Tassie’s Top 10 Campsites

As visited by A Lazy Lap of Oz

So many people think that Tasmania is only a small place, I only need a week or two to explore it. Everyone who says this is so wrong! If you can take the time and have the budget we strongly believe that in 2 and 4 months you can give it a good go. Yes it costs a bit to bring your van over ($2300 for us) although we believe that the availability of free camps and low costs camps will outweigh this cost when you are staying for an extended period.

The best places to camp

A question we often get asked by those planning a trip to Tasmania is where is the best place to stay? Well, for us we like to mix it up with camps that cost us, and those that don’t. Tasmania is really a place you go to explore nature. There is so much variety and options when it comes to campsites so as a family we have pulled together our top 10!

In our time in Tasmania we stayed at 26 different campsites for varying lengths of time from 1 night to more than a week. We stayed at a combination of free campsites to caravan parks that cost us as much as $56 per night. All of our sites are pet friendly as we had Miss Molly with us. We decided on our top 10 basically by which sites stick out in our memories and why. So here they are…

Boat Harbour Beach

  • Free
  • Facilities – toilets, drinking water, rubbish, phone service, pet friendly, onsite café,
  • To do – swimming, fishing, hiking,

Just west of Wynyard on the north coast, Boat Harbour is a beautiful little holiday spot, with the amazing advantage of a council endorsed free camp. There are flushing toilets on site which are thoroughly cleaned daily, and rubbish bins that are emptied weekly. There is no dump point onsite, but it isn’t too far to either Sisters Beach on Wynyard for this facility. This site can get a little boggy after rain, and is extremely busy in summer, so get in early. Or be like us and enjoy it on your own out of peak periods. Here is the Wikicamps link for this site.

Old Mac’s Caravan and Motorhome Farm

  • Low Cost Camp
  • Facilities – toilet, water (small fee), rubbish bins, fires, phone service, pet friendly,
  • To do – close to Launceston, Ben Lomond – zig zag road, Cateract Gorge, bushwalks, farm animals.

This awesome low-cost camp is super convenient for those visiting the Launceston area. At $10 per site per night it is very convenient, affordable, well maintained and super close to the city. The sites are huge and grassy with plenty of space for the kids to ride their bikes and go and explore. There are some really nice walks on the site as well as farm animals that the kids to feed.

The owner has put some good rules in place to ensure the smooth running of the site. There is a toilet onsite at the top of the hill at the restaurant, or if you are self contained the dump point is only 5 minutes away. There is water available for a gold coin honesty payment per tank. This is a very popular place over the summer months so get in early to secure a spot. This site is also only open from September to May each year and is pet friendly. Here is the Wikicamps link for this site.

Waterhouse Conservation Area

  • Free
  • Facilities – toilets, pet friendly, campfires (except when banned),
  • To do – swimming, fishing, bushwalks

We stumbled upon this little gem when we were caught out by being unplanned and didn’t have a site for the long weekend. Waterhouse is on the north coast, east of Bridport. The area has 9 different campsites with varying sized campsites for sways, camper trailers and caravans. We found with our 21ft van that the spots were limited, but with my husband’s extraordinarily amazing parking skills we were able to find an amazing spot at Casuarina Campground.

We loved this area for many reasons including the beautiful beaches and endless exploring, but also for how quiet it was on a “busy” long weekend. The fishing wasn’t bad, but we did wish we had a boat or Dean’s spearfishing gear at this point to really enjoy the waters of the north east. There are well maintained drop toilets on site, is pet friendly and there is plenty of wildlife including birds and quolls. There is minimal phone service and little tv reception (both a positive for us) and be advised that in summer this site is extremely popular, and is also home to Tassie’s deadly Tiger snakes. Here is the Wikicamps link for this site.

