Driving & Caravanning

Top tips for caravanning in the tropics

If you love a good road trip, have a look at some of our travel-loving bloggers’ favourite camping and caravanning tips for driving tropical North Queensland.

Whether you’ve bought a palace on wheels or a humbler home-away-from-home, there’s nothing better than a caravan for exploring tropical North Queensland.

Huge, largely untouched regions full of natural beauty, historical interest and friendly locals make it a one-of-a-kind destination. The more relaxed pace of a caravanning adventure allows you to get a real feel for tropical North Queensland’s laidback charms.

Seasoned caravanners, though, say there’s some points you should remember before embarking on your trip to tropical North Queensland because this unique destination comes with some requirements that may not have come up during your journeys elsewhere

Be ready to rough it

One of the best ways to experience tropical North Queensland’s amazing flora, fauna and scenery is by pulling up your van in national park camp sites. But those sites don’t always include all mod-cons and can require higher-spec vehicles than elsewhere.

Some camp sites will require a 4WD car and high-clearance caravan due to the more rugged terrain, while others may not have accessible facilities and warm water. As Gayle from Toowoomba says, “Always have a shovel packed in the car or caravan. You’ll never know when you need it, whether to dig a hole for a campfire or dig your wheels out of the mud!”

Tap water can be seasonal in availability and may require treatment before it’s safe to drink. In fact, some sites may not have any water at all, which means you’ll need to BYO shower. And while camp fires are usually permitted, you’ll often need to bring your firewood from outside the camp site.

Think off-peak

Tropical North Queensland is a very popular destination so caravan parks and camp sites tend to get booked up quickly during peak winter times and the school holiday periods. To ensure you’re not disappointed, book the sites you’d like to stop at well in advance or time your adventure for outside these times.

Don’t overdo the driving

While tropical North Queensland is well set-up for caravanners, with plenty of parks and sites and towns that welcome homes-on-wheels, the roads can be busy in the peak periods and aren’t always smooth going, particularly in remote areas.

One seasoned caravanner in their 70s recommends attempting to cover no more than 300 kilometres in a day. “That’s the best you can do before you get too tired and it gets too challenging,” they say. “People do more but it can be dangerous because you’ve got to be very conscious of towing a caravan the whole time you’re driving and making sure you’re making safe choices.”

Another 60-plus, Cheryl from Brisbane, says, “I never try to travel over 80 kilometres an hour on dirt roads, simply because the vehicle type is inherently unstable at speed.”

Find the right friends

Plenty of caravan fans join caravanning clubs that coordinate group trips, including to tropical North Queensland. Caravan clubs can be a brilliant way to meet likeminded people to share your experiences with, plus having others to plan trips with can make long tours much easier. That said, each club has their own vibe so it’s important to find one that suits your personal travel style.

“Some are very regimented – there’s a bell for breakfast and a bell for lunch and if you turn up late to a location you’ve arranged to meet at, they may not like it,” one regular caravanner says. “Others are more relaxed about the schedules you drive to and where you meet up, so find a group that fits what you want to do.”

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