QLD Outback Awards
Every year in Queensland, hundreds of thousands of us down the tools and hit the outdoors. No matter whether off-roading is your thing, or you’re just looking for a sneaky spot to set up a tent – there’s nothing quite like the Queensland outdoors.
To help celebrate the top spots this sunny state has to offer, we’ve put together our awards for the top three 4WD parks, hiking trails, camping sites, fishing spots, and road trips of 2018.
Queensland’s Top 4WD Parks
The best 4WD parks in Qld offer visitors a few key things. If you’re going to have the perfect time out, you’re going to want:
- The right challenge for your make of vehicle
- Top-quality views, surroundings, and facilities
- Value for money.
Delivering on all 3 is tough, but after a serious debate and voting system (around a campfire), we arrived at our 2018 medallists.
Location: You’ll find this beast of a park out at Tamrookum Creek, south of Boonah and Beaudesert.
How to Get There: If you can get yourself to Beaudesert, it’s a simple 8km run down the Mt Lindsey Highway towards Rathdowney. From there, it’s a right turn onto Tamrookum Creek Road, and 6km down the track you’ll be there.
Price: It’ll cost $35 to get your 4WD in on a standard Monday to Thursday, or $45 if you arrive on a Friday, weekend day, or public holiday. If you’re rocking up in a 2WD or non-driving vehicle, that’s only $10, then a $10 fee for parking at the office. And then for every extra night you’re there, it’s an added $10.
And before you ask, camping fees are separate. But trust us, it’s easier to get your head around when you’re actually there, chatting to the team.
Track Features: There’s over 20km of trails to tackle, ranging from the easiest, level one 4WD tracks to the toughest you’ll face. And if the weather turns ugly, that only adds to the fun! Scenic Rim Adventure Park certainly offers some entry-level trails, but it made our list for its awesome range of tricky runs.
Location: From the Brisbane CBD, about halfway to Warwick. Within easy reach of any Brisbane, Ipswich, Toowoomba, or Gold Coast residents.
How to Get There: If you’re coming from Brisbane, you’ll want to get yourself out to the Cunningham Highway. From the top of Cunningham’s gap, keep going for around 21km, until you see the Driver Reviver. Take a right straight after that, and carry on up the valley for another 20km.
Price: This is where Gordon Country really delivers. No matter how long you’re staying, it’s $30 entry for a 4WD. If you’re only bringing a car (for some reason), that comes down to $10 a pop.
Track Features: There’s a bit of everything in this handy trail. The Homestead Loop and Banshee Valley runs are perfect for newbies or families, each making for more of a relaxing run than a challenge. But if you’re looking for a little more adventure, To the Dam and Goomburra Rocky Mountain Climb give even the most hardened driver a run for their money!
Location: Around 2 hours from the Brisbane CBD or the Sunshine Coast. A little northwest of Kilcoy, for those of you that like a cheeky dip in Somerset Dam.
How to Get There: Start by getting yourself to the D’Aguilar Highway, soak in the scenery, and make your way to Kilcoy. Then at the clock roundabout, take the second exit, and follow Kilcoy / Murgon Road. Stay with the dirt for 16km past the Jimna turn-off, and it’s a left turn onto Diaper Road (look for the sign to Landcruiser Mountain).
Price: You can say Landcruiser Mountain loses points for price, but certainly not Value for Money. The cost is $60 for every night your vehicle spends there, or $35 for a single day trip. But that does include your camping rates. For 2WD visitors, you’ll only cop $35 a night, or $25 to visit for the day. But if you’re looking to leave your car at the park office, that’ll be $15 overnight.
Track Features: The price tag is certainly heftier, but the resources you’ll have access to make it more than worth it. 10,000 acres. 200km of tracks – to suit every driver and vehicle. Some absolutely top-notch camping facilities and spaces. And the views are just about worth the price of admission alone. For what we value in a 4WD park in 2018, the Landcruiser Mountain Park delivers in spades.
The Top 4WD Tracks in Queensland
What we’re looking for here isn’t your stock-standard parks and adventure grounds. We’re after something better suited to a road trip – but you’ll still need a 4WD to handle them. The perfect 4WD trail will combine top-notch views, a few challenges, and a slice of classic Australiana.
Location: This run heads north out of Cooktown, towards Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park.
Distance: 279km, so you’ll want to set a few days aside to get it done.
Destination: It’s a circuit. We’ll give you one guess where it ends up.
Defining Features: It’s not too difficult, but not too easy either. You’ll get some smooth road to finish, but only after you’ve seen off the dirt and water stretches. And even better – you’re going through some classic Australia – from the beautiful Cooktown to the ruins of the Couch Grass Hut. There’s plenty to do, plenty to explore, and plenty to love about this 4x4 track.
