First things first, why stay at Belyando Crossing? Most people stay because they want to break up the drive from Townsville/Charters Towers to Claremont/Emerald. Some stay because they enjoy sleeping in remote areas, away from the other grey nomads and tourists. Some stay because their car has broken down or they hit a kangaroo or cow on the road. Whatever your reason, it is surely a unique experience. Belyando Crossing looks on the map to be a small township, in fact it is a private business made up of a roadhouse (servo, pub, restaurant), motel and camping ground. There are 8 staff that live at Belyando Crossing who operate the roadhouse, motel and camping ground, at any one time there will be approx. 6 staff on site with the others heading back into town for days off. These staff are here to serve and chat with you. If you are travelling solo, head into the bar at the roadhouse for some company and a chin-wag, there is always a staff member, a truckie or a ringer around the place to talk to. You can also get a good feed at the bar, the T-Bones and Rump steaks are value for money and the burgers will make you melt (personal favorites are the Belyando Burger and Works Burger).
Address: Gregory Development Rd, Belyando Crossing (or Charter Towers)
Location: 200ms south of Charters Towers and 180kms north of Claremont.
Cost for an unpowered campsite: $15 per night.
How to book: Either call the team at Belyando Roadhouse on (07) 4983 5269, or just turn up and ask for a site. Powered sites are numbered however the unpowered section is quite large and unlikely to fill up outside of special event days. That said, be sure to call the roadhouse first to make sure that the camping grounds are open. While we were staying at Belyando the camping grounds were closed down due to a shortage of water in December/ January.
Nights we stayed for: We stayed at Belyando Crossing for 2 months from November 2015 – February 2016. We were working in the roadhouse and sleeping in the accompanying motel. Although we did not stay in the camping grounds, we did clean the campsite bathrooms, spend nights talking with campers who did stay and have a view over the campsite from our motel door and take bookings for the campsites for two months. That qualifies us to have an opinion about this place!
The campsite itself backs onto the Belyando River (when there is water in it) and beyond that is private paddocks. Next to the camping grounds on one side is the motel and manager’s quarters and on the other side is community land with a run down tennis court, some historical graves and a loading ramp. At dusk and dawn you can see kangaroos grazing in the paddocks and at the truck loading ramp and after dark the rat-kangaroos (a real thing) come out and pick up any scraps you may have left behind. Despite their name, they are really cute.
Travel vans and people who are sleeping in their cars most frequently use the unpowered campsite section. The earth here is hard and I would not want to be trying to hammer too many pegs into the ground. The view is very ‘Australian’ but not spectacular; this is a roadhouse, not a tourist attraction. It is however safe and clean. Before working at Belyando I do not think that I would have camped at the roadhouse. As two females I had a bit of a fear of sleeping in a tent surrounded by truckies and drunk cowboys. However that fear has now abated. I would still not want to be trying to get too many pegs in the floor, so it would likely be a night we spent in the small tent that can be held down with just the mattress so the floor, but I wouldn’t be scared to spend the night.
As an unpowered site camper you have access to the amenities block, with hot showers and flushing toilets. You have access to running water however it is pumped form the river and not drinkable. Be sure to bring your own drinking water, or you can by it from the roadhouse.
A night at Belyando Crossing is what you make of it. If you want a good night’s sleep, then you will get it. Once the sunsets the temperature drops and is comfortable for sleeping. Once the sun it up (approx. 4.30am in summer) then it starts to warm up and by 6am it’s a bright as day and sitting on about 30 degrees. If you want to meet locals and have a social night, head to the bar and see who is about. There have been many campers who have stumbled out of the bar and to their vans at midnight with big smiles on their faces and a belly full of rum. There is a pool table in the bar so you can always keep yourselves occupied if there is no one else around.