There are some amazing free camping spots in Queensland, Australia. And there are some great cheap ones too!
I’m really surprised when some areas – such as Mackay and Bowen – don’t have a decent free or cheap camp spot for travellers. Don’t they know that giving travellers a free spot to park their self-contained vehicle means more $$ for the town?
I’ve noticed even my own behaviour – I tend to shop and spend time in every town that has a free or cheap camp spot. It makes sense, doesn’t it? A PAID camping spot ranges from $30+ and if you were to spend that EVERY NIGHT you’d be paying $240/week – which is just less than paying rent or mortages.
So, when you’re travelling about and having to cover your rent/mortgage back home you really don’t want to spend $30 while you’re travelling for 3 months.
In Canada, and other cold climates, holidays involve driving to a Motel/Hotel and staying for a few nights and looking around at shopping malls or other indoor recreation places. People are used to staying in expensive places because it’s so COLD in Canada you simply can’t camp all year ’round.
However, here in Australia life on the road is rather usual and people travel all the time. Many people even live on the road full-time – without a home to return to.
Travellers know that spending money on accommodation means less money for food and petrol and hence they are always on the lookout for free or cheap places to park their self-contained vehicle. This way their money lasts longer.
Clever towns – who know that TOURISTS MEAN MONEY – provide great free spots to park. BABINDA is one of those places. Babinda has 2 FEE CAMPING SPOTS and both have toilets and showers.
Babinda is a small town that has 1 main street – and they have a tonne of tourists spending money at their shops! The busiest and crowded camp spot in Babinda has hot showers for only $2 and is walking distance to the shops in Babinda. The other spot has cold showers – but is walking distance to the Babinda Boulders which is must SEE nature spot!
Mount Molloy and Rock Creek Memorial Park are two on the highway roadside stops on the Atherton Tableland (inland Mountain) that provide toilets – Mount Molloy has cold showers. These are both noisy as you listen to the constant noise of the highway.
Quite humorously, Rocky Creek Memorial Park has GREY NOMADS who believe they own the place. After a thoughtful parking of my own vehicle I was yelled at and berated by a GREY NOMAD because she thought I parked too close.
To note, my park job was further than the other Grey Nomads were positioned from each other. She then followed through with her rantings as she yelled at other Grey Nomads who quietly defended my position. I silently relocated to the other area of the camp spot as I’m not a big fan of bad energy. I’ve never met anyone quite like her before – everyone is usually very friendly. (Menopause problems?)
– Fardooley’s Bush Camp – only 15 minutes to the town of ROCKHAMPTON – only $10/night with hot showers, toilets and a shared bush fire at night (weather permitted). You’ll feel very welcome here as they are lovely people doing their best to make a wonderful and cheap camping spot for Grey Nomads, Pensioners, Families and Backpackers. They used to travel themselves so know what travellers are looking for.
– Lake Tinaroo National Park ATHERTON – If you’re willing to arrive at sunset and grab the last spot available AND leave at sunrise before the Rangers come – you can camp for free. However, it’s only $5.75/night per person at a National Park and definitely worth it because it means you can claim your own spot and really get it some deep relaxation without a worry. (A rather pedantic camper once told me that NP fines are 3 points off your licence and $120/point = $360. I think he rattled that off to everyone as he thought he was the secret police of that National Park).
Murray Falls National Park is Indigenous Native Title Land near CARDWELL and it’s soooo very pretty! As you walk the rainforest path to the top of the falls you can read all about the Aboriginal People and their Culture on the handy signs.
– Carmila Beach – a short drive down Carmila Beach Road, 120km South of MACKAY. (Whatever you do avoid staying at the Leap Hotel in Mackay! Unless you want to party all night! Music was blaring on a Wednesday night til after midnight. Carmila Beach is a GREAT FREE CAMP SPOT! It is just a short way off the highway and right next to the beach. Many campers seem to know of this great spot and so it safely has other camping neighbours. There are toilets here – but no shower.
– Mount Molloy and Rocky Creek Memorial are both on the Atherton TABLELANDS – Both acceptable free roadside stops conveniently located between towns.
– Elim Beach is on the other side of Hopevale Aboriginal Community next to COOKTOWN and it’s a gem of a place with pristine beaches and rainbow coloured sands! $10pp with showers and toilets. Definitely arrive between Monday and Thursday between 9am and 3pm because there are NO SIGNS in town that tell you which dirt road to take to the beach – and hence, you’ll want to be sure that the shops are open so you can get directions. The beach dirt road can be quite rough and corrugated but my 2WD made it a few times there (I really loved it here so came back a few times!). It took me about 40 minutes to get from Hopevale to ELIM BEACH – but I drive slowly and some people do it in 20-30 minutes.
– Also, remember to stay at Platypus Bush Creek Camp in FINCH HATTON with true Aussie Bushie – WAZZA. It’s a great little bush camp right next to the creek where you can see Platypus! Only $10/night with hot showers – heated by wood – and toilets.
– Ringer’s Rest is at 277 Fichers Road, MAREEBA and is an excellent quiet spot to stay for $10/night/site. You wake up to the sound of HOT AIR BALLOONS landing in the camp field and are asked to feed the friendly horses your leftover food! Toilets and the BEST drinking water to top up your supply.
Ringer’s Rest in Mareeba