Camping in NSW's northern headlands
Author: Ali Millar
From Byron Bay to Port Macquarie, the northern NSW coastline has more 'heads' than you can poke a stick at, many offering RVers the perfect mix of relaxed coastal activities, beautiful beaches and epic vistas – all easily accessed from spectacular waterfront campsites.
It’s a busy stretch of coast with back roads winding off the A1. So, where to start? Here are some of our favourite headland camping destinations in pristine national parks and tiny coastal fishing villages, each with its own unique appeal.
Broken Head is an ideal base for exploring around Byron Bay. Popular with surfers, the wide beach stretches off toward Cape Byron, with views of Cape Byron Lighthouse and the most easterly point of the Australian mainland. Behind the beach is a spacious picnic area with covered barbecues and picnic tables.
Broken Head Holiday Park is nestled behind the beach on the edge of Broken Head Nature Reserve. Powered and unpowered concrete slab and grass sites are available, some with ocean views.
From the caravan park, follow the 1.6km return 'Three Sisters' walking track along the cliff top to a lookout on the grassy headland offering vantages of the rainforested coastline, secluded beaches and hidden rocky outcrops. In season, this is a good place to spot migrating whales.
There are no shops at Broken Head, aside from the small van park kiosk, but it’s 3km up the road to a supermarket and bakery at Suffolk Park.
Broken Head Holiday Park (www.brokenheadholidaypark.com.au).
Evans Head is a classic coastal fishing town perched on the banks of the Evans River. Up on the headland, Razorback Lookout gives the best vantage over the rivermouth breakwalls and the beaches.
The picturesque harbour houses a small fishing fleet and the local 'Fish Coop' is the place to go for takeaway fish and chips, or fresh seafood to throw on the camp barbecue. There are plenty of options for anglers on the river and beaches. Chinamans Beach and the patrolled (in summer) Airforce Beach are top swimming spots, where you can drive your 4WD onto the beach. Evans Head has essential services and a well-situated caravan park close to the river and the main street. The family-friendly van park has powered and unpowered sites for larger rigs.
Evans Head is flanked by the Broadwater and Bundjalung national parks offering plentiful stunning beaches and excellent walks.
North Coast Holiday Parks Evans Head (www.northcoastholidayparks.com.au/park/info/evans-head); Black Rocks Campground (www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au).
Kick back and relax at the spectacular Woody Head. The excellent campground in the Iluka region of Bundjalung National Park is on the edge of the headland - spend your time between camp and the protected beach out front. This large, grassy campground has numbered sites that can be booked online or at the rangers’ office onsite, and modern amenities including coin-operated showers, drinking water, firepits and firewood. There are no powered sites, but the unpowered sites are suited to a range of rigs with shade cloth providing flat bases.
Adjacent the camp area is a beautiful day use area with plenty of picnic tables, barbecues and communal fire pits, with a stunning outlook over the water.
Woody Head Campground (www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au).
This tiny hamlet is surrounded by the spectacular national park of the same name, stretching south from the town of South West Rocks. Make your way to Hat Head village via the winding back road, which crosses then skirts Korogoro Creek as you follow Gap Road to the headland proper. From the Gap car park, the Korogoro walking track takes you on a circuit around the headland, while Connors Track follows the coastline south – both offering impressive coastal scenery. Back across the creek, Hat Head is a sleepy village with a general store and cafe, as well as a bowls club and surf life saving club. Right in town, Hat Head Holiday Park offers RVers unpowered and powered sites behind the beach. Take the footbridge across to the Gap for coastal walks or explore the long beach right out front. The clear waters of Korogoro Creek lend themselves nicely to bobbing about in a kayak or fishing from the banks.
Want budget-friendly campground? Smoky Cape Campground in Hat Head NP 30km to the north, has sites dotted through the rainforest behind the beach. Just 5km south of town, Hungry Gate Campground has open, grassy sites in a clearing behind the sand dunes.
Hat Head Holiday Park (www.macleayvalleycoastholidayparks.com.au/hat-head); Smoky Cape and Hungry Gate campgrounds (www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au).
A 40-minute drive south of Hat Head through rolling green pastures brings you to the popular, laid-back surf town of Crescent Head. The busy Crescent Head Holiday Park holds prime position on the foreshore, with sites right behind the sand and views over the creek and beach. If you prefer to stay out of town, the Point Plomer Rd takes you south through Goolawah Regional Park and the pet-friendly Delicate Campground, and on to Limeburners Creek National Park and the Melaleuca and Point Plomer campgrounds. Stop in at the Bush Café on the edge of the national park for coffee, snacks or pizza on the weekend.
Crescent Head Holiday Park (>www.macleayvalleycoastholidayparks.com.au/crescent-head), Delicate, Melaleuca and Point Plomer campgrounds (www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au).