Top camper-only destinations: Part 1

By: Catherine Lawson, Photography by: David Bristow


The top camper trailer friendly spots where caravans shed their tread.

Salvator Rosa Campsite 4

Caravanners are going to hate this list of places they can’t get to — which include some of Australia’s best, most undiscovered national parks and difficult-to-access beach and bush camps that approach nirvana! Hook up with fellow camper trailer owners at these off-the-track destinations.

BOUGH SHED HOLE

Bladensburg National Park, Central Queensland

4. Bough Shed Hole Campsite 3

Location: From Winton follow the Winton-Jundah Road 18km to Bladensburg and its historical homestead.

Camping: $6.15/person, $24.60/family and free for under fives.  

Visit: April to September.

Contact: npsr.qld.gov.au

Against a backdrop of rosy sandstone mesas, great mobs of kangaroos graze on golden grasslands and offroad travellers converge on a breezy waterhole camp, nestled beneath towering river gums. Showcasing the kind of dreamy outback scenes that lure travellers, Bladensburg National Park is stark and stunning at sunset, alive with bewitching wildlife and accessed via roads just rugged enough to make the adventure real.

4. Bough Shed Hole Campsite 1

Its significant borders protect wonderfully preserved pastoral relics, including a homestead museum that revives a rich, 100-year-old heritage, and on the wild side, the largest known population of rare Julia Creek dunnarts. Two scenic drives roll across Mitchell grass plains and climb spinifex-covered jump-ups to peer over the edge of eroded sandstone cliffs and lofty lookouts, while grave sites and outstation ruins en route provide insight into the rigours of life on isolated Bladensburg Station a century ago.

While the park is accessible to offroad day-trippers, caravanners will have to overnight elsewhere because the compact bush campsites at Bough Shed Hole are suitable only for camper trailers, small motorhomes and travellers tough enough for tents. No generators or pets, BYO drinking water.

KOOLJAMAN RESORT

Cape Leveque, Northwest WA

Kooljaman Resort Cape Leveque 1

Location: From Broome follow the Great Northern Highway for 10km east, turn north onto Cape Leveque Road and continue 220km to Kooljaman (about a 3hr drive).

Camping: $50/couple, $10/child 3yrs and over, plus $5 for power (no dogs).

Visit: May to September.

Contact: www.kooljaman.com.au

Remote, breathtaking and boasting some of the best beaches in the Kimberley, Cape Leveque is a dream destination for offroad travellers and Kooljaman’s idyllic location at the tip of it all is extremely hard to beat. Surrounded by shallow, translucent seas and vibrant Pindan cliffs, the angling and swimming off the sweeping white sand beaches is mind-blowing, and as you unwind, you can feel especially smug about your choice of rig because the resort’s deep, sandy access tracks prohibit access to caravans.

Kooljaman Resort Cape Leveque 3

Don’t think for a moment that you are going to have to rough it, though. Hot showers and power are de rigueur and you can splurge on your very own private beachfront camping shelter and watch the sun set west from the deck of Raugi’s Restaurant with a BYO bottle or two and a la carte menu.

Back in the early 1990s when I hitched a ride with the Cape Leveque mail truck, I arrived in Kooljaman at the end of a long, dusty day to pitch my tiny hiker tent in an utterly deserted campground. The long, lazy days I spent swimming and pocketing enormous nautilus shells await you too, and while the camp is much improved, those endless, sweeping white sand beaches haven’t changed a bit.  

SALVATORE ROSA

Carnarvon National Park, Queensland

Salvator Rosa Campsite 1

Location: 135km from Tambo via the corrugated, steep and winding Wilderness Way or 168km southwest of Springsure.

Camping: $6.15/person, $24.60/family and free for under fives.

Visit: late winter for wildflowers.

Contact: www.blackalltambotourism.com.au or npsr.qld.gov.au

In a rugged corner of the über popular Carnarvon National Park, an offroad camp on the Nogoa River makes a fine base camp for hikes and drives through stunning Salvator Rosa, climbing craggy outcrops, bathing in flower-fringed springs and ogling towering white cliffs that turn rosy at sunset. Having staked out a spot in this shady free-range camp on our most recent visit, we put the 4WD into low range and slowly edged down the steep bank of the Nogoa River, across its sandy, clear stream and climbed the rugged track up the opposite bank.

Salvator Rosa Campsite 2

In a long, happy day, we scaled the flanks of Spyglass Peak—an arcing bluff crowned with a 10 metre-wide peephole—and floated in fern-fringed Belinda Springs that empties 10 million litres into the park’s crystal clear streams every day. After taking in 360-degree views from the easily scaled Homoranthus Hill, we cooled our heels in Louisa Creek and drove to Major Mitchell springs at the end of the track, nestled against rugged sandstone cliffs.

Salvator Rosa’s shady bush camp is a quiet, grassy haven with picnic tables and toilets and wildlife in abundance, including lots of nonchalant swamp wallabies. Visit from July to August to catch vibrant wattles in bloom. No pets, fires, generators or mobile coverage.  

Check out the full feature in issue #116 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.