There are many great National Parks campgrounds in SEQ
A list of the camping grounds and their attractions in South East Queensland
There are lots of places to camp in South East Queensland. I have a preference for campgrounds within national parks because they are usually nearby walks, swimming holes and natural attractions. So get your tent and sleeping bag ready, because here are the best places to camp in South East Queensland's National Parks.
You don't need a fancy setup to go camping, but it sure is more comfortable
I have focused on car camping with some examples for people with boats. There are also campsites that can only be accessed by hiking but I left those out, as they are for another time. Though some of these campsites are also used by hikers if they are on a hiking trail.
For this list, I included different types of campgrounds associated with national parks around the area. The most common are those run by Queensland National Parks. Prices for these are often only $7 per night per person. There are a couple of commercial campsites within the national parks as well, which have better facilities and additional options but have commercial rates and of course, prices go up during holidays. Then, with some of the islands, control and care of the national parks have been handed over to local indigenous people, who not only look after the land for which they are the traditional custodians but also run the campgrounds, often taking a similar approach as commercial campgrounds, however, this can differ.
There are a number of great campgrounds excluded from this list that might be associated with national parks. They are usually commercial campgrounds near a national park or are actually in a state forest or local government-run campground.
Green Mountains Section (O'Reilly's), Lamington National Park
Trying to decide what should be at the top of the list is a little hard, so roughly speaking, but in of family campgrounds, the Green Mountains section of Lamington National Park has one of the more popular campgrounds. The campground has recently been refurbished and is run by O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat. The changes are both good and bad. They have a great camp kitchen with views down the mountain, a central firepit, dedicated camping spots, plus glamping options. You will also find a cafe and shop nearby and you can order food from the retreat's restaurant if you don't want to cook at night.
I hope you like rainforest waterfalls and cascades because there are lots of them at O'Reilly's
What really makes this a great location is that the Green Mountains section has a multitude of hikes, swimming spots, lookouts and so on, plus attractions such as the Stinson replica (this was the plane that crashed in the area, making O'Reilly's famous before it was a retreat), Tree Top Walk, botanic gardens, bird feeding, guided tours and more.
There are also plenty of lookouts and views at O'Reilly's
When it comes to a camping area that is simple but pleasant and also features a number of attractions, the Goomburra Section of the Main Range National Park is it. There are two campgrounds both feature wide grassy areas with shade trees, toilets and barbecues where you can park your car or campervan. There is also Dalrymple Creek next to the campgrounds and while this isn't really a swimming hole, kids will definitely find enough water to splash in in summer.
Goomburra features 2 large open grassy shady camping areas next to a creek
There are plenty of walks in the area too. The Goomburra Circuit takes you over too many creek crossings to count (well, I lost count after the twentieth) and a lovely swimming hole under a waterfall. There are also short walks in the area to lookouts, another waterfall and a couple just through the rainforest if you want a longer walk.
Walking through the lush rainforest at Goomburra section of the Main Range National Park
One of the loveliest places to visit in the area is the Bunya Mountains. The national park has three campgrounds, all connected by a sealed road and walking tracks. Each campground has its own features and benefits. Dandabah is the township on the southern end of the national park and has a campground that has everything, including WiFi. Right next to it is a shop, bar and restaurant. It is also the busiest campground. My preference is Burton's Well, which features a wide grassy area with views down the mountains to the east. The car park is separate from the camping area but if you are lucky, you can set up your tent right in front of your car or carry it further to find just the right place to set up camp. The third campground, Wescott, has toilets but no shower and is the smallest. It is also just a short stroll away from views.
Camping under a giant grass tree at Burtons Well Campsite, Bunya Mountains National Park
While the Bunya Mountains campgrounds together are the best on this list, the area itself is less interesting. There are multiple walks and views and some people even choose to hike between campgrounds with a full pack. Along with some other walks in the area and a few attractions in town, that is essentially it. Nice for an overnighter or even a long weekend away but not much more than that.
One of several lookouts when hiking in the Bunya Mountains National Park
The Binna Burra Campground has always been run by Binna Burra Lodge as far as I know. While it is a commercial campground, it is surrounded by national park on all sides, so it makes this list. This lovely campground lets you camp under beautiful trees, though you do need to carry your gear from the car park to the campsite, however, there are a few powered sites suitable for campervans (but not caravans). There are lots of great facilities at the campsite, including toilets and showers and you have access to cafe, bar and shop.
