FRASER ISLAND, QLD
Fraser isn’t exactly a ‘budget camp’ if you’re hailing from Wangaratta, Vic, but for us local Queenslanders, it’s hard to beat. The trick is to stay a week or so as, once the costs of barge tickets are absorbed and you’re camped up the beach, Fraser’s this side of free.
There are about 35 camping areas on the island with some featuring dingo-proof fencing, ideal if you’ve got little kids. Actually, kids are okay everywhere so long as you watch them at all times.
Many know and favour the eastern beaches, especially the beach fishing crew. I’ve had no luck at it myself but I’ve camped with blokes who have, and nothing beats fresh whiting for breakfast!
The sites are QPWS managed, so you’ll need permits and that means knowing where you want to camp. For first-timers, I recommend either side of Eurong as it’s fairly central and easy to get supplies. But as Fraser gets more popular, it may be a case of grabbing what’s free. Rest assured, there’s no such thing as bad camping on Fraser, and the QPWS system limits the crowds.
Be sure to plan around the tides and allow time to get to your site on day one. Things can slow right down when the tides’ in, especially if you’re towing!
Oh, and fires are banned on Fraser except for those enclosed with manufactured fuels, so a tub of heat beads make this a brilliant place for winter camping, too!
Visit www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks for more.
SANDY CREEK CAMPING, QLD
Sandy Creek costs less than $70 for a family for a couple of nights and it’s only about an hour north of Brisbane on the Kilcoy Road. I guess, for me, this qualifies as a budget camp because it’s such good value and you don’t need to burn a tonne of fuel to get there!
The countryside is fabulous, the creek is perfect for the kids to play and the adults to kick back and relax and there are hot showers, too! Being situated right in the middle of some very scenic country means you can get even more value out of a few hours’ drive if that’s what you feel like. I’d suggest a pub meal in Kilcoy and grab your groceries from the IGA while you’re there.
This family-run park has beautiful campgrounds that’ll take RVs of all sizes or a big family trailer, with plenty of firepits, split hardwood for sale if you need it and they don’t let it get crowded. Except for the wildlife anyway, there’s heaps of that! Oh, and get the kids to bring their pushbikes because the mown grass tracks are perfect for play!
So for a weekend away from it all it’s hard to beat. Just make sure to phone (07) 5498 1032 book first.
MIDDLE CREEK CAMPGROUND, QLD
Nightly tariffs are $5.60 per person or $22.40 for the family but, value-wise, it’s hard to pass Middle Creek! Firstly, only a few regulars know about this place – and they return for a reason.
It’s a good six-hour drive from Brisbane or Mackay, due to the tight, windy, tree-lined track. It says 4WD-access only and they’re dead right, as few things bog quicker than a 2WD on the soft sand that ends the drive. But if you take it easy with the tyres down, you can squeeze a camper into this remote east coast camp.
On arrival, you’ll find a few sites including a couple of beauties up on the headland itself. From there, look back up Middle Creek or out to Bustard Beach stretching northward to the old Bustard Head lighthouse. You can walk to Bustard Beach at low tide or cruise the Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo vessel (LARC) built for the Vietnam War.
The LARC can take you all the way to the lighthouse if history interests you. Bustard Head is lonely even today so back in the 1870s the isolation must have been overwhelming. No wonder the little graveyard tells stories of suicide, abduction, drowning and murder. The history is beautifully displayed in rooms below the lighthouse, making it one of this country’s most remote heritage sites.
Facilities include a long-drop toilet but there’s no fresh water at camp. The river is beautiful for swimming, though!
Phone (07) 4974 9422 for bookings on the LARC or www.nprsr.qld.gov.au for campsite bookings.
PARADISE DAM RECREATION PARK, QLD
Paradise Dam is a popular spot with the water ski crowd making it busy on summer weekends – but that’s about it! The rest of the week – and year – you can pretty much have this beautiful place to yourself for a bit of freshwater fishing or just some stargazing at night.
Rates are cheap at around $20 per night; the sites aren’t powered but they are easy to access. The lawns are mown, too, which makes it ideal for setting up a new camper.
Few outside the Burnett River locality know of its existence but it can be found about 100km south-west of Bundaberg, or about three-and-a-bit hours’ north of Brisbane. Look for the little town of Biggenden and a sign pointing the way from there.
Your camp at the dam makes a great base for exploring the Goodnight Scrub National Park (NP), which can be seen just over the water. It’s a beautiful drive to get to the park – or paddle if you’ve packed a tinny or a canoe – but note that camping isn’t allowed in the park itself (Those must be Min Min lights you can see at night, right?). While you’re there, keep an eye out for the paradise parrot. Some say it’s extinct but a few people reckon it’s just good at hiding.
Phone (07) 4127 7278 for bookings or more information.
Check out the full feature in issue #102 July 2016 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.