‘Slow camping’ at Danbulla where families enjoy the ‘little things in life’
Issued: 4 Jul 2018

‘Because one day you will look back and realise they were big things’. Writer Kurt Vonnegut was so right. Time is fleeting and we wish we could ‘bonsai’ our kids, but before we know it, they’ve grown and flown.

Photo credit: Maxime Coquard © Queensland Government

‘Because one day you will look back and realise they were big things’. Writer Kurt Vonnegut was so right. Time is fleeting and we wish we could ‘bonsai’ our kids, but before we know it, they’ve grown and flown.

Well, we can’t turn back time but we can slow down our days and treasure those small moments, before it’s too late. And there’s no better way to do this than by being immersed in nature. Danbulla National Park and State Forest, wrapped around the shores of Lake Tinaroo on the tablelands above Cairns, is a perfect destination for a family nature break.

You don’t have to travel too far, or, if you’re from out of town, too far from the main roads and shops; and you’ll find camping areas with all the facilities that make camping easy (well, easier!). At Danbulla, you and the kids can enjoy the best of both worlds—active adventures and some ‘slow down’ fun.

Here’s how.

Dark green pine forest fringes the blue waters of the lake, and the bright green grassy area near the lake shore is a hive of activity with large family tent, parked car, small tinnies, people dragging a canoe into the water, other people swimming in the shallows and a larger boat cruising in the water nearby.
Lake Tinaroo | © Tourism and Events Queensland 

You thought you were going camping…but school’s in!

Nah, just kidding. But School Point camping area, once the site of Euramoo State School before the dam was constructed, probably has echoes of those long-ago schoolyard days…

The kids won’t mind however. They’ll be too busy getting active—swimming, canoeing and kayaking, fishing and larking around this spacious camping area with magnificent lake and forest views. The sites are well laid out, so you can park beside (or very close to) your tent or camper trailer. The family will enjoy the luxury of flushing toilets, water ‘on tap’ and even a shower room (but you need to BYO shower). Then after a hard day’s play, sit the family around the camp fire to slow-toast marshmallows and savour the quiet time at the end of a fun day!

Fire ring and camp site in foreground with grassy slope stretching away to pine trees lower down the slope and the blue waters of the lake visible through the trees.
School Point camping area | © Queensland Government

Camping on the edge—lakeside camping at its best

Set up your camp close to the water’s edge at Kauri Creek camping area, with easy access for swimming, canoeing and fishing. The kids will love being so close to the water while you’ll feel refreshed in the peaceful surrounds of one of Lake Tinaroo’s quiet inlets.

When they tire of the lake, take the short walk to Kauri Creek day-use area and splash in the shallow sandy-bottomed creek. You can park next to your camp site (tent or trailer) and relax knowing you’ll have access to flushing toilets and shower cubicles (BYO portable shower). If you enjoy camping with friends, Kauri Creek is a perfect-fit for large groups.

Car with camper trailer fully set-up parked on grassy area beside the lake shore, with low forest in background.
Kauri Creek camping area | © Queensland Government

Getting wet, dirty and slimy—bonding with your kids!

Bring your tinnie, or the family fleet of kayaks, or simply try your luck from the lake’s edge. Fishing and kayaking in Lake Tinaroo is buckets of fun for kids and parents alike.

There’s no better way to slow down time than sitting by the water, dangling a line, watching the birds, listening to the water lapping and watching the clouds scud across the sky… Little moments in time, but long remembered.

Young boy in camoflaged hat and wearing red and yellow like jacket holds fishing rod in one hand and small fish in th eother hand while standing proudly in the tinnie on the blue water of the lake.
Lake Tinaroo | © Fiona O’Grady

‘Jungle’ trek—explore the deep forest

Do you know a child who could resist a walk on a track called the Jungaljungal walk? We sure don’t! Set the kids’ imagination alight when you plan for this long walk—it’s about an 8km round trip—through the Wet Tropics ‘jungle’ (ok, rainforest!), with looming kauri pines and other tall rainforest trees, brimful of birdlife.

You’ll have to find your way across several creeks (easy-to-remove shoes will be a good idea) and you’ll discover old roads criss-crossing through the deep forest—what were they for? Take note of little things along the way—spider webs, colourful insects, ‘skeletonised’ leaves, bird calls, funky fungi… This walk has all the ingredients for a fun family adventure!

A tall spindly-trunked tree ferns stands sentinel over a shallow rocky creek with green rainforest in the background.
Jungalungal walk | © Wet Tropics Management Authority

Where’s the ghost? Actually, where’s the house?

The Chimneys day-use area is a mystery. Why are the chimneys here? What happened to the house? Is there a, gulp, ghost? Today, The Chimneys is a spacious picnic area and a great place for the kids to run around. Once, it was a home, built in 1924 as part of the soldier-settler scheme following World War I, and later abandoned, as the battle against poor soil fertility for farming and native animals harvesting what was left, was lost. There are more than ghost stories here… How are you at story-telling?

TTwo tall chimneys complete with original fireplaces stand alone in a green grassy clearing with a picnic shelter in the background.
The Chimneys day-use area | Robert Ashdown © Queensland Government

Slow down time at Danbulla, enjoy the little things in life, and make happy family memories…in nature.

Mother and son standing in the shallows on the lakes shore watching ducks, with forested mountainslopes in the background.
Lake’s shore | © Fiona O’Grady

Visit Danbulla National Park and State Forest for more information or take a closer look at your camping options. Remember to check Park alerts before you leave.