Review: Under the Stars Camping, Australia and New Zealand by Lonely Planet inner banner

Review: Under the Stars Camping, Australia and New Zealand by Lonely Planet

Looking for extra-special places to set up camp? Lonely Planet's new hardback is chock-full of inspo.
Review: Under the Stars Camping, Australia and New Zealand
Under the Stars Camping, Australia and New Zealand
Under the Stars Camping, Australia and New Zealand. Image: Lonely Planet

As any seasoned camper, caravanner, or van-lifer will tell you, finding great spots to pitch your tent or pull up for the night is often no mean feat.

Whether it’s a weekend escape to the bush or an extended adventure on the road — having decided on a campsite, a string of thoughts will likely run through your head en route. Will it be too crowded? Will it be too uncrowded (and therefore spookily quiet)? Will there be too little shade? Or perhaps too much shade (dicey for charging solar)? What’s on the ground? Are there ants? Three corner Jacks? Wildlife residing in the loos? Will that tranquil creek suddenly rise during the night and wash away everything I own? It’s Russian roulette in a sleeping bag, people!

The reality is that you often end up staying somewhere less than ideal out of sheer desperation. After all, there’s only so much time one can spend pouring over guidebooks, apps, and user reviews, and still have some left over to look out the window and enjoy your trip.

So, it was with great enthusiasm that this particular campster picked up his copy of Lonely Planet’s Under the Stars Camping Australia and New Zealand: a weighty new tome dedicated to showcasing our two great nations’ best campgrounds, hiking huts, glamping retreats, and bush camping options.

Under the Stars Camping, Australia and New Zealand
Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, Flinders Ranges, SA. Image: Heidi Lewis

Separated into nine chapters — one for each Aussie state (with NSW and the ACT combined), and one for the North and South Islands respectively — it provides a handy overview of each region’s highlights for outdoor enthusiasts, the best times to visit, where to stock up on supplies, and various other practicalities, before reviewing a selection of memorable spots to rest your head under the starry night sky.

As you would expect from one of the world’s premiere travel publishers, this is an impressive piece of work. Authored by Sarah Reid, Tasmin Waby, and Andrew Bain, it’s beautifully laid out and features lots of stunning images. There’s ample white space to break up the lively text and a summary breakout box for each recommendation — nicely titled ‘The Pitch’. So even if you’re not much of a reader, you’ll get the gist at a glance.

Given the size of the job it tries to tackle, at times the content falls a bit short. There are just 200 listings in total — meaning the coverage state/island-wide is relatively thin. Additionally, while I was expecting to read about specific campsites, a lot of time I got entire national parks (albeit, with some one-line recommendations for places to stay). I’d have preferred a more detailed description of one or two key locations in each park that absolutely shouldn’t be missed.

Under the Stars Camping, Australia and New Zealand
Northern Peaks Experience Huts, Grampians, VIC. Image: © Andrew Bain

It’s also worth noting the book’s one-size-fits-all approach. Listings range from the very economical (for example, $6 a night to stay in an atmospheric abandoned silver mining town in Yerranderie Regional Park in southern NSW), to the downright decadent (e.g. $1,600 for two sleeps at the luxurious Ecopia Retreat on Kangaroo Island in SA). It’s aspirational, but it may or may not be hugely practical — depending on your budget.

Under the Stars Camping, Australia and New Zealand
Image: Nightfall Camp, Lamington National Park, QLD

All of that said, Under the Stars Camping Australia and New Zealand does what it set out to do: and that’s to inspire the reader — whatever their means — to get amongst it in the great outdoors. Will it earn its voluminous place in your kit on an extended camping adventure? The jury’s out. Will it play a useful role in the planning phase and prod you from the coffee table top to visit places you might not otherwise have considered? Absolutely. At the end of the read, I was one happy camper.

Published by Lonely Planet
April 2024 | $49.99 AUD & NZD 
Hardback | 19.3 x 2.54 x 24.77 cm | 256 pages
ISBN: 9781837581733

Cover image: Envato Elements

Adam Ford

About the writer

Adam Ford is editor of Top Oz Tours & Travel Ideas, and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger, and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa, and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.

 

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