Camp: Banksia Green

Hidden behind dunes, in the sprawling 450 sq km Myall Lakes National Park, Banksia Green campground is a cosy little campsite worth stumbling upon. The more well-known Mungo Brush campground is literally a skip up Mungo Brush Road and is popular with kayakers and caravanners due to its larger sites and location on Blackfellows Bay. But it was for these reasons that we pulled into Banksia Green and pitched our flimsy, basement-bargain dome tent amongst the golden bottlebrush and banksia men. Here’s the lowdown:

Location: Myall Lakes National Park, NSW, Australia. Banksia Green is 98km (1h 20m) north of Newcastle and is directly behind the sand dunes of a rugged, nameless and unpatrolled beach.

Costs: There’s an $8 vehicle fee to enter the national park and there are coin- and card-operated machines at Mungo Brush. National Parks and Wildlife Service officers visit the area to check campers have passes, so best to display it on the dash of your car. Campsite fees range from $8-$12 per adult per night and $4-$6 per child per night.

Access: Mungo Brush Road is the only road to the campground and is sealed and suitable for 2WD vehicles.

Sites: There are 15 sites that are suitable for tents, camper trailers and caravans. The sites are signposted but lack strict boundaries – always a bonus in our book. You can also camp next to your vehicle (another big tick) and there are rudimentary barbecues (take your own wood). You cannot book a site, so it’s first-come, first-served.

Relaxing by the campfire in quiet Myall Lakes National Park. Credit: Jennifer Ennion

Facilities: This campground is basic, so if you can’t go without a shower, head elsewhere. There are two toilets, a visitor car park and wood-fire barbecues. Water is not available.

The selling points: The lack of facilities means that Banksia Green only attracts self-sufficient, hardy campers, so you won’t be surrounded by children squealing on holiday park jumping pillows. You’re also within earshot and strolling distance to a quiet beach – perfect for lulling you to sleep and for an early morning jog.

Activities: Surfing, swimming, beach fishing, kayaking on nearby Bombah Broadwater and hiking the 1.5km Mungo Rainforest loop (15-45 minutes).

Appreciating the beauty of a cuttlebone that had washed ashore. Credit: Jennifer Ennion.

When to visit: Autumn (March-May) and spring (Sept-Nov) are the best times to head there as holiday crowds will have gone and you’ll have the pick of campsites. We visited in May and although evenings were cool (flannelette and tracksuit weather) there were only two other groups – a backpacking hippie couple keen to share their chai tea and a small family that kept to themselves.

Important: Bushfires in Australia are very common and occur most summers. Before staying in a national park, check if there is a fire nearby, campfire ban or other alert via NPWS. Also, pets and smoking are prohibited in Australian national parks.

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