Not much beats the off-the-grid feels when you go camping. Combine that with your trusty pooch and you've secured yourself a solid weekend away full of star-gazing, walks and all the space you could ask for.
With a pup in the family though, there comes a price. That means many restrictions in national parks and where and when you can give Fido the freedom to escape off his leash. Thankfully, we've saved you a bunch of searching time and rounded up the absolute best camping grounds you can take your dog to, no strings (or leashes) attached.
Here are 12 of the best dog-friendly camping spots around NSW.
Old Bara Campsite
For true bush camping with your pup, hit up Old Bara Campsite. The great thing about this gem is that you’ll be in full seclusion (if that’s what you’re going for) because you’ll be camping out on a private cattle farm and there’s no need to keep your four-legged friend on a leash. There’s also a little swimming spot so your dog can cool down after all that free-running it's going to do.
South West Rocks
Casually sitting on the banks of a scenic tidal waterway, Ingenia is the ultimate place to camp with your dog in NSW. Around here, you’ll be in for a tonne of things to do with your dog including fishing and surfing. There’s a range of pet-friendly caravan and camping sites so the only thing you need to do is check availability.
Located on the tranquil shores of Wallis Lake in Forster, this grassy lot is just a three and a half hour drive north of Sydney. At Secura, you’ll be in prime real estate with a number of beaches, rivers, restaurants, cafes and hinterlands right at your doorstep. As for the antics you and your dog can get up to, think kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing and crabbing (BYO equipment). There’s also a small boat ramp for launching tinnies at the park, with a larger ramp a few minutes up the road. Dogs are welcome at the manager's discretion outside of peak season for caravan and camping sites.
Shoal Bay Holiday Park
Directly opposite one of the most beautiful beaches on Australia’s east coast, Shoal Bay Holiday Park is ideal for your next camping adventure with your dog. Pups are only permitted here outside peak holiday periods (which means there’s also no bringing your pooch during school holidays and over long weekends—but regular weekends are all yours).
Halifax Holiday Park
Surrounded by two blue calm water beaches, Halifax is the perfect spot to camp with your dog in NSW. This stunning spot is a two and a half-hour drive from Sydney and is home to deep water boat ramps, an epic sling of cafes and restaurants too. The same pet rules apply to Halifax which means you’ll have to work this park’s peak times but when you do, brace yourself for direct access to Shoal Bay Beach, BBQs, picnic areas and a bunch of walking and cycling tracks.
Merry Beach Caravan Park
Merry Beach Caravan Park lies on the coastal heart of Murramarang National Park (and its the absolute definition of beachfront). For campers (and caravanners if you’re so inclined), you can choose from ensuite, powered or unpowered sites which sit right on the shoreline or spots with beach views. All camping sites cater for open fires in a brazier or above-the-ground fire pit. Your dog is allowed here throughout the whole year but there’s just a maximum of two dogs per booking and you’ll have to keep your pup on a leash when in the park.
Mystery Bay Campground
South Coast Of NSW
There is no other way to cut it, Mystery Bay Campground is pretty. Just over five hours from Sydney, this ocean-side campsite is perfect for the fam—and pup—who love a dip. Beach fishing is nearby and you can surf at the Bay itself or a beach nearby. Mystery Bay also has beautiful rocky coves and cliff heads, which your pooch might not appreciate, but your Insta followers will.
Coachwood Camping Area
Chichester State Forest
This one goes out to anyone who ever saw The Blue Lagoon and thought, "sounds great". The Coachwood Camping Area, three and a half hours north-west of Sydney, is remote and for the most part, accessible only by 4WD (2WD can work sometimes, but it can be difficult). The site sits on the Telegherry River and offers a rainforest setting with a lagoon for paddling, dog or otherwise.
Karuah River, Barrington Tops National Park
These guys fully understand the term, "fur babies". They know you love your dog and that there’s no such thing as too many hugs, kisses and photos of them. Appropriately, all 750 acres of their camping area is available to dogs on or off-leash. The nearby Barrington Bar and Grill even has a "Hound’s Breath Café" menu just for pets, that includes a "Pup a Chino". You and your dog can also enjoy walking trails and cool, mountain pools. Most sites aren’t powered but there are hot showers and coin-operated laundry. Not into tents? Cabins are also available and are pet-friendly.
Turon River, Blue Mountains
If there’s one thing we like, it’s a retreat. Especially retreats described as a "bush hideaway". Coming in at a cool 6,000 acres, Turon Gates isn’t just pet-friendly, it’s like they built the place with pets in mind. Whether you opt for a cabin or glamping, you and your doggo will wake to mountain views, rolling rivers and all the outdoor activities you could dream of. Try your hand at mountain biking (BYO), canoeing, gold panning and more. Pets are allowed off-lead, so long as they are kept under control.
Wollondilly River Station
At Wollondilly River Station any pet is welcome. Literally any. Got a goat? Bring ‘em. Dogs are permitted off-leash too, provided they’re under control at all times. Three or so hours from Sydney, this back-to-basics campground is for the experienced camper; there’s no power, no on-site shop and no lights for the loo (bring a torch). That being said, there are bushwalking, swimming and starry night skies a-plenty. The best bit? No peak and off-peak pricing. It’s a flat fee all year ‘round.
Just north of Port Macquarie, Delicate Campground is what’s known as a "remote-visit". There’ll be no hand-holding here, you need to bring everything with you (including a general okayness with an outside toilet situation). Beach camping and caravan camping is welcome here and dogs are more than welcome. There are 50 unpowered campsites to choose and booking is unavailable so you'll have to make sure you get in early.
Prefer glamping? These are our favourite spots.
Image credit: Jimmy Conover, Neil Thomas, Simon John-McHaffie, Tower Paddle Boards, Annie Theby