Australia is a large country just begging for the freedom and adventure of an Aussie road trip. Australia is not considered a budget travel destination but free camping in Queensland and indeed in the whole of Australia is one of the best budget travel tips we know.
It’s a fun idea to purchase a hardy UV Outdoor map of Australia to stick on the outside of your trailer, camper or caravan and record your trip for everyone to see. There is also an easily removable indoor version, which can be stuck say on a table or fridge as a planning and conversation starter.
You will see Pacific Coast Way (PCW) signs on the Bruce Highway. It has not changed name but PCW is the tourism branding name for the collective highway from Cairns to the Gold Coast.
Commercial caravan parks provide excellent amenities and charge accordingly, but when travelling Australia on a budget you sometimes just need a place to park overnight. Free camping in Australia will save you mega bucks and allow you to travel for longer with less financial concerns.
In this post you will find mainly free camping spots Queensland with a few low cost camping sites thrown in, plus where to eat suggestions.
As we stay at more free and low cost camps each time we travel, the size of this article is lengthy. If you are only interested in a particular area you can go straight to it from the collapsible Table of Contents.
What You Will Find in This Post
- Free Camping in Queensland
- Low Cost Camping in Queensland
- Budget Eating Options
- See Australian Animals and Experience the real Australia
- Aussie Road Trip Pack
- Free Camping in Queensland
- Wikicamps App
- Free Camping Brisbane to Gold Coast
- Free Camping Sunshine Coast
- Free Camping Gympie to Rockhampton Area.
- Ross Creek Store and Rest Area, 1460 Tin Can Bay Road, Goomboorian, 21km north-east of Gympie.
- Chatsworth Rest Area, 564 Bruce Hwy, Chatsworth, 8.1km north of Gympie.
- Gunalda Rest Area, Bruce Highway Gunalda, Queensland
- NOW CLOSED TO CAMPING. Torbanlea Racecourse, Lot 32 Torbanlea-Pailba Road, Torbanlea. Qld. 109km north of Gympie.
- Apple Tree Creek, 149 km north of Gympie and 6.5km North of Childers. 1 km south of the Bundaberg turn off on the Bruce Highway.
- Apple Creek Tavern.
- Gin Gin Rest Area, Bruce Highway, just North of Gin Gin, Qld. 184km north of Gympie. 268km south of Rockhampton.
- Boyne River, Marrawing Street, Free Camp. Beneraby, Queensland. 326 km north of Gympie. 129km south of Rockhampton.
- Boyne River Rest Area, Free Camp 48746 Bruce Highway Benaraby, Queensland. 326 km north of Gympie. 128km south of Rockhampton.
- Boynedale Bushcamp, Free Camp on Gladstone-Monto Road, Boynedale. 340km north of Gympie. 145 km south of Rockhampton.
- Calliope River South Rest Area, Old Bruce Hwy, River Ranch, Qld.
- Calliope River North Rest Area, Queensland. 346km north of Gympie. 103km south of Rockhampton.
- Free Camping Central Queensland (Rockhampton to Mackay)
- Yaamba Rest Stop, Bruce Highway, Yaamba. Qld.
- Waverley Creek Rest Area, Bruce Highway, 171km north of Rockhampton and 11km south of St. Lawrence.
- St. Lawrence Recreational Reserve, 624 St. Lawrence Connection Road, St. Lawrence, 185km north of Rockhampton and 159km south of Mackay.
- Flaggy Rock Cafe, 83978 Bruce Highway, Clairview. Qld. Phone 07 4950 2148. 109km south of Mackay.
- Orkabie Downs Campground, Phone 0413749614
- Yarrawonga Park Reserve, Notch Point Camping, Ilbilbie, Qld. 79km south of Mackay.
- Free Camping Mackay to Townsville.
- Bowen to Townsville.
- Home Hill Comfort Stop Rest Area, 76 Eighth Avenue Home Hill, Qld.
- Free Camping in Townsville.
- Bluewater Park, 41790 Bruce Hwy, Bluewater, north of Townsville. Qld.
- Saunders Beach, 2 Reef Street, Saunders Beach. Qld.
