Boasting 7000 kilometres of golden coastline, more World Heritage sites than anywhere else in Australia, and natural playgrounds like The Great Barrier Reef, The Simpson Desert, and the lush Daintree Rainforest, it’s no wonder Queensland is a bucket-list destination for travelers the world over.
Vast and rich in contrasts, the sunshine state is begging to be explored by caravan. Here are the five top spots to park your van and rest your head after a day of navigating the North.
Cape Tribulation, Daintree National Park
Even the drive to Cape Tribulation is a joy, with sweeping views of the reef and rainforest whetting your appetite for the paradise that awaits.
Here, you can explore the fringed reef and enjoy guided walks among primitive plants, and native fauna like tree-kangaroos, possums and a variety of birds, including the elusive cassowary and migratory species from New Guinea.
In winter, you may even spy a humpback whale!
Park at Cape Trib Camping to unwind at the bar, store your van for a 4WD adventure and indulge in some creature comforts.
Good to know: May to September is the busiest time, so book ahead. Not all areas of the national park are accessible to caravans or two-wheel vehicles.
Birdsville Caravan Park, Birdsville
Famously home to the world’s most remote music festival, Birdsville is also a gateway to the striking beauty of the vast Munga-Thirri National Park.
Explore the unique landscape of the red centre, take on the challenge of ascending Big Red in your 4WD, or straddle three borders at Poeppel Corner.
When you’ve finished adventuring up – and tobogganing down – dunes, settle at one of the spacious sites on the banks of the billabong and enjoy the dramatic sunsets, set to the soundtrack of the more than 100 species of birds that call this oasis home.
Good to know: The park has over 30 acres of unpowered sites and 50 powered sites to choose from, all easy to access, however, it gets busy in July and September. The national park closes from 1 December to 15 March, due to extreme temperatures.
The Whitsundays, North Queensland
Just 150 km north of Mackay in North Queensland lies the veritable utopia known as The Whitsundays, and the best advice one can get when heading there is to give yourself plenty of time to enjoy.
Caravanners are spoiled for choice in this region, from simple sites to resort parks. Make your base on the mainland by parking in one of the laid-back beachside towns such Airlie Beach, the gateway to the 74 idyllic Whitsundays islands in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef.
Snorkel, sail, bushwalk the culturally-rich Ngaro Sea Trail on South Molle Island, or simply relax on seven kilometres of pure silica sand at Whitehaven Beach as you island-hop in heaven.
There is loads to enjoy on the mainland too, including markets, fine dining and water sports!
Good to Know: Powered and unpowered sites with great facilities abound, but parking’s illegal in some areas of Airlie, so do your homework, lest you be towed away!
Lamington National Park, Gold Coast
It’s hard to describe the peaceful feeling that washes over you the moment you arrive in Lamington National Park.
Located just an hour south of Brisbane in the Gold Coast Hinterland, this area – which is just as heavenly as the cake that shares its name – boasts 21,000 hectares of wildlife-filled fern gullies, dramatic waterfalls and not one but two extinct volcanoes.
The views here are spectacular, and the myriad of birds, reptiles, frogs and marsupials will ensure your camera roll fills up fast.
Park up at one of the 21 sites at O’Reilly’s Campground, or The Rainforest Campsite, Binna Burra, then don your walking shoes.
Good to know: Lamington is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, so tread lightly. Camping permits are required and fees apply.
The Tip, Cape York
Once you’ve explored the rest of Queensland, why not take a trip up to the northernmost point of the Australian continent. Over 1,000 km north of Cairns, it’s a rewarding trek to this remote peninsula.
The untouched Punsand Bay overlooks the sparkling blue of the Arafura Sea and is only 45 minutes from the rugged Tip. It’s also the ideal place to observe a wide range of wildlife, including ‘Gary’, the 4m long resident crocodile.
Good to know: If you’re looking for a more relaxing drive, the dry season (May to October) is the best time to travel with your caravan, although you still need to take care on the Cape’s tricky gravel roads.
Clichéd as it may sound, there really is nowhere on Earth like Queensland, so pack the van, plot a course, and explore the only place on the planet where tiny rainforest creatures meet the colourful characters of the reef.
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