S’mores at the ready: The best campfire spots in Queensland
Camping without a fire is like eating pasta and skipping the parmesan.
It’s not wrong, per se, and in fact can still be quite enjoyable (well, tell that to my Nonna), but deep down you still feel like something’s amiss.
But no longer is this a predicament. After scouring the state we’ve found the best camping spots in Queensland that permit those token moments of s’mores and singalongs by a golden blaze.
Don’t forget the guitar and marshmallows when you pitch a tent at these campfire havens.
Before taking off, keep in mind the following:
- Check to see if there are any current fire bans
- Never leave fires unattended
- If you’re camping in a national park, double and triple-check campfire rules on the Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing website
Inskip Peninsula, Rainbow Beach
Although all four campgrounds are rustic in facilities (read: none bar a handful of hybrid toilets), it’s the location which continues to hit the camper’s sweet spot, spread out under shady coastal trees and fringed by open beaches and sheltered estuary shores, just 10 minutes from Rainbow Beach.
Throw in a crackling fire to complement nature’s soundtrack of gentle waves lapping the shore, and that’s living, Barry.
Getting there: 4WD vehicles are recommended to reach the campgrounds, however, the M.V. Sarawak site can be accessed by conventional cars if conditions allow. Oh, and gracias for not requiring vehicle access permits, Inskip!
Campfire rules: Bring clean, untreated firewood such as milled off-cuts (don’t use bush timber as it may contain pests and diseases) plus kindling and fire lighters. Use pre-existing fire sites and extinguish with water only (not sand).
Things to do:
- Ogle the coloured sands and the moonscape mass of the Carlo Sand Blow.
- Take to the 4WD tracks in the Great Sandy National Park, choosing from the coastline up to Double Island Point or the Cooloola Way and Freshwater Road through tall open forests and heathlands (vehicle permits required).
- Or ditch the wheels and hit the beach on horseback.
Moreton Island, near Brisbane
Warning: Camping on Moreton Island will ruin you, and I mean that in the best possible way as it’s going to set the bar pretty high for camping adventures that follow.
It’s hard to believe that #camplyf could get any better here – what with sunken shipwrecks, champagne pools and tea-tree infused lakes to explore – but then you realise that eight-outta-freaking-ten national campgrounds allow open fires… *mic drop*.
So, what are you waiting for? Start planning now with this weekend itinerary.
Getting there: Campgrounds can be reached by foot, boat or 4WD depending on where you plan to set up. If you’ve got your own boat to get here, sweet! If not and you plan on walking or 4WDing, jump on the MICAT ferry service from Brisbane to the Tangalooma Wrecks.
Campfire rules: Permitted only in pre-existing fireplaces or fire pits at designated camp sites. If you forget to bring your own firewood, you can purchase it at barge departure points or the Bulwer General Store. Cut kindling from your firewood (don’t collect twigs and branches from the bush) and make sure you extinguish with water, not sand.
Things to do:
- Get face down, snorkel up exploring the Tangalooma and Bulwer shipwrecks (if you didn’t bring your own snorkel gear you can hire some from Tangalooma Island Resort).
- Hike to the top of Mount Tempest.
- Pay a visit to Queensland’s oldest lighthouse, keeping an eye out for dolphins and whales off the coast.
- Swap the salty seas for the freshwater goodness of Blue Lagoon.
Imbil State Forest, Sunshine Coast Hinterland
Camping newbies and those who’d prefer a touch of civilisation will feel right at home at the Charlie Moreland camping area in Imbil State Forest.
Basically, it’s like getting back to nature without the hard yakka, boasting flushing toilets, picnic and BBQ facilities, and easy road access thanks to a $1.5million sprucin’ a few years back.
But despite these modern conveniences, the leafy campgrounds still maintain that ‘in the wilderness’ feeling, nestled within open rainforest next to Little Yabba Creek in Mary Valley country.
Speaking of location, you’re in pole position in the heart of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, just an hour’s drive from the coastline, so whether you’re keen to stay put and enjoy your surroundings or head out exploring, it’s nice to know you’ve got options.
Getting there: Accessible by conventional two-wheel-drive vehicles along Sunday Creek Road.
Campfire rules: Permitted in the individual fire rings provided, so make sure you bring your own clean-cut firewood as it’s illegal to collect firewood from the forest.
Things to do:
- Hit the nearby walking trails, which range from easy strolls to challenging hikes.
