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Top 7 Free Camping Spots in Mackay

Mackay is a city in the Australian state of Queensland, located on the state’s east coast. It is situated about 970 kilometers north of Brisbane, the state capital. The city is part of the Mackay Regional Council local government area, making it a unique and vibrant city with a rich history.

Tourism is an important industry in Mackay, with attractions such as national parks, beaches, and the Great Barrier Reef attracting visitors from around the world. Mackay is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including wallabies, kangaroos, koalas, and various bird species. The Eungella National Park, located just outside of Mackay, is one of the best places in Australia to spot wild platypuses. 

The Mackay region is also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Australia, including the popular Harbour Beach, Town Beach, and Dolphin Heads Beach. The city features several cultural institutions, including the Artspace Mackay and the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens.

Is There Free Camping in Mackay?

Mackay does have some free camping areas, but they may not be as popular as paid camping areas because they are further out of town. Since Mackay is in the beautiful region of Queensland with stunning beaches, national parks, and wildlife, it is still an attractive destination for camping enthusiasts.

The popularity of camping in Mackay can vary depending on the time of year, with peak camping periods generally occurring during the cooler months from May to October. To help you have the best time in Mackay, here are several free camping sites to check out, including some affordable spots. 

Free Camping in Mackay

Hotel Eton

Hotel Eton

Guests at Hotel Eton can enjoy free camping on-site, with various accommodation options, including tents, big rigs, RVs, caravans, and camper trailers. Upon arrival, please check in with the friendly staff at the country pub and show your support by enjoying a delicious meal. As a bonus, you’ll have access to a free shower during opening hours and a new 24-hour toilet and shower facility. 

For entertainment, look no further than the live music on Saturday nights, which sets the perfect tone for a great atmosphere. The hotel is situated by a beautiful creek where you can witness the daily sightings of platypus and even have the chance to catch a freshwater barramundi. Generators are welcome, and power is readily available for your convenience.

Cost: Free

Direction: Find on Map

Distance: 37 minutes from Mackay

Belmunda River

Belmunda River

Located along the serene Belmunda River, campers can enjoy a unique and unforgettable camping experience at this picturesque site. The site offers a stunning riverfront view and is situated next to mangroves, making it an ideal location for nature lovers. While there are no facilities on-site, you are encouraged to take all rubbish and leave no trace to preserve the area’s natural beauty. Bringing along insect repellent is recommended to ward off pesky insects.

Dogs are welcome on-site, and fishing enthusiasts can cast their lines in the Belmunda River. Note the area is also home to crocodiles, so caution should always be taken. Despite the lack of facilities, campers can still enjoy Telstra and TV reception and use generators. The site is accessible to caravans, motorhomes, and camper trailers. However, it can be dangerous when wet, so take precautions during rainy weather. Additionally, the beach is just 2km away, offering guests the chance to take a refreshing dip or soak up some sun.

Cost: Free

Direction: Find on Map

Distance: 38 minutes from Mackay

The Retreat Hotel Rest Stop

The Retreat Hotel Rest Stop

Patrons of The Retreat Hotel Rest Stop are warmly welcomed by the friendly hosts Kevin and Kylie. RVs are welcome to park on the edge of the grass closest to the pub, on land owned by main roads. However, the wider tarred area further down is reserved for road-trains to turn, so RVs should not park in this area. Guests can enjoy amenities and entertainment provided by The Retreat Hotel. 

The pub offers a delicious menu of meals, cold beer, and impromptu entertainment. Musicians can even take advantage of the pub’s electric guitar and amplifier. Toilets are available for guests, and the pub is open, ensuring everyone stays refreshed and comfortable. The camp has a 48-hour stay limit, allowing guests to take a break and relax before continuing their journey.

Cost: Free

Direction: Find on Map

Distance: 50 minutes from Mackay

Nobblers Creek Camp

Nobblers Creek Camp

Nobblers Creek Camp is a picturesque camping spot on the river’s edge. The boat ramp, though steep, is easily accessible to explore the waterways and fish. But you should exercise caution as there are crocodiles in the area. The camp doesn’t have midges, providing a comfortable environment for guests to enjoy. 

The campsite is also fairly protected from the wind. There are plenty of 4WD tracks to explore in the surrounding area. Despite its remote location, Nobblers Creek Camp offers reliable mobile network reception, including Telstra and other networks. Tents are allowed, and the site is accessible to both caravans and off-road caravans. However, 4WD access is required to reach the camp.

Cost: Free

Direction: Find on Map

Distance: 40 minutes from Mackay

Eton Range Lookout

Eton Range Lookout

Eton Range Lookout is a fantastic location that serves as a campground and a free day-use area. The site features picturesque views and is wheelchair accessible. While no drinking water is available on site, Eton Range Lookout offers convenient amenities such as toilets, picnic tables, and trash bins. 

For those who require power, generators are permitted at the site. New signage is in place limiting camp stay to at most twenty hours. Despite this, Eton Range Lookout welcomes various vehicles, including motorhomes, caravans, and big rigs. Campers can also expect reliable mobile network coverage from Telstra.

Cost: Free

Direction: Find on Map

Distance: 42 minutes from Mackay

The Leap Hotel

The Leap Hotel

The Leap Hotel welcomes travelers passing through the area, providing a convenient overnight rest area. Campers are kindly requested to support the hotel by purchasing or enjoying a meal or drink at the pub. You are welcome to stay at the site for up to 24 hours, which features a flat area exclusively reserved for caravans and motorhomes. Those traveling with campervans, tents, cars, and trailers can set up camp around the banana patch, ensuring plenty of space for everyone. 

