7 Things You Need To Know About Camping In Tasmania

It’s not often you’ll travel to a place that offers stellar beachfront or mountain views for almost no cost at all. But that’s what you’ll find throughout Tasmania. Camping in Tasmania is cheap – if not free – and provides the best experience of the natural wonders within the state.

We’ve travelled on almost every main road crisscrossing Tasmania and have found some spectacular free or very cheap camping spots that rival any Airbnb! But it doesn’t come without its difficulties…

There are some important things to know about camping in Tasmania that will make your road trip considerably more enjoyable. Most of these we’ve learnt the hard way so in this post, we’re going to share with you all the things we wish we knew about camping in Tasmania, plus a few tips thrown in along the way.

Richardsons beach Camping Ground overlooking the famous Hazard Range of Freycinet National Park

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7 Tips For Camping In Tasmania

1. Don’t Rely On Phone Reception

Sun glowing in the valley of Mt Roland Regional Reserve over the farmland

There is a common saying that Tasmania is at least 20 years behind the rest of Australia and that couldn’t be more true for phone reception. Even in the more densely populated areas of Tasmania, don’t expect to have reception everywhere you go – especially if you’re not with Telstra!

Telstra is the most reliable network in Tasmania, where some towns won’t even have a drop of any other network. If you’re not already using Telstra or any of the smaller companies using the Telstra towers, we recommend grabbing a SIM card if you plan to stray from Hobart or Launceston.

Luckily, there are plenty of cheaper companies that use the Telstra network. We’ve listed the most popular below, including Telstra, for you to compare.

But even though Telstra is the most reliable, there are still large areas of Tasmania without reception. For many, having no reception is a welcomed break. But for those that need reception, check resources like our Best Campsites on the East Coast of Tasmania and download WikiCamps to discover whether your desired campsites have reception.

2. Purchase WikiCamps

Sunset over Jeanneret Beach Campsite on the Bay Of Fires Tasmania

If there is one app you need when you’re camping in Tasmania, it’s WikiCamps. This app costs a one-time payment of $8 and will be a lifesaver when you’re searching for somewhere to sleep.

You’ll not only find the greatest number of potential campsites listed compared to anywhere else but the app can also be used offline. This is gold when you forget to choose a campsite before running out of reception – which has happened to us on countless occasions.

However, there are a few things to be aware of with WikiCamps before giving it your unwavering trust.

  • Some campsites listed are nothing more than a clearing on the side of the road that someone has entered, check reviews and photos before deciding on a lesser-known camping spot.
  • Reviews, costs and photos can’t be accessed without reception. While you can use the map view and click on a particular campsite to learn more, the extra information only loads with reception.
  • If you haven’t loaded the map view that day, it can sometimes fail when you don’t have reception. It’s best to keep the app running in the background if you know you’ll be out of service – just to be safe.
  • If it says there is Telstra reception only at your chosen campsite, it’s more often than not patchy and unreliable.

3. Google Maps Is Notoriously Wrong

Driving through the lush green forests while camping in Tasmania

Google Maps is notoriously wrong in Tasmania, having sent us on a wild goose chase on multiple occasions. You’ll either find two possible locations for one campsite, it will be listed as a different name, or it will simply take you somewhere else!

If you’re feeling wary of any directions given, check the location against Wikicamps – or Alltrails if it’s also the start of a hike or mountain bike track. These two apps are usually more reliable – especially Alltrails which we use religiously for finding the location of hikes in Tasmania.

4. Leave No Trace

Wallaby eating leaves at Friendly Beaches Campsite in Tasmania

We’re extremely lucky to be gifted with such an abundance of free and cheap campsites in Tasmania but if we don’t continue to respect these sites, they won’t be accessible for much longer. It’s imperative that we follow the 7 leave no trace principles when we’re utilising the thoughtfully free and cheap campsites in Tasmania – or anywhere for that matter.

