Sleeping under the stars does wonders for wellbeing, and there are few more beautiful places in the world to do so than Queensland.
While the far north gets lots of attention, South East Queensland and the state’s impressive outback are worth visiting too.
Here are some of the sunshine state’s best free camping spots to pitch a tent or park a van.
1. Kershaw Gardens, Rockhampton
Perfect for families, the lush Kershaw Gardens offer free camping families will love.
Set in a kilometre-long stretch of gorgeous greenery, High Street campsite provides a great escape.
Waterfalls, walking tracks and wilderness will help you get back to nature, while the Central Precinct is a kids’ paradise.
Spend a day at Wyatt’s Wonder Web, a giant obstacle course for kids big and small.
Originally designed for New York’s Central Park, it’s the perfect antidote to too much screen time.
Meanwhile, Fitzroy River Play Area is a safe space to cool off, and the monorail and flying fox offer great garden views.
When night falls, enjoy a barbecue and stay the night.
Camping here is limited to self-contained vehicles only, perfect for campervans.
With space for 35 vehicles and two day stays allowed, there’s time to tour further afield – both Mount Archer and Keppel Bay Island National Parks are in easy reach.
Good to know: Dogs on leash are welcome. Vehicles must carry their own water, sink, shower, water disposal, toilet and rubbish facilities.
2. Bedford Weir, Blackwater
If you love to fish, water-ski, canoe or kayak, this campsite, 25 kilometres north of Blackwater, is for you.
Home to the Saratoga fishing competition each spring, Bedford Weir is a great spot to fish for barramundi, or simply play in the water.
Free shaded barbecues let you cook up your catch for dinner, while the playground will keep the littlies happy.
Located between Emerald and Rockhampton, this caravan park site is spacious, with 40 sites and access for vans.
With a week-long stay limit, there’s even time to visit Blackwater’s Japanese Garden, planted for it’s ‘Sister Town’ Fujisawa in Japan.
Good to know: Toilets and (hot!) showers here are free, but the water’s not for drinking. Pets welcome.
2. Mary Kathleen Township, between Mount Isa and Cloncurry
Feel like spooking yourself a little while you get away from it all?
The ghost town of Mary Kathleen, with its very own Elm Street, might just be the free camp for you.
Ok, so, it’s not really a town full of ghosts, rather a village built around a uranium mine, long since abandoned.
Nevertheless, it’s a unique, yet eerily deserted spot – to stay the night!
Here, concrete slabs where houses and businesses once stood provide level plots to set up camp.
Facilities are, of course, limited, but what it lacks in creature comforts, Mary Kathleen makes up for in memories, and the kids will love exploring.
Take the 4WD off the beaten track and along the roads leading to the old mine – but, don’t forget, this is a former uranium mine, so play it safe.
Spend the night, tick the bucket list, and move on – either west to Mount Isa, or east to Cloncurry.
If a ghost town’s not your style, stay at nearby Clem Walton Park instead, a bush oasis on the river.
Good to know: Don’t let the word ‘lake’ lure you in – the mine’s unnaturally electric blue water is not safe for swimming.
3. Saunders Beach, Townsville
Ready to road trip up the tropical north coast?
This beautiful beachfront spot is paradise, with great amenities.
Park yourself on the small campground and unwind, letting the sounds of the coral sea wash over you.
Lined with coconut palms, the golden sands of Saunders are the perfect place for families to splash in the shallows under deep blue skies.
It’s also the best base from which to enjoy Townsville’s beauty. Get lost in the lush rainforest, or take a trip out to majestic Magnetic Island.
Then, as the sun sets, the kids can hit the playground while you fire up one of the free barbecues and dine under the stars.
Good to know: With toilets, shower and water, this is free camping luxury. It’s also a busy spot, so arrive early. Camping has a 48-hour limit.
4. Theodore, The Banana Shire
If you think a trip to The Banana Shire sounds fun, you’re right!
Perched in the Capricorn region, inland from Gladstone, this area is named not for the fruit, but rather a bull(gone, but not forgotten).
The heart and soul of this town is the heritage-listed pub, the only one in Queensland that’s owned by the community, having been taken over by locals in the 1940’s.
Beyond that, though, there’s a folk museum and excellent fishing at Dawson River and Castle Creek Junction – which is also home to free camping!
Stay the night – or seven – at Junction Park, home to 20 sites, flush toilets, barbecues, and hot showers.
Alternately, park your campervan at Theodore Showgrounds – just be aware, fees apply there. While in the area, make sure to visit Isla Gorge and enjoy a sunset cruise down the Dawson.
Good to know: Junction Park is pet friendly, and there’s usually drinking water available. While fires might be allowed, it pays to check local bans.
Queensland is vast, varied and vibrant.
Free camping is a low-cost, low-stress way to unwind and enjoy the wonders of our big backyard, so get out there!
If you’re looking for camping spots closer to the state capital, Brisbane, take a look at this article.
If you’re looking to upgrade your caravan, camper, boat or 4WD, get a 30 second quick quote on finance with CreditOne – Australia’s best rated finance broker.