Swimcart Beach, Bay of Fires

  • Free
  • Facilities – Pit toilets, pet friendly, phone service
  • To do – water sports, fishing, rock exploring, Bay of Fires Conservation Area

STUNNING! This is the only word to describe this location. Caravans line the beach, each being able to secure their own little piece of paradise . . . . all for Free! Located on the east coast, north of Binalong Bay. The turquoise waters, the white beaches, the orange lichen on the rocks and the beautiful stingrays that scoot up and down the beach each day, are all parts of what makes this place unforgettable.

The campsite is pet friendly and has onsite pit toilets. There are campsites that are in more protected positions if you are unable to secure the front row seats, as well as the other popular campsites of Cosy Corner which are just as amazing as Swimcart. Within the surrounding area there are so many things to explore including the Bay of Fires, St Helens and Binalong Bay. From here we also explored the Blue Tier and Pyengana areas. We could have stayed here forever, but we limited ourselves to a week. Here is the Wikicamps link for this site.

South Arm RSL & Community Club

  • Free/Low Cost
  • Facilities – Toilets and Showers (small fee), non portable water, park, phone service
  • To do – Fishing, Restaurant, water sports, lookout

We headed to South Arm, south-east of Hobart, after setting ourselves up with spearfishing gear and reading about the abundance of fish in the area. The RSL and Community Club is one of the best I have visited. It has the most amazing dedication to our diggers out the front. The club itself is lovely, with clean modern toilets and showers, pool table and they serve beautiful meals. If you are fully self contained you can stay here for free, but we decided to support the club and make use of the beautiful hot showers and toilets in opening hours and pay the $5 per person per night. They didn’t charge us for the kids. Here is the Wikicamps link for this site.

Scottsdale Northeast Park

  • Donation
  • Facilities – Toilets, Water, showers (small fee), rubbish, dump point, phone service
  • To do – Bushwalks, Train Track walks, Wildlife, Park.

The Northeast park is situated just on the outskirts of Scottsdale and this campsite was amazing for kids and parents alike. There is a large park and playground for the kids to play in as well as beautiful ponds to search for platypus and other animals. The campsite is maintained by the local Lions and a donation is requested to stay. For this small fee you get access to clean toilets, water and dump point all onsite and also hot showers for a small additional fee. Sites are level and well mown. We enjoyed the beautiful walk along the Old Railway walk which winds its way from town out to the Northeast Park. From here we explored Bridport, Targa area, and Derby. It was a great central location for the exploring the North east cente. Here is the Wikicamps link for this site.

Pumphouse Campground, Arthur’s Lake

  • Low Cost
  • Facilities – Toilets, Showers (small fee), non-portable water, fires, pet friendly
  • To do – fishing, water sports, snow in winter
Frosty Morning

We arrived at Pumphouse as a stopover between Hobart and the north to be blown away by the location. It was a freezing afternoon, 3 degrees at 4pm, but we had a great 2 nights here. The lake was beautiful, and I can only imagine being there in the warmer months enjoying the waterways and the fishing. For a tiny $4 per person per night Onions, the caretaker, keeps the place looking spic and span, with the best smelling pit toilets I have ever sat my bottom on! The hot showers take $1 or $2 coins and these too are kept beautifully clean. Kids had a great time mixing with the other families and riding their bikes around. There is a real family friendly feel about this place, and I think it all comes down to the beautiful caring caretaker. The Wikicamps link is here.

Left Of Field

  • Campground
  • Facilities – Power, Toilets, Shower, Decadent Bath (additional fee), fires, portable water, BBQ, camp kitchen, park, Pet friendly
  • To do – Mount Field NP, Putt Putt Golf (small fee), Gordon Dam,

The Left of Field experience is something that I had been hearing about from all the travelling mum’s since hitting Tassie shores. Left of Field is a bush camping experience that you need to have in Tassie! Adrian will be your amazing host and he will go above and beyond to ensure that your experience is one to remember. Bonus, if you stay 3 nights or more you don’t pay extra for your kiddies.

