Queensland, the ‘sunshine state’ of Australia is home many famous natural attractions. Places like Great Barrier Reef, Fraser Island and Whitsundays are on the bucket list of numerous backpackers traveling the east coast but unfortunately in order to see these places you have to spend quite a lot of money on tours or boat trips.
If you are doing the east coast seriously on a budget I have some good news for you: there is a lot of gorgeous national parks to visit totally free of charge! Here are my top 5 favorite national parks we visited in Queensland . Most of these are located in the northern part of the state.
TIP: If you want to enjoy these places in peace and quiet, avoid visits during school holiday times.
1. Girringun National Park (Wallaman Falls)
Wallaman Falls is the longest one drop waterfall in Australia and it is truly a spectacular sight. The falls are located in Girringun National Park in northern Queensland about 50 kilometers west from Ingham. The drop of the falls is 268 meters high and the pool at the bottom is 20 meters deep.
Even though the views from the lookout are amazing I still recommend to take the walk down to the bottom of the falls. The walk is short and easy (though a bit steep) and it takes you through a beautiful lush rainforest. Reserve about an hour for the walk, or even more depending how long you want to spend down admiring the falls.
There is a campsite near the falls that costs you around 6$ per night. If you want to stay there you must book ahead because there is no mobile reception.
More information about the area and camping click here.
2. Paluma Range National Park
Paluma Range National Park contains two sections: Mount Spec (61 km north of Townsville) and Jourama Falls (91 km north of Townsville).
We visited Big Crystal Creek and Rockslides in this part of the national park. Big Crystal Creek is a nice big rock pool, but the absolute highlight of this park are the Rockslides. Follow the signs from the Big Crystal Creek towards Rockslides and you find a beautiful waterhole with a small water slide. There are more and bigger slides located above this pool so continue the walk even further to enter this nature’s own water park where you’ll find three super smooth and super fun water slides!
There is campground located at Big Crystal Creek, that costs around 6$ per night. More information about the park and camping possibilities click here.
The walking track to Jourama Falls takes you through a beautiful forest and to the lookout of the falls. This is the easy path and not that special I think. The best thing to do in here is to get out from the path and take a walk to a picturesque area next to the falls with massive boulders, small waterfalls and water holes. The most fun part was to climb all the way to the falls, there is no path so you just have to find your way over the rocks. Few parts on the way did require some climbing skills so be careful if you are planning to do this.
There is also a possibility to camp near the falls, costs around 6$ per night. More information about camping and about the park click here.
3. Wooroonooran National Park
We visited two places in this national park: Nandroya Falls and Josephine Falls.
Palmerston (Nandroya Falls)
This section of the national park is located about 30 kilometers west from Innisfail. We took the Nandroya Falls circuit track and can easily recommend that track to all waterfall lovers The walk takes you through a lush rainforest where you pass several other smaller waterfalls until you reach the highlight, the Nandroya Falls around half way of the track. The whole circuit is about 6 kilometers so reserve at least two hours for the walk. We also saw a cassowary on our way to the falls!
There is also a possibility to camp in this national park, more information click here.
This place is quite popular place due to easy access and proximity to Cairns (about 75 kilometers south). The falls area is indeed pretty awesome – you can enjoy the beautiful scenery, swim in the pools or slide in the rockslides. Great place to hang out on warm weather!
Unfortunately there is no camping in this area. More info about the area click here.
4. Noosa National Park
If you are going to Noosa Heads the Noosa National Park is definitely a place to visit. We took the coastal track and I really recommend to take that walk, it offers fantastic views to the ocean and you pass some great beaches along the way. Tea Tree Bay is nice for surfing though it can get really crowded. The national park is also great place to spot koalas so keep your eyes on the trees! We saw one close to Tea Tree Bay. Also dolphin and whale sightings are not uncommon.
Unfortunately there is no possibility to camp in this national park. More information click here.
5. Cape Hillsborough National Park
Located about 50 kilometers north-west from Mackay, this national park is a place where ocean meets rainforest. It is also famous for its kangaroos on a beach during sunrise, although the beach is pretty amazing also without the roos. There are few walking tracks to choose from but we just decided to take a walk on a beach and admire the beautiful scenery.
There is also possibility for camping, more information click HERE.
TIP: Use WikiCamps to navigate your way to the national parks. Keep your eye on sites that are marked as “points of interest”, you may find some really cool places!
What are your favorite National Parks in Queensland? Please share in the comments below. 🙂