Where should you camp in outback Queensland? Did you know that according to Wikicamps there are over 15,000 campgrounds in Australia? That doesn’t even include all the Caravan Parks or un-official campsites!! With so many great camps to choose from, with paid campsites and free camping, it can be hard to decide which are best.
To complete the full dinosaur trail, you will find yourself most likely travelling and looking for accommodation in Rockhampton on the Queensland mid-coast, out to Longreach, Richmond and Winton (The Dinosaur Capital of Australia) and back to Cairns on the Tropical North Queensland coast. Even in Rockhampton and Cairns, we find affordable accommodation options!
A stunning secluded spot below what once was the old Bruce Highway bridge. The main highway has now changed routes leaving this little-used bridge over Alligator Creek. Here you’ll find a scenic spot on the water with plenty of fish and bird life. Positioned just north of Rockhampton, it’s also a great place to stack the shopping and continue the journey north. Or alternatively, getting ready to head up to Byfield National Park and tackle “Big Sandy” on your way to Stockyard Point. Although you won’t find Alligators here, you definetly may see Estuary Crocodiles. A look into the local hotel will show you just how large and dangerous they are!
Mt Hay Park, Wycarbah on the Capricorn Highway
Cost: $20 per night
This private campground is popular with locals and tourists searching for the not so hidden and easy to find Thunder Egg. You are almost guaranteed to find your very own Thunder Egg to keep here which makes this a fantastic and exciting stop for kids and adults alike. The owner is a lovely character who will happily cut your treasured thunder eggs in half, so you can be delighted with the sparkling interior!
Duaringa Rest Area, off the Capricorn Highway
Cost: By donation
Another spacious camp close to town. This wonderful by donation camp has everything you possibly need including hot showers and an easy to find dump point. Here you will also find the large open sites and a maintained green space and playground for the kids!
Dingo Caltex Roadhouse, Capricorn Highway
Cost: By donation
When you’re in the Queensland Outback it’s very easy to get used to large and open areas to camp in. The Dingo donation camp located at the back of the Caltex, is another one of those. Unfortunately, it can be quite dusty depending on the season, but no complaints here for a cheap or free camping space to spend a night.
Blackwater Showground, off Capricorn Highway
Cost: $10 donation – payable at the Coal Museum
This is a basic stop to rest up overnight in, however, the real gem is in a visit to the Coal Museum close by.
Emerald Botanic Gardens
Emerald is a great outback town filled with alot of friendly locals. The free campsite that the Emerald Council provides is located under the bridge and campers can rest for up to 24 hours. Be sure to try and get in early here as it often gets very busy. In Emerald itself you will find everything you need with large supermarkets, speciality shops and a number of tried and tested Auto Parts shops to get you back on the road!
Anakie Rest Area, The Gemfields
Anakie holds a lot of history and for us, the free camp here made it possible to stop and recognise with our kids the sacrifices our Australian soldiers have made in history, and still do today. The lover’s tree found in the rear of the train station holds the carvings and messages of our servicemen who may never have returned to Australia. They left to war via this historic train station during both WW1 & WW2.
Redbank Park Jericho on the Jordan River
Cost: By donation – toilets provided
Depending on the season this camp is beside a long billabong full of bird life, or it’s a dry river bed. In either case, we found Jericho a really interesting town with its cafe’s and metal art along the main street. This is also the start point for the Lake Dunn Sculpture Trail.
Barcaldine Travellers Rest Stop
Cost: Free, water and toilets provided
Weaving through clumps of trees, this free site offers lots of spots and a bit of bushy privacy. Barcaldine the town also offers an important piece of Australian history. This is where the Labour Tree or the Tree of Knowledge stands, and where the formation of the Labour Party started. The tree died many years ago due to unknown but suspicious causes however a clever artist has a memorable replica. The glass and timber showcase portrays the magnificence of what this tree once was. Well worth seeing the lighting effect at night too.
Newstead Creek, Ilfracombe
An extremely large area that would allow for hundreds upon hundreds of campers. Nestle yourself in the tree line around the perimeter, find a spot along the often dry creek or in the centre surrounded by the under the stars. Although the free camp doesn’t have facilities, the Ilfracombe township has all the supplies and facilities you require. The small town with its main street aligned with old historic equipment also is home to a relaxing Artesian spa suitable for the whole family.
