Big Crystal Creek is a great stop for those headed into or out of Townsville and not wanting to stay in the suburban campsites of Towsnville City. Big Crystal Creek campsite is located in Paluma National Park and is managed by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. Next to the campsite is the Paradise Waterhole, which is very aptly named, and an accompanying day-use area with picnic tables and BBQs. Paradise Waterhole is a stunning swimming hole that is big enough to comfortably hold the large amount of tourists that can pour through it on the weekends. If you happen to be camping on the weekend, be sure to make the trip further up the road (approx. 2kms) to the Rock Slides, which are less visited and a lot of fun!
Address: 4km from the park entrance along the unsealed Spiegelhauer Road.
Location: One hour drive south of Townsville, only a short distance off the Bruce Highway, accessible via 2WD vehicle.
Cost for an unpowered campsite: $5.95 per person, per night.
How to book: Book online using the ParksQ system or on the phone via the Queensland-wide National Parks booking service on 13 74 68. NOTE. Noah Beach camping area is closed from the first Sunday after New Years Day until Good Friday each year. This is due to the wet season.
Nights we stayed for: 3 nights in September 2015.
The campsite itself is a large space with unspecified sites. There are firepits scattered around the camping grounds which are great for cooking, but it’s not likely that you would need it to stay warm for most of the year. This is Far North Queensland after all! We were lucky enough to only have about 30 other people camping around us during our stay however the QPWS site will book a huge number of people (over 100 from memory), which would make it a little cramped. Especially with only one toilet block for everyone. Yikes. Our suggestion would be to keep an eye on the QPWS website where you can see how many campsites have been booked, avoiding peak times should be sufficient though.
We had an extraordinary experience at Big Crystal Creek Campground. This story is too wild to not share, but really could have happened anywhere, as it involves the most unpredictable and dangerous animal of all… the human. We spent our last day at Crystal Creek exploring Paluma township and Little Crystal Creek and when we returned to the camping grounds we found that our quiet little corner of the camping grounds of had new residents. Three families who were all travelling together had set up their trailer tents in a circle around a central table and play area for their kids. Our immediate reaction was ‘ahhh shit, six kids next door, say goodbye to a good night’s sleep tonight and a peaceful morning tomorrow’. We owe those kids an apology. The kids were angels and deserve a holiday from their parents after what they must have endured through that night. The three sets of parents sat up drinking late into the night. At one stage one of the dads wandered over to our site and tried to start up a conversation but was way too drunk to be able to express himself in full sentences, or even real words, and he had the sways up so bad we thought he might fall into the firepit. His wife came and collected him after a while and they continued to drink with their mates after we turned in for the night. In the middle of the night we were awoken by a couple having a raging domestic, it was one of our neighbours. We wont go into full details, but the fight escalated to the point where two of the women in the group were physically pining each other to the floor and punching each other in the face, one woman threatened to take her husband’s child away from him and tried to get into her car and drive away. She was blind drunk so the others took her keys away after a long and drawn out argument. After an hour of shouting, punching, screaming and threats, the last man of the group who had not been involved in the fight came out of his tent and declared to the others that they had now woken up his kids, and they had to quit this nonsense. If he had meant to be funny, he did a great job. Not only had they woken up his kids, they had woken up the entire campsite. The language was foul, and from our tent we had a full view of a punch on and of one woman who used her sleeping child as a shield. This was the first week of the Queensland school holidays so there were a lot of other family groups camping. We were scared. I cannot imagine how those other kids must have felt.
This leads me to the other piece of information you need to know about Big Crystal Creek campsite. There is no phone reception; there is a public phone next to the toilet block. Unfortunately for us we would have had to pass through the middle of the rowdy group to get to the toilet block and payphone. If that had not been the case, we would have got up and called the police that night. We’re seriously surprised that no one on the other side of the camping grounds got up and called the cops. I guess sometimes you just want to keep to yourself and not get involved.
Besides that however, that campsite was great. It is full of monitor lizards, possums and kangaroos. A great waterhole for swimming and relaxing, nice dirt road for walks and shady campsites with firepits for memorable nights.
Facilities and amenities
You have access to a bathroom block, with three toilets and three cold water showers. In our three days we only saw the rangers come once, which is less frequently than in other National Parks, however when they did come they cleaned and replenished the bathroom block well. The day use area has BBQs for use which are clean and free. There is access to running water however it is not drinkable, so be sure bring your own drinking water.