Are you driving along Australia on a Campervan? Most of people going on road trips on Campervans expect to be able to have accomodation for free in their vehicule but reality is most places have laws and regulations against sleeping in your car. This is unfortunately a lot because of negative past experiences of some cities due to disrespectful people doing road trips within the country. Consequence is that we all have to pay for it now.
It would be mostly true in the most hippie and populated places for travellers just like Byron Bay, where public camping or in your car at any public parking area is strictly prohibited and you can get a hefty fine if caught by a ranger that is surely patroling 7 days a week all the time in Byron Bay. So there is no actual real “free camping in Byron Bay” You will have to be ready for a little road trip outside the area. Not to worry, we have tested it and have gathered the best tips from other travellers to provide you with this guide.
Let us know your experience and if you have found a good spot in the comment section and happy Van Tripping in Australia
Where to camp overnight in Byron Bay
So if you are travelling by car in Australia and you are looking for free camping spots in order to spend the night or two in Byron Bay, stop right there because it is strictly prohibited in town. For a free night and avoiding ridiculous campervan parking with no power (because might as well pay a place at that price for a proper room) and a fine for illegal public camping, you can follow our guide to plan your trip on the Australian Coast. Make sure you share this post with the others in the community and contribute if you have any tips and tricks we have forgotten. Note that the Byron Shire Council has enforcement patrols/rangers working seven days a week targeting this issue and the fines for illegal camping can be from apparently an on-the-spot fine of $110 to a maximum of $2,200 in Australian Dollars. So we wrote “where to camp overnight in Byron Bay for free” because we know you would be searching this query, but it is highly not recommended unless you are happy to drive outside of the township for a bit.
So yeah, luckily there are a few places you can potentially set camp in your van near Byron Bay without driving over an hour as some other websites suggest. Note that these places are rest areas and have basic facilities, which means no showers and pretty much just a public toilet. If you really need a shower, you can use the ones right at the beach in Byron Bay, including the playground for kids and BBQs as Aussies certainly like having a good feed by the ocean. If you definitely want things to be convenient and be closer to Byron Bay, there are 15 legal campgrounds in the Byron Shire which you can find with a quick search.
Yelgun Rest Area
This is where we spent the night. It is also the best option among all the suggestions below. There is a “No Camping” sign so obviously can be a bit more uncomfortable for those not sleeping in vans like the type we drove in which has no external tents. We saw many cars with external tents outside setting “camp”, making it a super grey area since they are not independent random tents for camping. So if you are in a van like ours, it is more acceptable to spend the night to have a rest and say to rangers you were having a rest to the worst-case scenario. The Yelgun Rest Area is roughly 20 minutes drive from the centre of Byron Bay without traffic and exactly 25km North. There is a playground for kids and a BBQ station as well, winning!
Sunnycrest Lane Rest Area
The Sunnycrest Lane Rest Area is the closest to Byron Bay with only 12km drive on the B62 right on the Sunnycrest Lane. There is a sign saying no overnight camping but if you do get encounters with rangers, say that you are tired and need a rest before leaving again. Many people have stayed here overnight and never had problems with anyone especially because it is off the main Pacific Highway. Smaller highways are less often overseen by rangers.
Tyagarah Rest Area
Only 15 minutes drive North of Byron Bay at the Pacific Highway is the Tyagarah Rest. This also has a “No Camping” sign so you might feel, again, awkward if your van is the type that has a tent extension from your van or car. This stop area is one of the busiest on the Pacific Highway, so it is recommended to use the excuse that you have been falling asleep and tired to keep on driving and just taking a short rest for a couple of hours before hitting the road again. This is a common-sense excuse that can get you away from a fine but again is you have the type of vehicle that is an extension tent, rangers might be less comprehensive as it literally says no camping with a big tent on the sign being prohibited. People with beds in their vans might get away better with this excuse than others.
Located 16km outside of Byron Bay at Coorabell Creek, this spot is less busy than the other suggestions. The Hilltop Lookout is not a rest area like the name suggests, it is a day-use area. As usual, if you come across a ranger waking you up, mention that you have been very tired and you are having a break before hitting up the road again. The bonus at the Hilltop Lookout is that it will give you a pretty great view of the countryside and over to Byron Bay but wouldn’t really recommend this spot considering it is clearly not a rest area and not much space around.
Map To Where to Stay overnight for Free in Byron Bay
Again, Byron Bay is heavily monitored in terms of people camping outside of dedicated areas, so it is definitely not recommended to stay in the centre of town or even around it in residential neighbourhoods. You most likely be reported by locals unfortunately and there are rangers making sure the law is not broken. Make sure you stay at one of these places to put chances on your side for not getting fines.
Be a mindful Campervan Traveller
Campervan, combi, whatever it is, be a mindful traveller. ALWAYS be respectful and mind the other travellers around you, in addition, to always pick up your rubbish. It’s when people abuse what we all thing is common sense that rules get strict and makes it not fun for others. Be a responsible traveller to pass on for the next generations of travellers. Of course, if you are only looking for a night there no worries but if you plan to stay longer in Byron, do consider the paid camping grounds! As you can see in our comments, people aren’t fans at all!
Recent update: “Yelgun and Sleepy Hollow are the best places to sleep” based on a local tip from a comment we received. Of course, during summertime (Dec-Feb), risks are significantly higher to get a fine at the other places we have suggested so do stay at your own risk. Now, go enjoy Byron Bay and remember to stay tidy 😉