Australian summer holidays are the high season in Tasmania, causing prices for transportation and accommodation to go up dramatically. Granted, you’ll be rewarded with the coolest climate in the country, but you’ll have to pay the price. No worries! This post brings you the solution.
Come to think of it, the price of the Spirit of Tasmania ferry ride alone might do you in. So… Unless you really like boats (and rough rides in open water), do yourself a favor and take a plane instead.
We managed to find return tickets from Melbourne to Hobart for under $100 USD!
The catch? Flying with low-cost airline TigerAir limits you to taking only 7 kg of hand luggage, but hey… the flights are affordable and punctual. Other airlines to check for affordable flights to Tasmania are Jetstar, Virgin, and Qantas. You never know when and where to catch the best deal, right?
Needless to say, we packed extremely light for this trip. And in an attempt to save money on accommodation, we decided we would go camping.
You see, camping has always been my favorite way to spend a holiday. As a child, I went camping for 15 consecutive summers on the Adriatic coast of Croatia. Best times of my life.
Only this time, we would be “camping” within quotation marks. There would be no tent, sleeping bags, or any other camping gear for that matter… 😉 You got it! We would be sleeping in our car.
Though slightly dreading the forecast of extremely uncomfortable nights, I was immediately looking forward to the adventure!
[As crazy as this particular endeavor might sound to you, sleeping in your car is actually far more common in Australia than you’d think.]
Free camping in Tasmania
Just before we left Melbourne, we came across a very useful map indicating well-known, but also the more secret or even hidden camp sites around Tasmania. And boy was I surprised to find that many camp sites in Tasmania are COMPLETELY FREE!
Not to mention in the most amazing locations… Even after staying at the campgrounds I am about to show you, I still cannot believe it. Not just the fact that free camping continues to exist in today’s costly world, but with such spectacular scenery around?!
If you couldn’t tell, I am blown away. Which is exactly why I feel the need to share this information with the world. Don’t believe me? See for yourself. And thank you TravellingTwo.com, your map has been a great help!
Tip for light travelers: Upon arrival in Tasmania, buy yourself some fleece blankies to get you through the night (only 5$ at Target!). Trust me, you’ll thank me for it.
Camping in the wilderness
Our first night we slept on the banks of the Rosebery River, close to Cradle Mountain Park.
There is free camping on both sides of the bridge. Get their early to claim your unique spot on the river bank and enjoy a panoramic view of the mountains reflected in the water.
Starting around 8 pm, the area is covered in the warm orange glow of afternoon lighting from a slowly setting sun.
Camping around town
Let there be no confusion. There are camping sites in and around almost every town in Tasmania, but the ones I am pointing out here are completely FREE of charge.
Sheffield, the City of Murals, is very much worth a visit once you’ve made it out to the northern parts of Tasmania. [Yes! Even a detour from Launceston, Devonport, or Cradle Mountain depending on which direction you’re coming from.]
This funky town is not only a great “outdoor gallery” of historic murals, and a gateway to Cradle Mountain if you’re coming from the North, but it also provides visitors with stunning views of Mt Roland.
And the best part? There is a rest area right in the middle of town!
We haven’t seen an actual place to set up a tent in Sheffield (not for free anyway), but this place is very recommended for buses, camper vans, or people sleeping in their cars. Crazy folks like us. 😉
As opposed to many other small towns we’ve visited in Tassie, Sheffield has all you could possibly need and more. From funky art galleries, quirky antique stores, and unique op shop boutiques, to restaurants, cafés, and even a bar annex bottle shop!
Oh, and did I mention you can find showers at the Tourist Information Centre across the road?
Campbell Town is ideally located on the Midland Highway between Launceston and Hobart. Another way to end up in this quirky colonial town is to choose a more rural route (B34) when going up or down the Tasman Highway (A3).
In our case, since we had already driven the full length of the Great Eastern Drive twice, we gladly took a detour. And what did we find upon arrival in Campbell Town? Not just any free rest area, but an actual campground that allows visitors to stay up to 48 hours!
Camping at the beach
Tasmania has plenty of options when it comes to free camping on the beach.
The North Shore around Stanley and Burnie offers visitors some opportunities for sleeping in the great Outdoors, but your absolute best bet for free camping in Tasmania presents itself along the Great Eastern Drive.
Anywhere from the Bay of Fires to Port Arthur, anytime and for however long you’d like, with a guarantee to get stunning ocean views. Some spots even come with facilities!
Little Beach State Reserve
Located close to a town called Chain of Lagoons, Little Beach is a great sunset spot with mountains, trees, and more of the aforementioned and impressive orange rocks.
The camping site offers space for many happy campers, and comes with (self-made) fire pits. No facilities.
Tip!: Want to enjoy a beautiful sunset on the beach? Climb onto or against the rocks to escape from the icy and strong Tasmanian winds. You’ll find that the temperature immediately feels up to 15 degrees warmer! Now just sit back, relax, and take in the gorgeous surroundings without freezing your *** off. You’re welcome. 😉
Bay of Fires
The Bay of Fires is a not-to-miss destination in Tasmania. Not only are visitors treated with marvelous views of bright orange rocks standing in stark contrast to the white beaches and turquoise waters of the region, but amazingly enough (!) visitors are allowed to set up camp in most places. For free!
The orange color of the rocks, so vivid it almost looks like paint, is caused by Lichen, a plant-like composite organism that can grow on almost any surface.
Surprisingly, however, this is not what gave the Bay of Fires its name. Apparently, when the bay was discovered by the British in 1773, they spotted the fires of Aboriginal people on the beaches.
Binalong Bay is a touristy town on the northeast coast of Tasmania. Understandably so, as it offers visitors accommodations in varying price ranges, restaurants, shops, amazing beach panoramas, and all sorts of outdoor activities including diving and snorkeling.
But Binalong Bay is only the southern end of the Bay of Fires. Once you have made it all the way out here, please don’t forget to drive up to the Gardens!
Along this spectacular coastal drive, everything is very well marked. From viewpoints, to beach accesses, and camping sites. Just when you think this place couldn’t get any better, the next stop will leave you in awe all over again.
After visiting most stops along the way, I’d say that the sheltered Cosy Corner area is the biggest and most popular camping spot. And it comes with toilet facilities too!
Don’t know about you after reading this post, but even after living the experience myself I am still flabbergasted by free camping in Tasmania.
Camping alone is enough to make my heart race, but to allow people to set up camp for free in locations as beautiful as these? I mean, The Gardens is part of a nature reserve!
Do you like camping?
Can’t wait to go and explore Tassie?
I hope my stories and photos could convince you that free camping in Tasmania is the best! Have fun!!