Booking camping sites OTT

Submitted: Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 11:22
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OK heading off from Vic to Cape York first week of August. Trying to get my head around about booking campsites...how do you do it when you have no idea when you may be there? Can anyone give me some ideas or tips? Sorry in advance if this has been discussed a million times....
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Reply By: Les PK Ranger - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 11:42

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 11:42
Exactly Adrienne, it's a farce and poorly thought out.
As much as it's hard to plan around weather, roads, and other such delays, why on Earth is it so hard for the Dept heads to imagine a traveler might just wish to stay and extra night or two somewhere they like ?
All you can do is research as you are, and get feedback on the best spots from others, and plan accordingly.
Many say they'd rather risk fines than pre book, but are happy paying on site for camps wherever there are such charges.
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Follow Up By: Freshstart - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 15:22

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 15:22
I would Les. Risk a fine. We tend to wander and you never know really is around the next corner. Or the fishing sucks and you have to sit around and wait until your next revervation is ready. Nah It sucks. And what if you don't have mobile or internet coverage. Sucks more.

We have basically written QLD off the map. We may change our minds but I doubt it.
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Reply By: bigden - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 12:35

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 12:35
parks qld has a good website and has a good description of all sites and how to book etc.
what we did last year was book a couple of days either side of of the date we wanted . i think it costs $5 per person per night so its not expensive
that way if you have any delays or breakdowns or whatever there is still a site for you
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 15:23

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 15:23
You may think it is OK to pay for something you do not get, but I very strongly object to pay for something I do not get. I worked damn hard to get what I have.
This is also very selfish, as booking a site when you know you will not be there just means that no other person can book the site and enjoy the place. I have heard of examples of groups who book a whole area for themselves just so they have more room and no neighbours. As I say very selfish.
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Follow Up By: Freshstart - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 15:23

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 15:23
I understand but that's not fair to others is it.
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Follow Up By: bigden - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 17:06

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 17:06
i booked sites at lakefield, chili beach and elliot falls in june/july last year. all camp grounds had plenty of empty spaces.
i am positive i didnt stop anyone getting a camping spot

at lakefield i camped at melaluca water holes, i dont think anyone had been there for months. it was a 25k drive thru bonnet high grass.

chili beach had a handful of campers there and many empty sites

elliot falls was the most busy but still had many empty sites.

i booked 6months before hand and when your driving from melbourne you want to be sure you have a site if your early or delayed
selfish? maybe , but as i said there was plenty of room at all the sites i booked
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Follow Up By: Freshstart - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 17:19

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 17:19
Like I said mate I understand. And if (note the IF) we were to go back to QLD I would be tempted to do the same. Even if a short drive.
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Reply By: Adrienne M - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 12:51

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 12:51
Certainly taking the joy out of trip myself and hubby. So you can book couple of days prior? Been reading you need to do it weeks before...that is good news:)
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Reply By: Bludge - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 13:38

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 13:38
Adrienne,

It's not that hard really. There are 3 or 4 places where you might stay in National parks. There is nothing worse that travelling 1/2/3000kms and find that there is nowhere to camp, this is why the booking system was put in place. Although it is frustrating if you do get to your booked site and find someone who has not booked in your place, then the Ranger will assist them in moving.

With the exception of the 120km of the OTT, or the Frenchmans Track, there is nothing to stop or delay you except the weather accident or vehicle breakdown. Can't do much about that except have a contingency plan.

Lakefield needs to be booked, Cape Melville bookings most camp grounds checked daily including Cape Melville.

Laura - Musgrave Station - Archer River - Morton Station - Bramwell Station and Junction can be booked or just take a chance. I do most times unless I have a big mob with me.

Chilli Beach needs to be booked, sites are limitedIron Range Bookings I tend to keep away from the beach as the wind blows in from the south east and I hate strong wind especially if it carries rain.

Twin or Elliot Falls, great place and limited sites, booking required Jardine River bookings

Captain Billy's needs a permit book same place as Twin Falls.

