At the end of the last ice age, some 15,000 years ago, a drowned river valley just three hours south of Sydney began transforming into what today is one of Australia’s not-so-well-kept secrets – Jervis Bay.
Spanning a tremendous 102-square kilometres, Jervis Bay is a veritable paradise, boasting some of the world’s whitest sand (no kidding, it’s on the record!) and clearest blue waters.
Teeming with life, the territory is home to whales, dolphins, turtles and even penguins, and is the perfect spot to set up camp under a blanket of stars and let crashing waves lull you to sleep.
From the seaside creature comforts of a Huskisson caravan park to the tranquil simplicity of pitching a tent amid bushland, there’s much to discover in Jervis Bay, so we figured we’d throw together a guide to the best places for you to set up camp in paradise.
Legend has it that when people in snow-covered nations close their eyes and dream of the most glorious beach they can imagine, it’s Huskisson Beach they see. Ok, that’s not entirely true, but it should be!
Perched below the aptly-named White Sands Park, Huskisson Beach is a popular spot owing to its beauty, history, and location.
A lively coastal town, Huskisson sits about a half hour drive from Nowra, and is famous for shipbuilding, having supplied hundreds of vessels to the US during WWII.
Huskisson camping is plentiful and varied. Park your camper at a pet-friendly site on the banks of Currumbene Creek to enjoy a camp kitchen and laundry or pitch a tent in Hidden Creek for a remote stay in a bushland setting a stone’s throw from the beach.
For something different, consider glamping at Paperbark Camp, or head 35 minutes from the beach to spend a memorable night at Barringella Station, a 4,500 acre cattle property offering a basic camp for $12.00 per night.
Once you’ve got your home base, head to the beach to kayak or paddle board upon sparkling sea brimming with little penguins, dolphins, and fur seals. With sailing, snorkelling, fishing, diving, and sightseeing on offer you can spend a week at play here, and never do the same activity twice.
Good to know: Huskisson is a great base for visiting Jervis Bay, and plentiful camping accommodations vary vastly in cost, availability, and style. Most options, especially those on the waterfront or located in national parks, book quickly, so do some research and lock in your digs ahead of time.
Booderee National Park
Aboriginal for ‘Bay of Plenty’, Booderee certainly lives up to its name. Whether you want to swim, surf, or lose yourself in the fragrant eucalyptus forests, this south coast paradise offers enough to keep you occupied for days.
While it’s hard to tire of the sublime beaches that enclose Booderee, you can swap relaxing on the soft white sand for unwinding amongst the Botanic Gardens’ scribbly gums and native wildflowers.
The adventurous can hike the scenic trails of St Georges Headland, explore the heritage-listed Cape St George Lighthouse (also a popular whale-watching spot) or take in fantastic views on the walk to Steamers Beach.
With so much to explore, it’s lucky that there are three campgrounds to choose from!
Close to the beach and lagoon, Green Patch is the largest of the three, and the only one where you can park a trailer. Each site is sheltered by trees, with access to free barbecues guaranteeing a relaxing stay. At night you can even enjoy a hot shower.
Great for larger groups, Bristol Point is walk-in only. This bushland campground has everything you need – bathrooms, fresh water and hot showers – as well as its own beach.
Finally, Cave Beach is a secluded grassy camping area at the southwestern end of Booderee. This walk-in spot is ideal for lightweight camping and has toilets, fresh water, barbecues and cold showers.
Good to know: Booderee’s popularity makes bookings essential, ideally several months ahead if you’re planning a summer visit.
Crowdy Bay National Park
Hiking, swimming, and exploring are on the agenda when you visit the ironically uncrowded Crowdy Bay National Park.
From fabulous fishing spots to wonderful walking tracks, the whole area is heaven for nature-lovers. The beaches are tranquil, the mountain views divine, and the azure water laps sand that could easily be mistaken for gold.
After you’ve tackled an invigorating hike through groves of mahogany and paperbark trees, threaded through the eye of towering Split Rock, and snapped some shots of Natural Arch, cool off with a dip in the calm, aquamarine water of Dunbogan Beach.
There are several camping options here, including Diamond Head, Kylie’s Beach and Indian Head campgrounds, all of which boast showers and welcome camper trailers (but not pets!)
Wherever you stay, just make sure you grab supplies in nearby Laurieton, and get ready to make friends with the local pied oystercatchers, kangaroos, cockatoos and jabirus while you barbecue in the pastel twilight.
Good to Know: A park fee of $8 applies, while campsite fees vary. Some sites have strict check-in and check-out times.
Befitting its romantic moniker, the magical Honeymoon Bay at the northern head of Jervis Bay, is a dreamy and unspoilt cove with limited capacity but unlimited chances for relaxation.
Sitting on the cusp of Currarong, just a moment away from Point Perpendicular, Honeymoon Bay is perfect if you want to frolic in calm turquoise waters or simply sleep on the sheltered beach.
Take a walk to The Lighthouse, an impressive now-decommissioned structure built in 1899, to see if you can spot any dolphins from the lookout, then, return to the bay to snorkel with a variety of fish in the glass-like sea.
Afterwards, enjoy a picnic as you soak up one of the spectacular sunsets the bay is so often blessed by.
The camping here is pretty basic, with bins and portable toilets, so BYO toilet paper, cooking utensils and water to drink. Neither fires nor pets are allowed, but if you’re looking for a spot that will make any weekend feel like a long weekend, this is it.
Good to Know: Because the Royal Australian Navy practise live firing during the week, the camp is only open weekends. A ballot held each August sees camping spots fill up for the summer. Outside this time, it’s first come, first served and fees apply.
St Georges Basin
Just a short drive from the beaches of Jervis Bay you’ll discover another water wonderland – St Georges Basin. This quiet, tree-lined lagoon is a natural playground ideal for swimming, fishing and other water sports.
Spend a morning on the calm waters of the lake, then explore the idyllic surrounds, from Wandandian Creek in the stunning Corramy Regional Park, to the Anabranch Loop and Delta Track bushwalking trails.
Maximise your sightseeing by hiring bicycles at Sanctuary Point, and pedal around the many villages that dot this charming coastal lagoon.
Excellent caravan and camping parks offer plenty of options for those who like to get back to nature while still enjoying life’s luxuries.
Situated in semi-bushland, Palm Beach is a pet-friendly, lakeside park, popular with families. Here, you can relax and enjoy a camp kitchen, BBQs, fire pit and pool. There are powered and unpowered sites suitable for both tents and campervans.
Perched on the edge of St Georges Basin and surrounded by National Park, the shady Bream Beach Caravan Park has something to offer all outdoor enthusiasts. There are powered and unpowered sites, as well as facilities for both campervans and caravans.
Badgee Park at Sussex Inlet is another camp that welcomes furry friends. Next to parkland, with relaxing waterfront views, this site provides both powered camping and caravan sites.
Good to know: The Country Club at Sanctuary Point is a popular place for visitors and locals. Offering entertainment, food and drinks, it’s worth a visit while you’re staying in the area.
If you’ve been dreaming about disconnecting from stress and plugging into nature, there are few better places to do so than at a Jervis Bay campground while exploring Shoalhaven, where each day can be as action-packed – or as lazy – as you like.
It’s an enjoyable and relatively short drive from Sydney, or, if you’re visiting the state, a short ride on the daily shuttle bus that runs between Sydney Airport and the South Coast- meaning there’s no excuse to leave Jervis Bay off your list of dream camping destinations.
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