A road trip along the Great Ocean road is an Aussie travel bucket list item, and one that can be ticked off in just a few days! It can also be a very budget friendly holiday, with several low cost and free camping spots to choose from along your route.
Sure, The 12 Apostles and panoramic beach views first come to mind when thinking about the Great Ocean road, but Great Otway National Park also has plenty of waterfalls and forest hikes that are not to be missed. Many of the lower cost and free camping options can be found a bit inland in beautiful forest settings and are a great base from which to explore the national park.
Join us, for the best free and low-cost campgrounds along the Great Ocean Road. Let’s go!
Have you heard about Tanners Road Bend Campground? It’s this awesome spot right in the heart of Otway State Park. They’ve got all the basics like toilets, picnic facilities, and fire pits.
It’s just a hop, skip, and jump away from Anglesea, making it the perfect base camp for exploring the Great Ocean Road and the Otway hinterland. The best part? They have room for tents, caravans, and even horse floats. There are loads of tracks just waiting for you to explore, whether you’re on foot, on a mountain bike, or on horseback.
Just remember to bring your own water and firewood, alright? And, it’s free! Plus, they’re dog-friendly. Even the spiders are friendly (well if you’re into that sort of thing).
Fires are allowed
Suitable for Camper Trailers and Caravans
Jamieson Creek Bush Campground
Separation Creek, VIC
Only 17 minutes drive from Lorne, you’ll find Jamieson Creek Bush Campground – just off the Great Ocean Road.
The campground hosts 24 individual campsites, 14 of which have direct vehicle access that can accommodate cars and campervans arriving from a big adventure. The remaining are suitable for tents, but note: all are unpowered – so pack your essentials!
With the beach just minutes away, some awesome views and close access to the highway, it’s really an unbeatable location and should be on your list if you’re considering a road trip.
Here’s a bonus tip: on your way south, make sure to make a stop at Mount Defiance lookout for some photo-worthy views, and get up extra early to catch the sunrise.
Facilities at this campsite include toilets, BBQ, cooking shelter, a lookout and designated fire places, but you will need to bring your own firewood and drinking water. The campsite is easily accessible for 2WD vehicles, but the road beyond the campsite is suitable for 4WD vehicles only, please make sure your vehicle is suitable.
Beauchamp Falls Reserve is located just 6 minutes drive from the small town of Beech Forest and about one hour from Apollo Bay. This area of the Otways National Park is littered with waterfalls, and makes for a great detour from the coast on your Great Ocean Road road trip.
It’s a small campground with about 15 sites, all unpowered, and the Great Ocean Road entrance is only recommended for 4WD vehicles.
Travelling by 2WD? Access the reserve via Beech Forest for a smoother ride.
As well as Beauchamp Falls (about 40 minutes hike from the campground), other local attractions include Hopetoun Falls, Congram Waterfall, The Redwoods, Otway Fly Treetop Adventures and Triplet Falls. Forget what TLC says about this last one – go chasing waterfalls!
Located about 10 minutes drive from Lorne, this small campground is a free camping option along the Great Ocean Road for those travelling on a budget, or for self sufficient campers that don’t mind getting in touch with nature and camping without amenities.
There are 6 unpowered sites at this campground – so it’s a first-serve basis – and there are no toilets or running water stations available. That being said, toilets, barbecues and picnic tables can be found in close proximity, right within the Sheoak Picnic Area.
Rosellas, cockatoos and other wildlife frequent this campground to make for a great photo opportunity, but please remember that feeding wildlife is not allowed.
Its proximity to Lorne and its beaches as well as forest walking tracks and waterfalls makes this campground a great option to consider for outdoor enthusiasts.
As mentioned above, this campground operates on a first come, first served basis – so no bookings are required. Learn more about Sharps Camping Area on their website, and add this one to your next free camping adventure.
See you soon!
6 non powered sites
Timboon Recreation Reserve
Timboon Recreation Reserve is another free camping option along the Great Ocean Road, located in the small town of Timboon – about 20 minutes drive from Port Campbell.
The campground is free but gold coin donations are appreciated for staying at the campground and using the dumping point. Facilities include toilets, coin operated showers and running water, and all sites are unpowered and no bookings are necessary.
