Often referred to as the “sunshine state” there is no doubt that Queensland is a very popular destination for tourists and locals to go on camping adventures. While most families opt for the luxuries of a caravan park, there are travellers like you, who are towards the tight-ass end of the scale, meaning that you are always on the lookout for the next best FREE camp in a beautiful natural setting or a quiet charming country town. It might be worth keeping in mind that during winter, the grey nomads migrate north to Queensland to escape the cold therefore the free camping sites could be packed with caravans and motorhomes.
While there are plenty of designated roadside rest areas and gravel pits to choose from, there is nothing like waking up to the calm sound of water instead of roaring road trains and the feeling of not having a 24 hours maximum stay is pure freedom. In this article we will share 5 of the best free camping spots found around Queensland.
Little Yabba Creek Park, Sunshine Coast Hinterland
Sometimes it can be really difficult to find free camping spots in and around big cities, but on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland there are plenty! Little Yabba Creek park is a beautiful grassy area that offers a 20-hour free stop-over. From the free camping area there is a nature walk through the forest that takes you along a board walk past incredibly big fig trees. The free camp is close by to popular national park, Conondale and the trendy Sunshine Coast Hinterland precinct, Maleny. There are BBQ and toilet facilities available for public use.
Babinda Rest Area, Cairns Region
Firstly, this is probably the best designated free camp you are going to find along the Bruce Highway. It is managed by the council and is situated in a prime location. Situated on the banks of the crystal-clear Babinda River, the large grassy area provides plenty of space for all the free campers to be comfortable. The township Babinda is the gateway to the tranquil lushness of Wooroonooran National Park. Here the crystal-clear river runs through a series of boulders in the foothills of Queensland highest mountain, Bartle Frere.
The Babinda Rest Area has a 72 hours maximum stay and a ranger does come around daily to patrol this. A hot tip to stay longer in the area is, after your maximum stay, drive down to the free camp closer to the National Park entrance. This free camp is called “The Boulders Camping Ground” on Wikicamps.
Facilities available at Babinda Rest Area include:
- Flushing toilets
- Coin operated hot showers
- Potable water
- BBQ areas
- Undercover areas
- Dump point
Bushy Park, Townsville Region
Fifty-four kilometres north of Townsville is the small community Rollingstone which provides a 48-hour free camping area. The tranquil creek side camping is the perfect pit stop when travelling from Townsville to Cairns. Public facilities available include; toilets, cold showers, bins, BBQ areas with sheltered picnic tables, non-potable water and fire pits. The nearby Paluma Range National Park is well worth the day trip if you plan to stay for the maximum amount of time allowed.
Gregory River, Far North West Queensland
Imagine a crystal-clear running river surrounded by beautiful lush green fauna, in the middle of Outback Queensland. It’s hard to, right? But, places like this do exist and you can find them in the Barkly Tableland region in far north west Queensland.
The Gregory River is situated 200 kilometres south of Burketown on the Savannah Way and attracts a lot of travellers. Especially those who are heading to Lawn Hill National Park and Adels Grove, both outback oasis’s of their own!
There are no facilities at this free camping spot. Therefore you must be self-contained and live by the motto “leave no trace”. However, the township of Gregory is only a short walk from the free camp. It has a public amenities block, a dump point and potable water.
Calliope River, Gladstone Region
The Calliope River rest area is situated on the banks of the river well off the Bruce Highway, about half an hour from Gladstone. There are free camping areas on both the southern side and the northern side. Access to the northern side of the river is down River Ranch road. The large open grassy areas provide a great setting for an overnight stay while on your way to Townsville or Cairns. Again, there are no facilities at this free camp therefore pack out what you packed in. Why not stay a few days and explore all that the Gladstone region has to offer?
How to find free camps in Queensland
We recommend downloading the Wikicamps or Campermate app. Both apps will become your camping bible while you road-trip around Australia. Both have an extensive up-to-date database of free camps. Which show low cost campgrounds, day use areas, points of interest, dump points, public amenities, drinking water etc. By using one of the two apps you will be sure to find what you are looking for!
Free for the future
If you choose to free camp in Queensland or anywhere in Australia, remember to leave no trace! If free camping areas are not left clean, they will be closed down and the next time you visit you might have to pay!