The first FREE campsite that we have come across that is tent friendly! We love Babinda Boulders!
Address: End of Boulders Road, Babinda (just follow the main street out of town)
Location: 6 minutes drive from the township of Babinda and approx 200m from the day use areas of Babinda Boulders swimminghole and walking trail/lookouts.
Cost for an unpowered campsite: FREE!
How to book: You cannot pre-book this site, just turn up early. There are only about 10 sites so our suggestion would be to arrive before midday to stake your claim. Maximum stay is 72 hours.
Nights we stayed for: 1 night in early October – but we will be back.
The Babinda Boulders
This popular and large swimming hole is a great way to cool down in the Far North Queensland heat. It is safer to swim in the dry season than the wet due to water levels and power however you should only swim in designated areas and not be a hero/idiot and jump the fence. The Indigenous mythology surrounding the Boulders is somewhat haunting. It tells the tale of a forced marriage between tribes of a man and woman. They marry and live in the area until a member of a visiting tribe catches the eye of the bride, Oolana, and she instantly falls in love. The object of her passion was Dyga, and he felt the same way. The two ran away to share their love away from their tribes as Oolana was already married. They ran and ran, and were happy for some time, until the the tribes they had escaped finally caught up with them and kidnapped Dyga and Oolana, forcing them to return to their own tribes. Oolana called out to Dyga, however he was already gone. In a fit of desperation she flung herself into the ground with such force and passion that an upheaval of rocks and boulders occurred. She cried and cried until her tears became waterways and she disappeared into the river, between the boulders. the legend says that her spirit still inhabits the area and that she is still searching her lost lover. Sometimes she takes the souls of travellers.
“Babinda court records show 11 people have died between 1959 and 1983, but today SES personel said the number was now past 20” reported the Brisbane Times. Most of these have been young men. The site is sacred
and should be respected. So please do swim in the swimming area, but don’t be an idiot and jump the fence at the viewing platform. You have been warned.
On a lighter note, the swimming hole and creek surrounding the day use area are full of turtles and fish, that can be best seen at sunset. A friend who was travelling with us at the time also saw a platypus (this was the same day we saw our first cassowary in the wild, it was a big day!). Be sure to walk a little way up the walking Goldfields Walking track from behind the playground, it leads you along the creek and has some great vantage points.
The township is small and friendly and has a GREAT bakery! Be sure to spend some of your dollars in Babinda as these free campsites will be kept open and hopefully increase if the townships around them see an economic advantage to the site. If they are just a drain on council resources they will continue to be closed, or converted to paid sites. It’s not hard to spend a little bit of money in Babinda, besides the bakery there a re a few cafes, fruit shops with great produce and a small supermarket. Support the locals and they will conctinue to support free camping. Simples!
Now to the campsite itself. The campsite has 10 sites, a block of bathrooms and a tap. Most sites have a picnic table also. We camped on site number 10 which had the most amount of grassy space for the tent, however if you’re in a campervan you would be able to use any site easily. The bathrooms have lights that come on automatically at night (fancy right!?) and showers. I cannot tell you if they’re hot or not as we did not use them, but my guess would be that they are not heated. The water from the tap is not treated so be sure that you bring enough drinkable water for your stay. There are no BBQs in the caping area, however there are a couple in the day use area which is only a short 200m walk away. The BBQs are under light and a shelter, so you can cook in the dark and in the rain – handy in North Queensland!
We only stayed at the campsite for one night, as a stop in-between Mission Beach and Etty Bay, however on our return trip we plan to spend a couple of nights here. It’s free, relaxing, small and visually pleasing. What more can you ask for?