Enjoying the spectacular views from a walk at Binna Burra
The surrounding area has days of walks, with walks like the Caves Circuit, suitable for all levels to longer walks, the 21 km Ships Stern Circuit and the 18 km Coomera Circuit. There are several 10 to 12 km walks, like Dave's Creek Circuit and Lower Bellbird Track.
On weekends, the Lamington Tea House often has music and entertainment in the evenings
One of the unique locations in South East Queensland is Girraween with its interesting granite rock formations, including the Pyramid and various balancing rocks and arches. The campsites are wide open and if there has been rained, grassy areas. There are also places for campervans and caravans to park. Facilities include toilets, showers, picnic tables and wood-fired barbecues. There is also a swimming hole nearby.
Camping, tables, barbecues and Shade trees at Girraween National Park
There is a lot to see in the area and you can choose to walk, scramble or climb up various formations, or just walk along the paths. It is a hot and dusty place, so while it is not always the best place to visit in the height of summer, it is still well worth the trip and can be a great place to base yourself to visit towns and other attractions in the Granite Belt region.
Girraween National Park is famous for its spectacular rock formations
Springbrook National Park: The Settlement camping area
The smaller Springbrook National Park features some of the easiest but most spectacular walks in the region, including along the tops of the cliffs, to the top of Purlingbrook Falls and the Natural Bridge. There is also the 17 km Warrie Circuit and it is the start of the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk.
Walking under a waterfall in Springbrook National Park
Camping is at the Settlement Campgrounds, which is suitable for car camping, campervans and caravans. There are toilets, picnic tables, barbecues and I think picnic shelters. It is only a short walk from the campgrounds to the Purlingbrook Falls walk. There are also a few cafes in the nearby area, a fudge shop and an art gallery. Worth a weekend stay to explore the Springbrook area.
Cooloola Recreation Area, Great Sandy National Park
The Great Sandy National Park is basically divided between K'gari (Fraser) island and the Cooloola Recreation area. Most of the campsites require a four-wheel drive to access and give you great access to the beach. This is a four-wheel drivers paradise.
For people more interested in the freshwater areas, then Harry's Hut is a camping area on the Noosa River with four-wheel drive (or boat kayak/canoe access). If you don't have a four-wheel drive, then Habitat Noosa is a commercially-run campground on the Lake Cootharaba area. There are additional campgrounds for people with boats.
Bribie Island Recreation Area
Bribie Island is Brisbane's most accessible national park island. But to really visit the part of the island that is a national park, you need a four-wheel drive or a boat. The same goes for the national park campgrounds. With long sandy tracks or beach access (you will need a permit to drive on the beach), it is a four-wheel driver's heaven with campsites right on the beach. Facilities differ but many have toilets, showers, barbecue areas and picnic tables, however, Gallagher Point lacks the showers. On the Pumicestone Passage side of the island, you will find the boat only Mission Point Campgrounds. Wherever you camp, don't forget the bug spray for the sandflies.
The main attractions are the beach and relaxing. Woorim Beach has a series of WW2 bunkers that are slowly settling into the sand, often at jaunty angles. Most of the real attractions are at the non-national park part of the Island. This includes pubs, cafes, beaches suitable for swimming or walking and of course, kayak and boat hire if you don't have your own.
Bribie Island has lots of activities beyond the national park, including hiring kayaks & boats
Conondale is an area of beautiful lush rainforest with 3 Booloumba Creek Campgrounds right next to each other, numbers 1, 3 and 4 (not sure what happened to campground number 2). Each campground features open grassy areas with firepits. They are also next to the creek, which is deep enough for a dip but not really a swim.
One of the Booloumba Creek camping areas at Conondale National Park
But that creek is an issue when going to the campsites as to get to the first two campgrounds you need to drive across two creeks, and the last campground has another creek between it and the campground. Ideally, you need a high clearance four-wheel drive to brave the creeks. We have done the first two creeks in an SUV but scraped the bottom in the 3rd creek and needed to reverse out. Of course, if it rains, the rocks in the creek could shift and stop you from getting out if you don't have a decent four-wheel drive. You could park your car at the entrance to the park and walk in but that is about 1.5 kms. This is okay for a hike but not when carrying your camping gear.