- Free Camping Ingham
- Tyto Self Contained RV Parking
- Halifax Hotel Campground, 26 Macrossan Street, Halifax, Queensland
- Budget Travel Talk’s Free Camping in Australia Tips
Free Camping in Queensland
As with free camping in Australia, free camping in Queensland offers sites maintained by local councils as designated free camps. They can be used for 24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours and sometimes even 7 days within the one month.
Not all Rest Areas allow camping so read signage and act accordingly. Some councils enforce these rules strictly and will arrive to move you on, possibly late at night. Bowen and Clairview are two I know of that strictly enforce the no free camping rule. Rockhampton recently removed one from their inner city area due to pressure from a caravan park association.
Other towns have proven that free camping brings money to their town by collecting receipts from travellers and tallying exactly how much money free campers spend in their towns. It’s really catching on in outback Queensland. Collinsville and Gayndah are two such towns.
Read signs to see whether water is for human consumption. Signs might say Potable Water instead of drinkable water.
Some larage sites are used by Truckies and although you can camp there in your caravan or campervan, be aware that they could run (noisy) compressors at night and the camps are roadside so expect traffic noise.
Another source of free camps is Country Pubs. Many offer free camping out the back and the use of their facilities in return for purchasing a drink or meal in the bar. This works if you were planning to drink or eat out anyway. It’s uncool to park at a pub and not patronise their premises.
We use and recommend the Wikicamps Australia App. It costs less than $10 and the separate state maps can be downloaded so that when your phone has no coverage, as often happens outside of major cities in Australia, you can still use it.
Low Cost Camping in Queensland
Low Cost Camping provides few amenities and costs understandably less than conventional caravan parks. These camps are operated by farms or country shops and offer the camper something and charge in the range $5 to $20.
That something might be security, farm life experience, scenic campsites, a private creek swimming area, pick your own fruit tree, or use of toilet and/or showers.
Sometimes you can purchase homemade produce or farm produce. They don’t usually have dump points, drinking water or power available.
Budget Eating Options
This post has been updated to include some great budget food options – places where we love to eat ourselves. We often eat from our own supplies, so don’t have a suggestion for every location. You will find our recommendations in red.
See Australian Animals and Experience the real Australia
Road trips are a great way to meet some real Aussie characters, and at free camping spots you could wake up to a kookaburra’s laugh, spot an early morning kangaroo in the wild or an echidna waddling across a track. These memories linger long after the trip is over.
This is our Coromal Caravan that we use free camping in Australia.
We’ve changed the car shown in the above photo for a new Mazda BT50 which has so much more pulling power – it’s a revelation. Even though our caravan is light, our old car was so sluggish when towing it that I remembered my Dad’s road trip joke, when he would slow down going uphill and tell us kids to get ready to hop out and push.
I don’t think he realised how horrified I was.
Our new BT50 towing our Coromal van.
Aussie Road Trip Pack
Before starting out on your Australian Road Trip think about how you wish to record it. As a travel blogger it’s imperative that I keep a travel journal. Although it seems impossible at the time, experiences do become sketchy over time and it’s difficult to remember quite where that beautiful river side free-camp was! Even if you are not a travel blogger it is vital to have a travel journal and log book to refer to.
As well as jotting down notes for future reference the journal has space to attach photos. Personally, I like to draw little mud maps about where we’ve been. This 92 page travel journal comes with a reusable check list, address book, activity pages and kid friendly pages.
This two part book allows you to keep track of the places visited and distance travelled. The front half is dedicated to recording and rating overnight camps/accommodation and the back half to recording distance and fuel details.
Budget Travel Tip: It is handy to record the kilometres covered by your caravan/trailer for servicing and resale value.
Slide and Dry Pegless Clothes Line
Hang it inside, outside, between trees, on your back verandah. Hang it anywhere. No Pegs Required.
- For a short time a free first aid kit is included
Now that you have your travel journal sorted lets get down to business.
Free Camping in Queensland
This post discusses Free Camping Queensland and is divided into sections. Camping in Queensland is at it’s best in Winter when the temperatures and humidity are less, but fellow travellers met on the road are a fun lot no matter the season.
