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Queensland National Parks’ best-loved camping areas

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We are truly a nation of coast dwellers, so when it comes to camping holidays, where do we head? To the water, of course!

Queensland National Parks’ 5 best-loved camping areas, without exception, are near the water—usually the beach! Because nothing says ‘holidays’ better than sunrise over the ocean, sand between your toes and the sea breeze gently buffeting your tent at night …

So, as poet John Masefield said so eloquently, let’s ‘go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky’ and see where our visitors are flocking to …

1. Cooloola Recreation Area, Great Sandy National Park

The sunset casts an orange hue over the sandy beach and forested sand dune, where a camper trailer and two 4WDs sit amongst the pandanus.
Teewah Beach camping area, Cooloola | © Chris Whitelaw

Best-loved of all is Cooloola, and is it any wonder why! In this massive sandy wilderness, you’ll find a true nature escape, only 3 hours’ drive from Brisbane.

Sculpted over millennia by wind and water, Cooloola is renowned for long sweeping beaches backed by mountainous dunes, cliffs of mineral-tinted coloured sands, wildflower-dotted heathlands and the tranquil inland waterways of the Upper Noosa River.

Take a 4WD adventure along vast stretches of shimmering shoreline, hike through fragrant eucalypt woodlands and witness stunning golden sunsets and rosy sunrises from your camp site beside the beach, river or freshwater lakes. With more than 20 camping areas, you can enjoy fun social camping with the mob or seek solitude in remote bush and river sites, where the only access is by foot or kayak. Whether you immerse yourself here for a day or a week, you’ll leave with memories to treasure.

2. K’gari (Fraser Island), Great Sandy National Park

Aerial image of long golden beach stretching to horizon with grassy dunes on one side and ocean waves on the other,  and three vehicles driving along the strand line.
75 Mile Beach, K’Gari (Fraser Island) | © Tourism and Events Queensland

Coming a close second in the popularity stakes, World Heritage-listed K’gari is a place of incredible natural beauty. It’s the world’s largest sand island, with 700,000 year old dunes, more than 40 pristine freshwater dune lakes, tall lush rainforests growing only in sand, and long, long beaches stretching as far as the eye can see …

A little over 3 hours’ travel time from Brisbane, and with 45 camping areas to choose from, K’gari offers unrivalled escape and adventure for all the family. Leave your worries behind and settle in for relaxing days of golden sunrises, 4WD expeditions along sandy tracks, refreshing dips in crystal-clear freshwater creeks and dune lakes, and quiet ‘sundowners’ on the beach. Memories such as these are pure gold.

3. Inskip Peninsula Recreation Area

Golden sunset colours the shallow waters of the bay and tow tinnies resting high and dry in the shore.
Inskip Peninsula | © Ben Blanche

Our next favourite is a scenic stretch of sand between salt water and sheltered bay. Inskip Peninsula, a few hours’ drive from Brisbane, is unsurpassed for rest and relaxation. Perfect for families … and keen fishers!

Camp amongst the she-oaks and stretch your legs on long beach walks at sunrise. Spend lazy hours casting a line or pumping for yabbies, paddling your kayak on the calm waters of Tin Can Bay, or birdwatching in the forest and along the shore. At night, indulge in some stargazing as you sit around your camp site in one of Inskip’s 5 camping areas. Magical memories are made here.

4. Bribie Island Recreation Area

A small white tinnie rests at anchor in shallow water that reflects blue skies above, with distant forested shoreline and mountains in the background.
Pumicestone Passage, Bribie Island | © Tourism and Events Queensland

Number 4 on our best-loved list is a little gem, close to everyone’s hearts! Many of us have happy holiday memories of beautiful Bribie Island, with its ease of access (across a bridge!) and close proximity to Brisbane city.

Cruise in your 4WD along vast stretches of coastline, and paddle your kayak or take the tinnie to explore the sheltered waters and tidal wetlands of Pumicestone Passage. In spring, delight in colourful wildflower displays in the heaths and in summer watch migratory shorebirds feeding and roosting along the shoreline. Fall asleep in your tent to the gentle murmur of the ocean in one of the island's 5 camping areas. Oceanside or bayside—wherever you choose to camp, you’ll leave refreshed and relaxed … and already planning to return!

5. Danbulla National Park and State Forest

A four wheel drive vehicle is parked in front of a large tent, set on the grassy shore of a large forest-fringed lake, where the tranquil waters reflect the forest and blue skies above.
Downfall Creek camping area, Danbulla National Park and State Forest | Maxime Coquard © Queensland Government

For 5th place in our popularity contest, we leave the beach and head north into the scenic hills behind Cairns. Danbulla, stretched around the shores of Lake Tinaroo, is a magnet for locals and visitors alike seeking some ‘R ‘n R’.

And it’s still all about water! Camp on the lake’s edge in one of 5 camping areas and get active—fishing, swimming, kayaking and water-skiing are all popular. Or, simply relax around your camp site, soaking up million-dollar water views as you sip your favourite beverage …

Explore World Heritage listed-rainforest, discover crater lakes and huge strangler figs, and take sightseeing drives or mountain bike rides into the Lamb Range. Danbulla makes simply the best memories!

That’s a wrap

So there you have it—5 of our best-loved camping areas across Queensland National Parks.

Don’t let others enjoy all the fun—put them on your bucket list now and start planning your next camping holiday. Be sure to book early as these popular camping areas fill up quickly! And aim for mid-week or outside school holidays if you can, to avoid the crowds.

Find out more about our most popular camping areas:

Search our parks and forests for a camping area to suit your needs and find out how to book your site.

Remember to book before you go!
Camping must be booked in advance.
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Last updated: 25 August 2020

Acknowledgement of Country

The Department of Environment and Science acknowledges Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and custodians of the land. We recognise their connection to land, sea and community, and pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

Design developed by Boyd Blackman, a Butchulla and Birri Birri man, featuring the artwork of Elaine Chambers, a Koa (Guwa) and Kuku Yalanji woman.