Jardine Station; Inland Queensland Paradise

The coastline of Queensland is by far and away the most popular part of the state, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t fantastic places to explore if you head inland. We did exactly this, just as the June school holidays started in hopes to avoid some of the crowds, and the massive hikes in prices that go with it.

We had previously enjoyed an amazing time at Chillagoe and were inspired to see some of the less commonly travelled places in the middle of Queensland, and headed out through Mt Surprise to Jardine Station. This is a working cattle station that is open for low cost, bush camping and Sarah had picked it as a good spot to check out.

Jardine Station at Ellendale Hole
Jardine Station is another truly epic inland Queensland property
Jardine Station at the beach
The scenery here is unbelievable, and its so peaceful

Where is Jardine Station?

You’ll find this massive property some 55 kilometres from Mt Surprise, and around 85km from Georgetown. It’s down the Gregory Development Road, which continues onto Copperfield Gorge and Einasleigh, where there are some ripper free camps.

Copperfield Gorge views
Jardine Station is only 20km away from Einasleigh, and Copperfield Gorge

What does it cost to camp?

Camping is $10 per adult per night here, with kids free, which is pretty reasonable. You pay cash to the caretaker, or the owners depending on who you see first (or use the honesty box).

It took me a while to warm up

Photos can be awfully misleading, and I had a picture in my head of camping metres from water that we could swim in, and that did not eventuate. I did comment on the property being very picturesque as we drove in, but felt deflated when we drove around for some time trying to find a nice camp site, near the water.

There is one good spot closer to the water at the beach, but it was taken and unless you want to play with low tyre pressures getting anywhere nearby was not worth the effort, so we set up further back, in a flat section that was covered in dry grass, and as luck would have it, had lots of ants everywhere.

We arrived in the middle of the day when it was awfully hot, and spent the first few hours sitting in the shade, waiting the heat out.

Camped at the beach on Jardine Station
Our first camp site was a decent distance from the water, hot and had lots of ants

Now, I should know not to develop expectations of places, as they’ve all got their own beauty, and once it started to cool down a bit, and I went for a walk, my tunes started to change.

You should know that this has happened on many occasions; I didn’t like Magic Pool in the Pilbara when we first arrived either, and to this day it is one of our favourite camp sites we’ve ever been to.

Magic Pool Camping
I didn’t really like Magic Pool when we first arrived, and that’s one of the most amazing places in the country

I didn’t really rate Mern Merna Station when we first arrived either, but the same thing happened; once it cooled down and the sun started to dip, the place changes and it is truly beautiful.

We had a truly amazing stay at Jardine Station, with a magic next day at Ellendale Hole, and as we departed, I was feeling guilty that I’d ever doubted the property as somewhere incredible.

Ellendale Hole is gorgeous
Ellendale Hole is magic beyond words

It was so good in fact, that we returned after a visit to Karumba for another night (on the way to Copperfield Gorge), camped at Ellendale Hole, and we had one of the best afternoons and mornings of our trip. I have no doubt this will be up in the top 5 places we’ve stayed at for our two young kids, and we really fell in love with it too.

Kayaking in Ellendale Hole
Our kids completely and utterly loved this place

Where can you camp?

There are three places you can camp at Jardine Station:

The lagoon

The first is the lagoon, which is at the front of the property, right behind the first gate you drive through, and where the camping sign is. This has toilets and showers next to it, and looked like it had a fair bit of bird life around. With two young kids who love swimming we chose to continue on, and after a short visit to the Homestead we called into the other two camping sites.

It’s fairly open here, with some tree’s for shade, but you’re right near the main road (not that there is much traffic), and right at the front of the property.

Jardine Lagoon
The lagoon at Jardine Station, at the front of the property

Ellendale Hole

The next fastest spot to get to is Ellendale Hole, which is absolutely beautiful down the bottom, with a big pool, stunning views and amazing swimming. The camp sites however, are at the top of the hill, around 200 metres away. They are flat, well used and despite being told that the beach has better camping, we probably prefer Ellendale Pool. 

The views at the Beach are certainly better, but the swimming, kayaks and pool was far more enjoyable for us, and you can drive your vehicle down to the bottom and spend the entire day there very easily.