Free Camping Brisbane to Gold Coast
Free Camping Sunshine Coast
Free Camping Gympie to Rockhampton Area
Free Camping Central Queensland (Rockhampton to Mackay)
Free Camping Mackay to Townsville/Ingham/Halifax
We’ve driven the 1200km from Townsville to the Sunshine Coast, on the Bruce Highway, so many times we’ve lost count and lately since shifting to the Sunny Coast, we’ve added driving south to the Gold Coast as well.
When our kids were small, the amount of stops depended on the level of squabbling from the rear seat. Back then we didn’t own a caravan and collapsed in a Self-Contained Cabin when we’d had enough.
Our latest caravan, with it’s solar panels/battery, shower and toilet enables us to enjoy free and low cost camping. Camper-vans/trailers are often purchased or hired by overseas travellers and sometimes the cheaper option of a Station Wagon also works because the rear seat converts to a flat sleeping area.
On-line Gumtree is a great place to source used campervans and camping trailers. Local on-line Buy Swap and Sell sites are also a source of second hand vans and vehicles.
Many free camps have flush toilets, BBQ’s and Picnic Tables, but keep in mind that the tap water may not always potable.
Small towns usually make their show-grounds available for overnight or longer stays for a small fee, which can rely on facilities used.
The smart phone App, Wikicamps, makes locating these parking/camping spots easy and the comments left by previous users give a good idea of what to expect.
Charges are quoted if applicable.
The App costs a very reasonable $7.49. Try the free 14 day trial, or be like us and just purchase it straight up.
Wikicamps App has revolutionised our road trips.
Below are some free camps Queensland we’ve used:
Camps on and near PCW Pacific Coast Way south from Brisbane to Gold Coast.
Camps on and near Bruce Highway (PCW Pacific Coast Way) from Brisbane to Townsville, listed South to North and recently extended to include Ingham and Halifax.
Free Camping Brisbane to Gold Coast
Free Camping Beenleigh Hugh Muntz Park
About half-way between Brisbane and the Gold Coast is this lovely grassed and treed park, wedged between highway, creek and shopping centre. House and a tree break between highway and camp which sits lower than the road. The shopping centre on the other side of the park and camp is screened by trees and creek, but is super easy to visit for supplies and cafes. Roof top tents are allowed.
This is a great little spot for free camping between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
Covered Tables, BBQ’s with light, modern Toilets. By afternoon the toilets can be messy and no light at night. We used our own toilet at night, but take a torch and company if using the park toilets at night. Possibly a trouble maker resident here but we didn’t encounter him.
FREE. 72 hour limit or 3 nights in a 30 day period. Dump Point. TV and Mobile reception.
Where to eat near Beenleigh Hugh Muntz Park
There are eleven casual eateries in the Beenleigh Marketplace and it is just a short walk away from the free camp.
Free Camping Sunshine Coast
Belli Creek Park, Eumundi-Kennilworth Road, Belli Park
Clean Toilets, No Showers, Grassed Area for pitching tents, Busy after 6pm, Clean Toilets (bring torch), the bridge makes noise when trucks drive over it so park as far away as possible, dogs allowed, no drinking water, bring own container to wash dishes in, suitable for wheelchairs, picnic table, campfires allowed, shared walking track.
This is an entrance point to the West Cooroy Forest Walking path.
Six Mile Creek Rest Area, Bruce Highway Glanmire, Gympie.
Just south of Gympie and 50 km north of the Sunshine Coast, this is a beautiful 20 hour stay camping spot. Although it is close to the highway it has grassed sites with good access, clean toilets, drinking water, open fire pits, dump points and at 4 pm in peak season (early Winter i.e. early June) it was filling fast but with about 4 good sites still left. It is a pretty spot surrounded by trees and overlooking 6 mile Oval now renamed as Ray Warren Oval.
Free Camping Gympie to Rockhampton Area.
Ross Creek Store and Rest Area, 1460 Tin Can Bay Road, Goomboorian, 21km north-east of Gympie.
When visiting Tin Can Bay or Rainbow Beach, Ross Creek Store offers a free camping stop en-route.
FREE>DONATION BOX. Amenities include Toilets, Power, Undercover Tables and Chairs, Sink for washing dishes, children’s playground. Suitable for small caravans, campervans, tents and camping trailers. Dogs Allowed. Fuel Available.
The paddock is not that wide and depending how people park, manoeuvring within can be difficult. There is a turn around before entering the paddock. Inspect entrance before entering.