  • Toilets: It’s always best to pick a campsite that has access to a toilet, but if you choose one without, ensure you are fully self-contained or use a toilet before you arrive. If there is no other option for you, move at least 100 m away from the campsite and dig a hole 20cm deep to do your business in before adding the toilet paper in the hole and covering it back up.
  • Rubbish Bins: Don’t expect to find rubbish bins at every campsite you arrive at, especially recycle bins. If there isn’t the right bin to dispose of your rubbish, keep it with you until you reach a town with the correct bins lining the streets.
  • Campfires: Where you can, use a designated fire pit or reuse a fire scar from a previous party. Most often, campfires are allowed unless there is a fire ban, you can check for current fire bans via the Tasmania Fire Service website.
  • Respect The Wildlife: There is no doubt that you will come across a friendly wallaby, wombat or possum on your east coast road trip, but please refrain from feeding these and any other animals. It’s detrimental to their behaviour and their health.

5. Expect All Kinds Of Weather

Moody summer weather at The Needles in Southwest Tasmania

You may have heard whispers that Tasmania can produce all four seasons in one day and we can confirm that this is 100% true! While you may experience the odd hot day in summer, one thing is guaranteed, you will experience cold days. Damaging westerly winds and heavy rain are the main extremes we face in Tasmania, so if you sense bad weather looming, be prepared to pack up camp quickly to avoid damage to awnings and other camping equipment.

If you’re lucky enough to experience the beautiful Tasmanian sun, make sure to protect your skin. The UV is unusually fierce in Tasmania and even when the temperature doesn’t feel hot, it’s rather easy to get sunburnt.

Here is a list of common weather conditions you need to prepare for and expect year-round:

  • High winds
  • Heavy rain
  • Snap cold weather
  • Extreme UV levels

When packing for your trip to Tasmania, no matter what time of year, we recommend packing warm clothes – including a rain jacket, gloves, beanies and ugg boots! We literally go nowhere without taking our down jacket with us and have been grateful on many occasions.

6. Purchase A Tasmania Parks Pass

Honeycomb Caves Campsite near mole Creek

We highly recommend purchasing a Tasmania Parks Pass for your travels in Tasmania as over 40% of the state is protected by a national park or state reserve status. Many of the free campsites found in Tasmania are within a national park and while some won’t have any additional costs, a Tasmania Parks Pass is required.

Luckily, they’re quite affordable at $82.40 per vehicle for 2 months or $116.75 for two years. You can also purchase a single-day pass for the odd time you find yourself in a national park, which costs $41.20 per vehicle for 24 hours – but this option isn’t as cost-effective. 

Note: The prices listed above are as of February 2023. For a current price list, visit the Tasmania Parks website.

7. Should You Hire A Campervan or Pitch A Tent?

Looking over the river from our campervan at Mount Field National Park Campsite

This is a very common question for travellers to Tasmania and one that is super subjective. However, if we were to choose just one option we would choose a campervan. Ideally, you would hire a campervan and pack your tent for adventures camping in the mountains.

To help you decide if a campervan or a tent is right for you, we’ve created a pros and cons list for both choices below.

Pros For Hiring A Campervan

  • There are more campsites to choose from, especially if you hire a self-contained campervan
  • It’s much easier to set up and pack down each day
  • You can save money on eating out by cooking in the campervan

Cons For Hiring A Campervan

  • It’s expensive
  • If you’re not comfortable driving a large vehicle it can be an added stress
  • It will cost more in fuel compared to a regular car

Pros Of Camping In A Tent

  • It’s cheap and easy
  • You can utilise the walk-in only campsites
  • You’ll feel closer to nature and spend more time outside

Cons Of Camping In A Tent

  • It’s much colder
  • Some campsites don’t allow tents
  • It’s a longer process to set up and pack down each day
  • You’ll most likely need to eat out more often

Final Thoughts

We hope that you’ve found these tips helpful for your road trip to Tasmania. It’s truly our favourite place in Australia and there are countless campsites that will make your jaw drop to the floor.

But just remember to leave no trace when you’re travelling through Tasmania. All it takes is a few ignorant and disrespectful campers to ruin the opportunities we have here.

Have you road-tripped through Tasmania? What are some of the things you wished you had known beforehand? We’d love to know your tips in the comments below and as always, please feel free to leave any questions that you may have on the topic and we’ll reply as soon as possible.

Happy Adventuring 🙂