Timboon Recreation Reserve is a good place to stop overnight with several attractions nearby, such as Loch Ard Gorge (not to be missed), the Arch and London Bridge rock formations, and Port Campbell. Elsewhere, check out Timboon for a range of cute outlets including a local distillery, cheesery and ice creamery.
Big Hill Track Campground is your ticket to an authentic Australian bushland experience without burning a hole in your wallet. This open, grassy oasis, nestled amid towering forests, offers unpowered sites for tent dwellers, caravan cruisers, and camper-trailer adventurers. With 13 campsites, each accommodating up to six people, it’s a haven for group getaways or solo retreats.
The campground’s facilities are minimal but purposeful – pit toilets and communal fireplaces (BYO firewood, mates!). But let’s be real, you’re here for the wildlife encounters, the mountain biking thrills, and the four-wheel driving chills. Keep your eyes peeled for King Parrots painting the sky with their vibrant hues, Crimson Rosellas playing hide and seek, and if Lady Luck smiles, a koala sighting might be on the cards.
Halfway between Deans Marsh and Lorne, Big Hill isn’t just a campsite; it’s a concert venue when the annual Lorne Falls Festival rolls around. So, pack your adventurous spirit (and a bit of water), because Big Hill is waiting!
Brace yourself for the untamed beauty of Dando’s Campground, nestled on a bend of the Gellibrand River. This spacious campsite is your ticket to a refreshing escape, offering about 20 campsites, basic amenities, and a large grassy playground for the kids.
Fancy fishing or picnicking? Or maybe you’re up for some four-wheel driving and rainforest exploration? Whatever your adventure, Dando’s has got you covered. And don’t miss out on the secluded water hole if you’re visiting in the warmer months.
This bushland gem scores brownie points for being dog-friendly, so feel free to bring your furry friends along. Just remember, it’s all fun and games until someone steps on rogue dog poo, so let’s keep Dando’s clean!
Imagine camping surrounded by towering Eucalyptus trees and ancient Tree Ferns – sounds like a dream, right? Just a hop, skip, and jump (or a 50-metre downhill walk) away from the Aire River, this campsite is a tranquil retreat approximately three hours west of Melbourne. It’s not just about the camping, though. With Triplet Falls, the Red Woods forest, Otways High Wire, and a plethora of day hikes & bush walk nearby, boredom will be the last thing you’ll encounter here.
The campsite facilities are basic but functional. Think drop toilets and a tank tap (not for drinking, though!). Fires aren’t allowed, so make sure your meal prep game is strong. And if fishing tickles your fancy, the Aire River is home to Brown Trout, eel, Blackfish, Estuary Perch, and Australian Grayling.
Aire Crossing Campsite is small, quiet, and off-grid, making it perfect for couples or solo adventurers. So, pack your tent, grab your fishing rod, and get ready to watch time drift by at this serene riverside sanctuary.
Tucked 12km inland from Aireys Inlet, this bush beauty is your ticket to a chilled-out camping experience. Surrounded by dry forest and woodland, it’s an ideal spot for wildlife viewing – think kangaroos, native birds, and if you’re lucky, a koala or two!
The campground offers 16 campsites, perfect for up to six people. Got a camper trailer or caravan? No worries, there are sites with direct vehicle access. If you’re all about that tent life, they’ve got you covered too. Just remember, all sites are unpowered, so pack accordingly.
Facilities include non-flush toilets (rustic, right?), shared fireplaces, and low tables/seats. Don’t forget to bring your own firewood, though – let’s keep that wildlife habitat intact!
Hammond Road North Campground is just a short drive from the stunning Surf Coast beaches. So, whether you’re keen on exploring the Otway forests or just kicking back at camp, this spot has something for everyone.
Suitable for 2WD Vehicles
We hope to have inspired you to try out some of these low cost and free camping options on your next road trip. If you’re looking to travel on a budget without compromising on comfort, travelling in a campervan is a great and cost effective option.
As always, please remember to respect the locals, take all your rubbish with you and leave the place better than you found it.
Bastian is the Sales & Marketing Manager here at Travellers Autobarn. He holds a Master of Commerce in Marketing and International Business Management, and 20+ years experience in campervan hire, road trips and travel.