Where to eat at Goomboorian via Gympie
Ross Creek Store
Prawn and Crab Sandwiches and hot pies for sale. The lamb shank pies are popular and the chicken and camembert pies. We purchased cold lamb shank pies for an easy dinner that night.
Chatsworth Rest Area, 564 Bruce Hwy, Chatsworth, 8.1km north of Gympie.
This is the closest and best we’ve found for free camping Gympie on the northern side.
FREE. 20 hour parking limit. Clean toilets. No Showers. Well maintained area including a Children’s Playground. Fairly close to Highway so road noise can be expected. Dogs Allowed.
We used this as a toilet and lunch stop only, but were impressed by how well maintained it was. The toilets, situated beside the kids playground, are a fair walk from the overnight camp area and closer to the day parking area. I foresee problems with traffic noise and campers who overstay, restricting the amount of spots available.
We regularly pass this Rest Area and it always looks inviting.
Gunalda Rest Area, Bruce Highway Gunalda, Queensland
24 hour Free Camp 29.6 km north of Gympie, offering views some shade and clean toilets.
This rest area is up on a small broad hill with a flat area on top accessed by a bitumen road. I thought being on a hill might shield it from the noise of the nearby highway, but it is still quite loud.
Dog Friendly it is suitable for Tents, RV’s Caravans and Big Rigs. Although most campers lined up beside a row of trees near the exit, one was parked out the back with lovely views over the surrounding bush. There are large shade trees in the middle and grassed areas. A sometimes driver reviver coffee stop 7am to 7pm, but not during our visit.
Non-potable water, big shade trees, picnic tables, Mobile and TV Reception. No fires allowed.
Situated 2 minutes from Windsong Cabins and Tea Gardens on the opposite side of the highway and 7 minutes along Anderleigh Road to Gunalda Bush Camp (fires allowed) on the same side of the highway, both of which charge.
If you just want somewhere to stop overnight and can put up with traffic noise, I suggest the free Gunalda Rest Area.
NOW CLOSED TO CAMPING. Torbanlea Racecourse, Lot 32 Torbanlea-Pailba Road, Torbanlea. Qld. 109km north of Gympie.
CHARGE. Maximum stay 7 days. This camp is well-positioned on a quiet road away from the railway line. Charges are on a sliding scale of – $5 Toilet, $10 Toilet and Shower, $15 Toilet Shower Power. Dogs Allowed. This small town has some nicely restored old buildings and homes.
Walk from the racecourse, across road/railway crossing and down to the Miner’s Arms Hotel (cheap counter meals) and back home via railway overpass (Kookaburras).
Where to eat at Torbanlea
Miners Arms Hotel Torbanlea
$12 Miners Meals. Steaks, Rissoles, Roasts, Sausages, Crumbed Fish, Lasagna.
Apple Tree Creek, 149 km north of Gympie and 6.5km North of Childers. 1 km south of the Bundaberg turn off on the Bruce Highway.
FREE. 24 hour parking limit. Clean Toilets. No drinking water but close to the Apple Tree Creek Tavern. There is a Park with BBQ’s between the road where everyone camps and the highway. Tall Trees and a small billabong behind and on the southern side an well kept oval.
Apple Creek Tavern.
FREE. The owner of the Tavern has a long grey beard and is a friendly chap who loves telling the history of the Tavern. He offers free camping out the back for patrons only.
Gin Gin Rest Area, Bruce Highway, just North of Gin Gin, Qld. 184km north of Gympie. 268km south of Rockhampton.
FREE. 20 hour parking limit. Two Clean toilet blocks. No Showers. A sometimes driver/reviver site and a sometimes commercial coffee van site. Spacious grassed park with very tall trees and lots of natural shade. Access to river. Covered and uncovered picnic tables. Walking access from rear of park 1650m to Gin Gin’s town centre. The park is large with camping spots toward the back affording less road noise.
This spacious camp also makes a lovely lunch/toilet break with loads of picnic tables and shade. We have camped overnight twice at the back beneath shade trees, which in the morning were full of King Parrots, Kookaburras and fig birds. A great park for tree and bird lovers.
Where to Eat in Gin Gin.
