This is the perfect campsite for feeling like you are a million miles away from the outside world, but in reality you are 45 minutes away from a supermarket. You will get no mobile phone reception at Murray Falls, and the closest pay phone is in a small township approx. 5kms before the campsite. What you do get at Murray Falls, far makes up for the lack of connectivity. Magical waterfalls, fast running swimming holes, a hiking trail with spectacular views, fire pits at your campsite, enough room to host a soccer match and clean, grassy, unspecified camping areas. Murray Falls can hold over 100 campers quite easily, however we were luck enough to stay with only a handful of other people. One night there was a large school group who camped along with approx. 30 other people, and the campsite still felt empty. The only time we wanted for our own space was on the weekends when the day-use swimming hole area fills up with backpackers and families. They are however all gone by early afternoon and you get your quiet little slice of paradise back again.
Location: An inland National Park, situated between the coastal townships of Cardwell and Tully.
Cost for an unpowered campsite: $5.95 per person, per night.
How to book:
Nights we stayed for: 4 nights in September
Murray Falls is split into two areas, one up the hill and one down. On top of the hill is the camping area, public toilets, outdoor shower, walking track and access ramp to view the spectacular Muray Waterfalls. At the bottom of the hill is the day use area with car-park, woodfire BBQs and safe swimming holes. Many day tourists will drive though the camping grounds to access the Murray Waterfall walkway/ramp however the number is not great enough to really disturb you. Our campsite was close to the parking space for those day users heading to the Waterfalls walkway and we could see the top of the waterfall from our campsite, as well as getting to listen to the power of the falls as we fell asleep each night.
The campsite itself is a large space with unspecified sites. There are firepits scattered around the camping grounds which are great for cooking and for keeping the chill away. Murray Falls is a little higher altitude and further from the ocean than a lot of the other campsites we have stayed at so it was a little cooler at night. I think we put on a jumper at night for the first time in maybe 6 weeks, or more!
There is a walking track at the back of the campsite which is not only stunning but also is a great way to get to know the area. The walking track is dotted with signs informing you about the ways the traditional owners of the land used each tree and the mythology of Murray Falls. This combined with the stunning scenery of the flowing river at the foot of the falls, the giant boulders sheltering each small swimming hole from others and creating a prehistoric feel to the place made for an even more magical experience.
Facilities and amenities
You have access to a bathroom block with only two toilets per side (male/female) however we found that many of the people staying at the campsite are travelling with full sets ups, including their own bathrooms, so we never really had to queue to use it. There is one shower at the campsite, which is out side the toilet block, in the strangest place imaginable and boxed in by corrugated iron walls. You feel like you are showering in the middle of a paddock and that a cow might walk up and know on the door at any moment. It is a very unnerving place to be naked. The shower is cold water only. Again, we found that a lot of the other campers had their own showers to access to the camp-shower was not an issue. We did use our solar shower inside the iron box one day, just to have some warm water, but for the most part we swam in the fresh water of the river everyday and just showered to wash our hair and put some soap on our bodies.
We cannot specify exactly what it is that makes Murray Falls campsite such a relaxing place. It was possibly the fact that we had been looking at red dirt and rocks for so long that we were happy to be frolicking around on green grass again, or the sheer majestic power of the waterfalls as the backdrop, the accessibility of the swimming holes and walking path, the knowledge that you might spot a cassowary or the relief from the heat that we had encountered in Towsnville. Most likely it was a combination of all of the above, plus the great company we had on the road at the time, with our mate Max from Melbourne travelling with us for 2 weeks. Whatever the case, we had a great time at Murray Falls and think it is a ‘must-stay’ for anyone heading up the Cassowary Coast.