Move over five-star accommodation, it’s time to sleep out under a million-star sky, camping in the Western Downs.
Winter is known as Milky Way Season amongst stargazers due to the core of this famous spiral galaxy becoming more exposed and denser with stars during colder months.
What better way to see it than skipping the light pollution of built-up urban centres and sleeping under the canvas, covered by a blanket of stars?
Grab your binoculars, pack the winter woollies (FYI – the mercury sits at an average 13.2 degrees over June, July and August) and get ready for a winter camping adventure in the Western Downs.
1. Archers Crossing South, Chinchilla
Nestled on the banks of the Condamine River you’ll find Archers Crossing South, the ultimate spot for those wanting a ‘back to nature’ camping experience.
This no-charge camping spot offers up BBQ facilities so you can wet a line and cook your catch – or if the fishing comes up bear, pop down to one of Chinchilla’s pubs 24 kilometres’ away.
Note This campsite is best for those who are fully self-contained, so come prepared. On the plus side, there’s plenty of room to snuggle up beside a toasty campfire.
2. Bunya Mountains National Park, Bunya Mountains
If you’re searching for a camping spot that delivers panoramic views with the convenience of a general store, restaurant and café nearby – Bunya Mountains delivers the goods.
You also have the luxury of choosing from three campsites Dandabah, Westcott and Burtons Well, all perched 1,135m above sea level.
Dandabah is the only site permitted for those traveling with caravans and camper trailers, it offers wide open spaces perfect for soaking in the sun with your neighbours – the friendly wallabies who inhabit the mountain.
Note to those travelling by caravan – the road to the top can get quite windy, please use caution when driving and check weather reports before planning your trip.
Westcott campsite is great for bird watchers, so whip out your binoculars and get ready to spy fairy-wrens, double-barred finches and grey fantails. Westcott doesn’t allow ground fires, but there’s plenty of enclosed fireplaces to warm up.
Burtons Well serves up the best sunrises with views from the northeast, with giant grasstrees surrounding them. You’ve also got the added amenity of woodfires BBQs – simply BYO wood for instant #wintercamping feels.
Make the most of the mountains with a stroll through one of the many hiking trails and spot the local wildlife that live throughout the national park.
3. Possum Park, Miles
Do you enjoy a little history with your accommodation? Possum Park, located just outside of Miles, is home to the Brisbane Line, a line of defence that once extended from Brisbane to Charleville during World War II.
Set up camp, light a fire and take in a star show in the peaceful bush surroundings. Possum Park is all about a comfortable and convenient camping experience with a camp kitchen, wood-fired stove and fireplace – perfect for winter nights when temperatures move into single digits when the sun goes down.
If you’re looking to fully immerse yourself in history, you can stay in one of the former bunkers which have been refitted into self-contained motel-style cabins and units.
For more cultural and historical experiences in the area check out our guide for things to do and see in Miles.
4. Columboola Veteran’s Retreat, Miles
Tucked in between Chinchilla and Miles you’ll find the peaceful and secluded Columboola Veteran’s Retreat.
Don’t let the name fool you, this park openly welcomes the general public to stay – a cenotaph has been built onsite to commemorate those fallen in the line of duty.
Self-contained cabins and cottages are available for those wanting to stay snuggly in doors, or you have the option of powered and unpowered sites for a proper camping experience.
Enjoy all the luxuries of a fully functional campsite with a full commercial kitchen, hot showers, flushing toilets and a coin-operated laundry.
There’s also the local swimming hole where you can bob for yabbies – a bush delicacy.
5. Bell Caravan Park, Bell
Are you travelling with your four-legged friend? Head to the pet-friendly Bell Caravan Park where you have a bevy of accommodation options to choose from including ensuite and non ensuite cabins, caravan sites and regular camp sites.
On those extra chilly nights roast marshmallows by the firepit on site or cook your dinner in the undercover BBQ camp kitchen.
If you’re planning on doing a road trip through our region with your fluffy best friend, we suggest checking out our guide to 10 pet-friendly places to stay in the Western Downs.
6. Brigalow Creek, Meandarra
If you like a campsite to come with fishing prospects, drop your pegs down at Brigalow Creek in Meandarra. Offering powered and non-powered sites there’s no need to rough it – the site also includes toilet and shower facilities.
Drop a line in the creek (which runs all the way through Meandarra) to catch golden perch or jewfish, and then fry up your findings on the BBQ by the picnic table area.
If you’re chasing more things to do – head to the nearby town of Chinchilla with our guide to discovering the melon capital of Australia.
7. Waterloo Plains Environmental Park, Wandoan
For a campsite teeming with birdlife, there’s no better spot than Waterloo Plain Environmental Park in Wandoan.
The 11 hectares of parkland make for the perfect spot to bunker down for the night and take in all of the natural beauty. Oh, and did we mention there’s no entry price tag to this patch of camping paradise?
Equipped with toilets, picnic areas and of course a winter camping essential – hot showers.
Spend the day exploring the walkways and bridges on the self-guided heritage trail, and keep an eye out for shining bronze cuckoos, white-necked herons and rainbow bee-eaters.
This spot is also pet-friendly, provided your good boy is happy to be on a leash.