Australia app. I downloaded and used this app on my phone on my recent road trip around NSW, and it was so handy, whether I was looked for dog-friendly caravan parks or free camping grounds that allowed dogs.
There’s a number of filters when searching for camp sites on WikiCamps. To find dog-friendly camping sites on the app, there’s two options. During my road trip in the middle of winter, I set the filter “No Dogs Allowed” to “Hide”. This shows both camp sites that allow dogs year round, plus seasonal dog-friendly camp sites.
If you’re travelling during the peak summer season, it’s better to instead set the filter “Dogs Allowed” to “With”. This way you only see the camp sites that allowed dogs year round. Although the dates for seasonal restrictions on dogs in caravan parks do frustratingly vary from park to park! It’s always best with any dog-friendly campgrounds to double check rules.
WikiCamps also has the ability to filter camping spots by ones that are “Free” or where payment is only a “Donation”, making it perfect for those looking for free camping spots. There’s also a range of filters for specific facilities.
While the WikiCamps Australia app isn’t free (currently costing around $8 depending on your device), the cost of the app is “redeemed” if you just stay a single night at a cheap or free campground you discover on the app. Not to mention the time it’ll save you.
WikiCamps also has the ability to display other types of facilities on the road, from picnic areas to toilet and shower facilities. These are also filtered for dog-friendly options, handy for looking for somewhere to stop for lunch, although the user reviews aren’t as extensive. There’s also the option to download listings and maps to view offline, a must in Australia.
Buy a Camp Site Guidebook
If you’d prefer your listing of camp sites to be in physical format, there are multiple books available to purchase at your local book shop or camping store. This is what I used when I camped on a road trip around Australia, back in the early days of mobile phones.
One of the most popular books is Camps 10, or whatever is the latest edition of the book, with new updates every couple of years. Camps 10 lists just free and budget campsites; if you also stay at caravan parks you should also purchase Caravan Parks 5, with both available in a bundle from the Camps Australia Wide website.
If travelling to remote locations in Australia (and even not so remote locations), there’s a real possibility you won’t have phone service, so having a physical book can be more reassuring.
Consider State Forests
While dogs aren’t allowed in most national parks in Australia, luckily the state forests are much more dog-friendly. While the regulations do vary from state to state, generally dogs are allowed in state forests.
If you’re looking for dog-friendly camping in NSW, in particular dog-friendly free camping in NSW, the NSW state forests aren an excellent option to consider. As well as all states forests in NSW allowing dogs, camping is free in NSW state forests. Note however that not all state forests have campgrounds, click on the link to view the listing of state forests with camping areas.
Types of Dog-Friendly Camp Sites
There’s a wide variety of camping sites available for camping with a dog in Australia. Some of the options to consider include:
Caravan Parks: Formal caravan parks, whether part of a chain, operated by the local council or independently operated, usually have powered and unpowered sites as well as on-site vans and cabins. Nightly rates tend to be higher, although generally there are more facilities, ranging from camp kitchens to playgrounds and jumping pillows for kids. Expect a page of rules for camping with your dog!
Showgrounds: Many country towns open up their showground to public camping except during their yearly show. Even the large showground in Canberra at EPIC offers camping! Prices are generally cheaper than caravan parks, although facilities are usually more basic and older. In my experience they always permit dogs. It’s a good compromise option if you want to hook up to power and water, but not to pay too much.
State Forests: The options for camping in state forests vary from state to state. In NSW camping in state forests is free, while some other states charge nightly fees. In Tasmania, camping is permitted anywhere without a “No camping” sign. Generally facilities are basic, with pit toilets common and showers unlikely. Always be cautious during times of high fire danger. Generally there’s not many rules for dogs, except for keeping them under your control.
Rest Areas: The rules for camping in rest areas vary depending on the state and the local council. While overnight stays of up to 24 hours are permitted at most rest areas in WA, most rest areas along Australia’s East Coast have conspicuous “No camping” signs. This is where an app like WikiCamps will help locate the available options, plus list any requirements such as the need to be self-contained. Some country towns permit visitors to stay overnight in a local reserve for a donation – always be generous!
While many campers prefer one type of campsite over others, it pays to be flexible, particularly if you are camping with a dog.
Dog Camping Etiquette
Depending on where you are camping with your dog, the rules (or the existence of rules) will vary. For instance, caravan parks will often make you sign a full page of regulations, while free campsites have no rules. But in any case, it pays to be a considerate camper and dog owner, and follow these basic principles.
Control Your Dog: No one likes dogs freely roaming around a campsite, especially when you have your own dog! Try and keep your dog restricted to your own campsite and follow any published rules about keeping your dog on leash. Consider a long tether for your dog to roam around your site, or dog fencing is a popular option for people travelling with a dog in a caravan or campervan.
Keep Quiet: Just like you’ll get plenty of dirty looks from fellow campers for staying up all night partying, try and keep your dog’s barking to a minimum, especially overnight.
Pick Up: Always pick up after your dog does their business. Some caravan parks and rest areas may provide poop bag dispensers, but always travel with your own. Then put your dog’s business into a bin. If no bins are provided onsite, carry it out with you until you find a bin.
Keeping Your Dog Safe While Camping
Unless you’re camping in urban caravan parks, while camping with your dog in Australia you’ll like come across some of the country’s dangers, from ticks to 1080 baits to snakes. Check out my full guide on keeping your dog safe while travelling in Australia.
It’s best to keep your dog inside your tent, caravan or campervan at night, even if they normally sleep outside. As well as being in an unusual environment, with many more distractions to put them on alert, having your dog sleep inside is safer for them, particularly if there are dingos or other wild creatures around.
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