Toilets are available for guests, and generators are permitted. Despite being close to the road, the site boasts beautiful scenery. Fires are prohibited at the site, and campers are encouraged to take all rubbish with them when leaving. The Leap Hotel offers reliable mobile network coverage, including Telstra and TV reception.

Cost: Free

Direction: Find on Map

Distance: 19 minutes from Mackay

Gargett Rodeo Ground

Gargett Rodeo Ground

Located in a serene and picturesque area, the Gargett Rodeo Ground offers a breathtaking view of the majestic mountains in the distance. This pet friendly campground is free and offers well-maintained toilet facilities and ample shaded areas with picnic tables. 

Whether traveling in a motorbike, RV, camper trailer, caravan, or big rig, Gargett Rodeo Ground is easily accessible and provides plenty of space for all types of vehicles. The campground also allows camping in tents. With Telstra and TV reception, plus a seven-day stay limit, you can maximize your stay at this stunning location.

Cost: Free

Direction: Find on Map

Distance: 43 minutes from Mackay

Low-Cost Camping in Mackay

Central Tourist Park

Central Tourist Park

Situated at 15 Malcomson Street, North Mackay, the Central Tourist Park offers a unique budget-friendly accommodation experience. The park boasts a range of comfortable cabins and units, including Olympic units, Villas with a/c, and fully self-contained options with cooking facilities, providing something for everyone. Central Tourist Park is dog friendly and offers clean and well-maintained toilet and shower facilities and access to drinking water.

The park’s newly constructed camper’s kitchen provides a perfect place to cook a delicious meal, with free barbecue, ample table and seating, and a complimentary flat-screen digital TV viewing. Free Wi-Fi will also be installed, providing even more convenience for guests. Guests can enjoy the park’s 24-metre pool, surrounded by tall swaying coconut palms, and unwind in the TV/games room or playground. Laundry facilities and a dump spot are also available for added convenience. The Central Tourist Park is accessible to camper trailers, RVs, and caravans. Tents are also allowed on the premises.

Cost: $20 per person per night

Direction: Find on Map

Distance: 5 minutes from Mackay

Rowallan Park and Scout Club

Rowallan Park and Scout Club

Situated 10 minutes to the north of Mackay, Queensland, Pristine Rowallan Park is made up of 104 Acres of natural forest. It is a designated wildlife sanctuary that offers campers a perfect spot for various outdoor activities and camping. The park features grassed spots for camping with amenities such as toilets, showers, drinking water, and barbecue pits. 

Additionally, the park offers bush campsites for guests who are interested in a more adventurous camping experience. There are two dams, a mountain bike park, a small climbing wall, and open fire pits for guests to enjoy. The park also features a cycling park, a playground, and swimming facilities. As a designated plants and animals park, pets are prohibited. However, the park is available for non-scouting visitors, organizations, and schools. The camping facilities at Rowallan Park are suitable for all types of campers, including those with motorhomes, big rigs, caravans, and camper trailers.

Cost: $7.5 per person per night

Direction: Find on Map

Distance: 15 minutes from Mackay

Smalleys Beach

Smalleys Beach

Located 45 minutes northeast of Mackay, Smalleys Beach is a hidden gem accessible via a narrow, four-kilometer gravel road. Though the terrain is rough, the road is suitable for most vans, campers, and tents, leading to a serene and secluded beach. The campsites are unpowered, but they can accommodate a variety of camping options, including tents, camper trailers, caravans, motorhomes, and big rigs. The sites are hidden among native trees and shrubs, providing a serene camping experience. There are stunning views of the white sandy beach and the beautiful blue ocean. The ground is a combination of dirt and grass.  

Facilities at the campsite include toilets, picnic tables, bins, and barbecue areas. The site is wheelchair accessible, and visitors can enjoy activities such as swimming, fishing, and walking tracks at the nearby Mangrove Boardwalk. Campers should be aware of the presence of crocodiles in the area. Pets are not permitted at Smalleys Beach, and you are required to pay fees to National Parks to access the beach. Despite its remote location, Smalleys Beach offers Telstra and TV reception.

Cost: $6.85 per person per night

Direction: Find on Map

Distance: 41 minutes from Mackay

MyCow Low-Cost Camping Area

MyCow Low-Cost Camping Area

Found on the edge of the picturesque Bakers Creek, MyCow Low-Cost Camping Area is a newly refurbished caravan park and campsite. Spread across 7 acres, the park boasts 75 powered and unpowered sites suitable for tents, camping trailers, caravans, and motorhomes up to 40 feet long. The camp features a landscaped boardwalk that stretches along the water’s edge, leading campers to a BBQ deck, fishing pier, and breakout grassed fishing areas with rod holders.

Amenities such as toilet, shower facilities, drinking water, rubbish disposal, and laundry services are also available, along with access to Wi-Fi and picnic tables. MyCow Low-Cost Camping Area has a fully equipped camp kitchen, with facilities including a kitchen bench with stools, a kettle, a dishwashing station, a stove/oven, a dining table, a seating area, and a TV. The park is also pet-friendly, allowing visitors to bring their dogs for a holiday. The sites at MyCow Low-Cost Camping Area are accessible by 2WD and require reversing into designated spots.

Cost: $10 per person per night

Direction: Find on Map

Distance: 13 minutes from Mackay

For more free camping in Queensland, check out our complete Queensland Free Camping Guide.