With the exception of the North and South Jardine campsites which are close to the old river crossing you don't need to book site with Parks.

I always aim for 6/7 hour days maximum then you have time for any issues and plenty of time to relax and enjoy the area you have come to see.

I have said many times the Cape is as hard or as easy as you want it to be it.
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 15:14

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 15:14
Bludge you live in fairyland. At most places there is no ranger available. On the two occasions we did find a ranger the people refused to move and the ranger was not prepared to take it further. If rangers policed their booking system then I would agree with you, but are not there most of the time and if they there, they are unable or unwilling to move people who refuse to move.
You say "there is nothing to stop or delay you" then proceed to list a whole lot of exceptions. Beside to many people a camping holiday is about saying longer in the places you like and by passing the places you do not like and not having to stick to a rigid schedule.
The bottom line is the current Qld booking system is a nightmare for many travellers. I have not been there for two years and have no intention of spending much time there anytime soon. It seems to me several times every month I hear about someone's unpleasant experience in a Qld park which matches my own past experiences, they cannot all be wrong.
You also say " There are 3 or 4 places where you might stay in National parks" and a bit later "With the exception of the North and South Jardine campsites which are close to the old river crossing you don't need to book site with Parks." RUBBISH. The Qld Parks web site lists 27 parks of which you are allowed to camp in 10 of them. And within those 10 there are many different areas to camp and as an example Lakefield has 24 different camping areas alone. Lakefield is a beautiful spot with something for everyone and you are expecting people to pick their ideal camping spot from a computer thousands of kilometres away. As I said before you are in fairyland.
Lastly you say "There is nothing worse that travelling 1/2/3000kms and find that there is nowhere to camp, this is why the booking system was put in place" could not agree more. But with this system you go with an expectation of having a camp site only to find you do not. At least with the old system you where aware of the risks and made allowances for it.
I repeat that the current system is a nightmare.
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Follow Up By: Freshstart - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 15:39

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 15:39
Like when you rock up at 5PM and your site is occupied. According to other campers, the ranger has already gone through and what are you going to do about it. Sleep in the car.
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Follow Up By: Bludge - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 17:11

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 17:11
Thanks for your input Idler Chris,

Did you have someone in your booked campsite?

As for Rangers on the Cape
Ranger for Chilli is 5 km down from the junction on the Lockhart River Road.
Heathland Ranger Station just off Cockatoo Creek looks after Captain Billys, Twin falls and the South Jardine sites. The south and north Jardine camp site are not overly popular as people from the south tend to want to get and camp at the Jardine ferry and from the north from wherever they have stayed up north.
Yes Lakefield a multitude of camp sites, but you can only stay at one at a time. The Ranger Station is at Lakefield.

As I said I tend to get to camp by 3 and normally can sort out any issues if any either with those camping or with the Ranger/s, this may mean I use r gt allocated a different camps site, but what the hell...

Sorry I didn't detail all QLD national parks, I provided the websites so that that Adrianne could decide.

I did say that on the way to the Cape there are 3 or 4 National Parks you might stay in, I also listed many places that are not National Parks you might stay in.

RUBBISH....
The sites you don't have to book with Parks are camp bush sites on the OTT ou will need to take a chance.
1. Palm Creek although its only 4km from Bramwell Junction.
2. Ducie Creek
3. Dulhunty River pluscamp about 2 km to the west.
4. Bertie River
5. Gunshot
6. Cockatoo River
7. Sailors Creek
Cross Development Road -
Elliot/Twin Falls Parks need to book.
8 Canal Creek
9. Sam Creek
10. Mistake Creek
11. Cannibal Creek
12. Cypress Creek
13. Bridge Creek (Nolan's)

All these camp sites vary is size and may be full or empty. There are no toilet or shower facilities

A breakdown can happen form many reasons, and not just in Queensland, most would say lack of maintenance but I am not judgemental.
The weather can change no mater where you intend to go, contingency planning ensure that you don't over do the kms after driving 2500ks to get up here and camping each night it is hard to travel 500kms a day on dirt roads, allow for dirt and distance. As for accidents, I can't predict those, but many happen when people push it.
I used to hate getting held up on the Mulgrave Freeway when I lived in Victoria I hated getting stuck on the F3 for 3 or 4 hours when I lived in NSW, finding a camp spot or booking a site and getting there in a suitable time is easy.