- Pop in to Kenilworth (just a 30-minute drive from the campgrounds) and soak up the town’s 1920s charm browsing through its art galleries, shops and historical museum.
- Road trip through the country villages of Mapleton, Montville and Maleny, picking up fresh produce at roadside honesty stalls along the way.
Burrum Coast National Park, Bundaberg
How it’s managed to stay off our radar for so long beats me considering its campfire worthiness and pitch-perfect location on Bundaberg‘s coast. Shaded by casuarina trees just a stone’s throw from the water, you can take your pick from 40 self-sufficient campsites running along the sandy foredunes (of the World Heritage-listed Great Sandy Biosphere, no less).
Expect your time here to be one long, delightedly lazy blur of beach, fish, sleep and repeat.
Getting there: Access is by 4WD vehicles only via unsealed roads south from Hervey Bay or north from Bundaberg.
Campfire rules: Allowed wherever you’ve set up camp (#yew!), just make sure you’ve brought your own clean, milled firewood as it’s illegal to collect firewood from the national park.
Things to do:
- Throw a line straight off the beach or head to Theodolite Creek to reel in some mangrove jack, estuary cod and black bream.
- Forgot your gear? The fellas at Burrum River Cruises can hook you up on one of their fishing expeditions (a must is their adventurous 8-mile inshore reef fishing trip).
- Seeing as you’re less than an hour from ‘Bundy’, it would be a crime not to take in the sights while you’re ’round these parts! Follow this itinerary to discover its sweetest assets.
- When you want a break from camp tucker, head to Woodgate and grab some fish ‘n’ chips by the beach, working it off with a stroll through the woodlands of the Banksia Track and Boardwalk.
Eungella National Park, Mackay
Coffee snobs need not surrender to the perils of instant sachets when camping in Eungella National Park, because despite its mountain refuge location in the misty peaks west of Mackay, civilisation is, in fact, a lot closer than you’d think (try a brisk walk to a handful of cafes for your early morning cappuccino fix).
Throw in flushing toilets, gas barbies, and fire rings – plus close proximity to an information centre and one hella cute gift store (hand-knitted headbands or kauri bowls, anyone?) – and it’s no surprise why these national park campgrounds are hailed as the perfect outdoorsy intro for camping haters.
Oh, and did we mention your neighbours take the form of cute platypuses? #nojoke
Getting there: Both campgrounds can be reached by conventional vehicles.
Campfire rules: Allowed in fire rings only; make sure you bring your own clean milled timber.
Things to do:
- Work up a sweat exploring the national park walking trails.
- No showers? No problems. Wash off with a dip in the freshwater rock pools and waterfalls of Finch Hatton Gorge.
- If you weren’t up early enough to spot your new duck-billed friends in Broken River, why not suit up and explore their ‘hood on a scuba diving tour (yes, you read that right).
- In need of a change of scenery? Drive 1.5 hours to discover the art deco buildings and palm-tree lined streets of Mackay‘s city heart.
Double Island Point, Sunshine Coast
Don’t let the name fool you because Double Island Point is a lot more accessible than its name would have you believe.
Wedged between Rainbow Beach and Noosa North Shore in the Cooloola section of the Great Sandy National Park, the popular Sunshine Coast camping locale isn’t technically an island, though it has that ‘across the seas’ feel if you’re coming up from Noosa’s end, as you’ll need to hop on the barge to cross the river.
While you’ve got the entire spectrum of camping options to choose from here (from back-to-basics to hot showers) only two of the national park campgrounds allow for toasty campfires: the ocean-front Teewah Beach or the smaller Poverty Point overlooking the Tin Can Inlet.
Getting there: Access by 4WD only from Rainbow Beach or Noosa (crossing the Noosa river with Noosa North Shore Ferries).
Campfire rules: Always use a pre-existing campfire site at Teewah Beach and use the fire rings provided by QPWS at Poverty Point. Bring clean firewood, such as untreated mill off-cuts (don’t collect wood, leaves or twigs from the national park) and extinguish with water, not sand.
Things to do:
- Scope the ins and outs of the “island” along the national park walking trails. If that’s a bit more cardio than you bargained for, then explore with your 4WD.
- Pack the rods and reels for a spot of fishing along Teewah Beach and the upper Noosa River.
- Don’t forget the surfboards and SPF 50+ because the coastal headland is known to pump out some stellar breaks.
