Dream of snoozing under the stars? Waking up to that fresh country air without the city buzz? Maybe it’s time to roll out your swag, pitch a tent or park the caravan and become mates with your temporary neighbours.
That’s the free camping way.
1. Fountain Springs Rest Area
Off-road enthusiasts, this one’s for you. Take to the dirt tracks through the picturesque Fountain Range until you arrive at a local hidden gem – Fountain Springs. It boasts a beauty of a permanent deep waterhole with plenty of wildlife to spot while you’re parked up. Who said camping was roughing it? You’ll find this local favourite 60 kilometres east of Mount Isa, off the Overlander’s Way. If you don’t plan on staying overnight, it makes for great day trip from Mount Isa or Cloncurry so you can tackle these guides – 48 hours in Mount Isa, 48 hours in Cloncurry and 15 things you didn’t know about Cloncurry.
2. Theodore – Dawson River
Theodore is an emerald green oasis year round, where caravans contest for the best river front park along the Dawson River. The towns 1950’s tropical feel makes this camping site the ultimate pitstop on your road trip. Don’t forget to grab a beer from the community owned Theodore Pub up the road or cast a line into the Dawson for the chance to reel in saratoga, barramundi and silver perch. Hooked on fishing? We’ve got you covered over here with our fishing guide.
3. Fisherman’s Rest
The clue is in the name – Fisherman’s Rest. You’ll find this bush camping spot only 5 kilometres from the town Mitchell, nestled along the shady banks of the Maranoa River. Perfect for big rigs which can handle uneven terrain; the gentle slope of the site also makes it an easy place to launch your kayak. If your muscles ache from all the fishing or kayaking you’ve been up to, then take a trip into town to the Great Artesian Spa and relax in the mineralised thermal waters, straight from the artesian basin.
4. Cooper Creek, Windorah
If you find yourself in Channel Country, turn your steering wheel towards Cooper Creek, Windorah. Make like an early Australian explorer and roll out your swag near Cooper Creek for the ultimate immersive experience. Under a blanket of Outback stars, all that’s left is to set up your camping chairs and pour a glass of wine. Time your trip to the Channel Country with Windorah’s International Yabby Races and cheer on the crustaceans as they scurry for the finish line – here’s everything you need to know about the Windorah International Yabby Races.
5. Stubby Bend
Tucked away on the of the Barcoo River, Tambo’s Stubby Bend is a self-contained travellers’ sanctuary. You can graze away at an afternoon picnic here and watch the local birdlife and kangaroos. It’s only a stroll from here to Tambo’s Coolibah Walk and to town for pub meal.
6. Lloyd Jones Weir
If you’re looking for peace and tranquillity you’ll find it just 14 kilometres south-west from the Garden City of the Outback, Barcaldine. The spacious and secluded free camp is a favourite with nature photographers thanks to its native birdlife. If birdwatching isn’t your thing, the site’s weir is biting yellowbelly or you can make a game of ticking off these weird and wacky facts about Barcaldine. Lloyd Jones Weir is hot property year round, so we recommend getting in early especially if you’re timing your stay with the annual Barcaldine Tree of Knowledge Festival.
7. Mary Kathleen
If you’re searching for something with a little more edgy, put the ghost town of Mary Kathleen on your camping list. Located between Mount Isa and Cloncurry, the remaining concrete slabs from the abandoned uranium mining town make this a great spot for caravans. The former town’s sealed roads also make for a skateboarder’s paradise and playground for kids. If you’re itching for an off-road experience take the dirt track to the eerie uranium mine.
8. Clem Walton Park
Lose yourself in the Australian outback, Clem Walton Park is bush camping at its finest. This free camping site is packed with waterfront “properties” without the price tag; you can even cast a line from the comfort of your mobile home (we’re not kidding). The Corella Dam is abundant with red claw but if you’re not up for cooking in your camp oven, food trucks make a regular appearance here. Woodfired pizza anyone? Ps – don’t forget to say g’day to the lucky cattle who also call this prime waterfront property their home.
Where’s your favourite place to camp in Outback Queensland?