Backpackers who are traveling by car and want to camp in Airlie Beach for free should be warned: At night, the rangers driving around in security cars literally chase them. Here you won’t be warned, you will be fined on the spot if they catch you.
We decided to free camp anyways. We have been looking for rest areas at the highway, but we didn’t find anything. If you know a good rest area close to Airlie Beach, please share your experience in the comments.
We just drove away from the town center of Airlie Beach and into a side street as far as possible. It is surely possible to hide and don’t get fined. The first night we were parking in plain sight on a supermarket areal, not disturbing anyone at all, but it was obviously easy for rangers to see us. After getting fined the first night (he didn’t wake us up, just left a fine on the windshield), we decided to make the effort to hide well.
Unfortunately, I cannot remember this one particular place, but it wasn’t that special anyways – just a normal residential area. We also changed the spot the night after, not to alert residents there. You can checkout the area which is indicated on the map though.
In the center of Airlie Beach you have showers and toilets available at the parking lot directly by the beach. This area is shown on the street view image below. It’s very nice there for vanpackers, you just need to find a spot during night.
Check ou the place in this 360° image. Click on the link in the image to open the place in Google Maps.