The best Queensland islands for your next camping adventure
When you think of camping, it’s pretty standard to conjure up images of packing the 4WD and heading inland to bush country. But what about venturing off-shore?
With more than 100 habitable islands dotting the coastline – most of which are framed by the Great Barrier Reef – becoming stranded never looked so good.
We’ve rounded up the best Queensland islands for your next camping adventure!
For back-to-basics camping
Just north of Brisbane you will find beaut Bribie, the only Queensland island connected to the mainland by a bridge. While you might have easy access to the island, getting to its coastal camping spots at Poverty Creek, Gallagher Point, Ocean Beach, Mission Point and Lime Pocket can be an adventure in itself, so bring your boat or 4WD.
Lady Musgrave Island
Don’t forget your snorkel gear when camping on Lady Musgrave Island; with a maximum of 40 people allowed to camp at any one time, you will get a bonus uncrowded Great Barrier Reef adventure to boot!
The island makes up just one part of the greater Capricornia Cays National Park, whose campsites also include North West Island and Mast Head Island.
There are islands, and then there are the 74 islands of the Whitsundays. There are more than 10 coves, beaches or bays to choose from for your budget camping experience, with the most famous of all being the squeaky silica sands of Whitehaven Beach.
Famous for its Tangalooma shipwreck snorkeling, not many realise there’s plenty more of Moreton Island aching to be explored!
Made up almost entirely of national park, this island just off the coast of Brisbane is a nature lover’s heaven. Take your pick from five established campgrounds or five beachside camping zones, including one just metres from Cape Moreton lighthouse.
A camping adventure on the world’s largest sand island is an experience you’ll never forget! With over a dozen established camp zones and a plethora of beach camping sites, you’ll wonder why you hadn’t made your way to Fraser Island sooner.
Hop on your private boat or catch a ferry to get to Fitzroy Island off the coast of Cairns. While you’re there, make the most of the great walking trails at your disposal: explore the Secret Garden track, stroll on over to the cheekily-named Nudey Beach for a spot of snorkeling, or tackle the Lighthouse track to be rewarded with jaw-dropping ocean views (and in winter, migrating humpback whales).
Frankland Group National Park
Plonked about 45 kilometres southeast of Cairns you’ll find the five uninhabited coral-fringed islands of Frankland Group National Park. Self-sufficient camping is available on two of the islands – Russell Island and High Island – both home to white sandy beaches, nesting seabirds, mangroves and walking tracks. Access is via private boat from Mulgrave or Russell river boat ramps.
Pass on the luxury accommodation for a prime beach camping spot at Watsons Bay on Lizard Island. Plane or private boat are the only two ways to get here, but this refined remoteness is worth it for the range of walking trails alone!
(P.S. While there are no supplies available on the island, camping visitors are welcome to get down and jiggy with it at the Marlin Bar at the eastern end of Anchor Bay, about a 40-minute walk from the campsite.)
Think Orpheus Island, think lavish resort? Sure, but there’s also three campsites on this gem that is 11 kilometres of turquoise coastline and unspoilt national park.
Find the island 110 kilometres north of Townsville, in amongst the Palm Group of Islands best known for their fringing reefs. Make sure you pack your flippers when you set up camp at Yanks Jetty, Pioneer Bay or South Beach. Access to campsites is via private boat only.
So many camping spots, so little time! Once you know what to pack, choose from around a dozen beach or bay camp sites on Hinchinbrook Island, including nine sea kayaking camping areas, which, as the name suggests, lends itself to some serious sea exploring. (FYI, the sea kayak sites are such a hotspot that camping is restricted to a maximum of two nights.)
Keppel Bay Islands
They didn’t coin the phrase “Great Keppel” for nothing! Island hop the seven islands in the Keppel Bay Islands National Park boasting a range of beaches and bays worthy of lazy days exploring.
North Keppel Island and Humpy Island are great spots for larger camping groups, but if you’re after a more self-sufficient, get-back-to-nature camping experience, the smaller islands are your go-to. Access to all are via private boat only.
Mid-range (read: somewhat civilised) camping
Picture this: secluded sandy bays and golden beaches, rugged granite headlands and over 20 kilometres of world-class walking tracks for you to explore. That’s what you get on a camping adventure at Magnetic Island, or as the locals affectionately call her, Maggie.
Only eight kilometres off the coast of Townsville, the island is easily accessible via passenger ferry or private boat. Camping spots are available at two sites: The Bungalow Bay Koala Village and Base Backpackers.
South Stradbroke Island
Unleash your inner adventure junkie at South Stradbroke Island just off of the Gold Coast (literally, the sand island is only 200 metres from the northern end of The Spit). Think surfing, sea kayaking, canoeing, parasailing and windsurfing, just to name a few!
Or slow it down with a spot of fishing as the sun sets over the water on the west side. There’s also a licensed cafe in case you’re fed up with fending for yourself! Set up camp at one of three grounds: Tipplers at the northern end of the island, North Currigee and Currigee at the southern end.