So you want to know where you can go camping in the Adelaide Hills on the Heysen Trail? Sure, there’s a few caravan parks and campgrounds around the hills – but there aren’t many ‘actual’ bush camp sites. Grandpa’s Camp isn’t easy to find and it’s even harder to get to. That’s a good thing, because all the nice places get trashed by vandals. I narrowed my search on Google maps and the online Heysen trail maps. Determined to find it, I parked the car nearby and trekked further up the gully to get a look at the only spot you can go bush camping in the hills this close to Adelaide. You can always visit but will need a permit from Forestry SA to camp.
(Edit : Paid camping is now available at Onkaparinga Gorge national park and campsites will soon be available in Para Wirra Recreation Park. Click here for details.)
Finding Grandpa’s Camp
After finally finding where the road ends, I hopped over a signposted gate and walked for ten minutes up the Heysen Trail. I passed cute country dams and idyllic farmhouses as I walked along the muddy fire trail into the forest. It’s not long before the camp is right in front of you. It’s got a fireplace, log seats, two shelters, and a stone table but bring your own water. The logbook has been filled out by more active walkers, some of them even walking the Heysen trail end to end! There’s a small creek that runs in winter. This is a very peaceful place.
To camp overnight there you’ll need to get a permit from Mt Crawford forest office. It’s part of the Forestry SA camping areas around Mt Crawford Forest. Check the site here for details. If you’re driving to the area, allow an hour or so to go get your permit from the office and get back. There is a long walk from your car – walking in from Cudlee Creek may be a good option. Please be sensible because there aren’t many places to park your car nearby. Also, check the link above before you go – Grandpa’s Camp is sometimes closed for maintenance.