Camping with the family over a long-weekend is an Aussie tradition that stirs great memories. From sitting around the campfire telling funny stories, swimming in the ocean ’til you’re wrinkled like a prune, to the time dad somehow forgot to pack the damn tent pegs!
Pat Callinan of 4×4 Adventures is one of Australia’s leading off-road and camping experts. Known as Mr 4X4, Pat and his family have camped their way all around our sunburnt country, from the outback to the ocean. Here he shares some of his secret spots for the best long-weekend escape.
Inskip Point, Fraser Coast
This spot isn’t exactly a secret, but its popularity is indicative of how good it is. Perched on a spectacular finger north of Rainbow Beach, Inskip Point is home to one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen (the sun sets over the water to the west). There’s a good selection of sandy, picturesque campsites amongst the she-oaks, and just a stone’s throw from the beach. Plan your attack early because this is one hot piece of camping real estate.
Cooper Creek, Outback Queensland
Set in the heart of Queensland’s iconic Channel Country, I stumbled across a terrific campsite along the Cooper Creek. There’s a track that runs for about one kilometre west of the township, which then follows the Cooper as it slinks through the floodplains. There’s something really special about this part of the country, and this camp spot is a particular favourite of mine. The birdlife along the river is fantastic (particularly at sunset), and there are various markers to show you the names of the flora that surrounds you.
Blackdown Tableland National Park, Capricorn
A steep climb from the flat plains of Central Queensland sees you venture into a very special National Park. Blackdown Tableland National Park sits stark against its surroundings and provides a unique ecology to explore. There is some great bushwalking to take part in, along with a 4X4 ‘Loop Track’ to access some beautiful views from the plateau. Don’t miss Rainbow Falls and the rock pools (bring your cozzie!) – they really are exceptional.
Sandy Cape, Fraser Island
Fraser Island is a national treasure, but only a few know of the hidden treasures that lie in the lesser explored parts of the island. I spent a few days driving the northern reaches around Sandy Cape last time I was there and it is truly a world away from the ‘main drag’ of Fraser. After traversing some coffee rock you’re rewarded with some stunning vistas and a distinct lack of crowds; perfect for a campsite. This is strictly ‘bush camping’ though, so don’t expect toilets or showers. A trek up to the Sandy Cape Lighthouse makes for a superb day trip with awesome views.
Byfield National Park, Capricorn
Boasting 12 kilometres of impressive coastline and four beaches, Byfield National Park (just over one hour north of Rockhampton) has some great campsites tucked away behind the foredunes along Nine Mile Beach, along with plenty of acreage to explore. Check out the Orange Bowl and Stockyard Point, and try your luck with the fish at Five Rocks Beach – apparently they’re ravenous!