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FREE Camp from Darwin to Adelaide along the Stuart Highway

If you're road tripping around Australia and looking for ways to keep your costs under control then free camping can save you some serious money.

Fortunately Australia has thousands of places to free camp and many people travel around the country free camping virtually every night.

If you're new to the idea of free camping then you might want to read this article first > How to free camp your way around Australia

Unlike the USA and Europe which are criss crossed by dozens of highways running in all directions, Australia has a lot more open space and far fewer roads.

The main arterial highway running north-south is the Stuart Highway which runs between Darwin in the North and Adelaide in the South.

For this article I'm using the Stuart Highway as an example of how you can fairly easily plot a route around the country that takes advantage of free camping opportunities most of the way.

You can easily do the same research I've done for this article for all major routes around the country by using the Wikicamps app or a book like Camps Australia Wide, both of which have thousands of free or low cost camp sites and the details you need to find and use them.

The Stuart Highway runs between Darwin in the North and Port Augusta in the south. Including the extra distance to Adelaide, it is around 3000km long

As you can see on the map above, the distance between Darwin and Adelaide is just over 3000km.

So if you drive an average 500km per day you can cover the distance in around 6 days.

But why rush?

Take your time and enjoy the trip.

Driving the Stuart Highway is a great way to experience the Australian outback without needing to get your tyres dirty, unless you want to of course.

Don't worry if you don't have a 4WD, it's good sealed road all the way, but there are plenty of detours off the highway that will need a 4WD if you have one.

Is is safe to camp in free roadside rest areas?

Australia is a very safe country to travel in but it is still worth being cautious and aware of potential dangers especially when camping in open public areas like roadside stops.

Here are some tips to help you avoid problems:

  • Don't park or camp in designated truck parking areas - Not only is it illegal but also inconsiderate and dangerous. Truck drivers must stop for breaks by law and if travellers occupy their designated parking spaces it may get nasty!
  • Keep your footprint small - Don't leave things lying around where they are easy targets for theft. Make sure everything is packed up and put away when you go to bed.
  • Be considerate of other travellers - Avoid conflict and issues by being a good neighbour
  • Get in early during busy times - During peak periods, roadside stops can fill up fast so if you're planning to use them, don't arrive right on sunset as there may be no spaces left.
  • BYO toilet paper & shovel - Not all roadside stops have toilets and those that do may not be operational. So if you don't have a van or RV with a built in toilet, make sure you have a shovel in case you need to go for a walk in the bush. Make the effort to dig a hole and bury everything when you're done because no-one like seeing toilet paper drifting around the bush!
  • There is safety in numbers - A busy roadside stop is a good thing because potential criminals or trouble makers are less likely to bother you when there are other campers around. I've stayed overnight in a few stops by myself and had no issues but if I find myself at a roadside stop alone and have the time or the opportunity I will generally head down a side track and into the bush away from the road to avoid any issues with people who might turn up in the small hours of the morning!
  • Get to know your neighbours - Say g'day to your neighbours when you or they arrive so you can get a sense of whether they are someone you can rely on or someone to avoid! Most likely you'll end up having a good chat over a few beers. I've had many fireside chats at roadside camps in my years of travelling.
  • Keep all food packed away - Many areas of Australia, including the Stuart Highway, have wild animals like dingos & wild dogs roaming around at night who will steal your food if you leave it out. We had a dingo chew through our 10 ltr box of water when we camped at Nullarbor Roadhouse.

History of the Stuart Highway

The Stuart Highway was named after John McDouall Stuart, a Scottish explorer who was the first European to cross the Australian continent from south to north in the mid-19th century.

John McDouall Stuart was the first European to cross Australia from north to south

The highway was originally built as a stock route for drovers to move cattle and other livestock between the northern and southern parts of the country.

In the 1920s and 1930s, it was upgraded to a two-lane road and became a vital link between the northern and southern regions of Australia.

During World War II, it was used as a supply route for the military and played a crucial role in the development of northern Australia.

Today, the Stuart Highway is a major transport route for goods and people and is a popular tourist destination.