Crossing one of many creeks to get to the Booloumba Creek Camping Areas in Conondale National Park
There are some interesting hikes in the area. If you want to have a decent swim, then you have to walk the 5.5 kms to the Artists Cascades or even further to Booloumba Falls. There are also other short walks, including to the old Gold Mine, the Strangler Cairn artwork in the middle of the forest and even to Mount Allan. These tracks are on the Conondale Great Walk but there is not much beyond the destinations mentioned already unless you plan to walk for days.
While you can have a dip in Booloumba Creek near the campsites, you need to hike up to the Artists Cascades for a decent swim
For national park camping near Brisbane, the main option is North D'Aguilar National Park. There are two main camping areas here, which are Neurum Creek camping area and Archer camping area both in Mount Mee. Both sites are similar with fire pits, toilets and nearby swimming. The area features a scenic drive, the Somerset walking trail that leads to the Somerset Lookout which you can also get to by car, a couple of short walks, and The Gantry Day Use Area. It is a nice enough area to make a weekend of it.
Somerset Lookout, Mt Mee, North D'Aguilar National Park
Yes, there are other campsites in South D'Aguilar National Park but they are only accessible to hikers, so they don't make this list. But plenty of people head to North D'Aguilar in summer for some family camping. It also isn't too bad to access locations on the Sunshine Coast and hinterland by car.
The Gantry Day Ese Area in Mt Mee, North D'Aguilar National Park
K'gari or Fraser Island is an internationally renowned natural treasure featuring beaches, rainforest on a sand island and lakes. Getting there requires a ferry to the island and then a four-wheel drive to get around. There is a four-wheel drive taxi service which is mostly used by people doing the K'gari (Fraser Island) Great Walk but which can be used to transfer yourself and your gear to a campground. With lots of walks and attractions, this could be good for a few days.
There is a lot to see on the island and having a four-wheel drive is really the only way to see a lot if you are not joining a tour. Camping is divided between the areas with dingo fences and lots of facilities (including hot showers) and remote beach camping areas, where you have to take everything with you and watch out for dingos.
Gheebulum Kunungai or Moreton Island is one of the great islands in the Moreton Bay area, Its lack of accessibility and cost of access does have an impact on where this island comes in on this list. To get there, you either need to take the Moreton Island MICAT ferry or have your own boat. This is over $50 return per person and much more if you are taking a four-wheel drive. Once on the island, you either need to be part of a tour or drive a four-wheel drive around. Yes, there is a campground where the ferry disembarks passengers and it is possible to walk around the entire island to access various campgrounds. There is also the Moreton Island Taxi service that can take up to 6 passengers and all your gear but nearly everyone camping is touring the island by four-wheel drive.
Image of the Moreton Island Ferry courtesy of Moreton Island Ian Cochrane @ Flickr
There is a lot that makes the island worth visiting. On the western side, there are wrecks that have been deliberately sunk to make artificial reefs and attract sea life. On the north east part of the island, there is the historic lighthouse and the popular Champagne Rock Pool for swimming. There is also the freshwater Blue Lagoon. Campsites are either grassy, such as the North East Point Camping area, or sandy, like many of the other campgrounds. These campgrounds have water, toilets, and some have showers but not much else. There is a shop/cafe at Bulwer and another at Kooringal. Many people with four-wheel drives will instead choose the basic beach camping areas, where you have to bring everything with you (not only the kitchen sink but also your own toilet), however, you are getting away from the crowds.
Photo of Cape Moreton LIghthouse courtesy of Ian Cochrane @ Flickr
Camp under shady eucalyptus trees in a campground with toilets, showers, tables and barbecues. People often dismiss Crows Nest National Park because it only has a few short walks. But it is well known among hikers for the off-trail Valley of Diamonds Walk.
Image of the rocky Crows Nest National Park courtesy of Tatiana Gerus at Wikimedia
Mapleton National Park, which is not to be confused with Mapleton Falls National Park, covers the Gheerulla Valley, which includes Gheerulla Creek and Gheerulla Falls. There are three camping areas here, though two are walkers campsites on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk, and that leaves one small campsite in the valley, which is the Gheerulla Camping Area. You will need a four-wheel drive to get here, unless you want to walk in the short distance from the road. An alternative is the Thilba Thalba walkers camp up on the ridge. I think it is at least a 200 metre walk from the road to the campsite for car campers.
The Gheerulla Camping area is near to Gheerulla Creek in Mapleton National Park
The main activity here is hiking. There is the 21 km Gheerulla Valley Circuit and on to the Sunshine Coast Great Hike. You can also just walk along the creek and return or up the ridge above the valley. It is also close to towns like Kenilworth and not too far from Mapleton.
