After four months travelling Queensland in our caravan this year, we have rounded up our top 10 destinations that we visited.
10. GOLD COAST
Coming in at No. 10 had to be the Gold Coast, aka our current home. We’ve been here countless times before and have always loved it – we love the weather, the beaches and we just feel it has so much to offer. Not only that, the Gold Coast is surrounded by National Parks to the West and you’ve got Stradbroke Island to the East, all of which provide picturesque landscapes and an abundance of camping options. Whether you’re into surfing, fishing, shopping or hiking, have kids or like to eat out, there is something here for everyone.
9. Mission Beach
We had heard of Mission Beach but didn’t really know what to expect with this part of the world, when we reached the Cassowary Coast we were pleasantly surprised at how good a spot it was. Even though the caravan park we stayed at had the smallest sites we’ve experienced, it was right across the road from the beach and a short walk down to the shops. This town just had a nice, chilled vibe which we loved. There were also wild cassowaries around the place, something we’ve never seen before and thought was pretty awesome!
We had originally allotted four days to Yeppoon, but ended up staying two weeks! We had been on the road for about a month and were ready to put down some roots for a couple of weeks. We made Coolwaters Discovery Park our home while we were there and it still remains one of our favourite parks. We also really loved the free lagoon in town – a big, infinity pool overlooking the ocean with deck chairs and bean bags surrounding it and a cafe too! We did a day trip over to Great Keppel Island which included a glass bottom boat tour (which Kawhi thought was so awesome!) before having a few hours to do as we pleased on the island. We took snorkelling gear with us and enjoyed swimming around the southern end of the beach.
7. Eungella National Park
We visited this National Park while we were staying in Mackay and it was definitely the highlight of this stop. We loved the winding drive up to Eungella and platypus spotting at Broken River. On our way back to the caravan we went to the beautiful Finch Hatton Gorge and walked the 1.6km track to Araluen Waterfall, where we perched the kids on a rock with a sandwich each while we braved the freezing water for a swim. For some reason we did this walk COMPLETELY unprepared – I still have no idea why. Adam and Kawhi didn’t have shoes on, which didn’t work out much in their favour as the track was quite rocky and Adam ended up carrying Kawhi the whole way there and back. We also didn’t take the Ergo so I carried Luna the entire return trip (thankfully I had overalls on that day which made a great backup carrier!) Still, we made it, it was beautiful and was well worth the extra (unnecessary) effort.
How can anyone not like the Whitsundays!? We have previously visited Hamilton Island and Whitehaven Beach but this was our first time staying in Airlie. We loved it! Even though it really felt like a tourist town with all the backpackers, it was still so beautiful. The free pools and kids area were a real winner too. We took a catamaran out to Heron Island where Adam and I scuba dived and it was incredible! As soon as we rolled off the dingy we were immediately surrounded by an abundance of tropical fish. We went through caves and were able to see where the reef was re-growing after Cyclone Debbie hit in 2017.
5. PARONELLA PARK
Jose Paronella built a castle on 5 hectares beside Mena Creek Falls and surrounded by thousands of tropical plants. It has survived fires and floods, and is now privately owned and operated, and eco accredited. This place is absolutely incredible and I have no idea how we had never even heard of it. We did the day tour, then went back for the night tour which was well worth it. You can also stay here in your caravan which makes it even better! We can certainly see why Paronella Park has received a number of tourism awards!
4. Millaa Millaa Falls
Millaa Millaa Falls is part of the waterfall circuit in the Atherton Tablelands. We’ve seen countless waterfalls now, and this one wasn’t the biggest, or the most powerful, but it was definitely the prettiest. A super short walk from the car park brings you to a grassed area where you can set up for lunch and enjoy a swim under the refreshing falls.
3. Cobbold Gorge
We umm’d and ahh’d about whether we would detour out to Cobbold Gorge. We were keen to visit the area but were not so keen on having to seal up the caravan for the dirt road out there. In the end, we decided to park up in Georgetown for a couple of nights and make a day trip to the Gorge. The entry was a bit of a splurge ($100 each for Adam and I – our kids were free) but it was so worth it! The gorge tour included a 4WD bus out to the gorge, a guided walk which explained the geology, flora and fauna of the area, and an electric boat cruise – we even spotted a croc! Afterwards, we went back to the restaurant, had a bite to eat and cooled off in the infinity pool.
2. Babinda Boulders
Our time here got off to a sweet start before we even arrived in town. Somewhere along the road between Cairns and the town of Babinda, we saw a sign saying ‘scones ahead.’ Anyone who knows Adam, knows he can’t go past a scone so there was no question as to whether we would pull over or not. I don’t even know what this place was called, but a lady had converted the bottom floor of her two story house into a small cafe where she served THE BEST scones with THE BEST strawberry jam. I think we still talk about these scones at least once a week! Anyway, after our sugar hit, we continued onto the free camp at Babinda Boulders and managed to score one of the last remaining spots there. This free camp turned out to be one of our favourites from the trip! Just a few minutes walk from the campsite is the boulders swimming area and it’s absolutely beautiful!
- Adels Grove/Lawn Hill National Park
Taking out our No. 1 spot is Adels Grove and Lawn Hill National Park. When we saw Lawn Hill on the map, we thought we would leave it for another trip as it was a bit out of the way from where we were headed. However, when we were packing up to leave Karumba, one of the stabiliser legs on the caravan broke. Our next big stop was going to be Mt. Isa so we phoned ahead to see if anywhere had one in stock – which they didn’t, so we ordered one online and booked a week at the Discovery Park to make sure we’d be there when it arrived. On the way to Mt. Isa I said to Adam “What if we get a tent and some air mattresses, leave the caravan and go out to Adels Grove for a couple of nights?” He agreed straight away and that’s what we did! Boy am I glad we decided on this last minute camping trip because it was our absolute favourite stop on our trip so far! We found camping and living even more simply than we did in the caravan (no power to the campsites or phone reception) to be really rejuvenating. Swimming in the freshwater creeks was absolute bliss!
We have a few other places that didn’t make our top 10 but that still deserve a mention – The Sunshine Coast, Hervey Bay, 1770, Karumba and Julia Creek (well, the baths at the caravan park and the scones at the CWA shop in Julia Creek!)
Queensland has provided us with some incredible memories this year, and there is still so much of it we have yet to explore. Top of our list is Cape York, however, we’re not sure at this stage when we’re going to get up there. But we’ll definitely be going over to Stradbroke and Fraser Islands next year, and continuing to explore more of South East Queensland.