Mount Spec, Paluma Range, near Townsville
Frequented by many a Townsvillian looking to escape the lowland heat in its crystal creeks, what some don’t realise about the Mount Spec section of Paluma Range National Park is that the fun doesn’t have to end once the sun’s gone down.
Instead, relish the peaceful mountain retreat sans day-trippers when you pitch a tent next to Big Crystal Creek. Yup, not just the perfect picnic spot, the open area next to the popular waterhole is, in fact, a bonafide campground. One with decent facilities (hello flushing toilets and campfire rings) and World Heritage-listed status thanks to its southerly location in the Wet Tropics rainforest.
Getting there: The campground can be reached by conventional vehicles (and is accessible for small caravans and trailers, too).
Campfire rules: Allowed in fire rings only so make sure you’ve got some clean firewood (don’t collect from the park).
Things to do:
- Swim, picnic, rest, repeat as you to-and-fro between sister waterholes Big and Little Crystal creeks.
- Fuel up on local produce – aka home-made ice-cream – at the Frosty Mango.
- Mosey on up to the misty mountain village of Paluma to find a treasure trove of clothes and cakes (and a handful of rainforest walks when you need to work off those sweet treats).
- When you want a change of scenery, just hop in the car and drive one hour to be Townsville‘s city centre.
Bribie Island, near Brisbane
But oh, is it worth it for the campfire stories and s’mores sessions to be had!
And for many campers the journey is just as important as the destination (and the campfire lovin’ that awaits), so buckle up – or hold onto your hats if you’re coming via the seas – and get to campin’ on this beaut of an island stat.
Getting there: Campgrounds are accessible either by 4WD or boat.
Campfire rules: Fires are permitted at all campgrounds in the fire rings provided. Bring your own clean, milled firewood as it’s illegal to collect firewood in the national park and recreation area.
Things to do:
- Hook, line and sinker some bream, snapper, flathead and cod in the calm waters of the Pumicestone Passage (either straight off the Bongaree Jetty or island’s western beaches, or from your own tinnie).
- Can’t be stuffed catching your own tucker? Bribie’s town centre is full of delish dining options from fresh seafood at Savige’s to the burgers on steroids at Happy’s Cafe and Arcade.
- Bring the bikes and beach-hop along the scenic foreshore trail, with a stop at the Seaside Museum to school up on the local history.
- Indulge in a little retail therapy at the community markets – there’s one on every Sunday of the month at Brennan Park or the Art Centre.
Danbulla National Park and State Forest, Atherton Tablelands
For locals, this camping hot spot needs no introduction, home to the water mecca that is Lake Tinaroo.
Whether you’re an angler, keen skier, or just want to wake up to uninterrupted lakeside views at the foot of your swag, the Danbulla National Park and State Forest has a campground that’ll deliver on your desired aquatic bliss (and requisite campfire cravings).
Spread out along 28kms along the lake’s edge, you’ve got the choice of six campgrounds each one with its own flavour.
Plan to spend as much time on the water as possible? Try the Curri Curri, Platypus and Fong-On Bay campsites boasting easy water access. Want to tie in some land-based exploration? You’ll find lush rainforest walks from the Downfall and Kauri Creek areas.
Getting there: Campgrounds can be reached by boat or conventional vehicles depending on where you plan to set up.
Campfire rules: Allowed in fire rings only. Make sure you bring your own clean, untreated firewood, else you can buy some from the Lake Tinaroo Holiday Park.
Things to do:
- Fish, swim, canoe, kayak, water ski… the list of lake activities goes on!
- Drive approximately one hour to frolick in the volcanic crater waters of Lake Eacham (with a stop at the Teahouse Cafe over at its twin crater, Lake Barrine, to fuel up on locally-grown tea and secret-recipe scones).
- Landlubbers aren’t short on fun either, with rainforest walks (don’t forget a squiz at the 500-year-old strangler trees known as the Curtain and Cathedral fig trees) and the charming country town of Atherton close by.
Chilli Beach, Cape York
Despite the long trek to reach it, Chilli Beach on the Cape York Peninsula is one of the most popular campsites in the sunshine state, so much so that National Parks has had to cap visitation numbers.
You might be wondering what all the fuss is about? Well, aside from the added bonus of campfires, the location just can’t be beaten, with only mere steps between your tent and the white quartz sands fringed by coconut palms and a canopy of thick rainforest.
A tropical paradise, at your tent-flap, for just over $6 a night. SIX-FREAKING-DOLLARS.
Word of advice – if you want to secure your spot you’d better start planning now. (Need a hand? Try this 7-day road trip itinerary on for size.)