Looking down on the Gheerulla Valley from the ridge which is part of the Sunshine Coast Great Walk
Spicers Gap camping area, Main Range National Park
Spicers Gap used to be the preferred way over the Great Dividing Range, with the governor of Queensland often using this route to visit areas west of the range. One feature of Spicers Gap is Governors Lookout, where the Governor would rest on his trips. These days, Cunninghams Gap is the main route west and the once-popular route has become less accessible. The area has a number of short walks that come together into the Mount Mathieson Circuit. This walk includes a bit of history, views along the walk and Governors Lookout. Though you can also just drive to the lookout.
Views of the Great Dividing Range from the Mount Mathieson hike at Spicers Gap
There is little reason to camp here except to spend the night before or after going on the hike in the area. After all, there isn't even a stop on the way to anywhere else, as you need to drive in then drive out again. But the campsite is a grassy area and well shaded. Worth it if you are looking for a campground where there is unlikely to be anyone else around in the evening.
Want to camp on an island that you can only get to if you have your own boat (or kayak if you are keen)? Then Peel Island is for you! With camping at Horseshoe and Platypus Bay, there is not much to do on the island except, swim, relax, go boating and fishing in the area, relax, and relax some more.
Sundown National Park
On the very border of NSW is the less-visited Sundown National Park. While it has a reputation as a four wheel drive only accessible area, The Broadwater Campground is accessible by conventional vehicles and its facilities include toilets, showers and barbecues. Being on the Severn River, you have plenty of opportunity for swimming or kayaking. You are also permitted to fish in the river. There is a short walking track starting from The Broadwater as well as a number of very rough and difficult, often unmarked, hiking tracks.
Photo of the rough dirt roads at Sundown National Park courtesy of Tatiana Gerus at Wikimedia
For those with a four-wheel drive, there are number of different campgrounds you can visit. The facilities are rarely more than just toilets- but you are usually in nature, near a creek and far from the crowd. Possibly the best one to visit is the Red Rock Gorge Campground. which is near, as the name suggests, the spectacular Red Rock Gorge and waterfall.
Photo of Red Rock Gorge at Sundown National Park with the waterfall not flowing courtesy of Robyn JayFollow @ Flickr
Naree Budjong Djara National Park on North Stradbroke Island
Minjerribah, or as it is also known, North Stradbroke Island, is an easily accessed island a quick ferry ride from the mainland. This wonderful scenic island attracts day-trippers and campers looking to relax. Recently the control of the national park and government-run camping areas have been handed over to the Quandamooka traditional owners and the national park on the island renamed Naree Budjong Djara National Park. If you have a four-wheel drive, you can camp along Main Beach in the national park, or at Flinders Beach. If you don't have a four-wheel drive, there are other campgrounds at Amity Point, Dunwich or Point Lookout. I am including these because all campsites are administered under the same authority, even though they are not in the national park itself.
Camping at Cylinder Beach on North Stradbroke Island
If you are on Main Beach or Flinders beach, then you are usually seeking out a self-contained isolated location where you bring everything with you and you spend much of your day relaxing. The other campsites give you access to local shops and restaurants. The most popular campsite is Cylinder Beach, with its reef break, meaning it is great for surfers while the beach itself is sheltered for swimmers. There are lots of activities on the island, includes a range of beaches, art, history, two lakes and plenty of nice restaurants.
There is plenty of camping for people with 4WDs along the southern end of Main Beach on North Stradbroke Island
This is an unusual national park because it is actually four non-connected areas for each of the four peaks that make up the Moogerah Peaks National Park, Mount Greville, Mount Moon, Mount Edwards and Mount French, all of which are near Lake Moogerah. When people think camping, they think of the Caravan Park on the lake. But as the lake is not part of a national park, that wonderful spot doesn't make the list. Instead, there are two camping areas at Mount French. The main Mount French Camping area is suitable for cars and campervans (not caravans) and the Frog Buttress Camping area requires that you carry your gear 100 metres to the campsite. With both campsites, you need to walk a little way to get to the facilities, like toilets, picnic tables and gas barbecues.
While the area is great, with the nearby lake, walks for Mount French and Mount Edwards, and further away, Mount Greville. There is a cafe down by the lake and the nearby town of Aratula has cafes, shops and a pub. However, it really isn't that great a location. I like the area but I have to put these campgrounds at the bottom of my list.