You have obviously had a bad time on the Cape (or in Qld) and a rough time with the booking system I have not, I am just passing on my opinion and what I can advise.

Tony in Fairyland

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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 20:20

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 20:20
Good reply Bludge, Adrienne and others should get a bit out of all this.
Sure did have people in my booked camp sites and I would say around 50% of the time and this is not just Cape York but includes other NP's.
At Twin Falls I had booked a site suitable for a vehicle with a rooftop tent. When I got there it was taken. Eventually found the ranger and he said he would be right over. 45 minutes later he came over and eventually said to go to another site where the parking spot was on a rocky slope right on the road - not much good for a rooftop tent. At Mungkan Kandju there were 4 camp sites alone a creek with one track in. A large group occupied the first camp and because there were so many of them they had completely blocked the road so we were unable to get to the three sites our group had booked and they refused to move or even make room for us to drive through. There was no ranger anywhere to be seen. The same group had set up their toilet tent on the bank of the river about 6 metres from the creek.
The experience of myself and a number of friends is miles away from what you experienced and like you "I am just passing on my opinion and what I can advise"

As you point out the are other options with a lot of bush camps of which you have listed many. There are also the roadhouses and a number of private spots like Elim Beach, Seisia, Punsand Bay to name a few.

You are prepared to get to a place in time to chase a ranger and sort out issues if other people have not done the right thing. I don't believe you should have to put up with that sort of hassle. I like to stop, put up the tent, go for a bit of a walk and come back, put the feet up, and sip a coldie or two. If your only one vehicle usually something can be sorted or you just move on and bush camp. But if you are a group of 6 vehicles there is many many times when at least one of your booked sites is occupied. And as I have never known anyone to move yet you end up with some of your group with an ars###le for a neighbour, usually quite unpleasant.

So what does Adrienne do? If you are a group and you go to the NP sites that require booking you are likely to have no end of hassles. If you are one vehicle and have the patience of Jobe like Blunge (Tony) seems to have then it is probably worth a go. If you want a completely hassle free holiday then maybe you should look elsewhere. Went with 2 vehicles in 2000 and again with 5 others in 2006 and never had any issues with the old system. I know there are more people now but first in best dressed is an easy system to understand and live with.
I hope all this helps.
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Follow Up By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Saturday, Jul 26, 2014 at 02:25

Saturday, Jul 26, 2014 at 02:25
Totally with you on this one Chris - see my posts on thread 108848 - Vic Fees about Lawn Hill.
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Reply By: Chargergirl76 - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 13:58

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 13:58
We did the cape last year and had our basic itinerary of where we wanted to be each day and booked campsites accordingly. We tried to stay out of national parks where possible, but some spots you just want to stay near and have no choice, eg Elliot Falls and Chili beach.

There was only 1 night were we didn't make it to where we wanted, purely because we changed plans, so we coped it we lose $10 or whatever for the night.

There were many people just turning up and setting up camp without booking so, but the more popular spots as mentioned above, do tend to be booked out and you will more than likely be moved on by the ranger. It is frustrating when you turn up to your pre-booked site and there is someone in it (as was the case when we turned up to Chili Beach! luckily the ranger was around and let us stay in the tour group area by ourselves - huge area just for us, private toilet, private walkway to beach etc!!!).
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 15:29

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 15:29
As I posted above rangers do not move people camped in the wrong campsite.
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Follow Up By: bigden - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 17:20

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 17:20
chris
we did have a situation at chili beach. had a couple come and set up who didnt have a booking and the ranger did turn up , along with a group that booked that site.
luckily for all there was plenty of room and it all got sorted out, but the ranger was prepared to move them on till the booked group said they were happy to take a different spot for the night
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Reply By: chisel - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 14:06

