Camping at Danbulla State Forest/Lake Tinaroo

Danbulla State Forest is just inland from Cairns, up on the Atherton Tablelands. There are several camping grounds within it, all situated around Lake Tinaroo. We left Gordonvale and went up the Gilies Highway, stopping to see the Strangler Fig Tree, which is marvellous.


After driving through Atherton and Tolga we started into the forest area. The first camp ground in is called Platypus. It is for small vehicles and tents only. We were advised to go to the Downfall Creek camp site (Camps 6: 225). The 4km dirt road is a little rough and we heard that it gets worst as you go in, so we took it very slowly. There are no dedicated camping spots, you just find a spot you like and pitch your tent or van. We found a lovely spot just 8 metres from the edge of the water on a reasonably level spot. It is an easy walk to the amenities and to walk around the campsite.

Peace - before the neighbours moved in.

We decided not to unhitch the car since we weren’t going anywhere for the 2 nights of our stay. We came to regret this very soon. As a group of people rolled up several hours after us, decided that they wanted to camp in the same location and proceeded to erect their many tents and marquees within a metre of our van including the area where we should have parked the car had we unhitched it. Really, you could only just walk between our van and their tents. It was lousy of them and a form of intimidation. There were plenty of other spots, they could have just moved maybe 10 metres away and that would have been OK. But no! We also found out in the course of time that ‘this’ spot is where this group of friends come and camp every year and they were going to continue the tradition, no matter if there were other campers there first. It didn’t matter that there was lots of room in other places around the campsite that would easily accommodate a large group of campers that wanted to be together. There was no communication from them.

This tiny little bird was hardly bigger than the grass - maybe 5-7cm high

The next morning, it was cool and drizzling on and off. Our neighbours had more friends roll up and pitch their tents, this time right in front of us. I had to go and say that it wasn’t wise to box us in as they would need to move the tent to allow us to drive off early the next morning. They moved the tent, just a little to the side and instead parked their car with the boat and trailer across the front of us. All the other cars including a trailer with a jet ski, were parked on the other side of us. At one stage I couldn’t even sit outside our van and view the water unimpeded. One of the new arrivals noticed my situation and got the car in front of us moved, thankfully. Still with the generators and all the people including probably a dozen kids, it was certainly not a peaceful location to be. We were glad that we hadn’t booked more than 2 nights there. Apparently we booked the first night of the Queensland school holidays. Thank God that most campers are not as selfish as these. Still, we will try to check when the school holidays are on and avoid the more popular camping spots during this time in future.
We also found out after our time there, that though there are no showers at the camp sites, there are hot showers at the picnic spot about 5km back. We had wondered why so many people went for a drive in the late afternoons! Why the forestry administration decides to have showers at a picnic spot but not at the camp spots, beats me! Had we been left alone, we would have loved watching the lake sports and our time there, so don’t be put off by our bad experience, go there yourselves. Just make sure you don’t go in school holidays and ‘pinch’ someone else’s spot. ;)
The view from our door - before the invasion


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Michelle