Apex Riverside Park Longreach
Cost: $3 per night – toilets and drinking water provided
The Apex Park is often surrounded by wildlife, from Kangaroo’s to Emu’s and from Brolgas to early rising Chickens. There is plenty of space as this camp and the nearby Thompson River makes for a great stroll and to watch the evening sunset.
Longreach Faimont Weir
A very private free camp that we found after chatting with locals. We’ve loaded this secluded Free Camp up onto Wikicamps after contacting the council to confirm you could stay here. This river spot is not so well known about, however, be prepared for when the local fishing competition is on, as it gets busy!
Mistake Creek in Winton
Camping here is not a mistake. Camp along the river bank for free meant we were able to camp up for as long as we liked while we explored the Australian Age of Dinosaurs the Dinosaur Stampede and Winton with its Chicken Races at the Gregory Downs Hotel . There is no facilities here, but you will find everything you need a short distance up the road in the local town of Winton.
Richmond RV Park
Cost: $5 for 3 nights – Toilets and Water provided
A well laid out area for self-contained campers only. Book, pay and learn all about our prehistoric history at the renowned Kronosaurus Korner. Local to the area you can also go digging for fossils or for a swim or fish in the huge Lake Fred Tritton. Well worth the $5 for 3 nights!
Hughenden RV Campground
Cost: Free (we didn’t end up staying here as it requires FULL self-sufficiency)
The Hughenden Flinders Discovery Center has been a favorite for many travellers. And the free campground provided makes it an easy place to stop and enjoy. In the Discovery Centre you will find giant fossil replicas and video presentations on the formation of the lands around you. We were unable to stay here as they have strict rules for self-sufficiency, however nearby is the fantastic Porcupine Gorge.
Pyramid Campground, Porcupine Gorge
Cost: $6.35 per person More information: Take the Detour: Porcupine Gorge
This has to be one of our favorite camping spots in Queensland. Camp on top of a gorge wall watching the sunrise is magical. This is only surpassed by the walk through the gorge walls and seeing the layers of time in the rock. Pack your swimmers for the cool pools under the rock face up the northern end.
Cost: Free overnight stay with a drink purchase
A true oasis in the dry outback. Stay at the Einasleigh Hotel and plan your visit to the local Einasleigh Gorge. This historic pub built in 1909 has many tales to tell over time. But not as many as the most friendly publican you’ll ever meet! His so friendly that he lets you stay for free if you have a drink and or/meal in the Hotel. Here you will find access to toilets and a flat piece of grassed land to call home for the night.
Einasleigh Silk’s Rest
Cost: Donation – Drinking water provided.
Rob a local of the area is providing you a wide open space to pull up stumps if you are self-containted. This is a great initiative by a local to help you enjoy a stay along the Savannah Way. Stop for a chat and you’ll find a wealth of information on the history and sites in the area.
Junction Parking Area, Minnamoolka, Gulf Developmental Road and Kennedy Highway
Cost: Free – Toilets on the Eastside
Whether you are coming from the dinosaur trail or starting your adventure across the Savannah Way, this free camp offers a great point to rest and be ready to launch again.
Archer Creek Rest Area NQ, Kennedy Highway, Millstream
A great spot for a swim and a cool down from the Queensland outback heat. This camp spot is on the upper banks of the Millstream River, a large open area with space for all. Check out the markets on Sunday to restock with fresh local vegetables.
Cost: Not free, but we needed great showers after months in the Outback. Sign up for the kids stay free TAWK program!
From the dry flatlands of the Savanna Way, you will be struck by the beauty of the towering Atherton Tableland ranges. We could not resist and used this as a base to wash the dust off and see the Millaa Millaa waterfalls.
Cost: By donation – Toilets, Water and even HOT Showers
This camp is set in the scenic Cains region where huge cliffs of jungle hang in the background. You will conveniently find the Babinda Boulders and Josephine Falls nearby which are both excellent swimming holes. While in the area be sure to also check out the Top 10 free things to do in Cairns with kids. This Babinda Rotary Park has plenty of space and we would argue a must for any trip.
Greenpatch Reserve, Gordonvale (Cairns), Bruce Highway.
Cost: Free – Toilets and water provided
How amazing to find a free camping area so close to iconinc Cairns. This great but short stay camp has large areas for all and is a great place to stop and cool the brakes as you come off the mountain range.
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