Pssst! Want to know a secret? Rules Beach is one of Queensland’s hidden gems

Jul 01, 2024
Source: Getty Images.

When it was first suggested that we head to Rules Beach for a spot of Glamping, I had no idea of what to expect. To be honest, I’d never even heard of it.

Rules Beach is nowhere near as well known as its neighbours Agnes Waters, 1770 and Bundaberg, which are all accessible within a 90-minute drive. But that is about to change as word spreads about this unspoilt coastal destination in Queensland’s Gladstone region, which is yet another gateway to the stunning South Barrier Reef.

Just look at the recent Google reviews. Rules Beach currently is rated as one of Big 4’s best classic campsites with customer satisfaction scores soaring. Book now, because it won’t be long before Nomads, of the Grey persuasion, discover this hidden gem.

According to the 2021 Census, Rules Beach has 56 local residents. Most must have been on holiday when we visited. I know it sounds impossible, but it seemed even quieter than that.

Even in Winter, Rules Beach has sun and sea, endless white-sandy beaches, wild nature, epic fishing and challenging 4WD tracks.

Source: Supplied.

On each of the three days we stayed at Rules Beach, at times we found ourselves completely alone as we walked for kilometres along the pristine sand enjoying the delightful 24-degree days. My favourite beach discovery was Wreck Rock, in the Deepwater National Park, which we diverted to off a 4WD track between Agnes Waters and Rules Beach. Named because the sailing ship the Countess Russel sank there in 1873, this would have to be one of Queensland most beautiful beaches.

Late on the first afternoon we bumped into Luke who was camping with his two Red Heelers. He was the first person we’d met. Luke had set up camp on the sand at the southern-most end of Rules Beach. He showed us pictures of some of his catches over the past few days. There was one flathead as big as a three-year-old child. Luke, who travels from fishing competition to competition, says this is one of his favourite spots.

And it is easy to see why. Apart from some seriously spectacular beach fishing, anglers also have access to nearby Baffle Creek, which is one of Queensland’s few remaining undisturbed rivers. Baffle Creek has an extensive network of estuaries and tributaries, which are home to the majestic Mangrove Jack, one of the strongest fish and hard fighting fish that are prized by all anglers. They are good eating too.

Source: Supplied.

The scenery around here is cinematic. The water sparkles under the Queensland sun and the views take your breath away. Rules Beach is a well-kept secret.

Our visit coincided with the school holidays, which meant that both Agnes Waters and 1770 were teeming with tourists. The caravan park in 1770 appeared to be overflowing. It would have been impossible not to hear the conversations of the people in the caravans either side of you.

That was not the case at Rules Beach where space abounds and the facilities, because it only opened a few months ago, are still shiny and new.

Let’s be clear though, Rules Beach is not 1770, or Agnes Waters. There’s nowhere near as many dining options, there’s no real tourism infrastructure yet, and there’s not even a local store. Baffle Creek Tav & Zincalumbar is your best bet if you want to meet the locals and share a XXXX and a hearty steak, with a seafood topper.

The Big 4 Rules Beach Holiday Park opened towards the end of December last year. Apart from a very busy Easter, the Park has been operating at about 40 percent occupancy.

A Byron Bay developer owns the camp, and you can already see that there are significant plans for growth. Houses are starting to pop up on some beachside blocks, which sell for about $500,000 each. They are already on Air B&B renting for about $2000 per week.

Source: Supplied.

Our accommodation for the two nights was an eco-friendly glamping tent ($250 per night) with ocean views, king bed, full bathroom, kitchen, outdoor deck, fire pit with grill, and over-sized outdoor stone bath, which we filled with hot steamy water and relaxed in while we did a bit of stargazing.

With minimal artificial light and a relatively dry climate, conditions here are exceptional for holidaymakers wanting to stargaze. What we see, when we look into the sky from Brisbane, is nothing like what we see – a six-hour drive away – when we look into the sky in Rules Beach. A study published in Science magazine in 2023, says that people in highly populated areas around the world can no longer see most of the stars. It’s only when you look up, with little or no other lights around, that you can see the difference. And I will guarantee that the sight of a sky filled with a chandelier of stars (and the cool Winter night air) will take your breath away.

We stayed in the bath as long as we could just trying to count them all while we listened to Stargazing Radio on Spotify.

Glamping is the perfect option for people like me who like to enjoy the great outdoors, but still want to enjoy the comfort of a proper toilet and king-sized bed. It forces you to switch off, both mentally and digitally. When the sun went down, there was no TV to watch so I read a book – Billy Slater’s biography. When I wasn’t doing that, I was playing Scrabble with my wife.

That week at least, I shared something with future rugby league immortal Billy Slater. He lost the State of Origin, and I lost the Scrabble. Thankfully, there’s always another game to play.

Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up