You are welcomed to site with the tradition of a Chupa-Chup while you do the “boring stuff” at check-in. The kids are welcomed individually, as was our puppy Molly. There is plenty to keep the kids entertained with swings and slides and a putt putt course for a small fee. Adrian can fill you in about the amazing walks that you can take from the site without having to move your car, as well as visits out to the amazing Gordon Dam, and how else you can fill your time in the local area.

The outdoor bath was my Mother’s Day pressie, although I think I would have done it anyway. Adrian has draws of decadent bath bombs to make your experience next level. Yes the air temp was a chilly 5 degrees, but I wasn’t missing out on this amazing experience. The kids and I met Adrian at the communal fire and were led to the secluded area where the bath has been placed in the most magical circle of trees. Lanterns hung from the tree, the campfire roaring, and the bath full with steaming hot water . . . what more could you want. You need to visit this campsite. It is so worth the $$. Here is the link for Wikicamps.

Gowrie Park Wilderness Village

  • Caravan Park
  • Facilities – Power, Toilets, coin operated showers, non-portable water, dump point, Pet friendly
  • To do – Sheffield, Mount Rowland, Devils Gullet, bushwalks, Water sports on Lake Barrington.

Gowrie Park is where we ended up meeting some friends for the Easter break. It is located in the central north near Sheffield, the town of murals. It is a small little family owned caravan park with beautiful facilities and is very reasonably priced. The surroundings are stunning with beautiful Mount Rowland towering above you. Most caravan sites are on the smaller side so make sure you communicate the size of your van with them. They were very accommodating to our group and our large vans.

The van sites are generally gravel, with the camping sites grass. If you don’t have your own shower these are $1 for 5 mins, and all reports say that they are super hot. We enjoyed a campfire with friends as the wallaby’s as hopped around, what more could you want? From here we explored Sheffield, Devils Gullet, Lake McKenzie, Tasmazia, Lake Barrington, and Cradle Mountain. Here is the Wikicamps link.

Finns Campground – Cockle Creek

  • Free
  • Facilities – Toilet, non-portable water, pet friendly, fires, minimal phone service
  • To do – hiking, fishing, swimming, boating,

After a couple of weeks in a house sit we were super excited to travel to the end of the road and arrive at Finns where there were only a few people and minimal phone service. The campsite was a little wet after recent rains, but the puddles soak in quickly in the sandy soil. We were able to enjoy a campfire, although you need to travel a little to collect wood. The drop toilet was adequate, not too smelly.

This location is quite remote so you need to bring in all your own food, water and supplies. The beach is amazing. Kids loved exploring and building sandcastles with their new friends, while the adults enjoyed a bit of fishing. The biggest highlight of this campsite for us was the oysters you can collect off the rocks at low tide. They are just epic in size and flavour. There are a few nice hikes from this location. I can see why it is extremely busy in the warmer months. Here is the Wikicamps link.

Has that wet your tastebuds for Tasmania?

With easy access to water, free camps and dump points, Tasmania is really a free campers paradise. Mix that up with a bit of luxury in some really lovely low cost campsites and caravan parks you really will have the most amazing camping experience.

If that doesn’t wet your taste buds for the amazing places you can visit in Tasmania, I don’t know what will. Maybe the top 10 attraction in Tasmania will put you over the line . . . keep any eye out for that post coming soon. Link will be here once live.

If you loved this blog post, you might like to read one of our others below…

Tasmania’s Central South

Our third month on the road has been a big one for new experiences. As you can see from our Polarsteps above, we are really filling in the state. We caught up with the Targa Tasmania, experienced our first house sit and finished the month with sand and snow. Bruny Island was also part of our adventures. With so much to share with you to plan your own adventures we will do May over a couple of posts. With so many tourist attractions closing in the cooler months, we want to show you there is still so much to experience in Tasmania.

