For those camping lovers, here are some of the best campsites we discovered around the Illawarra region and near Wollongong NSW.
From 1 June many NSW National Park campgrounds, accommodation and visitors centres have reopened. Important changes are in place to keep visitors safe. All camping areas within the parks require a booking. Visit COVID-19 updates and check park alerts for more information before visiting any NSW National Park.
Not everyone chooses to stay in a luxury hotel drinking cocktails beside a swimming pool. Many travellers prefer to pack up the car or 4WD and pitch a tent in the middle of nowhere. Who doesn’t love listening to the sounds of nature and star gazing under a brilliant sky. There are a lot of happy campers among us, who love nothing more than roughing it in a tent and cooking over an open fire.
Today’s campers want to get right back to nature and escape completely from the daily grind. That is why we are sharing with you some of the best camping spots in the scenic area of Illawarra near Wollongong.
Wollongong is where the mountains meet the sea and the views are breathtaking no matter where you choose to stay. Here are some of the best camping areas in this unique coastal region that surrounds Wollongong and the Illawarra.
1. Killalea State Park Campground
Killalea State Park is one of the most scenic and pristine camping grounds in the vicinity of the Illawarra region. It is located midway between Shellharbour and Kiama, so about a half hour drive from Wollongong itself. You have the opportunity to camp in the grassy meadows that are surrounded by forested area. There is a small cost associated with camping here and this goes directly toward the upkeep of this campground. The 250 hectares of pristine coastal reserve is maintained by National Parks and Wildlife employees.
The camping area is small but you have access to public facilities, such as bathrooms, kiosk and free parking. A great spot not only for camping but also perfect for picnics or a bushwalk with friends and family. Each site is also equipped with an undercover barbeque area. Be aware that open fires are only allowed on properly constructed fireplaces in dedicated BBQ areas. There are beautifully landscaped picnic sites located throughout the entire park for everyone to enjoy. Killalea campgrounds is a beautiful spot for a family camping adventure or quiet getaway for couples too.
The Farm Surf Beach
- Killalea Beach known as ‘The Farm’ is famous with surfers throughout the Illawarra region. It was declared a national surfing reserve in June 2009; however, the beach is not patrolled. The beach is a short stretch of sand that is surrounded on both sides by steep cliffs. A naturally shaped bay keeps the wind down and waters calm. It is a great place to camp any season, with summer attracting more visitors than the cool winter months. Killalea State Park also features bush and coastal walking trails and is within hiking distance of Bass Point Reserve and Shellharbour Village.
Lake Illawarra | Reddall Reserve
- The Lake Illawarra is less than 15 minutes’ drive away from Killalea State Park Campground. Lake Illawarra is located between the Pacific Ocean and Illawarra escarpment with both fresh and saltwater flowing into it. Surrounding the large lake are 13 boat ramps, plus catamaran and boat hire, making Lake Illawarra a haven for water sport activities and fishing. The children’s playground, kiosk and public amenities on the foreshore of Lake Illawarra is a popular picnicking spot at Reddall Reserve.
Bulli Beach Tourist Park has a vast selection of accommodation and activity options for a great camping holiday in the Wollongong area. Perfectly located and a gateway to the magnificent natural environment of the Grand Pacific Drive, its picturesque villages, mountain top lookouts and surf breaks. Guests have access to the camp kitchen, bathrooms, laundry, function room, BBQ area and children’s playground.
Here you have the option again of ensuite powered or unpowered sites, rented from the Wollongong City Council. Gong council manage the upkeep of this amazing family friendly camping area. If this is one of your first camping trips, or you prefer to stay comfortable and facilitated while out in nature this could be the perfect site for you! But, don’t bring your pet as Bulli Beach Tourist Park has a strict no pet policy. Guests travelling with pets are welcome to stay at Corrimal Beach Tourist Park on selected “pet friendly sites” during off season only.
