In the northern parts of Queensland, beach camping is fairly few and far between, and when you do find a spot, its paid, or blowing a gale from the south east. After leaving Townsville though, we stumbled across Crystal Creek Beach Camping area, which is both free, and looked like the winds would be suitable so we headed in.
Where is the Crystal Creek Beach Camping area?
This camping area is not too far away from the main, well known Crystal Creek camping area with the waterslides.
You take the turn off at the Crystal Creek caravan park, and follow the road for some time, until you hit where the creek meets the ocean, and then start looking for a site beyond the permanent shacks, or huts as they’re often called.
What’s the road like?
It’s a reasonable drive in here. It’s certainly suitable for a base to do day trips from, but its not a 5 minute drive back to the highway; you’re looking at around 15 – 20 minutes of gravel, and then narrow bitumen before you arrive.
There were many full size vans that had visited here, but the road is also corrugated and narrow in sections, and you want to take it easy.
There’s also a 3.3 metre bridge that you absolutely must be able to fit under, or you’re going to give your setup a haircut.
Where are you allowed to camp?
There’s a couple of camp sites along Crystal creek itself, and we saw a few people setting up here to fish and get different views.
If you keep following the road though, you’ll see a heap of private property chains blocking access to various houses and shacks. Beyond this, the camp sites open up and there’s a lot of places either right on the beach, near the track along the front of the beach, or tucked into the trees.
You can pick where you want to go; there’s lots of choice. If you want the least chance of getting bogged, stick to the camp sites in the trees, and access them from the main track.
If you’ve had a look, and are confident in your rig you can head through some of these camp sites and onto the main beach track, but know that there are only a handful of turning around options, and if you’re a big, heavy rig you may have to let tyres down substantially to do this.
We managed to drive in and out without deflating at all, but chose to go where it looked solid, and avoid the softer sections. As it was, we did sink down a fair bit coming around one corner, so it’d be easy to get stuck.
There was one big, full size off road van camped close to the beach with a Dodge Ram towing it, so its doable, but stick within your own limitations.
What amenities are there?
There’s no amenities here, which means you must bring in what you need, and leave zero trace.
What’s its really like?
We love beach camping, and coming from Western Australia are well and truly spoilt. When we arrived, it was blowing a constant 40km/h and although it wasn’t unpleasant, it wasn’t exactly amazing either.
Fortunately the sand was mostly wet, and big granules so there was none blowing around (except when the kids flicked it!) and we spent a mostly enjoyable afternoon here.
The next morning was much calmer, and it was pretty amazing to wake up and look out of the window to spectacular views.
The beach here is nice for the kids; at low tide there’s small pools around that they can play and splash in, as long as you are aware of crocodiles being a possibility; as the creek is just around the corner. I wouldn’t be going anywhere that a crocodile could sneak up on you!
Overall, it’s a great place. The beaches further south (and in WA) are certainly much nicer, but for no charge each night, easy access and pretty spectacular views, you have absolutely nothing to complain about.
We’d stay here again, if we were confident that the wind was going to be nice and calm.