From the Great Barrier Reef’s azure waters to The Simpson Desert’s crimson sands, Queensland is a vast and varied adventure destination.
It’s also home to five of Australia’s 19 World Heritage-Listed sites and over 250 national parks. And almost all are open for camping!
Let’s explore eight of the best.
1. Lamington National Park
One of Earth’s most important wilderness sites, Lamington National Park is about 115 kilometres (two hours) from the Gold Coast.
Gazetted in 1915, Lamington is actually 300 million years old. Hence the ancient Gondwanan forests that dominates this 20,000-hectare prehistoric paradise.
Explore long-extinct volcanoes, trek the 54-kilometre Border Track, stroll through the canopy, and swim in tranquil Elabana Falls.
With over 500 waterfalls and 150 walking trails to visit, plus several species of birds, frogs and butterflies to meet, it pays to stay.
Pitch a tent at a bush camping site. Book into an ecolodge. Or park your van or trailer at the recently reinvigorated O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.
2. Diamantina National Park
Drive west of Brisbane for 17 hours and you’ll arrive at 507,000 hectares of wonderful wilderness.
A vital wetland that supports various migratory birds, Diamantina is also famed for its mysterious ‘rains of fishes’ which sees an unexplained abundance of fish appear in the estuaries.
The combination of sand dunes and waterholes here make it an exotic landscape worth exploring.
Step back to pioneer times at The Warracoota Ruins. Drink in the giddying view from Janets Leap, or navigate the complex waterways by canoe.
Tread lightly through rare wildflowers, keeping your eyes peeled for the rare bilby. Then, after a burnt amber sunset, camp at Hunters Gorge or Gum Hole.
3. Naree Budjong Djara National Park
To the Quandamooka people, the name means ‘My Mother Earth’, and this truly is a place to be revered.
Nestled on North Stradbroke Island (30 kilometres southeast of Brisbane) this park is a haven for threatened fauna and flora. Which inhabit its wetlands, mangroves, lakes, woodlands and rainforests.
The park’s six beautiful walks offer panoramic views of the Glass House Mountains, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.
Just outside the park lie cool tropical waters. Take a 4WD track to Flinders Beach, snag some privacy on Home Beach, or drop a line from Main Beach.
While camping is not currently permitted in Naree Budjong Djara National Park, there are several great campsites outside at Minjerribah.
4. Daintree National Park
It seems everyone has the 180-million-year-old Daintree on their bucket list, and with good reason.
Two hours north of Cairns, the Daintree is 1200 square kilometres of cascading waterfalls, granite mountains, lush rainforest, and sandy beaches.
It also houses a high percentage of Australia’s unique animals. So expect to spot tree kangaroos, owls, and cassowaries amid the diverse landscape.
The best time to visit for mild temps, low rainfall and low humidity is autumn to spring. Or, visit in summer and snorkel with tropical fish at magnificent Mason’s Store.
For something totally unique, experience ‘Flames of the Forest’. An indigenous experience that serves dreamtime stories with a seven-course feast in the heart of the forest.
If you’re looking for somewhere to take your caravan, Cape Tribulation is one of our favourite caravanning spots in Queensland.
5. Munga-Thirri National Park
While the Queensland coast gets lots of attention, the outback is home to magnificent places too. Like the awe-inspiring Munga-Thirri National Park.
Accessible only by 4WD, this park straddles the South Australian and Northern Territory borders, with Queensland’s slice spanning one million hectares!
While walking tracks are non-existent (and wandering’s not recommended), the park’s a stunning slice of the Simpson Desert, boasting gigantic sand dunes, birds, lizards and hardy mammals.
To see more stars than ever, buy a pass and pitch a tent here between March and December.
While Munga-Thirri National Park is a unique must-see, it’s also remote and rugged. Travel safely and heed signage, and you’ll be guaranteed an unforgettable experience.
6. Carnarvon National Park
Nestled in the central highlands, Carnarvon National Park (and its centrepiece, spectacular Carnarvon Gorge) is a hidden oasis of ancient rainforests hemmed by towering cliffs.
Work up a sweat on the trails that wind through 200-million-year-old terrain. Then cool off with an invigorating dip. You can swim in Carnarvon Gorge, but the Rock Pool is the only designated swimming area.
Bushwalkers are rewarded with panoramic views, diverse flora and fauna and glimpses of culturally significant Aboriginal rock art.
It takes at least a week to appreciate this captivating natural wonder. Luckily, there are plenty of accommodation options, from luxury lodges to creek-side camping.
The best time to visit is winter when it’s drier and milder.
7. Hinchinbrook Island National Park
Keen to relax in a remote spot that Australian Geographic voted as one of the nation’s best?
Then head to our largest island-based national park!
With no residents and only 40 visitors allowed at once, Hinchinbrook Island National Park offers unparalleled peace and privacy.
Trek the 32-kilometre Thorsborne Trail, steer a kayak across the glassy, reef-filled ocean toward unspoilt beaches. Or do a spot of fishing in the Hinchinbrook Channel.
With no other accommodation, beachside camping is the way to unwind here, and numerous spots offer incredible sunrise views.
Visit between January and March, and you might be lucky enough to catch sight of sea turtles hatching!
8. Great Sandy National Park
Combining Cooloola Recreation Area and the world’s largest sand island, Fraser Island, Great Sandy National Park is an explorer’s haven.
Cooloola, spanning Noosa Heads to Rainbow Beach, has been carved by sand, sea and wind into 45,000 acres of unique landscape.
Explore imposing dunes and colourful cliffs, trek diverse scenic trails or canoe through the tranquil waterways.
To the north, Fraser Island is a World Heritage wilderness renowned for exciting 4WD tracks.
Tackle the famous Great Walk, splash in rainwater-fed Lake McKenzie and visit the striking Pinnacles on 75 Mile Beach.
There’s so much to see and do you’ll be glad there are plentiful places to camp on this idyllic gem.
It would take a lifetime to visit all of Queensland’s incredible national parks. But with international travel off the cards for 2021, why not get started now?
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