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The 9 best Gold Coast camping spots

Nightfall Wilderness Park (image supplied)

It’s been a year Gold Coasters and right now, any escape from the daily grind is a good escape. After a couple of seasons of complete overindulgence, cheap and cheerful is the go, so camping it is friends.

Luckily there are plenty of pretty places close by that will soothe your wanderlusting soul and BONUS, all you need is a tent, some two minute noodles and your very best sense of adventure.

Bigriggen Park
Found on the spectacular Scenic Rim, Bigriggen Park is very family-friendly and you may also bring along your fur babies if they need a break from a life of sleeping and eating. It’s only about an hour and a half from the Coast so just far enough to feel like you’ve escaped the city and it’s 55 hectares of land so plenty of spot for hiking, exploring and generally just enjoying the serenity. There’s also fishing and watersports and the lake at Maroon Dam is not too far away.
Get there: Head out toward Beaudesert and follow the signs toward Rathdowney and onto Bigriggen from there. 

The Settlement
Another immerse-yourself-in-nature gem, The Settlement is the only place you can camp in the Springbrook National Park. There’s no electricity or WiFi so you will certainly be escaping all the creature comforts you know and love (RIP Insta stories). Never fear though, you can amuse yourself by trekking to Purling Brook Falls and sizzling some snags at the BBQ area. Take a book or get involved in a good old-fashioned conversation.
Get there: Head towards Mudgeeraba and follow the signs to Springbrook then follow the signs to Carricks Rd.

South Stradbroke Island via Tourism & Events Queensland

Binna Burra
Found in the Lamington National Park, it’s only an hour but it feels like a lifetime away. There are full shower and toilet facilities, a coin-operated washing machines/tumble dryers, barbeque stoves,hot plates and milk and ice available at the on-site Lamington Teahouse. It’s an eco-friendly spot and you can spend as much time as you please exploring the surrounding national park. There are stunning views of the hinterland and the Tweed region beyond and you can choose from two and four-man tent sites, unpowered and powered drive-on sites and two, four and six-bed permanent Safari Tents. So all the things.
Get there: Find it on Binna Burra Rd, out toward Beechmont.

Mount Barney Lodge Campground
Here you’ll get full creek frontage, a swimming hole, open campfires (love) and a kids holiday adventure program. How good. Mount Barney Lodge Campground is a grassy and shaded spot complete with stunning views of Mt Barney, which is just across the road should you wish to embark on a climbing adventure. You can drive directly onto shady, unpowered and grassed camp sites with designated fire circles. Camper trailers, motorhomes, RV’s and caravans are welcome. There is also a non-vehicle area that is suitable for tents and families with children.
Get there: Pop Upper Logan Rd into your GPS and head toward the big old mountain. 

Thunderbird Park
Adventure is the name of the game at Thunderbird Park with plenty of activities for the kids both big and small. Play laser skirmish in the jungle, tackle the high ropes course at TreeTop Challenge, boost the adrenaline with a thrilling ride on the Canyon Flyer, enjoy a horse trail ride or play a round on the championship mini golf course. See, adventure. It’s not a quiet camping adventure but it’s definitely a fun one.
Get there: Head on out to Mount Tamborine and you’ll find Thunderbird Park on the corner of Cedar Creek Falls andTamborine Mountain Roads

Thunderbird Park (image supplied)

South Stradbroke Island
The wild southern sibling of far-more-populated North Stradbroke Island (name creativity is off the charts), South Straddy is always a good time. Getting there is an adventure in itself and the campground is surrounded by scrub so you’ll need to be self sufficient (you can’t drive on the island either). There are bathrooms and the like at Tipplers Kiosk so don’t despair but it’s definitely a down and dirty nature-lovers paradise.
Get there: By private boat or water taxi or hire a seaplane if you’re not short of a dollar.

