The best camping near Cairns

Start your tropical adventure at the best camping spots near Cairns

If you’re a camping fan, Cairns will need no introduction.

Considered the gateway to the natural wonders of Tropical North Queensland, the northern hub is overflowing with adventure potential. Pitching a tent amidst its rugged landscape is the best way to get up close and personal with the region.

It’s home to more than its fair share of offerings, from beach to bush, but not all campsites were created equal. Luckily we know the place like the back of our hand; follow our guide to the best camping spots near Cairns.

Upper Davies Creek Campground, Dinden National Park

While once it was the gold rush which would have tempted you to visit this district, it’s now the solitude.

The bush campground straddles the Lamb Range, the mountains behind Cairns, and fringes the spectacular Davies Creek Falls. Days here are best spent exploring; swim in the creek, gaze at the waterfalls, and hike your way to one of several lookouts, greeting the local rock wallabies along the way.

Choose from two different campgrounds to spend the night – there’s a total of eight sites split into two groups, each with a toilet block to call its own. Only the Upper Davies Creek section is also home to a campfire.

Book here: Queensland Government Parks and Forests

Babinda Boulders Campground, Babinda

Devil's Pool at Babinda Boulders near Cairns

If you’re trying to save pennies whilst on your travels you’ll be pleased to note this stop doesn’t require you to dig deep into your pockets.

In fact, it’s free.

After a day spent exploring tourist favourite the Babinda Boulders and splashing about in its adored (and crocodile-free) swimming hole, you can spend the night nearby, pitching a tent at one of the 13 sites at the neighbouring Babinda Boulders Campground.

Conveniently you’re also welcome to bring your dog along for the adventure, though you’ll need to camp a little further afield at the Rotary Park Campground.

Book here: (07) 4067 1008 or Babinda Tourist Information Centre.

Malanda Falls Caravan Park

Camping spots Near Cairns, Malanda Falls Caravan Park

Photo by @simonktsang

Camping amateur? In Malanda Falls you’ll find a place to get some experience in sleeping under the stars.

Just a short drive away you’ll find the town of Malanda, the dairy capital of northern Australia nestled high into the Atherton Tablelands. It’s here that you can make a quick detour for supplies, though the campgrounds themselves come conveniently accompanied by ample creature comforts; think hot showers, a laundry and even a camp kitchen.

Stays here can be spent exploring the greater Atherton Tablelands. Cool off afterwards with a dip in the Malanda Falls and its accompanying swimming holes, just a lazy stroll away from your tent.

Book here: (07) 4096 5314 or online.

School Point Campground, Danbulla National Park

The veteran campers among us will adore School Point Campground for a quick getaway.

One of a handful of tent-friendly spaces around Lake Tinnaroo in Danbulla National Park, this particular campground nudges the lake. Just don’t forget your swimsuit; this district is a haven for water sports, from sailing to skiing, fishing and swimming. Non-sporty types can instead set up a picnic on shore, making the most of the public barbecues scattered throughout the precinct.

Just be warned that the campground itself is low on amenities; the site offers the basics of toilets and shower cubicles but BYO portable showers.

Book here: Queensland Government Parks and Forests

Goldsborough Valley, Wooroonooran National Park

Camping spots Near Cairns, Goldsborough Valley Campgrounds

Photo by @therawphoto

Traverse your way through the Gillies Ranges, a scattering of summits sitting between Gordonvale and Atherton.

You’ll cross the border of Wooroonooran National Park (in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area) and within this lush lowland rainforest you’ll uncover the Goldsborough Valley and its hidden secret; 12 campsites.

Remember to pack your hiking boots, this is a place to get out and explore. You can’t afford to miss out on the Goldfield Trail, the 19-kilometre trek will see you mosey over a saddle between the state’s two highest peaks; Barlte Frere and Bellenden Ker, reaching the Boulders Scenic Reserve near the equally idyllic Babinda. There’s also a chance to survey the land by boat and bike; canoe your way along the river, or mountain bike the eight-kilometres of the Goldfield Trail to the East Mulgrave causeway.

Book here: Queensland Government Parks and Forests

Woodleigh Station, Ravenshoe

Camping Near Cairns, Woodleigh Station

If you find yourself in the luscious mountains of Ravenshoe (Queensland’s highest town), it would be a shame to miss out on a night spent at the local Woodleigh Station.

The working cattle station on the edge of Outback Queensland welcomes the country curious to give life on the land a go, with a series of different campsites varying in offering strewn throughout the property for the public. With the property nudged by The Millstream and Wild Rivers, you can choose to stay right on the river’s edge. But it’s not all solitude; the campsite boasts a communal bonfire where crowds can gather for some good old-fashioned storytelling.

And it’s not just the property itself which is worth a wander, just down the road resides the famed Innot Hot Springs, a mere 15-minutes away.

Book here: Woodleigh Station

Bustard Downs, Mount Carbine

Camping spots Near Cairns, Bustard Downs Mount Carbine

Photo by @jaydenharrod

On your way north to Cooktown, stop for a kip at Bustard Downs in Mount Carbine.

The farmstay favours outdoors enthusiasts; pack your kids and your canine in the 4WD and set forth for the former tobacco farm and mining camp which today ventures more in organic produce.

There’s plenty to do on this property which stretches across 200 acres on the western side of the Great Dividing Range, but birdwatching in the specialty so bring your binoculars.

As for the camping, there’s 12 powered and unpowered sites to choose from, each 25 metres apart with all the amenities you could dream of, hot showers, flushing toilets, and communal campfire included.

Book here: Bustard Downs

Ellis Beach

Ellis Beach near Cairns Tropical North Queensland

Spend the night on the edge of one of the country’s best sandy stretches with a stay at Ellis Beach.

Hidden in plain sight of Cairns, Ellis Beach still largely remains a favourite for locals. Nudging the start of the Great Barrier Reef drive, stay the night here before you set forth north and on to Palm Cove and Port Douglas.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find better beachfront views; the campsite here sits right on the sand, offering a glimpse of the neighbouring Coral Sea and Double Island. Conveniently there’s also a camp kitchen available, but the Ellis Beach Bar and Grill, famed for its beachside barbecues, may tempt you to forgo staying in.

Pre-feast, take a dip, with the beach home to the last stinger net and lifeguard station before Port Douglas.

Book here: Ellis Beach

Mission Beach

Camping Mission Beach Tropical North Queensland Queensland

If you’re a fan of serenity, Mission Beach is right up your alley.

Picture 14-kilometres of crowd-free coastline, with crystalline waters and white sands on which to play. Fringed by rainforest, with walking trails aplenty, this is the place to go when you want to get to know Tropical North Queensland and its natural beauty a little better.

Expend some energy on the picturesque Misty Mountains Trail, a series of long-distance rainforest bushwalks, many of which follow the paths of traditional owners, the Jirrbal and Mamu Aboriginal people.

As for where to lay your head for the night, there’s two spots to choose from; Mission Beach Council Caravan Park and the seven unpowered sites of Bingil Bay Council Camp Ground.

Book here: Mission Beach Camping