Location: In the Gympie district.
Distance: It’s not clearly defined how long this run is, but to enjoy it properly, you’ll want to give yourself 2 days.
Destination: It’s definitely not the longest run on our list – you’ll basically be in the same neck of the woods that you started in.
Defining Features: We couldn’t pass up those views. It’s a piece of natural history that’s somehow been forgotten with all of Queensland’s major attractions. The unbelievable rock and sand cliffs beside you change colour as you drive, along with the sands around you. They reckon it’s 72 different hues that’ll you pass on the drive. And to add a little extra spice to the run, those multi-colour assassins take out an average of a car a week, so we definitely recommend you check the tide charts before taking off.
Location: Cape York.
Distance: Really, as long as you want. We’re not your boss.
Destination: The most northern point in Australia.
Defining Features: Literally everything we said makes for a great 4WD track can be found at our most northern point. Challenging roads, the world’s freshest barramundi, and some of the most historically dense parts of the nation. You’ll want to familiarise yourself with the local laws and customs, so your drive doesn’t intrude or disrupt indigenous communities in the area. Otherwise, this is definitely the best place in the state to let your hair down, and have a bit of fun with your beast.
The Top Camping Sites in Queensland
There’s nothing like a good bit of time away camping. But the perfect camping trip will combine some staggering views, peace and quiet, and value for money. After all, you don’t want to ‘get away from it all’ by spending $90 to set up a tent next to a bunch of strangers’ kids screaming their heads off.
How to Get There: Take a boat or barge over to North Stradbroke Island, then either drive, or ask someone really nicely if they’ll give you a lift out that way.
Price: Free for visitors, but that doesn’t include barge or transport fees.
Defining Features: Finding a campsite for a family isn’t easy, but Cylinder Beach checks just about every box. The carpark is almost right next door, so lugging your kit to the site isn’t going to take all day. Then there’s the beach right next door – enough to keep all big and little kids entertained for hours. And sitting nice and pretty near Brissy, it’s the perfect hideaway for a busy suburban family.
Location: Paluma Range National Park
How to Get There: Drive north from Townsville for about an hour, and turn left at Lound Road.
Price: There’s no cost on entry, but bookings are a must.
Defining Features: It’s a brilliant blend of luxuries and nature. If you’re the sort that likes having toilets, showers, drinking water, barbecues and more in reach, this is definitely one for you. But don’t think you’re just staying in a town centre; the Paluma Range National Park is one of the best Australia’s got to offer.
Location: Whitsunday Island
How to Get There: Turn east at Airlie Beach, and hope there’s a boat there to catch you.
Price: Free again – just putting aside the cost of getting there on a boat.
Defining Features: This is not where the rookies come to camp. There’s no fresh water, there’s no fires, and almost no civilisation at all. There’s the odd picnic table and composting toilet – then just acres and acres of national forest.
But that view. You’d set up camp in quicksand just to spend the night in front of a view like that. It’s not often that Queenslanders get to see the sun set over the water, but at Dugong Beach, you can. It’s the perfect blend of rugged camping and unbelievable views.
The Top Fishing Spots in Queensland
Queensland’s location on this big blue ball means it gets an enormous range of fish – all over the state. But to make for the perfect fishing spot, you want a spot that’s easy to access (but not absolutely chockers), got a wide range of fish going, and gives you the option of dropping a line from land or boat.
Location: East of Hervey Bay, stretching from around Bundy down to the Great Sandy National Park.
How to Get There: Put in at either Urangan or River Heads, and it’s no more than half an hour for most vessels with an engine. May be a bit longer if you pick a day with insane winds, but why would you?
Access: Yeah probably best not to try swimming this one. Take a boat.
Common Fish: Tailor, tailor, tailor. As much as you’ve got access to the usual bream, flathead, whiting, and even a sneaky jewfish every now and again, it’s the tailor that keep tourists rolling in. But if you don’t fall for the bait of sticking to the beaches (like around Wanggoolba Creek), you’ll find fewer people and more fish.
How to Get There: Weipa is on the Western side of the tip of Queensland. If you’re into history, it’s actually the first point where Europeans landed on the continent, when Dutchman Willem Janszoon took one look and decided not to set up shop. He really should have wet a line while he was there.
Access: You can take a tinny out to find a good drop-off, but there’s plenty to be said for casting from shore.