Canungra
Specifically the James Sharp Memorial Park can be found on the banks of the Coomera River. It’s a big old grassy area with plenty of blessed shade (how’s the heatwave) and enough river for swimming, fishing, canoeing and whatever else floats your boat. Oh AND, you can bring your doggo (or cat if you must) and open fires are permitted because these good people appreciate the magic of marshmallows. If you’ve got a family, this spot might be your best bet.
Get there: Drive to Nerang and follow the signs to Canungra then turn off onto Beechmont Rd toward Witheren.

Nightfall Wilderness Camp
Okay so this place definitely doesn’t qualify as camping but diversity is key right. Nightfall Wilderness Camp is a five star glamping (best word) experience found in the Lamington National Park and it is F A N C Y. There’s bathtubs, food cooked over coals, comfy beds and the prettiest of furnishings. Also, the crew at Nightfall are dedicated to ecotourism so they protect the local wildlife and watch the creeks water quality. It’s an absolutely beautiful place and you should definitely spend some hard earned pennies here.
Get there: Head out toward Canungra then Beaudesert and follow the signs to Lamington National Park.

O’Reilly’s Campground
The newest camping ground of the bunch is set within the lush World Heritage Lamington National Park at O’Reilly’s. Your camping facilities include an open space communal camp kitchen with stunning views overlooking the McPherson Range, a fire-pit and gathering area and an amenities building – with pathways and ramping to enable accessibility for all guests. There are 24 campsites featuring Altitude and Basecamp sites, but 17 powered safari tents are also available if that’s more your jam.
Get there: Head out toward Canungra, once you reach The Canungra Hotel, turn onto Kidston Street off the main road in Canungra (Nerang-Beaudesert Road) as it turns into Lamington National Park Road. If you pass O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards you’re heading the right way (may as well pick up a bottle too!).

Words by Kirra Smith

O'Reilly's Campground at Sunset (Image supplied)
O'Reilly's Campground at Sunset (Image supplied)

Patriot Campers

Founder of Patriot Campers and Gold Coast local, Justin Montesalvo, talks about the impressive camper trailers that’ll make your outdoor experience that much more enjoyable.

If someone were to walk into Patriot Campers, what would they find?
Patriot Campers produce the best family touring and camping products in the country. Our Camper trailer range is our core business but we also produce top end tow vehicles based on the Landcruiser 79 and 200 series.

What was your motivation behind starting Patriot Campers?
We struggled for years to find a camper trailer that would accomodate the entire family without towing massive weight and lengths that all of our now competitors produce. We already had a business with state of the art sheetmetal equipment and engineers, we focused on producing an extremely compact and lightweight design with all the mod cons.

What’s the most important thing first time buyers should take into consideration?
Really working out what style of camping suits you makes all the difference when deciding on a camper trailer. Are you into touring, moving night after night or long stays at a favourite destination? This should be the major factor considered when buying or optioning a camper.

Best Patriot Campers product?
Our number 1 seller is our X1. We have won the Australian Camper Trailer of the Year the past 3 years in a row and are competing this month for our 4th title.

Why Patriot Campers? What makes it different to the others?
Patriot Campers has won the Australian Camper Trailer of the Year the past 3 years in a row. We manufacture using technologies and materials that are state of the art. Our designs just work, we practice what we preach and are constantly refining our designs based on real life use through our RnD.

Off road?
Our compact and lightweight designs ensure maximum off road ability by minimising the stress put on the tow vehicle. Our trailers come standard with high clearance independent suspension, mud terrain tyres and dual shock absorbers.

Are the Patriot Campers family friendly ? What are the creature comforts that are going to make the lady of your life think that this is a suitable item on Santa’s list?
Family is our focus, all our products revolve around family lifestyle. The trailers feature hot water, king size mattresses, plumbed sink, shower, living areas and even an option for a heated tent for maximum comfort.

Anything exciting that we can expect from Patriot Campers?
Every year we introduce a new model so yes, we are constantly coming up with new products, but we have to keep them top secret!

You’re not a Gold Coast local if you haven’t….spent a night on Stradbroke Island.

