Can you camp on the beach? The simple answer is a big No - but it depends where you are.
Is it illegal to camp on the beach?
Beach camping laws and more:
Though it varies from state to state, in Australia it is generally illegal to “wild” camp (including sleeping in your parked car) unless it is in an authorised area.
In NSW, the National Parks and Wildlife Service has plenty of authorised camping areas on its land, but a spokesperson tells New Idea no such areas are directly on the beach.
In the Northern Territory you are required to get a permit to camp anywhere outside an authorised area.
And in WA, the state’s Parks and Wildlife Service says that camping is only permitted in designated campgrounds.
If you have your heart set on camping at a particular beach, check with the local council to see if they allow wild camping there.
If it’s a beach in a fairly well-populated area you will likely face the wraith of a roving ranger if you pitch your tent.
Last year, NSW’s Byron Shire Council, home to the popular Byron Bay beaches, revealed it had issued more than 1,000 fines for illegal camping and parking during the Christmas period.
So generally, wherever you are, it is not much different than trying to camp on Bondi, Cottesloe or the Gold Coast. If a ranger or lifeguard spots your canvas and your socks drying on a tent rope, you will be evicted and face a fine.
But like throwing down a swag in the outback, there’s little chance of running foul with the law at a remote beach.
New Idea in no way endorses illegal camping, but should you find yourself with the opportunity of setting up camp on the white sands of a deserted beach, here are some tips:
- Think of the environment. Don’t camp on dunes.
- Be mindful of tides. You don’t want to find yourself going for a unwanted dip in your sleep. If possible, seek out a grassed area back from the beach.
- As my mum would say, “Don’t bring the beach home.” Have some sort of matt outside your tent to leave your shoes on to act as a sand trap.
- Be aware of the local guidelines regarding waste—including biological. For the sake of all humanity, do not do your business in the sand.
- Don’t drive on the beach (even in a 4WD) without a backup plan for getting bogged (e.g. inflatable jack, shovel, satellite phone, prayers).
- Chances are there won’t be lifeguards so don’t swim alone.
For more, including the best beach camping spots in NSW, dog friendly beach camping spots and free beach camping sites, click here.