If you’re a pie lover look no further. We eat here every time we pass through town. I love the curry beef and Marty the steak and kidney (eek). Best pies ever.
Gin Gin Bakery, Bruce Highway, Main street of Gin Gin.
Best Curry Beef Pie in Queensland
Boyne River, Marrawing Street, Free Camp. Beneraby, Queensland. 326 km north of Gympie. 129km south of Rockhampton.
FREE CAMP. 24 hours. 4WD. Dogs Allowed. No amenities. Tents Allowed.
Although this is the same mileage as the Boyne River Rest Area, they are two different destinations. Marrawing Street is on the left of the highway when approaching Boyne River from the south. If you reach the Boyne River Rest Area on the highway, you have come too far.
The dirt road begins reasonably well but quickly becomes hazardous for caravans, even in dry weather. I would steer clear of it in wet weather. Arrive in daylight to navigate potholes.
We have a 4WD vehicle and a semi-off road van but wouldn’t take our caravan down into the river bed, especially as we arrived after dark, instead camping on the high river bank. Lots of local traffic coming and going late into the night. Party central on the week-end.
I would only recommend this camp if the one on the Highway is full. Having said that, 4WD’s with tents or camping trailers or off-road vans might like it here during the week. You can fish in the river. The river is tidal so if the tide is out camp far away from the water so as not to get inundated at high tide. Far from the highway but with train noise.
Boyne River Rest Area, Free Camp 48746 Bruce Highway Benaraby, Queensland. 326 km north of Gympie. 128km south of Rockhampton.
FREE CAMP. 24 hours. Drinking Water. Toilets. Showers. Dump Point. Tents Allowed. Big Rigs can fit. Dogs Allowed. Traffic Noise. Good River Views. Right beside the Highway. There is a sign saying No Camping or Overnight Vans, but this just refers to the area past the sign near the house. It’s fine to park everywhere else. Super Busy. Arrive Early. Sometimes Coffee Van.
Boynedale Bushcamp, Free Camp on Gladstone-Monto Road, Boynedale. 340km north of Gympie. 145 km south of Rockhampton.
FREE CAMP. 7 Day in one month limit. No Drinking Water. Situated on the back side of Lake Awoonga. Best for those with boats. Great clean long drop toilets that don’t smell. No Showers. Fishing, Red-Clawing, Bird Watching and Photography. Plenty of space, Big trees, Brand New Dump Point at the lookout on the hill before the camp.
Calliope River South Rest Area, Old Bruce Hwy, River Ranch, Qld.
FREE. 48 Hour Limit.
We used this overnight in 2021. Calliope southern side is open to all travellers no need to be self-contained.
How to get to Calliope River South Free Camp from the Bruce Highway
- Turn left onto the Old Bruce Highway before the river when coming from the south.
- Turn right onto Old Bruce Highway after the Calliope River Bridge when coming from the north.
BYO Drinking Water.
Calliope River North Rest Area, Queensland. 346km north of Gympie. 103km south of Rockhampton.
FREE. 48 hour limit. We’ve used the North rest area as a rest stop many times.
Wikicamps says Self-Contained only, but in mid 2021 there were temporary toilets, including a pretty rough wheelchair friendly toilet.
Beautiful big grassed areas, trees and views over the river to the Southern rest area. No Drinking Water. The nearby Historical Village charges $5 per person entrance.
Boat Ramp. Crocodiles and Marine Stingers.
How to Get to Calliope River North Free Camp from the Bruce Highway (New)
Access is from behind the Historical Village on the Bruce Highway.
- When coming from the South cross the Calliope River bridge and turn left.
- When coming from the North turn left at the Historical Village before the bridge.
A foot bridge connects the two camping areas.
Calliope River is the most popular free camping Rockhampton Region. As such it is important to arrive as early as possible in the day, especially if you want river views. Having said that the area is huge so don’t panic. If staying for 48 hours and don’t get a great position on arrival, keep a look out the next morning and grab a prime spot as vans depart. We arrived at lunch time and did get a spot by the river with a view.
Wikicamps App says no tents. The only reason I can think of for this is Crocodiles.
Free Camping Central Queensland (Rockhampton to Mackay)
There are some good free camping choices in the 364 km between Rockhampton and Mackay and some low cost. It seems we find new ones each time we drive this route.