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 14:06
I can't see how it is different from using van parks or other accommodation. In busy times would you just expect to rock up whenever and find space at those places?
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 16:14

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 16:14
The differences are, in "van parks or other accommodation";
1. They are supervised by the owner.
2. You do the wrong thing they call the police.
3. The have an on-site telephone number which they answer.
4. You can ring on the day and if you get a booking you know it will be available when you get there.
5. If they are fully booked there are no empty sites.
6. And this says it all, they are run people in business and not public servants.
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Reply By: Adrienne M - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 14:14

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 14:14
Thanks everyone for your advice :) Bludge I have copied your reply and it is now in the diary ! First big trip so really appreciate everyones input :)
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Follow Up By: Bludge - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 16:08

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 16:08
My pleasure Adrienne,

Sometime like to keep things simple up here in fairyland...
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Reply By: pop2jocem - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 16:48

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 16:48
As a couple of old grey nomads who have never been to "The Cape" we kind of assumed, wrongly it would appear, there was enough room, camping spots for everyone. So OK, you rock up after having made a booking and there is another mob squatting in your campsite. It's getting on towards dark and you don't want to try and push on further. Now what? Short of pulling out the trusty double barrel and threatening to blow their heads off. Do you just keep driving hoping to find somewhere to camp. Pull up where you are not supposed to camp and try pleading your case in the unlikely event a ranger rocks up?
Cape York is an area we would have liked to visit but I am wondering about that in light of the times this issue is raised on this and other forums.
So if the camp spots administered by the local Parks crew are badly managed are there opportunities to camp in privately owned areas?

Cheers
Pop
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Follow Up By: Bludge - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 17:33

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 17:33
The issue is around certain locations, which is why I didn't list them all in my first post.

Captain Billy s a smallish area and Twin Falls can get full depending on time of season.
Chilli Beach is a weird place that sometimes is chocker and others empty.
Lakefield's, the more popular site's get full, especially around the boat ramps.

Now these are the main National Parks, some have multiples of sites to camp at. The booking system while some think its worthless, others think is great. It allows you to see if there is any space at your intended location.

It is 1000 kms from Cairns to the Top the Roadhouses and the Old Telegraph Stations provide, camp/caravan grounds and accommodation with food and fuel at many.

To go to Chilli Beach from Archer Road house is 210kms

There is little mobile phone coverage no internet and the Ranger/s is out most of the day starts at 7am home normally by 3pm

have never had an issue with online bookings, I have once on my own moved someone on, and once with a group of us, there has never been any problems with Rangers (who are not the police).

Again planning is so important, 300km days and camp by 3pm.
Yes you may run into problems, breakdown, bad weather or an accident, but that is not parks fault.. It the Cape and its supposed to be an adventure, in adventures thing can go wrong....
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Reply By: aboutfivebucks (Pilbara) - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 19:34

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 19:34
Adrienne,

This thread has got pretty busy and confusing. Don't stress. If you cant get a spot at Elliot just camp outside the National Park - Canal or Sams. You can still leave your camp for a few hours and visit the falls. Although Elliot doesn't fill up in August anyways.

Enjoy your trip.


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Reply By: tommo05 - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 22:13

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 22:13
You can also book campsites over the counter at Moreton Telegraph station or the Lure Shop in Cooktown. Still not ideal but at least you can leave it a bit later before you make your booking.

I wouldn't advise leaving it that late during school holidays, but in August I think you'd probably be OK.

Over-the-counter campsite booking offices

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Reply By: Batt's - Sunday, Jun 22, 2014 at 15:02

Sunday, Jun 22, 2014 at 15:02
So I'm a bit behind the times you have to book campsites on the cape what a load of rubbish so you can't just pull up and camp if you're tired you have to pre book. So your trip has to be planned to the last detail you can't spend extra time at a swimming hole if you like it and decide you want to stay the night you can't because if you haven't booked to stay there you have to move on is that correct. If so if I wanted a regimented routine I would have joined the army.
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Reply By: Member - Jo Q (NSW) - Sunday, Jun 22, 2014 at 16:42

Sunday, Jun 22, 2014 at 16:42
Hi Adrienne,

We went up to Cape York last year and had a convoy of seven vehicles. Seven vehicles are not that easy to squeeze in on a whim. We had time restraints due to work and school so had to have a plan in place before we left anyway.

