Go off-grid: 9 wild camping spots in Queensland
Stepping away from the business of everyday life into a secluded spot in nature is the perfect way to relax and reset. Pitching a tent in the wilderness and making nature your temporary home is a unique experience that allows you to switch off and go completely off the grid.
The simplicity of camping—waking up to the alarm of chirping birds, eating good food with gorgeous views, and exploring nature—makes for an unforgettable getaway.
Here are nine wild camping spots in Queensland that are awaiting your arrival.
1. Teerk Rook Ra National Park (Peel Island), Brisbane
Teerk Roo Pa has a rich cultural history. It’s the only intact remnant of multiracial lazaret (leprosy hospital) in Australia—having housed leprosy patients for 52 years after opening in 1907. Plus, before the lazaret, the island served as a quarantine station and home for inebriates. Most of the island is restricted to preserve these historical remains, so make sure to set up your campsite along Horseshoe Bay and Platypus Bay.
Explore this wonderful part of the world by swimming in the clear waters, snorkeling at the Platypus Bay shipwrecks (to see wondrous marine life), and marvelling at Horseshoe Bay’s incredible sandstone rocks.
How to get there: There’s no public transport access to the island, so you’ll need to find your own way from Brisbane or Dunwich on North Stradbroke Island. Sailing the seas with a kayak or boat are great options to get to this wild camping spot in Queensland. You can book your campsite here.
2. Bartle Frere, Tropical North Queensland
If you’re a fan of exploring new heights, Bartle Frere is the destination for you. Bartle Frere is Queensland’s highest mountain (with a maximum elevation of 1,622 metres)—offering four different campsites along the hiking trail. Wake up each day in a luscious rainforest with panoramic views of Atherton Tablelands and Innisfail.
How to get there: Bartle Frere is 70 kilometres south of Cairns. Take the Bruce Highway and you’ll be at this breathtaking destination in approximately one hour. Leave your car at Josephine Falls car park and start the four-hour hike up the steep path. Book your campsite here.
3. Munga-Thirri Conservation Park, Simpson Desert
If sand dunes, starry skies and golden sunsets are on your list for the perfect getaway, a trip to Munga-Thirri Conservation Park is a must do. This park occupies the centre of the Simpson Desert, which is home to over 140 bird species and cute little marsupials such as dunnarts and ampurta that come out at night to search for their insect dinner. Identifying the different tracks in the morning with a field guide is a fun activity to indulge in while on this outback holiday.
The best spot for your campsite is toward the salt lakes in the central region, where gidgee woodlands provide wonderful shade, shelter and soft ground for pitching tents.
4. Riversleigh World Heritage Site, Boodjamulla National Park
To camp on the grounds of history, head to Riversleigh World Heritage Site—Australia’s most famous fossil location. Discover the remnants of ancient creatures and an abundance of minerals with this guide.
Pitch your tent in the Miyumba camping area near the Gregory River. Limited facilities are provided, so campers must be self-sufficient; bring drinking water, a fuel stove for cooking and rubbish bags.
5. Lizard Island, Tropical North Queensland
This land of sand and bright blue water, traditionally owned by Dingaal Aboriginal people, is 250 kilometres north-east of Cairns.
Lizard Island’s exclusive camping spot is located right in front of Watson’s Bay, where the Great Barrier Reef becomes your front porch. At this campsite, you’ll be adjacent to the island’s day-use area and nearby network of walking tracks. Make sure you bring all your essentials—food, water, shelter and first-aid—as campers must be self-sufficient. Feel free to pop into the Marlin Bar during your stay as well.
How to get there: A charter plane from Cairns Airport will get you to the island. Book your campsite here.
6. Frankland Islands, Tropical North Queensland
Another great wild camping spot in Queensland is Frankland Islands—the traditional sea country of the Mandingalby Yindinji and Gungandji Aboriginal peoples. This retreat is easier to reach—just an hour south of Cairns.
This island boasts stunning waters that are home to coral reefs, an abundance of fish, several types of turtles, and reef sharks. So get busy exploring by swimming and snorkelling. When you want a break from the water, wander the rainforest and mangroves and spot all kinds of wildlife.
Campers can pitch their tent on Russell and High islands only, and must be self-sufficient. Enjoy the seclusion of this secret location.
How to get there: Take a private boat from either the Mulgrave or Russell river boat ramps. Book your campsite here.
7. Sundown National Park, South Queensland border
Located on the border of Queensland and New South Wales, is a rugged wilderness featuring sharp ridges and steep gorges. At Sundown National Park, stroll through the various walking tracks to make friends with the woodland birds and discover pieces of history (the remains of pastoral and mining heritage).
Sundown National Park offers a bunch of different camping areas for you to make your base. It gets cold at night in the winter months and remains wet in the summer, so if you don’t mind facing the elements—this wild camping spot in Queensland is just for you!
How to get there: This spectacular park is 250 kilometres south-west of Brisbane via Stanthorpe and 70 kilometres north-west of Tenterfield. You can book your campsite here.
8. Jardine River, Cape York
On the tip of the Cape York Peninsula, lies the largest perennial river in Queensland—the Jardine River. Camping nearby this beautiful waterway is an experience like no other, thanks in part to the state’s dramatic and colorful scenery, which is on full display.
Campsites are located inland and few have running water so you need to be self-sufficient and ensure that your vehicle is up to the job (check out these self-driving tips). Jardine River is a hot and humid part of the world even in the cooler winter months, so be sure to pack lightweight, breathable clothes.
While at the Jardine River, take a trek to the most northern point in Australia, visit one of the remote Aboriginal communities, and take part in some serious bush bashing.
How to get there: Aim to visit this destination of dreams during the dry season (May – October) because the roads are open and river levels are low. You’ll need a 4WD for this itinerary and the skills suitable to fix it if things go wrong. Book your campsite here.
9. North West Island, Southern Great Barrier Reef
One of the best wild camping spots in Queensland is approximately 75 kilometres off the coast of Gladstone. As the second largest coral cay in the Great Barrier Reef, North West Island features white sandy shores, blue shimmering waters, and a thriving reef. Explore this delightful destination to the sound of squawking birds that call the island home.
North West Island is a breathtaking destination, made even more glorious if you visit during the season of whale migration or turtle nesting. It’s a National Park, however, so you’ll need a camping permit. Facilities are limited to composting toilets, so this is the perfect destination if you want to be one with nature.
How to get there: Take the Curtis Island Ferry service from Gladstone, or make waves in your own boat. If you’re waiting in Gladstone for the rest of your crew to arrive, use this handy guide to explore the city.
Wild camping essentials
- Waterproof tent (check it’s intact before you leave)
- Drinking water (five litres per person, per day)
- Insect repellent
- Torch and spare batteries
- Non-perishable food
- Sleeping bag and mat
- Wet-weather gear
- Map and compass
- Sunscreen and hat
- Two-way radio or satellite phone