Derwent Bridge and the Targa Tasmania

Epic fairy floss sunset at Derwent Bridge

Targa Tasmania

For us racing fans, any event that you can attend for free is a bonus. The Targa Tasmania is a tarmac rally that has been held on the amazing winding, twisty and hilly roads of Tasmania since 1992. When we realised we would be in Tassie for this event our aim was to try see at least one of the stages. For us the stage that traveled through Derwent bridge fitted in with our plans.

We parked ourselves in the free camp at the Derwent Bridge Wilderness Hotel which is right on the Lyell Highway. It wasn’t our intention to be so close to the action, but on the morning of the stage we awoke to the support teams surrounding us, and heading into the hotel for breakfast. Throughout the day we enjoyed chatting to the support teams, watching the club drivers file through, before the big guns reached us later in the afternoon. It was an eventful day with around 8 cars ending up on the back of tow trucks, only one being a serious accident where everyone walked away safely. The cars drove straight past the back of our van between stages, and so it was an all round enjoyable experience.

The cars and crews, right behind our caravan.

Derwent Bridge Attractions

Also whilst in Derwent Bridge we hit up some of the local attractions. The Wall is an amazing wood carving display by renowned artist Greg Duncan. The carvings are spectacular and many have been left purposely unfinished to show the process. Camera’s are not allowed inside, so you will have to go there and experience it for yourself.

On a rainy afternoon we headed out to the beautiful Lake St Clair. The information centre has the most amazing warm fire on a rainy day and plenty of displays and information for the kids and adults alike. The kids also got to see the other end of the Overland Track, and this has become a future goal for our family. The lake was also beautiful, even on an overcast day.

Other attractions that we really enjoyed was a visit to Tassies Belly Button (geographical centre of Tasmania), the old wooden water pipes and further out to Laughing Jack Lagoon which is another local free camp.

Left of Field – Mount Field National Park

The Left of Field experience is something that I had been hearing about from all the traveling mum’s since hitting Tassie shores. Left of Field is a bush camping experience that you need to have in Tassie! Adrian will be your amazing host and he will go above and beyond to ensure that your experience is one to remember. Bonus, if you stay 3 nights or more you don’t pay extra for your kiddies.  

You are welcomed to site with the tradition of a Chupa-Chup while you do the “boring stuff” at check-in. This is the time where you book your amazing outdoor bath experience, and pick from the draws of decadent bath bombs (more on this later). Adrian can fill you in about the amazing walks that you can take from the site without having to move your car, visits out to the amazing Gordon Dam, and how else you can fill your time in the local area.

Mount Field National Park

On our first day in this beautiful area we took a walk along the edge of the Tyenna River to the beginning of the Mount Field National Park. We had our eyes peeled for Platypus, but were unlucky on this instance.  We walked the easy track into the beautiful and well-known Russell Falls. This fall is accessible by wheelchairs and is a super easy walk for the kiddies.  We reached this fall in no time, so pushed on up the many many steps to the top of Russell Falls and then onto Horseshoe Falls. Here we went back to the fun of treasure hunting and found ourselves geocache while we were there.

We then returned back to the information centre and explored the many items on display, and then ordered ourselves a take away cuppa and enjoyed that while the kids played at the lovely park. This park area extra enjoyable on a beautiful warm Autumn Day.

The Gordon Dam

On the next day we headed off towards the magnificent Gordon Dam. This long and sometimes winding drive is well worth the effort. The road takes you out through the recent fire ravaged areas of Adamsfield Conservation Area, and then onto the glorious views over Lake Pedder and onto Lake Gordon.

The fire ravaged areas of Adamsfield and Strathgordon.

Lake Pedder is best viewed from the lookout at the western end of the lake near Strathgordon. Pedder is the overflow area for Lake Gordon, and together form part of the Hydro Electric system in Tasmania. At the lookout you can learn so much about the area that surrounds you, including why Lake Pedder continues to exist. The view is pretty epic too!

