These are some of the best camping spots for summer
There are many family summer camping options in South East Queensland
South East Queensland often enjoys a long warm summer period that goes from spring through to autumn. Some camping areas are perfect for a summer getaway with nearby swimming spots, cool rain forests, beach getaways and more.
Not all campsites are created equal. In winter, you are looking for places where you can have campfires, but in summer you want somewhere shady with good swimming. It is also a good idea to have a place where there are plenty of other activities int the area. Here are some of the best.
Summer camping is about finding the perfect place in the shade of the tree or near a swimming spot
You don't need a lot of expensive to fancy equipment to enjoy a camping trip. Avoid anything cheap and nasty, such as the cheap tents at Kmart and Big W, but Aldi often sells a lot of inexpensive equipment and most camping stores have discounts. Big W and Kmart are pretty good for things other than tents.
You don't even need specialised items. Typically people use old pots and pans for cooking, take a doona or blanket instead of a sleeping bag, pack some foldable garden furniture to sit on and so on.
Start with the essentials first. These include a tent and mattress, add in a camp table, camp chairs, barbecue for cooking and kitchen utensils. The next essential thing to bring is a camp shelter, which makes a big difference to having a relaxing day outdoors.
Remember it all has to fit in your car. Some tents and other equipment don't pack that small, so they end up not fitting in your boot.
You don't need big multi-room tents. Most campsites charge per person and let you put up several tents on the site. However, many private camping spots only allow for one tent, but you can always ask if it is okay to setup a couple of tents as they will take the same area.
With food, put a focus on convenience and storage. Frozen meats last for a few days in hot weather in the esky, but after that, you either have to pop into town or bring non-perishable food
Don't forget items for fun. These include things like frisbees, volleyball/badminton net, soccer or football and so on
Build up your camping equipment over time. If you enjoy your time camping, you will get more and better camping equipment. You don't want to be that person who buys an expensive tent, uses it once, then sells it because it didn't use it again for years.
The more and better gear you get, the more comfortable a trip you will have
If you are looking for a place to take the family camping this summer, but want something closer to civilization, then North Stradbroke Island is the perfect place to visit. With a range of campsites, including ones located at Cylinder Beach, Flinders Beach, Amity Point and Dunwich that you can drive an ordinary car or, or if you don't want to take your car on the ferry, even take the bus to some. There are also campgrounds where only 4 wheel drive accessible at Main Beach and Flinders Beach. There will be one on this island that suits your needs.
North Stradbroke Island has beach camping accessible by car or 4WD
All camping on the island is now run by Minjerribah Camping. Many of the camping spots are close to beaches, shops with powered and unpowered options. Cylinder Beach is by far the most popular and charges a little more than other campsites. If you want something more comfortable, there are glamping options and of course for the adventurous, beach camping means that you need to be completely self-sufficient and is generally aimed at people with 4 wheel drives.
Cylinder Beach is the most popular spot for camping on North Stradbroke Island
Activities including swimming, fishing, walks such as the gorges walk as well as visits to Blue and Brown Lakes. You can also learn more about the indigenous local culture at the Quandamooka Aboriginal Art Gallery and the North Stradbroke Historical Museum in Dunwich.
The Gorges Walk is one of many great attractions on North Stradbroke Island
There are also a wide range of restaurants and cafes on the island if you want a break from camp cooking or just want ice cream or milkshake after having a walk or a swim.
The Lake Moogerah caravan park is a popular camping spot on the shores of Lake Moogerah. The lake caravan park has plenty of green space to pitch your tent and there are powered and unpowered sites. With a kiosk/cafe for snacks and basic groceries along with facilities such as hot showers, laundry and camp kitchen, it is a very comfortable place to stay.
The main activity in the area is boating, in particular, jet skis, powerboats and water skiing. This can be fairly annoying as the early morning calm is often interrupted by the sounds of boats, which continue throughout the day.
Moogerah is a great place for water skiing, fishing, kayaking and swimming
Other activities including fishing (though you need a permit), swimming, kayaking and hiking. There are a couple of walks at the lake with the main interesting hike being Mt Edwards, which you walk up by going over the dam wall.
There are many advantages to staying at Moogerah, including it being a good base for nearby towns such as Boonah and Aratula and hiking destinations such as Cunnigham's gap.
Tamborine Mountain Caravan & Camping Park
Mt Tamborine is a unique combination of natural beauty, farmland, cafes, restaurants and tourist attractions on top of the mountain where the air is cooler and fresher in summer. This makes it a perfect escape destination, with an often-overlooked campsite at Thunderbird park.
Mt Tamborine is a beautiful place for a camping get away
The campsite itself has plenty of powered and unpowered spots with lots of shade. The main feature of the site is a great camp kitchen with plenty of facilities for barbecuing, microwaving and just sitting undercover enjoying a meal.