Yaamba Rest Stop, Bruce Highway, Yaamba. Qld.
At 37 km north of Rockhampton this is the closest free camping Rockhampton Region site we’ve found.
FREE. 24 hour limit. A sometimes Driver/Reviver Stop. No drinking water. Plenty of room in this paved truckers stop beside a grassed park surrounding clean toilet block. In early 2021 we noticed that the big trucks seem to have deserted this Rest Stop. They must have shifted to another designated spot for truckers only. All the better for vanners.
No Showers. Tents can be pitched in the park. There is highway noise. It has a country pub next door for drinks and meals (closed during Covid and not open last I saw) and a servo across the highway. There were plenty of Trucks, Caravans, Camper Vans and Tents during our overnight stays but usually room for more.
Yaamba Rest Stop is the best free camping near Rockhampton for us when travelling north from the Sunshine Coast. If we leave home around 8.30 a.m. stopping for morning tea and lunch we arrive here late afternoon.
Waverley Creek Rest Area, Bruce Highway, 171km north of Rockhampton and 11km south of St. Lawrence.
FREE. 24 hour limit. No Drinking Water. Paved Site with separate areas for caravans and trucks. Toilets including disabled. Shade. Tables. Close to Highway. Tent Area. Mobile Reception. Dogs Allowed.
St. Lawrence Recreational Reserve, 624 St. Lawrence Connection Road, St. Lawrence, 185km north of Rockhampton and 159km south of Mackay.
CHARGE. LOW COST CAMP. 7 days Maximum. I’ve blogged about St. Lawrence previously. Since last here the charge has risen to $12.50 in the box OR $10.50 by phone. $1 for a 3 minutes hot shower. Dogs Allowed. Drinking Water. Generator area at southern end (turn right at entrance). No Water Refilling. Dump Point. Wetlands close by. Situated on a quiet country road in a small town. For more information click on link at the end of this post.
Flaggy Rock Cafe, 83978 Bruce Highway, Clairview. Qld. Phone 07 4950 2148. 109km south of Mackay.
At 11km north, this is the closest low cost camping near Clairview. Don’t try free camping at Clairview – it is not allowed and is policed.
CHARGE. LOW COST CAMPING. 24 Hour Limit. $10 per van.
DOGS ALLOWED. Self contained vehicles only. No amenities. If gate is closed after 3 or 4 pm, call 0456001682 to be admitted.
Where to Eat Flaggy Rock
Flaggy Rock Cafe
We’ve eaten at this cafe three times. Coffee expensive but good. Lovely sausage rolls $5. We’ve not stayed overnight. Close to highway so there will be road noise.
Orkabie Downs Campground, Phone 0413749614
LOW COST CAMPING. $9 per person. Must ring first for directions as GPS will get you lost, but short notice is OK. It’s easy to find following the directions Lynda gives. Self Contained Camping. Fires allowed in designated areas. Creek swimming. Multiple camping areas. Excellent place for kids to meet farm animals. Shady trees. Generators allowed. Bushwalking. Good Optus reception. Bad Telstra reception. Excellent home made and grown produce available for purchase.
Lynda and Ricky are very friendly and accommodating. Great for those wanting to see Aussie farm life.
Yarrawonga Park Reserve, Notch Point Camping, Ilbilbie, Qld. 79km south of Mackay.
FREE. 7 Days Maximum. 4 WD only. No Facilities. Fires allowed. No Drinking Water. Sandflies, Mosquitoes and Crocodiles. We weren’t bitten by insects (or crocs lol) during daylight hours nor inside our van at night. Crocodiles are a fact of life in North Queensland. Beautiful Spot which I’ve blogged about here. Boat ramp. Australiana abounds. There are dog baits laid so leave fido at home. Cattle graze through the camp.
If you’re looking for extended free camping near Mackay, Notch Point is a good contender.
Notch Point Campground – have this view from your van.
Free Camping Mackay to Townsville.
Bowen to Townsville.
Legitimate free camping Bowen is near on impossible to find. The day picnic and parking areas are strictly policed to stop overnight parking. Guthalungra at 63.5 km north of Bowen is the closest designated spot we’ve found.
Where to Eat in Bowen.
