Roughing it to reward: 7 secret Sunshine Coast camping spots

Sometimes prepping and packing for a camping holiday is enough of a Survivor challenge. There might be a few luxury items you just can’t go without. Or maybe you’re the kind that enjoys testing your mettle against the elements?

My camping strategy is to never skimp on the essentials, throw in a few creature comforts and be prepared for a merge (there’s always one neighbour who forgets their own firewood).

Depending on your game play, here’s 7 secret Sunshine Coast camping spots, from roughing it to reward.

1. Teewah Beach Camping Area, Great Sandy National Park

Kid you’re a castaway and set up camp behind the dunes of Teewah Beach. More remote than its close rivals, Double Island Point and Inskip Point, this 15km camping zone can only be accessed by high-clearance 4WD with low range capacity from Noosa North Shore in the south or Rainbow Beach in the north.

You’ll need to pack the car with everything to outwit, outplay and outlast here, from food and water to portable toilet and shelter. And sand will infiltrate all. There are no amenities so be prepared to swap showers for ocean swims and camp kitchen for campfire (or your fuel/gas stove).

The grand prize? Your own patch of paradise where you can kick back on the beach, disconnect from the world and feel like a sole survivor.

(Don’t forget to check conditions before you leave home to ensure you’re driving the beach 2 hours either side of low tide.)

Facilities: 4WD only, open fires permitted, BYO everything
Price: A bargain $6.55 per person per night, or $26.20 per family per night
How to book: Book online via the National Parks Website

2. Booloumba Creek, Conondale National Park

Heading inland along an unsealed road with several creek crossings, Booloumba Creek promises dense rainforest, waterfalls and rock pools. Camping areas 1 and 3 can be accessed by high-clearance 4WD, with tent camping tucked into secluded nooks. That eliminates some of the competition.

You’ll need to carry your camping gear a short distance to the campsites, so make sure the team packs wisely. Whatever you bring in, you’ll need to take out as there are no rubbish bins onsite. Follow the National Parks rules or risk your torch being snuffed.

Booloumba Falls Walk is a 3km circuit which will take you through rainforest and gorges, past cascades and impressive rock formations. And there’s the advantage of a dip at the base of the falls. Allow about 2 hours for bushwalkers with some experience. Keep an ear out for eastern whipbirds as they sing out to each other and, who knows, you might spy a pademelon too!

(If you only have a 2WD, aka conventional car, an alternative down the road is Charlie Moreland camping area, within Imbil State Forest. Check out this blog post.)

Facilities: 4WD only, toilets, water (unsuitable for drinking), fire rings, no rubbish bins
Price: $6.55 per person per night, or $26.20 per family per night
How to book: Book online via the National Parks Website

3. Amamoor Creek camping area, Amamoor State Forest

If your tribe includes a four-legged friend, then Amamoor Creek camping area is for you. While the access road is unsealed, a conventional car can get you where you need to go.

It’s a grassy camping area in tall open forest of iron bark and blue gums. There are no defined sites so it’s every man for himself, and it’s suitable for all forms of accommodation from tent camping and #vanlife to camper trailers and buses.

Amamoor State Forest is the traditional home of the Gubbi Gubbi, Wakka Wakka, Jinibara and Kabi Kabi people, who maintain strong cultural links to the land. There are walks of varying degrees nearby, including an easy path to a platypus-viewing platform and the 4.6km Cedar Grove trail for experienced hikers.

Check your seasons for this one, as you’ll find it hard to secure a place for one week in August. Gympie Music Muster uses this area for festival camping.

Facilities: Toilets, water (unsuitable for drinking), fire rings, BBQs, dog-friendly
Price: $6.55 per person per night, or $26.20 per family per night
How to book: Book online via the National Parks Website

4. Kenilworth Bluff Creek Campground, Kenilworth

The powerplay for Kenilworth Bluff Creek Campground is its 100 acres of rolling hills, where isolation is welcome. Give me land, lots of land where you can find a private spot on the small spring-fed creek or in a paddock of green with sensational mountain views.

At the end of the campsite is the Mary River to discover, or go swimming or kayaking, depending on recent rainfall.

