Top 3 Weekend Camping Escapes Near Sydney

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Friday is here again and it feels like the day is dragging on forever. You need a holiday, but you don’t have the leave or can’t afford to take time off. Well, my family and I have mastered the art of the weekend getaways. A mini holiday where you come back feeling refreshed and it doesn’t break the budget.

The trick is you want maximum R&R time and minimum travel time. So, here are some beautiful camping spots that are close to Sydney but will leave you feeling a million miles away.

1. Wolgan Valley (Newnes):

Vehicle Access: Easy 2WD drive. There is a 4WD river cross to some other camping sites if you have the vehicle. Easy grade 4WD only.

Driving Grade: Easy

Driving Time to Campsite: 2-3 hours depending on where in Sydney you live.

Cost: Free – run by National Parks 

Camp setup at Wolgan Valley (Newnes)

Our campsite at Newnes Wolgan Valley. Photo: Ian Treseder

Amenities

There are long drop toilets (in good condition) all within a short walk of your camp. Fire pits are provided, but due to it being a National Park, chainsaws are not permitted. I’d advise that you bring your own firewood, just check your local fire conditions and bans beforehand.

What to expect

You can expect to wake up to spectacular cliff lines and the sound of running water (if you camp near the river). This campsite has plenty of spaces for you to camp by your car and big open areas for the children to run around or ride their bikes. This is truly a place for you to come again and again and never get bored.

4WD acces at Newnes Wolgan Valley Campground

You’ll need a 4WD to get to some of the campgrounds. Photo: Ian Treseder

Things you can do

The Old Shale Mines are a short walk across the river and give you an insight into the area and its history. A must do if you like to explore. There are also plenty of walking trails for all ages and fitness levels. Swimming in the hotter months down in the shallows of the river is great, particularly for the kids.

There are 4WD tracks for enthusiasts available back out of the valley and along the ridgelines (travel time to access 20 min). The glowworm tunnel is also not far either (walking access track), a great adventure for children.

Newnes Campground Wolgan Valley at night

The view from our campsite at Wolgan Valley. Photo: Ian Treseder

2. Olney State forest (Central Coast):

Vehicle Access: Easy 2WD drive. There are 4WD tracks that run off the main roads, but any car can drive the main access roads.

Driving Grade: Easy

Driving Time to Campsite: 1-2 hours depending on where in Sydney you live.

Cost: Free – run by NSW Forestry Corporation

Camp Fire at Olney State Forest , Casurina Campground

Only a couple of hours from Sydney, the campground area at the Onley State Forest is a must visit. Photo: Ian Treseder

Amenities

There are long drop toilets (in good condition) all within a short walk of your camp. The State Forest allows dogs to accompany you (close supervision of dogs is a must) and chainsaw use is permitted (check your local fire conditions and bans).

What to expect

A number of campsites are available which include Casurina, The Basin and Turpentine which are for the camper looking to relax. Onley HQ is a popular place for dirt bike riders to camp and begin their weekend adventure. Hiking is a very popular option as Olney sits side by side with Watagans National Park and boasts beautiful mountain views.

It’s easy to fall in love with camping amongst the tall pine trees. Remember you will be sharing the roads and trails with Dirt bikes from time to time, so please take care.

Casurina Campground in Olney State Forest

Surrounded by tall pine trees, you can easily escape into the forest at the Casurina Campground. Photo: Ian Treseder

Things you can do

Hiking and bicycle riding are great options for families. There’s also the option to go driving and to have a picnic with a view. Olney is a huge expanse, with trails everywhere for you to explore and stop with picturesque sights of the mountains.

Tall pines at Casurina Camground in Olney State Forest

Get the family to bring their bikes, as there are heaps of areas to explore. Photo: Ian Treseder

3. Newnes State Forest (Near Lithgow)

Vehicle Access: Mostly 4WD. There are 4WD tracks that run off the main roads. It is best to use a 4WD.

Driving Grade: Moderate

Driving Time to Campsite: 2-3 hours depending on where in Sydney you live.

Cost: Free – run by NSW Forestry Corporation

Reading picture books by the fire in Newnes State Campground

The Newnes State Forest is an excellent spot for families. Photo: Ian Treseder

Amenities

There are no toilets available. The state forest allows dogs to accompany you, but close supervision of dogs is a must. Chainsaw use is also permitted, but remember to check your local fire conditions and bans first.

What to expect

Enter from the old Zig Zag railway entrance, the initial tracks in have been well worn, but if you follow your nose and push past all of that and head down towards Garden of Stone and Blackfellows Hand Trail, You will find peace and solitude and some of the most amazing cliff lines. I used a topographic map to allow me to see where the tracks went to potential lookouts.

Remember always travel in a small group when you are exploring areas that have tough tracks or are remote. Having them there can be lifesaving. Plus it’s always wonderful to have someone to share it with.

View of Wolgan Valley in Newnes State Forest

The view from the cliff lines at Newnes State Forest. Photo: Ian Treseder

Things you can do

4WD’ing is the most popular option in the area, but bike riding and hiking will allow you to access some even more remote parts of the place. The glowworm tunnel is also not far, but I’d advise you to go early as it can get busy.

Flora and Fauna along Newnes State Forest Clif Lines

Exploring the trails is just one of the activities you can do. Photo: Ian Treseder

Three amazing campsites, all a couple of hours from Sydney

So there you have it, three of the most beautiful campsites on offer. All of these locations will amaze you, as they do us. They are here and available for you to get lost in their beauty – right on Sydney’s doorstep!

So, what are you waiting for? Shut off your computer, put down the tools. Grab your family and friends. It’s time to discover.

Where’s your fave spot to go camping near your capital city? Let us know in the comments below. 

About the writer...

Joined back in October, 2017

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