We were delighted with the budget prices and fresh fish and chips at Bird’s Fish Bar. Google Maps will take you straight there. This fish bar is very popular with locals at lunch time so if you’re in a hurry call ahead to order. There is a covered eating area at the back of the shop overlooking the Marina where you can eat your meal. They also do great fish burgers and prawn salads (with six peeled top quality local prawns $10). Yum!
Bird’s Fish Bar, Henry Darwen Drive, Bowen (07) 4786 1188.
Jochhiems Bakery, 49 George Street, Bowen, Qld.
Commenced in Bowen in 1963 and is still owned by the same family today. Hugely popular. Beautiful fresh sandwiches, rolls, sweet things and hot pies and sausage rolls. A round of sandwiches will set you back $6.30. A delicious mini roll with freshly cut ham off the bone and cheese $2.95. $17 for 2 coffees, mini-roll, currant bun, cream Lamington.
Guthalungra Rest Area, Lot 86 Coventry Road, Guthalungra, Qld. 250km north of Mackay. 63.5 km north of Bowen and 141 km south of Townsville.
FREE. 24 Hour Limit. Drinking Water. New Amenities. Central park with BBQ’s and eating areas with more around the outside of the circular road/parking area. The parks nearest the amenities block are further from the road hence quieter. Wood burning BBQ’s (bring your own wood) and Service Station sells food. Dogs Allowed.
Home Hill Comfort Stop Rest Area, 76 Eighth Avenue Home Hill, Qld.
FREE CAMP. Donation Box on site. 289 km north of Mackay and 98 km south of Townsville.
This has to be one of the best free camps in Australia, amenity-wise. The only down side is it’s location between the highway and train tracks. In sugar cane harvesting season there will be lots of smaller cane trains. Take Ear Plugs. Having said that other trains are infrequent and the speed of traffic on the highway is reduced as it is also the main street of Home Hill.
The council here has done a fantastic job of attracting road trippers to town. The camping area is actually a sealed service road running parallel with road and rail. This means level camping spots and plenty of them. There is no haphazard parking as it is all kerbside and on both sides of the street.
On the strip between highway and service road are amenities and what great amenities they are. Clean and bright toilets and hot showers (one shower per male/female block), camp kitchen and paid laundromat. Information Centre nearby.
Maximum 48 hours. Wheelchair friendly. No Tents allowed (but I noticed car topper tents were on our last visit). No Generators. No waste to be discharged. Dogs Allowed. Dump Point. Drinking Water. RV’s Caravans and Big Rigs allowed.
Free Camping in Townsville.
There is a free overnight camp at the BP Service Station, D’Arcy Drive Idalia, opposite the Townsville Turf Club as you come into town on the Bruce Highway from the south. We’ve not stayed there, but it is full of big trucks and by all accounts quite safe to stay.
No cooking allowed because of dangerous materials and no tent camping. Pay shower and toilets are free.
Fairfield Waters Shopping Centre on one side (now reopened after floods) and Bunnings the other. Dogs Allowed. 24 hours.
Read our tips on fun things to do in Townsville and Magnetic Island here.
Apart from the one mentioned above, the best and closest free camp we’ve found for free camping Townsville is Bluewater Park (below).
Where to eat in Townsville.
Rising Sun Hotel, Hermit Park serves good affordable counter meals.
Tempura Prawn Tacos, Crumbed Jalapeno, Steak Sandwich at Eden Cafe (now closed) Townsville. Great for the Budget Traveller.
Bluewater Park, 41790 Bruce Hwy, Bluewater, north of Townsville. Qld.
FREE. 48 Hour limit. Dogs Allowed. Bordered on one side by Bluewater Creek, another by the Mt. Spec water pipeline/highway and a third by a landscaped tree-scape complete with walking tracks, this camp is a mix of Aussie bush (think possums and kookaburras), manicured parkland, undercover eating areas and kids playground. Loads of space, which fills up quickly and reticulated town water to connect your van to.
The toilet block is basic with an open-air shower outside of the mens. The nearby community centre welcomes visitors to their Friday Social Night 6pm till late. Located on the left side of the Bruce Highway on the northern side of Bluewater Creek about half an hour north of Townsville.
Bring ear plugs to dull the Rooster wake-up call!