Surfers Paradise at Bulli Beach
Bulli Beach is a favourite among surfers, so if you are into beach sports you are in luck. Booking of these sites in advance is necessary especially in summer as they can be booked out for months on end. There is quite a number of sites available for you to choose from, but we would recommend those that look out over the beach, after all this is a big drawcard of this location.
Bulli Beach Tourist Park is a popular choice for visitors attending the annual 4 Day Illawarra Folk Festival and other Illawarra and Wollongong events. For more information on the Illawarra Folk Festival, see the bottom of this blog.
3. Coledale Beach Camping Reserve
Coledale beach is beautifully positioned between the Pacific Ocean and the Illawarra escarpment. Right on the beach, Coledale Beach Camping Reserve is located within the Illawarra and is certainly one of the more popular areas for camping for locals. The local Coledale Surf Lifesaving Club manages the sought-after camping area under the jurisdiction of the Wollongong City Council. Again, it is around a 30-minute drive from Wollongong itself, but when you see it you will definitely be glad that you made the trip. The small beachside village of Coledale is just 1 hour south of Sydney CBD, accessed by the stunning Grand Pacific Drive via the spectacular Sea Cliff Bridge.
Here you can choose from either powered or non-powered sites. If you are planning on bringing your caravan, I would certainly recommend a powered site of course, which will simply cost you a little extra. But it is worth it to get the most out of this camping site on the coast of the Illawarra. The grassy camp strip is small with limited spots, but you will be close to the beach on a hot summer’s day. The beach is great for left-and-right-hand breaks plus an ideal fishing spot, well-protected by a rocky outcrop. Dolphins regularly play off Coledale Beach and views of migrating humpback whales can be seen from the beach which adds to the experience.
Places to Eat
Coledale village offers a good selection of shops, galleries, boutiques plus restaurants, cafés, bars and takeaway foods. The Coledale RSL bistro and Scarborough Wombarra Bowling Club are popular family friendly eating places.
This unique camping spot is popular during the warmer months, so bookings are essential and available online. Prices also go down when winter hits, as this is known as the off-season period. Not really beach weather but still pleasant and sheltered from the wind. Camping at Coledale beach offers a unique holiday experience in a great Australian location.
Coledale Beach Camping Reserve – 677 Lawrence Hargrave Dr, Coledale NSW 2515
4. Kiama Holiday Parks
Kiama is a seaside town which is about a 40 minutes’ drive from the centre of Wollongong. Visitors from around the world visit here to see the two Kiama Blowholes, world-famous sea-cliff caverns that project seawater skywards on to the coastline and other local attractions. The Kiama Coast Walk trail links the blowholes to the columns of Cathedral Rocks. Surf Beach offers ideal swimming conditions while Pilot’s Cottage Museum traces the town’s maritime history.
Kiama Things to Do and See
Kiama is also a great place for whale watching and other water activities especially surfing and fishing. The local businesses add to the charm of the region selling everything from coastal homewares to handcrafted clothing. Markets are held along the beach on the third Sunday of every month with regular and new vendors displaying their wares for sale. You are only a short stroll to the booming Kiama CBD, bustling with an array of modern restaurants, hipster cafes, trendy bars and interesting boutiques.
Being such a popular and well-known area to Sydneysiders, Kiama has a few camp sites to choose from, each just as fabulous as the next. The best of the best is the Big4 Easts Beach Holiday Park, Surf Beach Holiday Park and Kendalls on the Beach. As the names suggest, all of these are located along the stretch of coastline that borders Kiama on the east. They are a short walk to the beach and in Kiama you have reached a surfer’s paradise. The waves here are legendary and many of Australia’s great surfers have come through this town simply for the amazing surf that it offers.
During summer is the best time to visit and experience what Kiama has to offer as in the wintertime it can get bitterly cold. The park is less sheltered from the wind than the other camp sites mentioned. There is plenty to see and do in Kiama which makes this park one of the better campgrounds just outside the Illawarra area. The number of campgrounds in this region also makes for competitive prices for you. Between a powered and non-powered site there is barely any price difference at all.