Getting there: Accessed by 4WD vehicles only.
Campfire rules: Allowed in existing fireplaces only. Bring your own clean, untreated firewood as it is illegal to collect firewood from the national park.
Things to do:
- Explore the coastal dunes along the Chilli Beach forest walk.
- Fish straight off the beach.
- Crack open a coconut, sit back, and relish the sweeping oceanfront views.
Fraser Island, Fraser Coast
Let’s be honest, no camping list of Queensland would be complete without a furious nod to Fraser Island – it’s so freaking amazing and as the largest sand island in the world is the Miss Universe of beach camping spots.
But although you’ve got a whopping 45 national park camping area options to choose from, only three allow for gooey marshmallow sticks over the fire.
If you’ve got the kids in tow, set your sights on Dundubara and Waddy Point (top), which have dingo deterrent fences and a bunch of handy facilities including water taps, flushing toilets, coin-operated hot showers, picnic tables and gas barbecues.
If uninterrupted ocean views are what you had in mind then the Waddy Point beachfront camping area has got you and your campfire needs covered.
(Psst, if you’ve never camped on Fraser before, learn the need-to-know in this 5-minute boot camp guide.)
Getting there: Access via high-clearance 4WDs and off-road camper trailers.
Campfire rules: Allowed in the QPWS-provided fire rings only. Bring your own untreated milled timber (or mill off-cuts) as it’s illegal to collect firewood, including leaves and twigs for kindling.
Things to do:
- Tick off Fraser’s jaw-dropping landscapes with this list of sights to see (Lake McKenzie, the Maheno Shipwreck, and cruising 75 Mile Beach are a must).
- Work up a sweat when you tackle some of the island’s great walks.
Mount Barney Lodge, Scenic Rim
Mount Barney Lodge is the epitome of country camping; think wide starry skies (accompanied by an open fire, of course), bubbling creeks, and bush walks through World Heritage-listed rainforest.
You might have guessed the family-run lodge is named after its location, sitting snug at the base of Queensland’s second-highest mountain in the Scenic Rim, two hours south of Brisbane.
Thanks to this prime position, you’ve got the choice to err on the side of relaxation or adrenaline when setting up camp here. Spend your days lazily in-and-out of swimming holes, or take advantage of the bushwalking and eco-adventure activities available.
Getting there: Accessible by conventional vehicles, camper trailers, motorhomes, RV’s and caravans.
Campfire rules: Allowed in provided campfire places. Bring clean, untreated firewood or purchase a bag from the lodge’s shop for $11.
Things to do:
- Don’t forget your hiking boots because you’re at the gateway to some of the best remote bushwalking opportunities in the region. Ask the lodge about the best trails for your fitness level or hop on a guided eco-tour (available during school holidays).
- Up the adventure stakes with rock climbing and abseiling activities (available during school holidays) or join a guided expedition hiking to one of the surrounding mountainous peaks of the McPherson Range.
Keswick Island, near Mackay
As the only island on the Great Barrier Reef that permits a campfire, Keswick Island should be high on your bucket list.
Sure, it’s a communal campfire and you might have to wait your s’mores turn, but the fire pit is hot (literally and figuratively) and sharing stories about the day’s snorkelling and scuba diving adventures with fellow campers sounds like a pretty good night to me.
Situated off the coast of Mackay, this boutique campground offers camping in style: either BYO, hire your gear, or go luxe in a glamping suite just a short stroll from one of the most beautiful beaches in Queensland, Basil Bay.
Throw in top-notch facilities and all the creature comforts of home, and we won’t blame you if you never want to leave.
Getting there: By charter or private boat from the Mackay coast, or fly over with Whitsunday Helicopters.
Campfire rules: The campground has you sorted, all you need to do is sit back, relax and respect other users of the campfire.
Things to do:
- Explore the island’s fringing coral reefs, beachcombing at low tide or getting amongst it under the sea (hit up the kiosk for snorkelling and scuba enquiries).
- Lace up and stroll through the interior of the island along its many bushwalking trails.
- Bird watchers keep your eyes peeled for sea eagles, kites, and the other 30 plus bird species spotted here.
- Did you know Keswick Island is home to thriving hives of purebred Caucasian bees? Spot them on the walking trails towards Langton Point and Connie Bay, picking up some Keswick Island honey from the kiosk as a memento.
Camping not your style? Get toasty with these luxury escapes with fireplaces near Brisbane instead.