15 Free Camp Sites on the Stuart Highway

This list of 15 free camps on the Stuart Highway are mostly roadside rest areas that allow overnight camping.

Most have toilet facilities and water but don't rely on it.

Each camp site has a link to Wikicamps where you can find out more information and the Google Map below will show you where they are along the highway so you can do some trip planning.

Bridge Creek Rest Area (NT)

Distance from Darwin: 146km
Distance from Adelaide: 2884km

View listing in Wikicamps

Image credit: Wikicamps
Image credit: Wikicamps

Facilities:

  • barbecues
  • picnic tables
  • water supply
  • shelter
  • toilet
  • 24 hour overnight camping allowed

Reviews from Wikicamps:

"Good spot beside the Hwy. Traffic noise calms down between 10pm and 5am. Toilets have to be maintained. No water, soap and toilet paper. The best was that you can watch kangaroos grazing during dusk and dawn." - Sven_K

"Good spot for an overnighter, plenty of space. Toilets a bit smelly but that's expected of the long drop type." - BGReer


King River South Rest Area (NT)

Distance from Darwin: 361km
Distance from Adelaide: 2667km

View listing in Wikicamps

Image credit: Wikicamps
Image credit: Wikicamps

Facilities:

  • barbecues
  • picnic tables
  • water supply
  • shelter
  • toilet
  • 24 hour overnight camping allowed

Reviews from Wikicamps:

'Large flat area with a few picnic tables and shade. Toilets were filthy. Rubbish bins were clean. Plenty of room for lots of vans. Road noise as not far off the main highway.' - mallkev2

'Great spot. Plenty of room.' - Leuk


Warloch Rest Area (NT)

Distance from Darwin: 361km
Distance from Adelaide: 2669km

View listing in Wikicamps

Image credit: Wikicamps
Image credit: Wikicamps

Facilities:

  • barbecues
  • picnic tables
  • water supply
  • shelter
  • toilet
  • 24 hour overnight camping allowed

Reviews:

"Good little area to stop. Lots of bees near the toilet." - @roadtrippinsibtribe

"Good spot, toilets without paper and smelly but overall is good for a night" - MarSanchez


Newcastle Waters Rest Area (NT)

Distance from Darwin: 711km
Distance from Adelaide: 2319km

View listing in Wikicamps

Image credit: Wikicamps
Image credit: Wikicamps

Facilities:

  • barbecues
  • picnic tables
  • water supply
  • shelters
  • toilet
  • information bay
  • 24 hour overnight camping allowed

Reviews:

'Nice view over grazing land. Elevated. Good breeze. No shade. Hot being late November. Clean toilets. Very little traffic. Not really designed for caravans. In saying that we have 20ft8 van and 19ft tow vehicle. Clean drop toilets with 3 shaded table n chair areas. Only ones here. Feel very safe.' - Mike n Jo

'Bit of an odd layout , especially for caravans as the bays are short. Thankfully only 1 other here. Easy to access with views. And for the sensitive- it will be noisy when the road trains pass. Otherwise a safe place to park for the night.' - GenXnomads2


Attack Creek (NT)

Distance from Darwin: 913km
Distance from Adelaide: 2117km

View listing in Wikicamps

Image credit: Wikicamps
Image credit: Wikicamps

Facilities:

  • barbecues
  • picnic tables
  • water supply
  • toilet
  • 24 hour overnight camping allowed

Reviews:

'Stayed one night. Long drop toilets are what you would expect but useable. Some road noise but what do you expect parked up next to the main highway. Recommend!' - Old Traveller

'Was one of about 6 vans here, long drop loo, not much road noise. Plenty of space for big rigs. ZERO reception at all just FYI. šŸ˜' - we might be lost


Devils Marbles (NT)

Distance from Darwin: 1088km
Distance from Adelaide: 1942km

View listing on Wikicamps

Image credit: Wikicamps
Image credit: Wikicamps

Facilities:

  • barbecues
  • picnic tables
  • shelters
  • toilet
  • information bay
  • 24 hour overnight camping allowed (camping fees apply)

