Conondale camping

To the west of the Sunshine Coast and only a short couple of hours from Brisbane there is a camping destination that just must be on your list. Hidden deep within the lush and rugged Conondale Ranges lies the beautiful tall forests of Conondale National Park, Imbil and Jimna State Forests. These forests have long been a popular camping destination for city folk to escape the daily grind for the weekend, so if you are planning a visit here try to make it mid week and out of school holiday times for a more tranquil experience.
The starting point for our tour of this area is at the small hamlet of Kenilworth. Even though you are only a short distance from the hustle and bustle of the coast it feels like you are in another world. The quaint village is the perfect spot to top up on those last minute supplies. Don’t forget to call into the Tourist Information Centre in the main street to grab some pamphlets and up to date information on the area. Our first port of call is the Charlie Moreland picnic and camping area just south of Kenilworth. Located on the banks of Little Yabba Creek this large, partly shaded camping area is within Imbil State Forest and is even suitable for caravans. It is a great spot to base yourself whilst exploring this scenic area. charlie mooreland caSeveral delightful walks depart from the camping area including an 8km-demanding hike to Mount Allan. We are told the view is well worth the effort, however we are yet to tackle this arduous climb. Maybe next time!
A little further south of Charlie Moreland the Booloumba Creek camping areas within Conondale National Park can be found. There is both conventional and four wheel drive vehicle access to the camping areas. Hidden deep within a rainforest gully on the banks of Booloumba Creek there are three picturesque camping areas to choose from.Conondale 4 Booloumba Creek Number 1 is the largest and best laid out of these with mostly tent based sites over bollards. There are even cold showers for those that wish to indulge. Be aware as with most camping in Queensland sites must be pre-booked prior to setting up and all sites are numbered. There is a public phone at the information board and entrance to Number 1 camping area if you need to book when you arrive. There is no mobile phone service in the park. Conondale 1There are a couple of rainforest walks that depart from Booloumba Creek, one even to an old gold mine although nothing much remains today. From the Boolumba Creek camping areas it is possible to take the 37km scenic forest drive which makes for a pleasant couple of hours.Conondale 3 The tall and diverse forests here are home to many and varied wildlife including the threatened yellow-bellied glider which you may be privileged enough to spot during your stay. With tall open forest, rainforest, mountain peaks and bubbling brooks this certainly is a diverse place to explore. Just a word of warning! Make sure you are prepared for all weather. On our last visit here we arrived in blazing sunshine, by the time we had set up camp the black clouds had begun to roll in and the sound of distant thunder broke the nightly silence. Almost within an hour we had had a downpour, the clouds moved off revealing a starlit night and the thunder could be heard moving swiftly towards the coast.
Adjoining the west of Conondale National Park still within the rugged Conondale Ranges lies the just as scenic Jimna State Forest. The focal point of Jimna is the 44 metre high Jimna Fire Tower. It was once possible to climb the 241 steps to the viewing platform however this has not been possible for several years now. There is even talk that this massive man made structure could be left to rack and ruin or even worse dismantled due to lack of funding for repair and restoration works. This would be a great shame and a loss of part of our heritage.Jimna 1 Just down the road from the fire tower beside the fresh waters of Yabba Creek are the grassy flats of Peach Tree camping area. This is a large open camping area with plenty of room to spread out. A perfect spot to pitch the tent for the night. Jimna 5There are a couple of walks that also depart from the camping area with the short stroll along Yabba Creek the best way to spot the resident platypus at dusk or dawn. Please be aware this is also a popular camping area so it is best to plan your visit for midweek away from school holiday times to make for a more pleasant experience. Again you will have to pre-book your campsite here through Smart Service Queensland prior to setting up camp.Jimna 4For trail bike riders there is another place well worth checking out. Just east of Kenilworth, Mapleton State Forest has over 30km of trails, of which all are signposted and one way making it a safe place to explore. The Gheerulla camping area is a small shady site within the forest beside Gheerulla Creek.Mapleton 1All of the forest camping areas here are a great alternative to the coast and with plenty of bushwalking, bird and wildlife spotting and sightseeing it is the perfect camping destination for the whole family.

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