The July School Holidays were upon us and we set off for a two week trip into Central Queensland. The only real plans were to make it to The Gemfields and Carnarvon Gorge and the rest we worked out along the way.
Sandstone Park at Carnarvon Gorge was the only campsite we pre-booked because we were told it could be busy, however, we only phoned them two days before arriving and they were able to accommodate us. The rest of the time we worked out the general area we were heading and used WikiCamps to find the campsites.
WHERE DID WE GO?
➡ CLICK ON THE MAP TO OPEN IN GOOGLE MAPS ⬅
CENTRAL QUEENSLAND TRIP PLAN
The first day we followed the New England Highway to Bendemeer which is around 40kms north of Tamworth in NSW. We stayed at the low cost camp in town – Bendemeer Camping Ground. You can check out some more pictures and info here. It is a great option for a quick overnight stay.
DAY 2 – 3
It was a very fresh and icy start to the second day so it didn’t take much convincing to get in the car and continue to head north to seek out some warmth.
Today we crossed the NSW/QLD border and set up camp at Lake Coolmunda for two nights. Lake Coolmunda is a beautiful spot right on the water. The camping area is large and there are no designated sites so you are free to set up wherever you like. If you can do without power, this is a great low cost option with amenities and fires are allowed.
Check out our review here.
After a relaxing couple of days at Lake Coolmunda it was time to once again head further north in the direction of The Gemfields.
Our next overnight stop was Mundubbera Showground. Another great low cost find thanks to WikiCamps! For only $16.50 per site you have access to power, water, amenities and ample space.
Mundubbera is a great little country town with an abundance of shops in the main street. Well worth a stop on the way through!
We were getting further into Central Queensland and covering lots of new ground. Around 45 minutes north of Biloela we found a great FREE camp called Lake Victoria!! If we were not on a time frame, we definitely would have stayed here for a few more days.
We had a very quiet night by the fire (only three other campers and they were nowhere near us) and even caught some red claw during our short stay.
Next stop: Emerald and The Gemfields!
DAY 6 – 8
On the way to Emerald we stopped in Blackwater and visited the Australian Coal Mining Museum. The Museum is located inside the International Coal Centre and for a small fee you can wander through the interactive mining displays and learn all about the past, present and future of the coal mining industry.
We arrived in Emerald and decided to stay 15 minutes south of the township at a place called Higher Ground Homestay. This campsite is a property that the owners have opened up for low cost camping. There are no amenities here, however, power and water is available if you need it. Click on this link for more details.
ATTRACTIONS WE VISITED
Lake Maraboon is a short 5 minute drive from Higher Ground Homestay and a very pretty place to visit. Popular spot for water sports and stocked with red claw apparently!
We day tripped to The Gemfields and visited the towns of Anakie, Sapphire & Rubyvale.
The Gemfields are approximately 45 mins west of Emerald and an interesting and fun place to explore!! From a drive around the working gemfields, fossicking for your own gems, a look at the many galleries and gem shops and underground mine tours… you’ll easily fill in a day!
This sculpture below was designed to mirror the colours of the beautiful gemstones found in the area. It is located at the rest area at Anakie.
MINERS COTTAGE FOSSICKING – Rubyvale
This was such great value!! For $15 you get…
- A big bucket of wash.
- Expert instructions on how to find your gems!
- Tea/coffee and scones delivered to your table!!!
- Once you are done fossicking, they sort your stash and tell you all about your gems.
We spent around 2.5 hours here and had so much fun finding our gems!
Here’s a video of our experience!
MINERS HERITAGE WALK IN MINE – Rubyvale
This is Australia’s largest underground sapphire mine and they conduct 45 minute guided tours. Very informative tour.
You can buy bags of wash and fossick in their designated area as well.
We had a great day visiting The Gemfields – don’t miss it if you are in the area!
DAY 9 – 12
We had our sights set on Carnarvon Gorge for a few days of hiking and exploring. We stayed at Sandstone Park which is only a 5 minute drive to the start of the main walking track.
Our time exploring Carnarvon Gorge was nothing short of fabulous! The landscape is stunning and there are so many amazing walks to immerse yourself in.
We’ve put together a Day Hike Guide with loads of information and pictures of all the amazing things we experienced. Check it out here.
We could have easily stayed at Carnarvon Gorge longer but unfortunately we had to start the trek home. Heading off from Sandstone Park we travelled to Roma where we found a lovely farmstay to camp at overnight.
Meadowbank Farmstay is around 10kms west of Roma and a great place to settle in for a peaceful night stay. Low cost with plenty of space and clean amenities. There is a museum on the property too and is open at certain times throughout the week for tours.
On our way to Mungindi we stopped in at Thallon to view the painted silos.
Thallon is a small rural town approximately 530kms west of Brisbane, QLD. The signs on the Highway will point you in the direction of the silos.
The painted silos in Thallon were officially launched in July 2017 and are the first of their kind in Queensland.
The artwork titled The Watering Hole is a rural scene based on pictures from the Thallon area and was developed by the Artists Joel Fergie and Travis Vinson. It took three weeks to complete the 30 metre high masterpiece and over 500 litres of paint and 500 spray cans were used!!
On a previous trip we had stayed at Mungindi in the free camp in the middle of town. WikiCamps showed another free camp just south of Mungindi on the Boomi River so we thought we would check that out and we are glad we did! This campground was well off the highway and we had the place to ourselves! Find out all about it here.
We stayed at Lake Keepit on our final night. Lake Keepit is 60kms north west of Tamworth in NSW.
Reflections Holiday Park has a number of camping options available. You can stay in the caravan park or there is ample space in the unpowered bush camping area on the other side of the dam.
The dam was only at 11.1% at the time of our visit. Last time we stayed was 2013 and here’s a comparison picture of the water level.
We made the final leg of our two week trip and arrived home …to start planning the next trip!
➡ This trip cost us $237.50 in camp fees!!
▶️ 15 nights
▶️ 9 different campsites
▶️ Average of $15.83 per night (2A & 2K)!
➡ We travelled approximately 3500kms
We had a great time and we are looking forward to exploring more of Central Queensland on another trip.