Lake Pedder Lookout

After the lookout we continued onto the epic sight that is the Gordon Dam wall. Completed in 1978 the Gordon River Dam is a major gated double curvature concrete arch dam with a controlled spillway. The wall is 140m high and 198m in length. With the wall in place Lake Gordon has a capacity of 12.4km cubed. The walk down onto the wall isn’t for the faint hearted. Descending the many grate stairs down onto the 2.7m wide wall is a little heart pumping. But once on the wall the views down the gully and also back across the dam and just spectacular.  

The Twisted Sister

We broke up the long return drive with a short walk to the Twisted Sister. This site was one of a long running protest to ensure the continued preservation of the area. You can still see some of the ropes in trees where the protesters had themselves tied to the trees. Along the short walk to the epic eucalyptus there are many chance to view some epic trees and amazing lichen. Upon arrival at the Twisted Sister we were awestruck by it’s size and boggled by how it became to be. Even with some Google searching we couldn’t find how it came to be twisted!

The Outdoor Bath – Left Of Field

Our final experience in our time at Left of Field was the amazing outdoor bath. Yes the air temp was a chilly 5 degrees, but I wasn’t missing out on this amazing experience and it was Mothers Day to boot! The kids and I met Adrian at the communal fire and were led to the secluded area where the bath has been placed in the most magical circle of trees. Lanterns hung from the tree, the campfire roaring, and the bath full with steaming hot water . . . what more could you want. There is an endless supply of hot water to continue to keep the bath warm on these chilly nights. You are your selected bath bomb and lay back to stare at the stars, enjoy the crackle of the fire, and just be.

I will admit it was a little squishy with the 3 of us in the bath, but Adrian has plans to fix that with a second bath being installed in the coming months. For me I would say this has been one of my most memorable experiences in Tassie. Spending the time in the bath with the two beautiful beings that made me a mum, and just appreciating the journey we are travelling on as a family. It was beautiful to just be and appreciate life!

Whats next for us . . . . Onto Bruny Island. Click here for the post when it goes live! In the mean time hit us up with any questions below!

North East Tasmania – Budget, Campsites and Attractions

Spirit of Tasmania I – Day crossing

We have now been on the road for about 6 weeks and there have been some lessons learnt, amazing experiences and most of all some awesome memories made.

So far we have traveled at a lazy pace exploring the North East of Tasmania. We have stayed at 9 different free or low cost camps since hitting Tassie shores. This state is the king of free camping in Australia, and we are taking advantage of this fact. There are over 200 free camps throughout the state, with over 150 of them accepting your four-legged pals! This month we have stayed 20 nights at free camps, and another 10 at low cost/donation camps costing us a total of $36. Our budget for camping comes in at a huge $71 or $2.20 a day. We set out on this trip with all the facilities in our Bushtracker Caravan to free camp as much as possible, allowing us to travel for longer periods of time on the money we have saved. 

Over 200 free camps throughout the state, with over 150 of them accepting your four-legged friend

Favorite Campsite

Our favorite campsite this month would have to be Swimcart Beach in the Bay of Fires. We were able to fluke a beachfront spot and during our time there enjoyed stunning days in front of the turquoise waters, but we also endured the windy afternoons and one freezing cold day (where is snowed in other locations in Tasmania).

The kids loved this site having the beach at their disposal each and every day. There were so many sand castle, fortresses and tunnels built in this time they should have achieved their engineering certificates. This location allowed us to explore the Bay of Fires region including Binalong Bay and St Helens, the Blue Tier Giant, Pyengana Dairy and St Columbia Falls.

Other than the wind there were a couple of other downsides including the smelly pit toilet, the popularity (it was packed most days) and the black feet! We will leave this one for you to experience yourself. The negatives were well outweighed by the amazingness of this place. It needs to be on your Tasmanian Itinerary.