Common Fish: Welcome to the home of barramundi. But this quirky little mining town has the added bonus of top-notch fishing almost all year round. March to June, you’d almost struggle not to hook a Barra, mangrove jack, fingermark, threadfin salmon, or trevally. In the winter, your usual barra will be chilling with some queenfish and tuna. And through the warmer months, it’s all about the mangrove jacks and, you guessed it, barramundi. It’s a difficult drive up there, but well worth it when you arrive.
Location: Really anywhere around Bundy that’s wet.
How to Get There: Bundaberg is around 4 hours north of Brisbane.
Access: There’s nothing wrong with taking a boat out, but there’s enough to do from the mainland too.
Common Fish: The main reason why Bundy was our #1 fishing spot in Queensland wasn’t the rum factory. It certainly didn’t hurt, but the absolutely massive fish are even better. Late June normally sees the start of the annual fishing comp, so any time around then, you’ll find some whopping great mackerel, tuna, whiting, flathead, mangrove jack, and more! If you’re serious about finding a fish for a feed, Bundy’s your best bet.
The Top Hiking Trails in Queensland
A decent hiking trail should give you some nice views, get a bit of sweat on your brow, and have somewhere you can stop and eat a sanga. If you’re looking for hiking trails near Brisbane or the best Gold Coast hikes, these spots are sure to be worth the walk.
Location: Noosa Heads Coastal Track is at Noosa National Park in Noosa.
How to Get There: From the Sunny Coast, you’ll want to take the Sunshine Motorway up past Coolum, through Noosaville, and all the way to the coastline near Noosa Head Main Beach. It’s about a 40-minute drive. The track starts at the main park entrance at Noosa Heads.
Difficulty: If you’ve got a cheeky 4 hours free, this scenic 10.8km-return hike is a pretty good way to spend it. The track is Grade 4, so don’t expect a cruisy stroll on this bad boy. You’ll need bushwalking experience, and can expect some rough, steep parts. Don’t worry – there are loos along the way.
Defining Features: If you’re into ocean views, the Noosa Heads Coastal Track is for you. It passes the Boiling Pot, Tea Tree Bay, Granite Bay, and Dolphin Point, all the way up to Hells Gates, with uninterrupted views of the good old blue and gold. You might also get the chance to spot some dolphins, turtles, or manta rays, and become mates with some koalas on your travels. Your reward at the finish line will be panoramic views that’ll make you feel like you’re stuck in a postcard. How’s the serenity?
Location: Mount Sorrow Ridge Trail is at Daintree National Park in Cape Tribulation.
How to Get There: From Cairns, you just zip up the Captain Cook Highway to the Daintree River crossing. It should take you just under 3 hours. The walk starts at the Kulki day-use area – just look for the sign.
Difficulty: Here’s where we take it up a notch. This one is a little trickier. It’s a 7km-return walk, and a Grade 5 track, so only fit, experienced hikers should tackle this guy. You should give yourself around 6 hours to finish.
Defining Features: Set in the Daintree National Park, Mount Sorrow Ridge Trail is not to be underestimated. Your old New Balance shoes with the grip more worn than Warnie’s box just won’t cut it on this track. While it might get you sweating, this hike is worth it for the view. At the end, you’ll be welcomed by a lookout up in the clouds. Here you can feast your eyes on the Daintree coastline, Snapper Island, and beyond. Then head back down for a well-earned cold one.
Location: Twin Falls Circuit is at Springbrook National Park in the Gold Coast hinterlands.
How to Get There: If you’re coming from Brissy, shoot down the Pacific Motorway as though you’re headed to the Gold Coast. The exits you’ll want are 69, then 97, then 99 to Springbrook. You can start the walk from the Canyon Lookout or Tallanbana Picnic Ground. The drive should take you just under 2 hours.
Difficulty: This hiking track is 4km return, and takes around 1.5-2 hours to complete. It’s considered a Grade 3 track, so it’s fine for most ages and fitness levels, and includes some steep and rough parts. Some bushwalk experience is recommended – so maybe don’t go here if you’ve never hiked before.
Defining Features: What doesn’t this beauty have? Twin Falls Circuit gives you a bit of everything, with big old rock clefts, ancient palms and tree ferns, and not one, but two waterfalls (hence the name). It’s no bloody wonder this walking track is one of Springbrook National Park’s favourites. It puts you in prime position to have a stickybeak at the natural wonder of this beaut area. On this walk, you can spot brush box trees that have been hanging around for over 1,500 years. You can even stop for a dip in one of the rock pools. Twin Falls Circuit takes our gold for all of this and more.
To get your vehicle ready for its next adventure, be sure to check out the range of 4WD accessories on the Outback Equipment website.