The campsite is a 20 minute walk from Cedar Creek Falls, which is a great swimming spot under a waterfall with a few small pools further down the creek if you are happy to rock hop. A little fun fact, Cedar Creek Falls was used as a location in Asgard in the movie Thor: Ragnarok. Though it is more of a blink and you will miss it scene.
There are many paid activities at the park itself, including the Treetop Challenge, horse riding and laser skirmish. While camping is a cheap option, if you take your kids here, be prepared to pay for things.
There is also plenty to do in Mt Tamborine including lots of short walks, the great Botanic Gardens, shopping at Gallery Walk, picnic spots with great views, Glow Worm Cave and the Skywalk. There are also many cafes and restaurants on the mountain, from cheap takeaways through to fine dining establishments. With a well-stocked IGA supermarket, it is easy to do self-catering.
The Sky Walk is one of many attractions in Mt Tamborine
Another great aspect of staying at Mt Tamborine is that it is only 30 minutes drive away from Warner Bros. Movie World. Dreamworld and Wet 'n' Wild, and 50 minutes to Surfers Paradise. So it makes a great destination for families who want to see the Gold Coast Attractions, but not spend too much on accommodation.
This great camping spot in the Conondale National Park is a several campgrounds close to each other and feature creek access, fire rings and a couple of hikes, including one to a old gold mine, one to a unique artwork in the forest and a longer hike up to a great swimming spot.
Booloumba Creek only has one real negative is that you need a 4 wheel drive to safely access the campgrounds. There is a 1.5 km road section that crosses the creek 3 times. It may look like you can drive a regular car in, but if rains or the stones of the creek bed shift, you could find yourself stranded on the wrong side of the creek, or worse, in a creek.
You need a 4WD to cross the creeks to this campground
This area actually falls along the route of the Conondale Range Great Walk. For people looking for short walks, the Gold Mine is only a 6 km return walk, the controversial art installation, Strangler Cairn is another 1 km return walk beyond the Gold Mine, and if you walking it is an 12 km return walk to the Artists Cascades, which an amazing swimming spot. You can also do the walk to Mount Allan, which is a 16 km walk, which is an interesting enough walk but there is no view from the top of Mount Allan.
There are several walks in the area, including a short walk to the Strangler Cairn artwork
The Tooloom Falls Campgrounds is located in Northern NSW. There are actually two campgrounds near each other. One is above the falls and the other about 1 km down Tooloom Creek and is situated near an even better swimming hole. There is no direct road access between the 2 campsites, instead, you have to backtrack out and drive down the opposite side of the creek to the get to the alternative campsite.
You can camp right next to Tooloom Falls at the campsite
These sites feature fire rings, picnic tables, toilets and as mentioned already, swimming. You can also kayak a long distance from Tooloom Falls up the creek. It is also possible to do a walk along the creek from the falls down to the lower swimming hole. Another interesting hike is the North Obelisk, which is a challenging scramble to the top for great views of the area.
The swimming hole at the lower campground at Tooloom Creek
The best bit is that it is free to camp here. Of course, with no booking, the problem is that in summer it may be hard to find a spot to camp. It also means that some people kind of take over an area just because they can. One time I was there, a group had sectioned off an area next to the creek, leaving only limited creek access for other campers.
This campground just across the NSW border is a wide sandy but shady area near a swimming hole. The main feature of this area is the Boonoo Boonoo Falls, which you can drive to or do a hike along the creek to reach. The falls have an amazing set of rock pools above the falls which are popular for swimming.
Also in the area is the Bald Rock National Park. It is literally across the road from Boonoo Boonoo. If you camp here, you can also do several other activities, including visiting various farms or go into Tenterfield for some great local food.
For most people who enjoy camping, the idea of camping at a caravan park is not that appealing, but what if we are to point out on the Sunshine Coast, there are several caravan parks that reserve their beachside locations specifically for tents.
The Sunshine Coast has lots of places for camping by the beach
The Sunshine Coast makes a great alternative to the Gold Coast, with a more relaxed atmosphere and less commercial development, while also providing a range of activities and of course great beaches.
The Sunshine Coast Council runs 6 caravan parks on the Sunshine Coast including Dicky Beach in Caloundra at the southern end of the Sunshine Coast, and Coolum Beach near the northern end. All have powered and unpowered campsites that back onto the beach or water. The prime spot is at Mooloolaba Beach, which gives you the best access to the Sunshine Coast's prime attractions.
When you are staying in a caravan park, you get access to warm showers, WiFi, laundries and many of the parks have swimming pools. Some have camp kitchens, but there are also plenty of free barbecues in parks on the coast as well.
When planning a camping trip, always check for bushfire warnings and closures of campsites. As far as I know, none of these campsites have been damaged by bushfires, but I had to leave on some great ones because of bushfire damage. But they might be sporadically closed because of the fire.