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Top 5 outback camps

Adventures

We've scoured the country to bring you these cracking outback camps - they may be off-the-beaten-track, but that's what makes these little-known spots so special.

1. RAINBOW VALLEY, NT

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A trip to the iconic Red Centre is not complete without spending a few nights at Rainbow Valley, a spectacular destination only a couple of hours’ drive from the big smoke of Alice Springs.

Heading 75km south along the Stuart Highway, this beautiful conservation reserve is accessed via a 22km unsealed road which is notorious for its corrugations. It is not advisable to take an on-road van on this track. 

The striking rock formations of Rainbow Valley are well known for their rainbow-like bands which seem to glow at sunset when the deep reds are transformed into bright oranges.

Two campgrounds are provided and fees and payable via the honesty box. You need to be completely self-sufficient as there is no water.

Location: The turn-off is 75km south of Alice Springs along the Stuart Highway; the reserve is a further 22km on an unsealed access road

Camping: $3.30/adult; $1.65/child or $7.70/family/night

Facilities: pit toilets, wood fire pits, picnic tables and communal gas barbecues

2. LAWN HILL NATIONAL PARK, QLD

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It is a long journey to Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park, but to experience this emerald oasis, surrounded by Livistona palms, pandanus and white cedar trees, in the middle of dry savannah country is something not to be missed and will always be remembered. The park is a place of breathtaking beauty, with Lawn Hill Creek winding its way through steep sandstone cliffs and cascading down majestic waterfalls.

Access is through Gregory Downs, with the last 100km unsealed, but it’s in good enough condition to allow caravans to get to the park.

The Lawn Hill Gorge camping area is located 4km from the park entrance. Sites must be booked in advance and can be paid online. Alternative camping is available at Adel’s Grove, 10km from the national park.

Location: 207km north of the Barkly Highway and 100km west of Gregory Downs

Camping: $6.15/person or $24.60/family/night

Facilities: cold showers, flush toilets and water

3. KINGS CREEK STATION, NT

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Nestled at the foot of the spectacular George Gill Range in the heart of Central Australia, Kings Creek Station is the realisation of a dream of modern-day pioneers Ian and Lyn Conway. Their vision was the beginning of Kings Creek Station, now a successful cattle and camel station with a variety of accommodation and tours for tourists who come from all over the world to experience this outback place of inspiration where the adventure never ends. Tours include camel rides, quad bike adventures and scenic helicopter flights.    

Kings Creek Station is 36km from King’s Canyon and about 300km from Alice Springs. Grassed and non-grassed sites are available with or without power.             

Location: 450km on sealed roads from Alice Springs

Camping: Powered sites: $24.50/adult; $9.50/child (6-16) or $52/family/night. Unpowered sites: $21.50/adult; $8.50/child; $46.50/family

Facilities: Hot showers, toilets, laundry facilities and a swimming pool

4. BUNGLE BUNGLES, WA

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A magnificent World Heritage area in the semi-arid environment of far north-west Western Australia, Purnululu NP is one those places you must visit at least once in a lifetime. The famous sandstone beehive domes can be explored via the easy 1km loop, while the magnificent Cathedral Gorge is a more difficult 3km return walk up steep slopes and down narrow ledges. The 2km hike to Echidna Chasm is challenging that rewards with jaw-dropping scenery.

The last 53km into the park is via a rugged track that is accessible only to 4WDs and single-axle off-road trailers. There are two basic campgrounds.

Location: 300km south of Kununurra

Camping: $12/person; $8.80 concession; $2.20/child/night

Facilities: Toilets and untreated bore water

5. LION’S DEN, BLOOMFIELD TRACK, QLD

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The 69km Bloomfield Track in tropical far north Queensland is a challenging 4WD route through luscious rainforest, up steep mountain passes and across crystal clear creeks. Located in the World Heritage-listed Daintree NP, this perfect one-day adventure provides an unforgettable offroad experience. The track can be accessed via Cape Tribulation in the south or the Mulligan Hwy (main road to Cooktown) in the north and links the popular Cape Tribulation with the community of Wujal and Cooktown.

A visit to the iconic Lion’s Den, a famous outback hotel, is compulsory and you might want to spend the night in this scenic location in the middle of the wet tropics. The large camping area is suitable for rigs of all sizes and fees are payable at the hotel.

Location: 28km south of Cooktown

Camping: Powered and unpowered caravan and camping sites

Facilities: Swimming pool, playground, laundry, showers, toilets, drinking water, barbecues, bar, groceries