About the same amount of time north of Townsville is the final free-camp in this post.
Saunders Beach, 2 Reef Street, Saunders Beach. Qld.
FREE. 48 Hour Limit. Dogs Allowed. Situated beside the beach and close to a mangrove creek. A picturesque spot with views to Magnetic and Rattlesnake Islands. Free undercover electric BBQ’s and picnic tables, playground, basic toilet block. The camping area is not large so arrive early to grab a spot. Come prepared for mosquitoes and sandflies. Crocodile warning. This area is used as a parking lot for day trippers and as it’s proximity to Townsville makes it popular on week-ends.
Free Camping Ingham
Read about the trip from Townsville to Lucinda here.
Tyto Self Contained RV Parking
LOW COST CAMPING. $10 per van per night. 59 Townsville Road Ingham. 48 Hour Limit. Dogs Allowed. Drinking Water. Dump Point. Drinking Water. Must be self-contained. There are toilets in TYTO Information Centre but only when centre is open. Bird Wetlands.
Where to Eat in Ingham
Majestic Cafe, Oasis Cafe and JK’s Deli. All located in Lannercost Street Ingham.
Halifax Hotel Campground, 26 Macrossan Street, Halifax, Queensland
FREE. SPEND AT HALIFAX HOTEL. 24 Hours. Accessible for Fully Self Contained RV’s and Caravans.
Halifax is a one street town 15 km north of Ingham on the way to the fishing and Sugar Loading Facility at Lucinda. As such it is a restocking place for those caravanning and camping or fishing at Lucinda. The main street is wide with a central strip of huge trees and central parking as well as kerbside parking. There is a great country butcher opposite the pub, helpful BP Garage and a well stocked supermarket, free Museum and friendly locals.
Call in at the bar before driving down the side to the grassed camping area at the back. The area probably only holds four caravans but it is spacious enough to manoeuvre.
Halifax Pub has a reputation for good meals so make sure you pop in and have one before leaving. There is no free camping at Lucinda so if you want to fish at Lucinda and free camp, Halifax Pub is the place to do it.
Reopened in early July 2019 after floods.
Where to eat at Halifax
Halifax Hotel for great pub meals.
They have everything from Oysters to Pizza. Due to popular demand from Saturday 26th August the $20 Chinese Smorgasbord is back.
Where to eat at Lucinda
Lucinda Hotel – Port of Call – Corner of Yeast Street and Dungeness Road, Lucinda
This pub has specials every day. We were there on $13 crumbed steak day. Wednesday is Rump Steak Chips and Salad for $10 from 6pm to 8 pm and from all accounts it is delicious.
Morleys Seafood Lucinda for the best fresh cooked prawns in the world.
Sweet and Juicy cooked prawns. Ate them two days in a row. So Good.
Budget Travel Talk’s Free Camping in Australia Tips
Spend money in nearby shops, pubs and service stations. Even a small purchase helps keep these free camps operating.
Free camps are often cleaned by local Council workers. Clean your immediate area on departure to keep Locals on-side and the camp operating.
Turn taps off securely when free camping in Australia as water is scarce.
Bring Washing Up bowl so precious water is not wasted washing dishes under a running tap. Also there is quite often only one tap for everyone to use.
Bring mosquito nets and insect repellent if sleeping with van or vehicle doors open. I have seen many backpackers covered in painful looking mosquito and sandfly bites. See the photos of Yaamba rest area above, to see how the nets can be used in vans and station wagons. Click the link below for Aussie Made Mosquito repellents and after bite care or make your own Once bitten Twice Shy – DIY remedies here.
Bring torch or mobile phone for light.
Arrive early to get a spot at popular camps and to have dinner eaten and cleaned up before dark. Eating under lights in the Australian bush means your dinner will have the extra crunch of bugs that are attracted to light and end up in your food.
Bring Personal Water Bottles. Reticulated water is safe to drink in Australia so fill your water bottles and carry at least one litre of drinking water per person.
Peg-less Clothes Line.
Bamboo Eco Coffee Cup. Will save you money when buying take-away coffee (50 cents less in places) and save the planet too.
Note: If travelling on deserted outback roads increase this to up to 10 litres per person depending on conditions.
Many of the above items can be purchased by clicking the image link below.
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