First Time Camper’s Guide to South Australia

If you haven’t gone camping in South Australia, you are missing a lot.

The southern state has more than 100 camp grounds to choose from with activities ranging from hiking scenic trails, kayaking its tranquil rivers, interacting with animals in their natural habitat or just staring at the vast night sky of the Outback.

For first-time campers in South Australia’s wilderness, renting a campervan or motorhome is a convenient option. You can take control of your schedule and be in the comfort of a home while on the road.

Hippie doesn’t have a branch in Adelaide- BUT never fear you can always hire form our family brands- Apollo Motorhome Holidays OR Cheapa Campa. 

Where To Camp in South Australia

Because there are many campgrounds to choose from in South Australia, you need to do an extensive research. Know first what you want to do. Is it hiking, swimming, road tripping or a culinary tour? Take also into consideration the travel time and the length of your stay.

Doing an online research doesn’t take long. You can also ask some relatives, friends or colleagues who have also camped in South Australia for some recommendations. Here are some of the popular things to do in South Australia:

  • Hiking the rugged trails of Flinders Ranges
  • Boating on the tranquil Murray River
  • Sightseeing in Seal Bay Conservation Park
  • Watching the colour changing Blue Lake
  • Swimming and sunbathing at Henley Beach


"Flinders Ranges" by Ralph Bestic available at under a Creative Commons Attribution. Full license at BY Ralph Bestic

Free Park Entries and Camping Fees

Almost 90-per cent of South Australia’s parks has free entrance fees  for backpackers and cyclists. Camping fees range from $45 to $100, depending on the level of facilities of the campground. Most national parks, however, charge $10 per vehicle for entry.

There are also places where you can camp for free like:

  • Kingston SE Jetty Parking Area (34 Marine Parade, Kingston)
  • Murtho Forest Landing/ Headings Cliffs (Murtho Forest Reservation)
  • Terowie Railway Yard (1 Telford Ave., Peterborough)
  • World’s End Gorge Campground (Worlds End Highway, Burra)

If you regularly visit parks, you can enroll for a Park Pass to save time when paying your vehicle entry and camping pass.

Allocating Your Budget

Estimate how much this camping trip will cost. Take note of your expected expenses- travel fare, campervan rent, food allowance, entry fees to parks, camping fees, souvenirs, etc. Total these and add emergency or hedge money. The real challenge is sticking to the budget by being accountable when you spend on things, not on the budget.

Pieces of Equipment To Carry

Depending on your camping preference, you can do away with little equipment or bring as many as you can as possible. The latter is prescribed if you have a vehicle with you. These are the  basic items which you should take with you:

  • Waterproof camping tents (unless you want to rent)
  • Warm clothing
  • Easy to prepare camping food
  • Lighting equipment (flashlight or lamp)
  • Cooking wares (unless you brought canned goods)
  • First aid kit
  • Water or hydration bottle

If you need more clothes or camping gears, shop on Goodwill or any local garage sales to save money. Online sites like Discount Camping, Wildearth and Anaconda Stores regularly posts discounted items on their websites.


"camping gear score" by Lindsay available at under a Creative Commons Attribution. Full license at BY Lindsay

Preparing for Emergencies

Camping, especially in rugged areas, poses some level of danger. This includes injuring yourself while hikes or getting rashes from poisonous plants. Prepare for the worst case scenarios, beforehand.

Bring a basic medical kit with you at all times. It should have bandages, burn ointment, blister pads, gauze pads, rubbing alcohol and other medical essentials. Bring prescription drugs and other over-the-counter medicines. Aspirin and Ibuprofen can treat common ailments like cold and fever.  

Get the emergency contact numbers of local authorities, park management, ambulance and State Emergency Service (SES). For quick emergency services, dial 000.

Heading Out to Your First Camping Trip

The day before you heads out to your camping journey check if everything you need is ready. Refer to your to-bring list and make sure you are not missing anything essential. When travelling with a group check if everyone has their assigned items ready.

If you booked a campervan or motorhome, call the rental company and confirm your scheduled pickup of the vehicle a week before your appointment. Check the weather in the area you planned to camp. If there are any travel warnings, heed them.


"Home" by Robert Young available at under a Creative Commons Attribution. Full license at BY Robert Young

Setting up Camp in South Australia

Campgrounds in South Australia usually have basic facilities like barbecue and picnic areas, water toilets, shower and rubbish disposal. The only real challenge is setting up your tent and camp. You should do this at around 5:00 P.M., especially by the end of Fall when the sun sets earlier than usual.

First, find the most levelled ground you can find. If you are camping in parks, you are already assigned on one. Next up, construct your tent. This will be easier if you have practised building it at home. Make sure it is tied neatly and will not be knocked down by the wind.

Second, get your campfire ready. Some campsites allow you to pick up dead branches to serve as firewood. However, there are also sites that require you to bring your own firewood. Firestarters, either do-it-yourself or bought from supermarkets, can hasten the process of making fire. Check first with the campground staff the policies regarding campfire.

Leaving No Trace, Only Memories

The principle of leaving no trace on any campground, public or private, is an outdoor ethic expected of any camper. There are seven principles that make up this unwritten camping law:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces
  3. Dispose of waste properly
  4. Leave what you find
  5. Minimise campfire impacts
  6. Respect wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Your Hosts and Other Visitors

This sums up the things you need to know if you are a first-time camper in South Australia. If you feel that you are not yet ready to rough it up on a backpack-only camping trip, then consider renting a motorhome or campervan. Driving a vehicle allows you to carry more things and lets you own your own schedule.

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