You don't have to travel far to find great campsites
Camping is a cheap way to get out of city and enjoy nature. People often drive some distance from Brisbane to find somewhere to pitch their tent, however there are a number of campsites not that far out of the city if you are looking to get away from it all without having to go far away.
All the camping locations listed below are no more than 1 hour and 15 minutes from the centre of Brisbane, which makes many of them less than an hour away for people living in a nearby part of Brisbane. Most are accessible by ordinary car, though some locations have options that require four-wheel driving.
Harding's Paddock at Ipswich
One lovely camping spot in the Ipswich area is Harding's Paddock, less than an hour's drive from the centre of Brisbane. The campsite is a run by the Ipswich local council and has well setup campsites on grass next to designated parking spots. The area features a pond, camp kitchen and lots of picnic tables. So you can turn up with just a tent and still be comfortable. The main thing the area lacks is shade overhanging the campsites.
Harding's Paddock is a great place to camp in Ipswich
Harding's Paddock is actually at one end of the Flinders Goolman Conservation Park. The main activities in the area are hiking, mountain biking or horse riding. including Goolmans Lookout and Rocky Knoll. You can also attempt the Flinders Goolman Trail which is 19 kms one way and is normally only done as a one-way trail on foot unless you are an ultra-fit trail runner or you backpack in from Flinders Plum Picnic area, camp at Harding's Paddock and then hike pack to Flinders Plum.
I am sort of breaking my travel time rule here, but a great option to go camping is at North Stradbroke Island. Yes, you do need to take the ferry to get to the island, but you don't even need to take a car all you need is a tent small enough to comfortably carry and off you go. Though of course, you can take a car or four-wheel drive, there are campsites you can easily access the bus and ferry and many attractions can be reached by bus or foot.
Cylinder Beach has lots of facilities, beach access and near a pub and shops
The most popular sites for camping are Cylinder beach with its beachfront access near a nice pub and shops, Amity Point with its laid back atmosphere and Dunwich because it is close to the ferry terminal. Cylinder beach has to be my recommendation because of its great beach and the idea of getting up for an early morning swim before breakfast. It provides easy access to the gorges walk, one of the main attractions on the island.
Of course, if you have a four wheel drive you can also camp along a 20 kms stretch of Main Beach far from others, or at the secluded Flinders beaches. In these remoter campsites, you need to talk all your supplies with you and often your own toilet.
If you have a 4WD you can camp along the far southern half of this beach
North Stradbroke Island has a large number of attractions to enjoy over several days. These include swimming at Cylinder Beach, the gorges walk from Point Lookout, Brown and Blue Lakes, the North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum and the Salt Water Murris Quandamooka Aboriginal Art Gallery. Let's not forget the many good restaurants and cafes on the island.
Enjoying the gorges view from the rocky cliff tops
One of the great attractions just 1 hour and 15 minutes north of Brisbane is the Glass House Mountains. This spot includes a number of volcanic hills that can be walked or climbed and is also a popular spot for mountain and trail bike riding. It is also a short distance away from Australia Zoo as well as locations such as Maleny.
The Glasshouse Mountains is just over an hour north of Brisbane
The closest campsite is the Glasshouse Mountains Camping Ground which is a caravan park with a limited number of camping spots. Of course, being a caravan park you get hot showers, laundry facilities, fire pits and powered sites.
If you don't mind driving 15 minutes further there is Coochin Creek campsite in the Beerburrum East State Forest. The main feature of this campsite is its shady campsites and creek access for fishing and boating.
View from the Yul Yan Man Track in the Glass House Mountains
The glasshouse mountains is a great place for an escape at any budget. Every time I pass through I try to pick up some freshly grown fruit and vegetables, usually trying to stop of Vecchio's \, where what they sell is grown in the field just behind the cafe. There are a number of restaurants, cafes and other little attractions in the area.
Bribie Island is famous for its four-wheel drive and boat only campsites making it a unique spot just north of Brisbane, but you can also find easier to access places to pitch your tent or park your caravan or campervan.
Bribie Island is Moreton Bay's easiest island to access
Bongaree Caravan Park lies just next to Pumicestone Passage and has waterview camping and caravan sites as well as cottages and cabins. From here you can walk over to place renting kayaks, standup paddleboards and boats. Shops and cafes are not far away either.
On the other side of the island is Bribie Island Caravan Park from where you have easy access to Woorim Beach. This location has more resort-like facilities, including a camp kitchen, swimming pool, tennis, basketball, cricket, mini golf, a games room and a TV room. It is a great place for a longer stay with kids in a cabin, with a caravan or in a tent.
If you have a four-wheel drive or a boat then there are a large number of other camping spots available. Most are accessible via the sandy roads, though the Ocean Beach Camping Area is best accessed along the beach, though you will need a permit do so. Facilities at the campsites differ but can include toilets, fire pits and showers. Remember, bring bug spray as the sand flies can get annoying.
One of the great holiday destinations near Brisbane is Mt Tamborine. This location combines areas of national park rainforest with plenty of waterfalls, farms, a township with many restaurants and shops, as well as numerous touristy attractions. This makes Tamborine a great family escape or romantic getaway.
Thunderbird park lies only 1 hour and 15 minutes south of the Brisbane CBD and has powered and unpowered camping and caravan sites set in a bushland area, with designated fireplaces, a very modern and well-designed amenities block with electric grills, microwaves, toasters, a huge dining table and laundry facilities.
The advantage of staying here is that Thunderbird park is also an adventure destination with the famous treetop challenge, a separate juniors treetop challenge, horse riding, mini-golf, laser skirmish, thunder egg fossicking, and the nearby Cedar Creek Falls swimming hole.
Mt Tamborine also has a wide range of activities for anyone including several short rainforest walks, skywalk, glow worm caves and Botanic Gardens. There are also numerous shops and the restaurants range from cool cafes through to fine dining restaurants. Let's not forget the brewery, distillery and the wineries.
It is always worth looking for privately owned campsites, often set on bushland areas of farms. Murphy's Creek Escape is one example that offers both powered and unpowered campsites as well as remote camping options for people who really want to get away from it all.
Camping overlooking the creek at Murphys Creek Escape
Facilities include individual campfires for campsites, a camp kitchen, laundry, hot showers, children's play area and an onsite shop for various treats and essentials. Dogs and horses are welcome and they even have horse yards, so you can camp beside your horse.
There is a lot to do at this campsite, including a creek for swimming, mountain biking (if you bring your own bicycle), flying fox, ropes course, archery and abseiling. Being dog-friendly also is a plus for many people.
One of the most accessible is the Scrub Road Bush Camp Site. Scrub Road is a 35 minute drive from the city centre and the campsite is an hours walk from the start of the walk Though you can also walk the 15 km from the Walk About Creek Discover Centre at Lake Enoggera.
Hiking shelter and water tank at Scrub Road Bush Camp
Another campsite is the Light Line Road Bush Camp which is a 12 km hike in from Scrub Road, 8 kms from the Scrub Road Bush Camp Site and 12 kms from Lake Manchester, with longer tracks also connecting the campsite to Gold Creek Reservoir and Lake Enoggera.