Reviews:

'Very quiet! No shade so If you are like us and don't have your own shade, site 23 is the only one that offers a tree so you can get a break from the harsh afternoon sun. Site 21 is ideal for a caravan nice and flat and out of the way.' - Ms Calm

'Busy...lots of vans stopped. Did the walks -had to head out as couldn't get into NP website to book prior to arriving šŸ™ There is a limited internet set up here & useful tips advising how to get into website for booking but nothing available for days!!. Bolders just awesome - great information on walks!!' - Di Bannister


Prowse Gap Rest Area (NT)

Distance from Darwin: 1345km
Distance from Adelaide: 1685km

View listing on Wikicamps

Image credit: Wikicamps
Image credit: Wikicamps

Facilities:

  • barbecues
  • picnic tables
  • water supply
  • shelter
  • toilet
  • 24 hour overnight camping allowed

Reviews:

'Stayed here last night. Road noise settled about 10pm. Not sure what some travellers were doing at 5am. Weird. Stayed on tarmac thankfully as ground pretty soaked and verges filled up with small amount of rain. No water for sink at drop loo. Water tank a good enough alternative.' - Andrea2021

'Stayed here overnight on 6th August. Not busy and one of the better small tarmac rest area. Fire pits tables shelter, bins and bonus Telstra Booster thingie which actually worked. As below the back is now fenced off, but sadly there was no sign of the excitable rubbish man!' - Cam Hop


Tropic of Capricorn (NT)

Distance from Darwin: 1461km
Distance from Adelaide: 1569km

View listing on Wikicamps

A short drive north of Alice Springs makes this roadside stop a great place for an overnight stop if your spending the day in Alice.

Image credit: Steve Baile
Image credit: Wikicamps

Facilities:

  • barbecues
  • picnic tables
  • water supply
  • shelter
  • toilet
  • 24 hour overnight camping allowed

Reviews:

'This is a very small area and would only fit maybe 5 or 6 small motorhomes/vans. No big open area, just the drive through road to the toilet and shelter. Go 6kms Nth to bushcamp no signage but look for dirt tracks. Drive in off the road to big open spaces with lots of shade. Get phone/internet in bush camp.' - Brian1957

'We stayed here a couple of weeks ago. Was very reasonable but could get crowded unless you get there before 5. Got good Telstra reception and managed 2 phone calls from here' - Lyn Williams 41


Mt Polhill Rest Area (NT)

Distance from Darwin: 1551km
Distance from Adelaide: 1479km

View listing on Wikicamps

Just south of Alice Springs this is a great place for an overnight stop if your spending the day in Alice.

Image credit: Wikicamps
Image credit: Wikicamps

Facilities:

  • barbecues
  • picnic tables
  • water supply
  • shelter
  • toilet
  • 24 hour overnight camping allowed

Reviews:

'An excellent rest area with lots of birds too! Check there is water before you put soap on your hands in the toilets!' - Euluma

'Small camp area, we camped behind the toilet which was very clean. Good overnighter.' - Pand K1


Northern Territory / South Australia Border (NT)

Distance from Darwin: 1786km
Distance from Adelaide: 1244km

View listing on Wikicamps

Image credit: Wikicamps
Image credit: Wikicamps

Facilities:

  • barbecue
  • picnic tables
  • water supply
  • shelter
  • toilet
  • information bay
  • 24 hour overnight camping allowed

Reviews:

'If you're over red dirt this spot will suit you. We stayed in the caravan parking area near the toilets. Bins empty and toilets clean. Road noise didn't worry us. Happy to have another van and tent in as well' - JD&LB


Agnes Creek Rest Area (SA)

Distance from Adelaide: 1165km
Distance from Darwin: 1864km

View listing on Wikicamps

Image credit: Wikicamps
Image credit: Wikicamps

Facilities:

  • fire pits
  • picnic tables
  • rubbish bins
  • Overnight camping allowed

Reviews:

'Beautiful spot with some shade. Lots of campervans and a bit of rubbish. No firewood - everywhere picked clear.' - Brodycalypso

