Fuel and camping fees are two things that can really blow your budget on a trip like this. Now that we’ve done Cape York, we’re travelling at a much slower pace – not more than about 400km a week including shopping, sightseeing and general running about – and taking advantage of as many free camps as we can find.
Free camping is loosely defined as any camping outside a caravan park. It’s not always completely free of charge but if there is a fee it is generally a small donation towards the maintenance and facilities.
North of Townsville, there’s a stretch of 4 free camps all within about 40 or so kilometres of each other. Saunders Beach and Bluewater are both 24 hour stays and at this point of our adventure we’re not mad keen on doing the overnighters unless we absolutely have to. We didn’t stop in either of these this time but they’re definitely worth a look for a quick pit stop.
We did stay at both the 48 hour camps in this area. Bushy Parker Park is just over the train line at Rollingstone. It’s a beautiful spot, very shady with a crystal clear creek full of turtles. Male and female toilets, drinking water, a BBQ and play equipment for the kids, the park holds 30 sites.
Next stop was Toomulla, a whole 12km down the road! A bit smaller than Bushy Parker Park but similar facilities – BBQ, playground, drinking water and toilets. There is a boat ramp at Toomulla and a resident croc who hangs out there – we didn’t see him unfortunately. There’s also a lot of mangroves, so take your insect repellant. One thing you can always bank on in Queensland is where there’s mangroves, there’s midges.
Both parks are beautiful, clean and well maintained, although you may occasionally need to crack into your own stash of dunny roll! The Ranger comes around twice a week to take down registration plates and move on anyone who is taking the Mickey. We try to make sure we go into the town to spend some money while we’re in free camps, whether that’s as big as doing groceries or as small as a couple of schooners at the pub.
We’ve stayed at a stack of great free camps so far (and a couple of not so great ones too) and will share our best finds with you every Friday.
Do you free camp? Got any best kept secrets you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!