Great camping in the central Darling Downs

The bustling rural centre of St George lies about 300 kilometres south west of Dalby via the Moonie Highway and 120 kilometres north of Mungindi in New South Wales via the Carnarvon Highway. Known for its cotton growing industry St George is located on the Balonne River making for some fantastic camping opportunities. Balonne River at sunsetThere are numerous bush camping spots, most with no facilities beside creeks or rivers to the north and south of town. Contact the Visitor Information Centre at St George for further details on these. For those wishing for a few creature comforts including hot showers pleasant camping can be found at the privately owned St George River Front Tourist Park formerly the Kapunda Fishing Park only a short 9 kilometres north of town via the Carnarvon Highway. This 35acre property provides delightful camping along the Balonne River where you can even throw a line in and maybe catch a feed of yellow-belly, murray cod or freshwater jew, all of which the Balonne is well known for. We always throw a line or two in when heading up this way however our fishing skills leave a lot to be desired so usually end up with the frozen kind. Always good fun though. Dogs are welcome although must be on a leash and powered sites as well as laundry facilities are also available. This is a great spot to spend a few days relaxing by the river with only a short run into town to pick up supplies.Kapunda Fishing Park 2For those after a nature based holiday there are several national parks well worth a visit and all offer good camping. The first is Lake Murphy Conservation Park. From the small township of Miles on the Leichardt Highway, head north to the even smaller hamlet of Taroom. Whilst in Taroom check out the Coolibah tree in the main street with the inscription ‘L.L.’. This historic tree was inscribed by explorer Ludwig Leichardt on his 1844 expedition and has become a feature and tourist attraction of this tiny town. From Taroom it is only 30km northwest via the Leichardt Highway to Lake Murphy. There is a grassed camping area separated into bays amongst the forest red gums and only a short stroll to the seasonally filled lake. Lake Murphy camping areaHere the same explorer that inscribed his initials back in Taroom, Ludwig Leichardt, camped in 1844. The lake has probably not changed much in the last 160 years. When full the lake becomes a refuge for thousands of water birds and is an amazing and loud place particularly at sunrise and sunset, well worth a stroll to the foreshore during these times. A walking track skirts the southern foreshore returning via Robinson Creek to the camping area and makes for a great walk early morning or late afternoon, the best times to spot the abundant wildlife that call the forest and lake shores home.Lake Murphy at sunset A night spotlight stroll might even turn up some usually shy night critters if you are game.Lake Murphy Wood barbecues and pit toilets are provided however bring your own firewood. The park is also a popular stop off point on the way to the rugged and remote Expedition National Park further west. There are a couple of camping areas located there with limited facilities, however the park is 4wd dry weather only access and visitors should be well equipped and prepared for this remote area.

Almost 50km north of Taroom just off the Leichardt Highway there is a small camping area at Isla Gorge National Park. Isla Gorge 3This small rugged park protects spectacular sandstone outcrops and gorges along the Dawson Range. A couple of short but interesting walks depart from the picnic area and are great any time of day. The dramatic colour changes over the rugged sandstone escarpment are simply breathtaking. The camping area sits atop the gorge itself and although small could easily accommodate caravans, motorhomes and camper trailers if required. Pit toilets are provided. Please note that wood fires are not permitted here so please bring your own gas/fuel stove.Isla Gorge 1

A little over 100km east of Isla Gorge National Park the wild, rugged and beautiful Auburn River National Park can be found. Easily accessed via the citrus growing capital of Queensland, Mundubbera (make sure your pronunciation is correct) this small park protects a section of the Auburn River. Over thousands of years the river has carved a deep gorge with its enormous pink coloured granite boulders that the river now flows over being a feature of this picturesque park. A rough 500metre walking track leaves from the camping area and descends down into the gorge, getting you up close and personal with these awesome boulders. The walk is well worth the effort although some rock scrambling is required to get the best view of the gorge and river, not a problem if you are agile. Don’t forget it is a bit of a heart pumper getting back up to the camping area so take your time and enjoy the scenery.Auburn River 2 Keep an eye out for the impressive bottle trees on the northern bank of the river and if you are lucky enough you may even spot the majestic peregrine falcons soaring high above, their homes being located opposite the camping area amongst the cliffs. Auburn River National Park is a birdwatchers and photographers paradise. The camping area sits high above the river on the northern bank and although the river cannot be seen from here it is only a short stroll to a lookout over the gorge and river. Campers are well catered for with individual bays laid out providing easy access for caravans, motorhomes and camper trailers and is well suited to car based camping. A gas barbecue and picnic shelter is located in the picnic area opposite the camping area. Bring your own firewood if you wish to have a campfire. Pit toilets are also provided.Auburn River camping area

All of these camping areas in this great part of Queensland can be visited all year round, however Summer can be very hot so we recommend visiting during the cooler months to make your visit more enjoyable. All of the national park camping areas require fees. We hope you enjoy visiting this great part of Queensland and consider throwing down your swag at one of these fantastic camping spots on your next visit.

4 thoughts on “Great camping in the central Darling Downs

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  1. Hello!
    Your photos of sunset/sunrises are beautiful. I was looking to see if there was a photo credit but didn’t see one.
    I’m a textile artist holding an exhibition in Dalby later this year and I’d like to recreate some sunsets from the region in fabric and paint. Would it be okay to use these photos as reference ? Or do you know of elsewhere I might find some?
    Thanks .. x


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