Queensland has some pretty amazing beach camping, but there’s not too many spots that are quick, and easy to access. Carmila Beach changes this, and is a hugely popular, low cost camp site right on the edge of a big, beautiful beach.
Where is Carmila Beach?
Carmila Beach Camping is just down the road from Carmila itself, and you’ll find this roughly 2 hours north of Rockhampton, or an hour south of Sarina. It’s roughly 5km off the Bruce Highway, and is quick, easy and convenient to get to.
What’s Carmila Beach Camping like?
Carmila Beach is pretty beautiful, and we arrived to a big, nice camp site with a swing for the kids, overlooking the water and we were very chuffed. It is a beautiful area, and we enjoyed our stay, but its certainly got some caveats.
What does it cost to camp?
Camping here is $14 a night per site, which is pretty good value.
Carmila Beach Amenities
There’s drop toilets at Carmila Beach, and a dump point that has no hose. We didn’t use the toilets as we have our own, and the dump point is pretty average without a hose (exactly as you’d expect), but its better than none at all!
There’s 3 different camping zones
When you drive in, you’ll see the first sign that states Zone 1, caravans. This has the largest sites with the least amount of soft sand, and is quite popular. If you continue on, you’ll get to Zone 2, which is for camper trailers and tents, and then you’ll get to zone 3, which is for tents.
Now, its not a hard and fast rule, and we saw caravans in all of the zones, but you should know that there is some very soft sand around the traps, and if you drive in without first checking the area out, you’ll probably look back and kick yourself.
The campground is absolutely massive, and we walked one day to see the rest of it, and it just keeps going on and on for miles. We stayed on a weekend and there was plenty of space available, but it does get busy apparently, and zone 1 and 2 fill first.
What’s not good about Carmila Beach?
We were awfully spoilt coming from Carmila Beach, and despite booking two nights, we very nearly left after one night, and we’ve never done that on our Lap of Australia. We changed our tunes the next day and had a great stay overall, but there’s certainly some downsides of Carmila Beach:
The booking system
The only way to book Carmila Beach Camping at present is to go to the council in person, or to ring and pay over the phone.
In nearly a year of travel, I’ve never had to do this, and it was pretty clear that the staff at Isaac council would also like online booking to be possible. The phone reception is average which makes calling hard, and it’s a huge waste of time for you doing the booking, and the staff at the council.
It also means you can only do it during business hours, which is absolutely useless when the bulk of the people visit over the weekend, and arrive, and leave outside of these hours. I find it hard to believe that an online system hasn’t been put in place yet, but there you go.
Our primary qualm though, was the sand flies, which were much worse than Notch Point, and everyone got bitten quite a bit.
They don’t seem to bother me much (asides from the initial bite), but Sarah and the kids get big red bites that swell and look terrible, and then of course itch like no tomorrow. Now, I think if you’re going to camp anywhere in the northern QLD coast you have to expect these little blighters, but they hit us harder here.
Toilet paper and rubbish
Our camp site in zone 1 was really clean, and we didn’t see too much rubbish around, but as I walked down further the camp sites aren’t very well kept. Morons have gone to the toilet in the bush everywhere, and left toilet paper all over the place, along with a fair bit of rubbish.
It’s pretty disgusting, and no real fault of the council, but it needs a solid clean. There’s also a lot of bollards down, and fencing damage, which just gives the area a really untidy look.
The sand is quite dirty, and the beach is muddy
This might sound petty, but its said with good intentions. We’re used to camping in the bush, and have stayed at all sorts of sites over the years. We love a good beach camp, but the sand at Carmila Beach is quite brown and dusty above the high tide mark, which is where you camp.
We put our Cgear mat out, which does a great job, but your feet end up filthy even walking around in thongs, and you just feel a bit feral without having a wash.
I was surprised also, when I realised that the beach has a lot of mud in it. We went to walk out to the water, and I sunk to by shins in sloppy mud, and its all over the beach. You can find some firmer bits, but if you’re walking out further, expect it to be muddy.
How does it compare to Cape Palmerston and Notch Point?
There is no comparison between Cape Palmerston and Notch Point, and Carmila Beach. The later is beautiful, but no where near as nice as Cape Palmerston and Notch Point, and we’d go back to them well before going to Carmila Beach.
Is it 2WD accessible?
Yes, in sections, and we saw a number of 2WD vehicles come in and camp. I would say it’d be incredibly easy to get stuck too, so pick very wisely where you drive!
Would we go back to Carmila Beach?
I feel like I’ve been pretty harsh on this place, and its not done out of spite. I really enjoyed Carmila beach, and it would go down as one of our favourite spots for the kids with the swing, and hammock that we set up. It’s a great spot, but we just found Cape Palmerston and Notch Point much better, and that’s the crux of it.
We’d go to Notch Point any day of the week over Carmila Beach. Have you been there? What did you think of it?