Camping in Queensland goes together like vegemite and toast. Think about it: not only does QLD have an abundance of stunning beaches, we’re also home to red-sand country, national parks and ancient rainforest. Talk about being spoiled for choice.
Whether you like to be truly removed from civilization or located only a hop, skip and jump from creature comforts, we’re convinced you’ll find a new favourite spot to pitch your tent. Here are 15 of the best camping spots in Queensland.
Beachfront Camping In Queensland
Cylinder Beach | North Stradbroke Island
Spending any length of time on North Stradbroke Island is a part of the quintessential Queenslander experience. Cylinder Beach's campground overlooks one of North Straddie’s most iconic swathes of sand, meaning you get to fall asleep listening to the ocean and wake up to one killer view. Cylinder Beach is also a Lifesaver patrolled beach, so you can don your best swimmers and catch some waves without a care in the world. Plus, the campground comes with all sorts of modern amenities including free WiFi!
Noah Beach | Cape Tribulation
Noah Beach might just be one of the most unique beachside locations in Queensland. Nestled between the Great Barrier Reef on one side and the Daintree Rainforest on the other, setting up camp at Noah Beach literally puts you in the middle of two World Heritage-listed natural wonders. Noah Beach's camping area is located just 50 metres from pure white sand and crystal clear waters. It’s entirely accessible by car or small campervan, just don’t forget to bring your own drinking water, unless you want to end up saltier than Tom Hanks in Cast Away.
Whitehaven Beach | Whitsundays
Yep, you read that right, not only is Whitehaven Beach the poster child of Australian beaches everywhere, but you can actually spend the night on this mind-bogglingly beautiful beach. Whitehaven Island is a national park and there are no other residents except for you and your fellow campers—meaning you’ll pretty much have this island paradise to yourself for a night. A permit to camp in the Whitehaven Beach camping area will set you back about $6.35 a night but you’ll have to get in quick because, understandably, numbers are strickly limited and sell like hot cakes.
Eddie’s Elim Beach Camp | Near Hope Vale
This remote campsite, framed by gently swaying paperbark trees and located directly on gorgeous Elim Beach, is run by Eddie Deemal, a Thiithaarr Warra elder. It’s located about an hour’s drive from Cooktown or 30 minutes east of Hope Vale, which basically means that this camping experience is all about getting back in touch with nature. The facilities at Eddie’s Elim Beach Camp consist of toilets and cold showers only and you’ll need a 4WD to get there, but we’re convinced you’ll find the journey more than worth it. Think campfires under the stars perfect for mastering the art of s’mores, an active starfish community to get to know and, only a short jaunt from the site, the opportunity to see the famous Coloured Sand cliffs.
Sandy Bay | South Molle Island
Friends, we’d like to introduce you to camping at Sandy Bay. Located west of Whitsunday Island, South Molle Island is a chilled natural refuge that has somehow managed to escape the rampant commercialisation the rest of the area has experienced. Sandy Bay is the island’s most popular campsite, home to toilets, picnic tables and not much else in terms of facilities, but its location—positioned directly on the water, and with gorgeous views over the surrounding area—more than makes up for it. Active campers, Sandy Bay was made for you, with plenty of hiking trails, mountain biking tracks and snorkelling spots on offer. Wish you were there? You’ll have to catch a ferry from Airlie Beach or Shute Harbour.
Rainforest Camping In Queensland
Charlie Moreland | Sunshine Coast Hinterland
Heading inland, this camping spot is for those truly wishing to disconnect from the rest of the world. Charlie Moreland's camping ground is accessible by 4WD only and is a little rustic compared to most—the creek the campground sits alongside doubles as your bathing spot and you’ll have to bring your own drinking water. But, due to its location on the edge of Conondale National Park, this hidden gem offers up some seriously good nature vibes. The area is teeming with birdlife and if you’re fit enough to conquer the hike up to the Mt Allan fire tower, you’ll be treated to 360 degree views over the rolling green hills of the Conondale Ranges.
Nightfall Wilderness Camp | Lamington National Park
Nightfall Wilderness Camp is where glamping went to create a beautiful, relaxing retreat from the world. Nestled next to the crystal-clear, gushing headwaters of Christmas Creek in Lamington National Park, Nightfall is home to a series of architect-inspired, hand-built luxury safari tents where camping meets luxe accommodation. All your meals will be created from local, organic produce, fire-cooked and brought to you before you could even think to be hungry. You can also choose between a range of adventure activities or a massage by the creek. Oh and if you’re feeling a bit chilly once the sun sets over your ancient rainforest surrounds, you could zip yourself into the privacy of your tent and curl up by a roaring fireplace. Did someone say hygge?
Bunya Mountains National Park | Bunya Mountains
The Bunya Mountains are a natural paradise; its peaks are dense with foliage, which just so happens to be home to the largest stand of ancient bunya pines in the world, while its lower levels open up into rolling green hills and plains where you might just spot a stray kangaroo grazing. Bunya Mountains National Park is actually home to three different campgrounds, each tailoring to a different camping experience. Dandabah camping area is a large open area available for use by more vehicle-based forms of camping equipment, while the Westcott and Burtons Well areas are only suitable for tents (as you’ll have to leave your car a little ways away in the nearby sealed car park). Facilities in all areas include showers, BBQ equipment and the permission to build your own camp fire. Hot tip: don't forget your hiking boots!