'Just a break stop for us. Looks very spacious for caravanning, not much shade. Our thermometer currently showing 45, too hot for us for off-grid' - deejay11


Tarcoonyinna Rest Area (SA)

Distance from Adelaide: 1134km
Distance from Darwin: 1896km

View listing in Wikicamps

Image credit: Wikicamps
Image credit: Wikicamps

Facilities:

  • picnic tables
  • rubbish bins
  • Overnight camping allowed

Reviews:

'Stayed overnight and although the only ones here, we felt really safe. So much space to choose from and tuck yourself away up the back if you choose. Had enough Telstra range to watch Netflix so that's a bonus. Bins available and would recommend for a stop over.' - HRAAVAN2021

'Great spot, there was only two Campers here. Plenty of flies and some Telstra coverage.' - Greg62


Wintinna Roadside Stop

Distance from Adelaide: 1030km (Approx)
Distance from Darwin: 2000km (Approx)

View listing on Wikicamps

Image credit: Wikicamps
Image credit: Wikicamps

Facilities:

  • picnic tables
  • rubbish bins
  • Overnight camping allowed

Reviews:

'Was disappointed with this stop, not a big area, so much toilet paper laying around, so wish campers would clean up after themselves! OK if your in a van and can't see it.' - ersmum

'Great area, well laid out.Cattle grid up the road a bit noisy. 8 vans in tonite Need fly nets' - User 2477431


Old Timers Mine Coober Pedy (SA)

Distance from Adelaide: 849km
Distance from Darwin: 2183km

View listing on Wikicamps

Just off the Stuart Highway, this is the only free camp site that I know actually in Coober Pedy. A pretty good base camp to explore the town.

Image credit: Wikicamps
Image credit: Wikicamps

Facilities:

  • toilets
  • picnic tables
  • rubbish bins
  • Overnight camping allowed

Reviews:

'Mother & teen - Felt safe - stayed 1 night sleeping in our car in the free camping spot. 2 other cars spent the night. Did the tour the previous month and learnt a lot. My teen loved the noodling outside the old Miner when she found small pieces of opal. Close to the Main Street where we order a delicious pizza.' - SARL

'Just a nice place for a stopover. Nothing really special. We were not alone so that's nice. Toilets were very clean!' - niethierweldaar


Bon Bon Rest Area (SA)

Distance from Adelaide: 678km
Distance from Darwin: 2351km

View listing on Wikicamps

Image credit: Wikicamps
Image credit: Wikicamps

Facilities:

  • toilets
  • picnic tables
  • bins
  • shelters
  • emergency phone
  • Overnight camping allowed

Reviews:

'Good spot for an overnighter. Only ones here. Toilets weren't too bad.' - Dontfollowthe_leader

'easy access rest spot nothing more does the job for an overnighter' - ijr02


Ranges View Rest Area (SA)

Distance from Adelaide: 376km
Distance from Darwin: 2659km

View listing on Wikicamps

Image credit: Wikicamps
Image credit: Wikicamps

Facilities:

  • toilets
  • picnic tables
  • bins
  • Overnight camping allowed

Reviews:

'Stayed 1 night with 4 other groups there. Tight access. Toilet paper non existent . Really noisy as close to road. Acceptable' - FroggHopper


How to find your own FREE camp sites

Wikicamps App

The Wikicamps app is available for IOS, Android & Microsoft devices and has thousands of crowd sourced listings with photos, maps, reviews and other information.

CAMPS Australia Wide Book

Camps Australia Wide is the biggest and most popular guide book containing thousands of free and low cost camps across Australia.

Read More:

Affiliate Links: Some of the links on our site are affiliate links which means that if you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission. This helps us to run the site and keep the wheels turning and adds no cost to your purchase. We would never recommend a product or service that we don't use ourselves or trust.

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Steve Baile
Steve Baile
Iā€™m the founder of Expedition Australia, a writer, filmmaker & adventure travel junkie. Passionate about my family, health and fitness, hiking, 4WD touring, adventure motorbikes, camping and exploring as much of the planet as I can.

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