And here’s the twist, the town of Kenilworth is only 5km down the road where you can stop in at Kenilworth Country Bakery and participate in their food challenge: Gobble up a 1kg donut and become the idol of all future bakery patrons with a personalised plate added to the wall. #winner

Facilities: Flushing toilets, hot shower, fire pits, WiFi available, pet-friendly, bike trails
Price: From $15 per night (for two), no powered sites
How to book: Book online via the Kenilworth Campgrounds website

5. Cobb and Co Nine Mile Camping Grounds, Tandur

Gather the tribe because this one’s for you.

Cobb and Co Nine Mile Camping Grounds is on 50 acres in a historic location loaded with tales of pioneers, miners and bushrangers. It’s the site of the old Cobb and Co Horse Change Stables and the first stop on the stage coach run from 1878, travelling from Gympie to Noosa.

Owners Sean and Katherine O’Hanlon are the ultimate hosts (ah-hum Jeff), as they’ve thought of everything to keep alliances strong. You’re not near ocean but there’s a pirate ship for the kids, as well as a fort and slides, flying foxes and BMX track. You can’t quit before a train or tractor hay ride, or a visit to the petting yard. BYI canoe or kayak to explore Six Mile Creek, set up a yabby pot, or catch a glimpse of a platypus from the billabong.

Which form of accommodation to choose? Jury’s out. There are the breezeway tents (pictured) or the cabins, both of which provide comfortable protection against the elements, have a private BBQ and dining area, and sit among the trees.

Facilities: Toilets, hot showers, camp kitchen, campfires, kiosk, 20L water limit per group
Price: Unpowered sites $15 per adult, $10 per child per night. Breezeway tents from $100
How to book: Phone 07 5483 5065 or 0400 612 892, or email

6. Cotton Tree Holiday Park, Cotton Tree

Cotton Tree Holiday Park | 7 secret Sunshine Coast camping spots

Photo by @alanaingold

I’ve tallied the votes and Cotton Tree wins for versatility. You’re spoiled for choice in this tropical setting when it comes to swimming and watersports, depending on the time of day, wind direction and swell.

At the corner of Maroochydore Beach and the Maroochy River, Cotton Tree Holiday Park boasts the best of both worlds. You can body surf and catch a wave at one, then walk round the bend for the calm advantage of being riverside. Think SUPing, kayaking, windsurfing and fishing.

There are powered sites and cabins, but the premium waterfront unpowered sites will give you immunity from someone setting up camp between you and the sunset. And the clencher? There’s no need to catch your own food here. Civilisation (aka restaurants, cafes, shopping and nightlife) is just a wander down the road.

Facilities: All that is expected of a holiday park including full amenities, BBQs and laundry
Price: Premium waterfront unpowered site $49 per night
How to book: Book online via the Sunshine Coast Holiday Parks website

7. Habitat Noosa, Elanda Point

Habitat Noosa | 7 secret Sunshine Coast camping spots

Photo by @habitatnoosa

Bar, boutique brewery, hot takeaway meals, 9-hole golf course and a free shuttle bus to Noosa – doesn’t sound like camping, does it?

Newly opened Habitat Noosa on Lake Cootharaba is a glamping ground game-changer in Australia. Set on 65 acres of bushland, it offers the usual powered and unpowered sites, but it’s the paperbark tents that have my vote. With a private deck, ensuite bathroom and water views, it’s the ultimate glamping luxe. AND it includes a continental breakfast.

Then there’s onsite, fully licenced CootharaBAR which offers the ultimate reward. After a long day walking the Great Sandy National Park, kayaking the Noosa Everglades or SUPing the Noosa River, put your feet up with a cold brew in hand. Watch the sun set over the paperbark trees, and you might even encounter one of the local eastern grey kangaroos.

Facilities: All the creature comforts, watercraft for hire, PLUS bookable tours, a bar/bistro and free shuttle bus to Noosa (25 minutes)
Price: Powered site $44 per night (for two). Glamping paperbark tent from $290 per night
How to book: Call 07 5485 3165 or email

Looking for more camping options in Queensland? Try these camping spots near Cairns, Brisbane and Gold Coast.

You’ll be a returning player again and again.

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