Camped at Ellendale Hole
Camped above Ellendale Hole as the sun goes down

The beach

The last spot, which is equally as popular as the lagoon is called the beach, and overlooks a stunning part of a valley, with big rolling hills in the distance, and has a small river flowing through it.

The access to the water at the beach is a bit of a walk though; expect to have to head down at least 50 metres if you’re at one of the closer camp sites, and more if you’re camped further away.

Camping in shade on the Beach
One of the camp sites at the Beach is really good, but the other spots are either really soft and sandy, or quite a distance back

This has a nice little creek that would flow into the main river in the wet, which the kids loved playing in with their little cars and trucks. The beach has plenty of places that you can get into the water, and a huge number of rocks for the kids to play on. You can walk for kilometres to explore this area, and its really stunning at Sunset or Sunrise.

The water at the beach is much shallower, but even at the end of June it had quite a bit of algae floating down, and if you sat on any of the rocks in the water you’d end up with a slimy, brown bum. 

Jardine Station Beach
A couple of groups camped at the Beach
Our camp site at the beach
We were back a bit, but still had great views

Which camp site is best?

That’s going to depend on what you like, but we spent a solid day down the bottom at Ellendale Pool (and basically another one when we came back for a second time), and absolutely loved it. The camping here is nothing amazing, and it’s a 100 – 150 metre walk to the water, but there’s shade at the bottom, a nice sandy section to kick back in and the pool is brilliant for swimming.

Views at Ellendale Hole
We preferred Ellendale Pool due to the swimming and kayaks, but the beach has great views from camp

Free kayak use

At Ellendale Hole there’s 2 kids kayaks, 2 adults kayaks and a double person canoe available for anyone to use, left on the shore. These were a massive highlight of our visit to the station, with a majority of our time spent enjoying the pool, with the kids paddling around everywhere.

You can paddle up a few hundred metres in the pool, and a bit downstream too, with lots of amazing scenes to be had, and places to paddle into. Early one morning we went for a paddle and sitting there in the kayak with your family, with a mirror finish, amazing reflections and great bird life around is up there with the best experiences you’ll have on a Lap of Australia.

Kayaking with the kids
The kayaks take Jardine station from a great spot, to a spectacular spot

Freshwater crocodiles, bird life and wallabies

Jardine Station is well known for its bird life, with twitchers coming from all over to have a look. We saw a number of interesting birds, and weren’t sure what many of them were. On the flip side, you’ll see quite a few freshwater crocodiles in Ellendale Pool at night (with a head torch; look for their eyes), or you can often see them during the day floating around or on the banks.

These are incredibly timid though; you can’t get anywhere near them without them disappearing to the depths of the water, and they only appear again when things are calm and quiet.

Freshwater Croc at Jardine Station
We saw one freshwater crocodile from a distance, but it would always go under if you got near
Freshwater Crocodile at Ellendale Hole
I did manage to get a ripper photo on the drone though

We also saw quite a few wallabies in the rocks down at Ellendale Pool, which was great for the kids.

What amenities are there?

If you stay at the lagoon, there’s hot showers and flushing toilets. If you camp elsewhere, you need to be completely self sufficient, and that means having your own toilet with you.

Do you need a 4WD?

You can get a 2WD vehicle with a bit of clearance to the station, and you’d even get it to all of the camp sites, but its starting to push the friendship. Having a 4WD makes it far more suitable to get to the beach and Ellendale Hole.

Driving into Ellendale Hole
You can get away without a 4WD, but its advised for Ellendale Hole and the Beach. Caravans can get to both, with clearance and care

See our vlog

Keen to see some amazing footage of this spectacular place? Check out our vlog:

YouTube video

Is it worth a stay?

Yes, absolutely. I’d be dishonest if I didn’t say I didn’t like it initially, but left feeling very grateful we’d come, and I’d 110% recommend it. Don’t expect to camp metres from the water, in formal camp sites that are level, cleared and numbered, and you’ll have a great time.

It’s a very pretty cattle station that is open for camping, and it is beautiful bush camping at its root. I suspect that this place is going to take off in terms of popularity and then the camp sites will be made a bit more formal, but for now its a quiet, incredibly peaceful place that you should absolutely visit and stay at.

Visit Jardine Station. It's magic
Jardine Station is such a beautiful place, and totally worth a visit

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