Your family holiday starts here at BIG4 Easts Beach Holiday Park at Kiama. 35-acres of absolute beach frontage with mountain and valley views. Located just a few kilometres from the centre of Kiama, this holiday park has everything. There are plenty of fun activities to keep the kids entertain with a new pool complex, aqua adventure park, two playgrounds and games room. Your kids won’t want to leave!
Treat yourself to a massage in the private and peaceful massage studio onsite. You can be pampered too by experienced massage therapists who offer a selection of massages and spa treatments. Book your appointments early to avoid disappointment.
There is an extensive selection of fully self-contained accommodation to suit your needs and budget. You can choose from Norfolk Cabins or Beach and Seashell Retreats to Ocean View, Sunset or Flametree Villas and more. Available are ensuite and powered sites for those who enjoy camping. Grassed sites are suitable for caravans, camper trailers, tents and 5th wheelers.
Located near the entrance to the park is the Breakaway Café which is open every day during the NSW school holidays and weekends. Grab the newspaper and a coffee and relax you are on holiday. The Mini Mart has all the essentials and takeaway meals, milkshakes and ice creams are also available from the café.
Surf Beach Holiday Park is for those seeking a good dose of sun and sea. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean and walking distance from Kiama’s main beach. It’s perfect for fishing, surfing and whale watching. Park your van, pitch a tent or enjoy the comforts in one of the luxury cabins. Kids will love the pool and games room while you relax with a book or cook up a storm in the communal camp kitchen. Surf Beach Holiday Park campsites are dog friendly outside of New South Wales school and public holidays.
This Kiama beachfront paradise is the closest you get to the ocean. No matter what your budget there a great selection of accommodation options at Kendalls on the Beach Holiday Park. Choose between luxurious cabins, powered caravan and ensuite sites or pitch your tent on one of the grassy camp sites. Kids Club is a big drawcard for kids and parents during the NSW Christmas School holiday period. Parents looking for a break would be wise to secure a booking well in advance at Kids Club. Pets are permitted in powered and unpowered sites outside of NSW school holidays and long weekends. Pets are not allowed on this beach but there are some pet friendly beaches within the area.
Corrimal Beach Tourist Park is one of the three beachside camping grounds run by Wollongong City Council. The other two being Windang and of course Bulli which we have already looked at. All of these have facilities such as toilets and powered campsites are available for an extra fee. The best part is of course that you are extremely close to one of Wollongong’s best beaches on offer. At Corrimal, which is about a 10-minute drive from Wollongong if that, you also have access to a dog beach, so your pampered pooch is welcome to join you on your camping holiday!
It is located in the middle of Corrimal and Corrimal East beaches, so you have your choice of the two. There is so much to see and do around the area as well. Summer is a great time to make the most of this location as in winter it can get quite chilly and when the wind picks up the sand blows around, which is no fun not even for your dog! The beaches stretch a long way down the coast and connect so you can walk from one end to the other without hiking up to the grass knolls above.
Creek and Ocean Access
Towradgi Creek is also accessible from the Corrimal Beach Tourist Park campgrounds and makes for another exciting natural aspect to explore during your stay. The Corrimal Court shopping complex is not as large as most, but it has everything you need for your stay. There is also a scattering of restaurants from the campgrounds to the centre, so you can grab a bite to eat. Fishnets is a local favourite, stocking fresh seafood from the nearby ocean and home of one of the largest burgers in the Illawarra.
These are all great options for your camping holiday. Most of these campgrounds can be enjoyed to their fullest potential in the summer but can be suitable for the winter months too if you enjoy camping in the cold, fresh air. If you want to get back to nature, camping can be a very exciting and affordable option for you and the family.
Be Like A Scout | Be Prepared!