Favorite Attraction

This month we have paid out $311 in attractions (this includes the tickets to attend the Simmon’s Plains Supercars Race in the first week April). Of the experiences that we have attended the kids most enjoyed Seahorse World at Beauty Point. The learning from this attraction well outweighed its cost. The kids learnt about many different Australian and international breeds of seahorse, which ones are endangered, how they breed them, how they are shipped all over the world as pets, and  the most exciting part was being able to hold a seahorse at the end of the tour. This is a well worthwhile learning experience.

“The learning from this attraction well outweighed its cost”

Tasmania is also abundant with wildlife. We have encountered countless wallaby’s and bird species. Most notably we have been excited to encounter 2 echidnas, a wombat, 2 stingrays, a Tassie devil and a platypus. The shy platypus was the most excited due to how rare they are in the wild.

Feeling privileged – Scottsdale, Tasmania

We are on the hunt for big things on our travels too, and this month we have encountered 2 big things, one natural and one man made. We hiked into see the largest living tree by girth in Australia. It measures a 19.4 meters around and was big enough for ours and the Barravanning Oz families to be photographed in the hollow of its trunk. It soars to over 60 metres tall and is estimated to be over 150 years old. Defiantly worth the walk through the rainforest to visit this epic site.  The man-made big thing we found this month is the Big Thumbs Up in Scottsdale. Carved from a tree that was knocked down into the driveway of Joshie Janoschka’s, a local Scottsdale cabinet maker. Joshie could have just cut the tree up into firewood, but his quirky sense of humour prevailed the big thumb was gift to the town.

We are enrolled in distance education through NEPSODE (See our reason why here). For us this way of schooling is working well for us. We are in the roll of it and it isn’t impacting on our exploring. The kids are doing on average about 2 hours work 5 days a week, plus a half hour online lesson each a week. Hit us up if you have any questions. We are happy to answer them.

This Month’s Learnings

So what have we learnt from our travelling experiences this month. Many many things, but here are the key ones;

  • Food in Tasmania is a little more expensive with only small IGA supermarkets available in most towns. Coles and Woolworth are only in major cities and towns.
  • The landscape in Tasmania is hilly with many dirt roads and we have found it best to camp somewhere central and explore out like spiders legs, saving yourself money in fuel as your not towing the van so often.
  • The above also means less pack-ups and set ups.
  • If you put yourself out there you will meet amazing people, and maybe make new friends. The kids met many new friends to play with in our travels. Whether it was a quick play at a park or at the campground. We also met up with 2 other travelling families (Barravanning Oz and Trekking Downunder) purely by connecting with them via social media. We also met Michelle and Gary at one of our campsites, and have kept in contact.
  • Learn what everyone’s triggers are and how best to calm them down. Is it music, a walk or going fishing. No matter what it is everyone needs to recognise when each other needs space.
  • Girls, your skin will get really really dry from being outside all the time. Prepare for this before you go!
  • You will initially stress about water fill ups and dump points, but it will become part of normal life!
  • Make sure you replace your spare gas bottle as soon as it runs out, because your 2nd gas bottle will run out at the most inconvenient moment – like at 8pm on a Sunday night when you want a shower after a day of fishing!

Budget

Here is a quick overview of our budget. Please remember that all families travel differently and this is just OUR budget for the month of March. In March we have only travelled 1,688 km.

  Month Per week
Accommodation $71 $16
Food $1439 $325
Fuel $503 $114
Alcohol (liquid sanity) $342 $77
Eating Out $381 $86
Experiences $311 $70
Other
(phone, internet, on road bills,
at home costs, maintenance, medical, permits)
$1870 $422
Total $4917 $1110

We are pretty happy with our budget. We were hoping we were going to be living on between $1000 and $1200 per week. But for us we aren’t going to limit our experiences not only because of money. This is our life for the next 3 years, and we are going to enjoy it!

Got any questions about our travels or our other must sees . . Comment below and we will get back to you.