I pre-booked all our campsites, both National Parks and not. We didn't have any issues at all with anyone being in any of our spots all the way up and back. We were up there June/July so it was peak season. I booked. 12 months to the day prior so I could get all 7 vehicles in to some of the smaller areas without the risk of having some spots already booked. We stayed at Eliot Falls, Captain Billy's, Cooks Hut, Lakefield to name a few.....

We were very lucky and had only one chipped windscreen and a dinged tail light all the way from Sydney to the tip and back out of seven cars so were not delayed in any way.

Enjoy your time up there and it is stunning and would love to go back!

Jo
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Reply By: R.J.W. - Monday, Jun 23, 2014 at 09:04

Monday, Jun 23, 2014 at 09:04
Hi I have used the booking system in Cape York and my advise would be Yes its a pain but don't let it put you off. Its only the popular spots you have to book and if it goes pear shaped just camp down the road. My experiance is that people take your spot, then they expect you to camp some where else, lots of booked sites that are vacant because people have booked either side to be sure. But the biggest hassle is that even with upgrades in the last 5 yrs National Parks are still building camp grounds that suit tents and not camper trailers. They do do some trailer spots but not enough, cheers Rob
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Reply By: Member - Wildmax - Wednesday, Jun 25, 2014 at 22:26

Wednesday, Jun 25, 2014 at 22:26
This booking system is clearly designed by bureaucrats who never get out of their offices to check what it's like in the real world.
Who on earth knows exactly where they are going to be at any given time on a trip like the Cape - anything can happen, ranging from tyre or mechanical problems to just wanting to stay in a great spot for an extra couple of nights.
I wrote to the Premier of Qld about this silly system after our last trip up the Cape - got a polite and friendly reply, but the underlying message was "tough bikkies, the system stays".
I feel sorry for the rangers who have to sort out the mess on the ground, especially if there is a bit of aggro among the travellers.
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Reply By: RobMac (QLD_Member) - Saturday, Jul 26, 2014 at 00:43

Saturday, Jul 26, 2014 at 00:43
Well,
We have just come back from 5wk Cape Trip and we only booked online once for Coos Hut and this was done a Coen.... all other times we winged it due to my mate having car troubles and just free camping it in other locations. I don't like the online system as it prevents people from camping there because others have booked the sites for a week even though they really only need it for a night or so.... The Govt won't care as it means more $$ for them.
I've got to say that this is the 1st time I've been back to the camp since '87 and the campsites around all the creeks etc are a flaming disgusting mess.... Dunny paper lying around everywhere u look, using nappies lying on the ground..... Some people are disgusting & should not be allowed to leave the city..... It was real disappointing to see....
Cheers..... RobM
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Follow Up By: Les PK Ranger - Saturday, Jul 26, 2014 at 08:52

Saturday, Jul 26, 2014 at 08:52
Yeah Rob, disheartening and maddening finding such pigs going bush, ignoring leave no trace principles.
(Actually, that comment was an insult to pigs !)

Re bookings / fees and sites not being available to those that have booked & paid . . .

From a reply I did in the Vic camping fees thread 108848 . . .
(It got onto other states and problems . . .)

'I feel in such a case of opportunists taking camping spots and no spot remaining for someone with a permit . . . take pics showing sites and regos (or just large area shots and note regos down), get by best you can, and after the trip email QLD Parks and demand a full refund on fees paid for unavailable site.

If they refuse, send complaint with same evidence to Consumer / Biz Affairs office.

It just isn't good enough taking your $$$ and not ensuring they provide the service, and people demanding refunds might be the only way they will know how extensive the problem is.'
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