There are so many top-notch camping spots in Queensland’s southeast corner that it’s pretty tough to stand out – which means the best campsites near Brisbane really must be something special.
Sandy Cape, Fraser Island
World’s largest sand island? Check. Over 100km of beach to explore up its east coast? Check. A remote northern campsite that’s hard to reach, takes limited bookings and shows off the best of Fraser Island? Check, check, and check. To get to Sandy Cape, you get the chance to drive up the entirety of 75 Mile Beach and past tricky Ngkala Rocks before you can finally arrive at Fraser’s northern point. From Sandy Cape’s wide, white beach, you can peer out and see dolphins, rays and whales beyond the break -sandwiched between uninterrupted views of the sunrise and sunset every day. With plenty of space guaranteed and a front-row seat to pure, unedited Fraser, Sandy Cape stands out as a highlight on an island of highlights.
Booloumba Creek Camping Area 3, Conondale National Park
A few clicks south of Kenilworth and its polished small-town charm is the entrance to Conondale National Park, and within that is a world of outdoor fun. For one, there are 4WD tracks throughout the park for anyone that wants to poke around some of the best patches of rainforest around. Even before you reach the day-use area, you’ll encounter two crossings of Booloumba Creek, which both have beds of large, oval-shaped river rocks to bump over on your way in. Booloumba Creek has four camping areas, but number three might just be the pick of the bunch. It’s surrounded by a tall canopy of green on one side, and on the other are some of the best sections of Booloumba Creek, which is stained an electric blue by mineral deposits in the water.
Peach Trees Camping Area, Jimna State Forest
Dotted by rustling gum trees and carpeted by green lawns that are trimmed by hopping wildlife, Peach Trees is – to be blunt – a peach of a spot. Tucked away an hour north of Woodford at Jimna, Peach Trees is a winner because it hits all the right notes for conventional camping: it’s green and full of dappled sunlight, it’s spacious enough to give you privacy, it’s got native wildlife around (and, sometimes in) it, and it’s nestled right up against Yabba Creek. There are walks to check out, including a suspension bridge across the creek, plus access points to the creek for a dip.
Cylinder Beach, North Stradbroke Island
Straddie. It’s the best mix of civilisation and escape out of the Big 3 of Moreton, Fraser and North Stradbroke islands. And, if you had to pick one spot that does it best, Cylinder Beach is a hard choice to argue against. Right up on the western shoulder of the island, Cylinder Beach is right next to the Flinders Beach 4WD access point and a stone’s throw from the start of Main Beach (before it barrels down the eastern flank of Straddie). Plus, you can grab a meal, grab a drink or fully resupply just down the road, or fly past and head for North and South Gorge with their beaches, lookouts and walks. For those who want the chance to rough it during the day and live it up at night with a variety of activities, Cylinder Beach is the perfect balance of both worlds, in whichever ratio you want.
Ben-Ewa Camping Area, Moreton Island
Smaller than Fraser and wilder than North Stradbroke, Moreton Island has an understated vibe that’s worth leaning into on an island escape. The island is ringed by clear waters that gradually deepen to blue, and most of it is accessible by 4WD only; in fact, you’ll struggle to find any sealed roads outside of Tangalooma. The western side of the island is calm and picturesque, and its campsites put you right in the middle of it. Ben-Ewa is close to the beach, but the shady forest that surrounds it protects your campsite from the elements in more ways than one. Whether you’re there with kids or with adults, Ben-Ewa’s laidback atmosphere invites you to slow down and cruise through sunny days without a care in the world.
Andrew Drynan Campground, Beaudesert
Inland camping near the Gold Coast, admittedly, struggles to lay a glove on the campsites around the Sunny Coast’s hinterland. Andrew Drynan counterpunches nicely against its northern opponent though: its mountain ranges, babbling brooks and endless greenery make a strong combination that hits the mark nicely. Its spacious camping area is squeezed in between the Border Ranges and Mount Chinghee, giving you some special views to chew on day-in and day-out. You can explore multiple sections of Running Creek by foot or by vehicle too, and there are some cruisy 4WD tracks to slink along while you take in the serenity of the place. Basically, when you stay at Andrew Drynan you’re temporarily escaping to the mountains – a place where the views are sweet and things are simple.
Archer Camping Area, D’Aguilar National Park
Sat on the edge of Brisbane’s closest 4WD playground, Archer Camping Area is a place to rest and recharge between trips out into the forest on four wheels. Minimalistic in the best way possible, the campsites butt up against Neurum Creek and sit under the shade of the surrounding bushland. Each site is spacious, plus it’s easy to access the creek for a dip before drying off on the far bank under the sun. Drives to the park’s lookouts, other watercourses like Rocky Hole or just to get some more dirt under your tyres is always on the cards, but watch out – staying put at camp is very tempting.