JUSTIN’S FAVOURITES
Camping spots on the Coast: North Stradbroke, Wave Break Island, Scenic Rim, Tweed Heads, Flanagan Reserve,
Gold Coast beaches: Wave Break Island, Stradbroke, Narrowneck
Gold Coast pubs: Northcliffe Surf Club
Camping pit stops: Manolas Brothers deli

By Amy Merridan

8 local spots to escape into nature

Burleigh Hill (Image: © 2019 Kirra Smith Photography)

Life hey, sometimes it’s rainbows and lollipops and sometimes it’s reality TV binging and becoming way too acquainted with Ben & Jerry (tell ‘em we say hi).

In our (extremely well researched) opinion, escaping your day-to-day life every once in awhile is key for a reality check and attitude reset. Particularly if you’re able to get outside and treat your senses to some sweet natural goodness.

As you may have guessed, we’ve found a few spots (yes we know there are more) you can do exactly that and BONUS, they’re right on your doorstep. Happy escapism friends.

Burleigh Hill
No not on a Sunday arvo with an esky full of beers and your way-too-dressed-up-for-grass-sitting squad. We’re talking a walk around the headland and up to the top of the actual hill itself (who knew right). From there you can bask in the beauty of the epic views and think about exactly how lucky you are to live on the Gold Coast. Beers are acceptable afterwards if you must.
Where: Burleigh Hill (you probs won’t miss it)

Picnic Rock
Ahh, sweet rocky serenity. Seriously though, this place is the goods if you’re keen for some alone time in a world heritage listed rainforest with incredible views (yes, hi). Wear your walking shoes because it’s a 3.5km walk through the rainforest to get there but once you do, perch yourself up on the rock with a ham and salad sandwich and marvel at the magic of mama nature.
Where: Drive to O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat (Canungra) then take the Border Track until you see the Picnic Rock turn off

Gold Coast Botanic Gardens (image supplied)

Gold Coast Botanic Gardens
It’s not a place we locals often visit but it should be if you’re in need of a quick nature hit without having to travel too far. There’s 31 hectares of uninterrupted greenness to wander about in plus there’s a sensory garden so you can get up close and personal with the plants. Oh, and there’s a butterfly garden AND a rose garden and if you don’t leave feeling all chilled out and in love with life we will eat our hats.
Where: 230 Ashmore Road, Benowa

Coombabah Lakelands Conservation Area
So it seems there are some absolutely stunning wetlands to the north of our delightful city and we’re sorry we haven’t brought this to your attention sooner. There are over 1,200 hectares (that’s big for those playing at home) of wetlands, eucalypt forest, salt marshs and mangrove habitats and you can just go on in there and wander around. Get up close and personal with native wildlife, go for a trail run or simply just sit back and watch the birds. Mind blown.
Where: Shelter Road, Coombabah

The Wishing Tree Track
Not sure about you, but the name of this track takes us back to our whimsical childhoods and that’s pure escapism if ever we saw it. Anywho, the adventure to the wishing tree itself is all downhill (lovely, until you gotta go back up again) and there’s all kinds of native delights to discover. Once you’ve found the tree you can keep going into Glow Worm Gully (stop it) or just chill there and make some wishes. Bye.
Where: At the Green Mountains below O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, Canungra

Currumbin Rock Pools (Image by Oksana Simakina)

Currumbin Rock Pools
A well known spot amongst Gold Coast locals is Currumbin Rock Pools, about ten minutes west of the Gold Coast Hwy on Currumbin Creek Rd. It’s the perfect place for a family picnic, a relax in the tiny rapids or a dip in the waterhole. Watch out for kids big and small jumping from the rocks above and be sure to take your camera to secure some sweet snaps.
Where: Currumbin Creek Road, Currumbin Valley

Warringa Pool
Oh hey no biggie but we found heaven and it comes in the shape of a pool of water at Springbrook. It’s a peaceful little swimming hole sheltered deep in a rainforest gully with views up and down the valley and honestly, when can we move in. You’ll also find a couple of other rock pools to try out should you get sick of Warringa (you won’t) and how good is fresh water.
Where: From the Settlement day-use area in Springbrook National Park, take the path to the Purling Brook Falls lookout

