Waking up to fresh air, birds chirping and the smoking charcoals of last night’s campfire – that’s what camping in the country is all about.
Follow our Southern Queensland Country camping trail for a journey packed to the bitumen with natural beauty, hiking trails and inland lakes.
What are you waiting for? It’s time to dust off the camping gear and get ready to experience the very best country camping spots with this guide.
Stop 1: Brisbane to Lockyer Valley, Glen Rock State Forest
Your journey begins just an hours’ drive west from Brisbane in the Lockyer Valley, nestled in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range. Your destination – Glen Rock State Forest adjoining the World Heritage-listed Main Range National Park.
This agricultural region is known as Australia’s Salad Bowl, so keep your eyes peeled for roadside fruit and vegetable stalls brimming with fresh produce (think: fresh figs, salad and carrots) for your cheeseboard by the campfire tonight. Psst… be sure to bring a few gold coins so you have cash on hand to add to the honesty box.
The drive to Glen Rock State Forest is just as scenic as your final destination, filled with mountain views and winding country roads of the surrounding farmlands – you’re also bound to come across a friendly cow or camel along the way.
Make sure you book and pay before arriving at the campsite to set up your home-away-from-home. Once you’ve set up your room for the night, hit the 5.2km Christie’s Loop walking trail to see firsthand ‘Glen Rock’, the red volcanic outcrop the area is named after.
Stop 2: Lockyer Valley to Toowoomba, Crows Nest National Park
Next up, you’ll need to continue west for the Toowoomba Region, around 100 kilometres from the Lockyer Valley.
No trip to The Garden City is complete without stopping at the iconic Picnic Point Lookout for sweeping views of the surrounding valley and bushland.
Once you’ve taken a few snaps and grabbed a coffee from the onsite café, point your bonnet north and head for Crows Nest National Park, your next country camping spot.
Just 40 kilometres from the central hub of Toowoomba, Crows Nest offers a country escape filled with art, culture, history and local produce.
Camping permits and fees are required before settling into this small unpowered bush camping area. Once here, you’ll want to set up camp for a few days and explore the nearby Crows Nest Falls and surrounding high country, including the towering trees, palm groves, trickling streams and birdlife of Ravensbourne National Park.
To relax after a morning of hiking, drive west towards Lake Cressbrook and spend an afternoon relaxing by the water or throwing in a line – try your luck at reeling in Australian bass, golden perch or Mary River cod.
Stop 3: Toowoomba to South Burnett, Lake Boondooma
Depart Toowoomba and head north-west towards Lake Boondooma in the South Burnett region, every avid fisherman’s dream and your destination for the next few nights.
Take the time to stopover in the quaint village of Maidenwell and follow the winding mountain roads to the historic Maidenwell Pub for a bite to eat and a coldie before travelling another two kilometres to Coomba Falls.
This natural waterhole surrounded by granite boulders is the perfect spot to stretch your legs or take a quick dip before you continue through the South Burnett.
If you’d like a night off from camping, check into one of the cabins at Lake Boondooma near Proston, otherwise we recommend setting up camp beside the lake. Unpowered sites don’t require a booking but book ahead if you’d like power to your campsite.
In between relaxing by the waterside, keep your eyes peeled for kangaroos and wild horses that call this patch of country home.
Stop 4: South Burnett to Western Downs, Bunya Mountains National Park
Only after you’ve got your fix of lakeside living, head south again for the cluster of mountains rising out of the farming plains of Western Downs and South Burnett.
We’re talking about the Bunya Mountains, home to the largest stand of bunya pines and the second oldest National Park in Australia.
With three campsites to choose from, camping in the Bunya Mountains is a bit like a choose your own adventure novel with Dandabah, Westcott and Burtons Well catering for a range of camping experiences. Psst… the roads into the Bunya Mountains are steep and winding – sorry owners of long or heavy vehicles, this isn’t the campsite for you.
No matter which camping spot you choose, soak up the panoramic mountain views from 1100m above sea level and get your nature fix by tackling one of these walking trails.
Once you’ve finished exploring the lush rainforest, continue west into the heart of the Western Downs for a dramatic change of landscape.
Take the scenic route to your next camping destination and visit Lake Broadwater, Caliguel Lagoon and Tara Lagoon, as you map your way further west through the countryside.
Stop 5: Western Downs to Goondiwindi, Yelarbon Recreation Grounds
As you make your way south-west, make sure you keep an eye out for the fluffy white fields as you drive through the surrounding farmlands (if you happen to be visiting during the Autumn months that is).
You’re in cotton country now – home to some of the highest quality cotton in the world, with the region growing up to 80,000 hectares each year.
As you wind your way through the country nestled along the banks of the Macintyre River, enjoy the surrounding flat farming plains and olive groves hugging the border of Queensland and New South Wales.
The Gundy Region is overflowing with riverside campsites but be sure to spend at least one night at the Yelarbon Recreation Grounds – just remember to bring a $10 note for the honesty box to enjoy the full amenties! Psst… spend some time exploring the onsite museum and machinery yard.
From this quiet camping spot, it’s a short walk to the peaceful Yelarbon Lagoon or the other watering hole, Oasis Hotel, before visiting the piece de resistance the Yelarbon Graincorp Silos.
As one of the largest murals in the national silo art trail, you’ll want time up your sleeve to bask in the gigantic beauty that took over 2000 litres of paint and two weeks for Brisbane-based mural artists, The Brightsiders to create.
Stop 6: Goondiwindi to Southern Downs, Girraween National Park
Head deep into granite country for a night among the stars in Southern Downs and Granite Belt’s rugged scenery.
With three National Parks sitting within its borders, and native fauna such as koalas, echidnas and bearded dragons among the rain and eucalypt forests, no matter where you set up, you’ll be guaranteed a room with a view.
For the diehard 4WD enthusiasts, make tracks for Sundown National Park and get a little dirt on your tyres at Red Rock Gorge in the northern end of the park.
As you head for your next camping spot, be sure to stop in for a visit to the grape growing region of Ballandean near Stanthorpe – you are in wine country after all. Take the time to tour a local vineyard or visit a cellar door to pick up your favourite vintage from the Strange Bird wine trail to toast the last leg of your camping adventure.
No journey to the Granite Belt would be complete without visiting Girraween National Park and its precariously balanced boulders and 17 kilometres of walking trails for you to choose from. Here you’ll find two campsites catering to tents, camper trailers and caravans – while both have amenities, choose Castle Rock if you’d like a shower after a long day of hitting the trails.
Finish your trip on a high note (pun intended) and scale the Pyramid Track for a final snap in front of the Balancing Rock and panoramic views of the mountains before you begin the journey home.