Tamborine Mountain | Tamborine Mountain
Located on a property that is shared by Thunderbird Park—which doubles as an adventure playground—and Cedar Creek Lodges, this camping spot might just be the best place to enjoy the spoils of Tamborine Mountain. Set amongst the rainforest in the northern valley section of the mountain, this camping spot will put you within walking distance to a spring-fed creek and an ample supply of swimming holes. Both powered and unpowered sites are available, with the standard facilities on offer, and you can hone your fire-building game at your own site. After you’ve set up camp, head up to Thunderbird Park itself and try your hand at horse riding or the Tree Top Challenge. Or, take the short drive into town to discover a world of dining options, hiking trails, art galleries and even a glow worm cave. If you need us, we’ll be smashing one killer brunch before making the journey to Cedar Creek Falls.
Wilderness Camping In Queensland
Bigriggen Park | Scenic Rim
When it comes to camping that is all about immersing yourself in nature, Bigriggen Park, situated between Boonah and Rathdowney in the foothills of Mount Maroon, has got it all. We’re talking 100 acres of hilltop flats, the gentle burble of the nearby river, towering gum trees and both powered and unpowered camp sites—all located in the middle of the bush. The campsite is easily accessible for every type of vehicle and there are plenty of hiking options in the surrounding national parks. After you’ve hiked your way to a mountain view you’ll never forget, kick back by your tent with an ice cream from the camp store, a roaring fire and your favourite people. Bigriggen Park is the stuff memories are made of.
Jardine River | Cape York Peninsula
At the very tip of Northern Queensland lies the Cape York Peninsula, an untapped natural wonderland only accessible during the drier months. The weather is hot and humid even during winter, but the abundance of waterfalls that cut through the dramatic landscape more than make up for the discomfort. Jardine River is only one such watering hole, home to deep gorges and freshwater swimming pools that provide a much-needed break from a day of serious 4WD action. Camping in the Cape York Peninsula is definitely not for the faint of heart: you’ll need to be entirely self-sufficient and ensure your vehicle is up to the task as it’s a long way from civilization if you need help. Challenge, accepted!
Carnarvon Gorge | Carnarvon National Park
Hidden behind the hot and dry façade of central Queensland lies a tropical, cool camping nirvana you’ve probably never heard of. Carnarvon Gorge runs for 35km at the heart of the 302,000 hectare Carnarvon National Park, its white cliffs reaching almost 600 metres tall as they surround Carnarvon Creek. The gorge is thriving with unique plant and animal life but one of its most underrated features has to be its rich Indigenous cultural heritage, evidenced by the many rock art sites dotted around the gorge. Camping in the gorge itself is permitted during the Easter, winter and spring Queensland school holidays, with the camp sites located under a canopy of gum trees and Carnarvon fan palms between the Carnarvon Gorge visitor centre and the carpark. Otherwise, you can stay at Big Bend camping area, located adjacent to Carnarvon Creek and sweeping sandstone cliffs, year round.
Mount Barney National Park | Scenic Rim
See, we told you we couldn’t stay away from the Scenic Rim. Mount Barney National Park takes all of the back-to-nature vibes that Bigriggen Park offers and combines them with an adventure holiday you’ll be bragging about for years. All the camping areas in Mount Barney National Park are only accessible by foot and there are no facilities at all. That means you’ll basically be forced to unplug from the rest of the world and learn how to live in the moment as you wander through South-East Queensland’s awe-inspiring natural beauty with nothing else to distract you.
Munga-Thirri National Park | Simpson Desert
Camping at the Munga-Thirri National Park, located about 1500 kilometres west of Brisbane on the edges of the Simpson Desert, lets you experience the true essence of the outback. You’ll just need to be seriously self-sufficient. There are no facilities and the nearest town, Birdsville, is 80 kilometres away. But you will get to spend the night surrounded by the iconic red sands of outback Queensland while a carpet of stars twinkles above you. Here’s what we’d do: pack a telescope and your best camera and try your hand at astrophotography. Just remember to drop into the Birdsville Information Centre before you enter the Simpson Desert itself to check the conditions of the park.
Bartle Frere | Tropical North Queensland
From the desert to the tropics, Queensland’s no stranger when it comes to natural diversity and quirky spots to pitch a tent. Bartle Frere, Queensland’s highest campsite—which just so happens to be perched in a clearing on the state’s highest mountain peak—teeters on the edge of a cliff 1400 metres above sea level—so actually getting there is no easy feat. You’ll have to leave your car at the Josephine Falls car park, located about 80 kilometres south of Cairns, and climb up four hours through a steep rainforest, but we promise what you’ll find at the top will be worth it. Instead of collapsing on the beds inside the evacuation hut, pitch your tent on the metal framework of the helicopter pad (provided there’s no helicopter incoming, of course) then walk to the edge of your mountain perch for panoramic views over the Atherton Tablelands and Innisfail on one side and the Great Barrier Reef on the other. It’s official: Queensland camping doesn’t get much better than this.
Like your getaways with a little bit more style? We bet you haven’t seen these 10 super Instagrammable Airbnbs in Queensland.
Image credit: Kal Visuals