Hinze Dam
Yes we understand that a dam is a manmade structure but it can still be found in the midst of nature up Springbrook way so here it is on the list. Hinze Dam is a big old thing so you can cruise around and find a spot to chill that tickles your fancy. We particularly like the dark, dense trees that grow directly out of the water – perfect for pics – and if you get right down near the water you can (and should) go on a mini frog hunt. Tried and tested good times. You can also grab a cuppa and a tasty treat from View Cafe while you’re there.
Where: Advancetown Road, Advancetown

Words by Kirra Smith

Hinze Dam (Image via View Cafe)

5 Gold Coast hikes to get your blood pumping

Natural Bridge

Hiking. It’s an acquired taste but if walking long distances for the sheer joy of it floats your boat, where better to indulge than the picturesque Gold Coast. Particularly at the height of summer.

There are many places to trek around outside the comfort of your Netflix binge zone and here are five of them (from a literal walk in the park to the mother of all hiking adventures, in that order). Don’t forget water bottles and snacks.

Apple Tree Park Tracks
Sounds delightful doesn’t it. The park itself is actually a possible starting point for entry onto The Great Walk but allows your tired bones a bit of respite if 54km of walking is slightly out of your comfort zone (yes, hi). You can pretty much walk as far as you like, for as long as you like and then turn around and walk back for a picnic in the park. Take healthy foods so your walk doesn’t feel like it’s in vain.
Start: On Springbrook Rd next to the Springbrook Mountain Chalets

Natural Bridge
No doubt you’ve (at least) seen snaps of the stunning little spot that is Natural Bridge. A literal rock bridge in the middle of the rainforest complete with a sparkly waterfall and so much beautiful greenery and fresh air and relaxing wilderness noises. It’s a stunner and a fairly cruisy downhill walk to get there (bit slippery on the bridge so watch your step) and through the trees. Obvs it’s uphill on the way back but you won’t even notice you’ll be so chilled out. Make sure you’ve got a camera to capture the magic.
Start: Follow the signs towards Springbrook and then you will see signs for Natural Bridge on Natural Bridge Rd

Springbrook

South Stradbroke Island
Saying you’ve circumnavigated something is, quite frankly, a dream that’s always been somewhat unattainable. Until now. It’s possible to walk the entire way around South Straddy and, while it might take you awhile (it’s 21km long and 2.5km wide) it’s well worth it for the breathtaking views. Walking from the western side to the east will only take you around an hour so that’s quite relaxing. All the way around will take you at least a day so ensure you pack provisions. Once you’re done you should definitely stop in at McLarens Landing (the pub) because a hard earned thirst needs a big cold beer.
Start: Take the ferry from Hope Island and start your walk from wherever your little heart desires

Toolona Creek Circuit
Keen for a day of walking? Neither, but there are some folks who might be. To those people we say, get on board the Toolona Creek Circuit. The first part will take you to Picnic Rock and along the Toolona Creek to the falls. From there you can detour to the lookout for a rest and gaze lovingly out at the Tweed Valley, Mt Warning, Byron Bay and Straddy (hi hiking friends). Sounds chill enough except the entire track will probably take you around seven hours too. Prepare before you go and if it gets too much, turn yourself around and head home. Good luck.
Start: Head to Canungra and follow the signs to Lamington Plateau, Green Mountain Car Park aka O’Reillys.

The Great Walk
Go hard or go home right. This one’s a doozy and you might want to carve out a good chunk of time for the 54km trek. It’s best to start at Lamington National Park and finish at Springbrook and they say to allow three days to complete the walk (sheer joy remember). You’ll skirt around the rim of the Tweed Volcano and pass through the ancient lands of the Yugambeh people. Maybe put in a bit of practice with the walks below before you set out on this little adventure, it ain’t for the faint hearted. Take plenty water, camping gear and ensure you’re equipped for all weather possibilities.
Start: From the Pacific Motorway, take the Nerang exit (exit 69 from the north, exit 71 from the south) and follow the signs to Lamington National Park.

Words by Kirra Smith

South Stradbroke Island
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