One of my favourite camping tips is to prepare for the worst weather conditions but expect the best. So, bring with you everything you need to make your camping experience comfortable and memorable. But, remember take your rubbish with you and leave no footprints as they say!
Illawarra Folk Festival
Illawarra Folk Festival is an event of international standing, held annually over four days and four nights. In 2020, the festival celebrates 35 years when staged at Bulli Showground next January. The summer event is the largest folk festival in the state showcasing folk, roots, bluegrass, world, gypsy and Celtic music, as well as comedy, dance and poetry. This family friendly festival is a magical experience appealing to a diverse audience and continues to entice many nationalities each year. The event attracts international, national and local artists and the festival program features concerts, comedy sessions, acoustic jams and much more. There are a colourful collection of international food and craft stalls and festival bars.
Illawarra Festival Accommodation
The festival has 11 onsite venues with a family friendly village full of action from dawn to late. You can either camp onsite or stay in accommodation nearby. Bulli train station is a short walk away or there is plenty of onsite carparking available. The huge finale held on the Sunday is a very special treat and why these tickets sell out fast. Book early to avoid disappointment!
Wollongong Bush Walks
With Wollongong being such a scenic place in Australia, it is likely that you will want to explore some of the more natural locations while you are there. Many of the trails and NSW national parks surrounding it are absolutely breathtaking, Here’s 5 Top Wollongong walks that should not be missed and a list of Things to Do in Wollongong including 5 Best Wollongong Restaurants and Yoga Retreat.
5 Best Beaches to Visit in Wollongong
Here I have outlined 5 Best, safest and most peaceful beaches to be found in Wollongong. I’ll also share with you which Wollongong beaches are pet friendly and places to stay and dine. For all the best local markets to visit in and around Illawarra and Wollongong click here.
Best Winery Views: Near Wollongong, Illawarra on the South Coast NSW
Although Wollongong is not specifically known for its wineries, the Illawarra and surrounds has some amazing vineyards and wineries for you to discover. If you are a wine lover and find yourself in Wollongong, there are several must see local vineyards not to be overlooked. On the fringe of the city of Wollongong, is the Illawarra coast with spectacular cliffs and glorious uncrowded beaches.
I have outlined some of the best wineries near Wollongong and within driving distance of Sydney. Each has its own glorious scenery and boasts a unique adaption of our favourite Australian wines from this region. So do not miss Wollongong when touring wineries of New South Wales, and certainly do not overlook the 5 Best Wineries near Wollongong.
Inspired? Pin to your board and share with your friends
Travel Planning Resources
Subscribe to the Progressive Traveller community and receive my FREE printable travel packing checklists. Learn how to pack efficiently and maximise your luggage space for your next trip abroad. (checklist available at the end of this section)
Book Your Flight
Rent A Car
RentalCars.com is where you will find the right car in the right place at the right price. It’s the best car rental site for comparing prices and offers.
My go-to-online accommodation search engine is Booking.com. With over 830,000 hotels, apartments, villas, resorts, guest houses and B&Bs, you will be spoilt for choice. They offer great rates, *free cancellation, no reservation fees and best prices are guaranteed. Through the booking site you have access to customer reviews, special offers and great deals. Plus, each accommodation is shown by location and photos, so you know exactly what to expect.
Save $35 with this Airbnb coupon code and learn the best way to find cheap Airbnb accommodation around the world. Check my Go Travel eBook for more accommodation pro tips.
Protect You and Your Belongings
If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel! Protect yourself and your belongings with my preferred consumer insurer, World Nomads. They provide an extensive range of options to suit your type of travel and they are giving my readers a 5% discount code when they enter Go Travel. Head to World Nomads, and enter the promo code GOTRAVEL for an exclusive discount!*
- For our Canadian and US travellers, unfortunately due to financial services laws, World Nomads cannot provide a discount. This promotional code cannot be used with any other discount offer, including World Nomads Members’ discount for travel insurance policy holders.