We had it all sorted out…
Given the intense heat that inland Queensland succumbs to during the summer months and the fact that we have the beach right outside our door, we decided to head south into New South Wales, hoping for some cooler weather and the chance to explore the national parks around Armidale.
Well, that was until the husband discovered that this region is officially one of the wettest in NSW and a big, fat storm front was approaching, bringing literally buckets of rain.
I love camping. But camping in the rain isn’t much fun, not even for me.
So, instead of going south where we wouldn’t have to worry about camping permits and the like, we decided – on Christmas Eve, hours before we wanted to leave – to take a Queensland road trip towards Rockhampton.
Hot weather and beach guaranteed!
And for some miracle, a group had cancelled their permits and we snuck into a couple of campsites at the eleventh hour.
Our first stop was Deepwater National Park, some 130 km north of Bundaberg.
DEEPWATER NATIONAL PARK: KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Deepwater National Park is all about relaxing.
It’s a coastal national park that’s really mostly about the beach. The two campgrounds are located close to the beach and are so small that even at Christmas the spot never felt crowded.
You’ll need a decent 4WD vehicle to get to Deepwater National Park as there’s a bit of soft sand driving involved.
Plus, you also don’t know how much water you might encounter crossing Deep Water Creek if you’re coming from Bundaberg.
At Christmas, it wasn’t very high but a few months later when we returned at Easter, it was so deep we couldn’t cross it and had to get to Deepwater the long way. But more on that below.
BEST TIME FOR CAMPING AT DEEPWATER
You really can head to Deepwater year round.
It’s hot and steamy over the long summer but still pleasant in winter. The time of year really doesn’t matter so much, except that you’ll have far less rain in winter.
If you need to approach Deepwater from the south, the drier months are best as there’s less chance of flooding.
HOW TO GET TO DEEPWATER NATIONAL PARK
Deepwater is located about 130km north of Bundaberg and around 17km south of Agnes Water on the Discovery Coast.
When it’s dry, you can get to the Wreck Rock camping area in a conventional vehicle but only from the southern boundary. Plus, from October onward you’ll want to be in a 4WD given the high chance of flooding.
Deepwater Creek wasn’t very high in December the year we went but you never know. At Easter time, the access track to Wreck Rock from the south was completely under water.
Coming from Bundaberg, it’s a bit of maze as you’ll follow one country road after another. Full directions to Wreck Rock can be found here.
From Agnes Water, it’s pretty simple: Take Springs Road and then follow the sandy track at the Deepwater National Park turnoff.
WHERE TO CAMP AT DEEPWATER NATIONAL PARK
We’ve camped at Deepwater twice: once over Christmas (three nights) and then came back at Easter the following year (four nights) because we enjoyed it so much.
Both times we stayed at the Wreck Rock camping area, arguably the much nicer of the two available camping areas within the national park.
READ MORE: Camping Options at Deepwater
5 THINGS TO DO AT DEEPWATER NATIONAL PARK
If you’re after a beach-y holiday where you just want to come near the beach and relax, Deepwater is pretty perfect.
A note of warning:
The beach is unpatrolled so swimming here isn’t a good idea. If you’re a surfer or feel very confident reading the waves, you probably want to take a dip but for anyone else, swimming should be off-limits.
I had a near-drowning experience here and was very shaky for a while after. There are strong currents here and you can very quickly get pulled under. Go to Agnes Water, the nearest patrolled beach, for a safe swimming experience.
Apart from the dangerous waters, this stretch of the Queensland coast may also experience stingers over the summer.
In fact, on our first trip (Christmas) I got stung by a bluebottle on the very first day and then became a tad paranoid about going in the water. The scars eventually faded but I had some serious (though small) welts for a few weeks, accompanied by red swelling and itchiness that could only be relieved by running hot water over my wrist and knee.
That being said, there are things to get excited about at Deepwater! 🙂
1. ENJOY BABY TURTLE WATCHING
Wreck Rock, one of the two camping areas at Deepwater, is super close to the beach, features a lovely little cove, and is a designated marine turtle breeding spot over the summer (November to March).
The best time to see these tiny hatchlings emerge is at night.
Unfortunately, I didn’t see any baby turtles toddling along the beach due to me being lazy and well and truly asleep by midnight. But… some other families did because they could actually drag themselves out of their tent at night.
Fortunately for me though, we did see some Loggerhead hatchlings that the residing research group rescued from the claws of greedy goannas the night before.
Apparently goannas are quite a menace here and keep eating the turtle eggs. There’s research going on with turtle nests being marked and goannas’ movements being tracked.
We talked to one of the researchers for quite some time and I couldn’t believe that, due to DNA testing, they now know that the Deepwater turtles swim all the way to Peru (!) and only one in 1,000 makes it back!
It seems like quite the achievement for any turtles to return to Australia.
2. GO FISHING
Surfing and fishing are both popular activities around here.
The beach at Wreck Rock has a lovely cove and there are rocks jutting out into the sea that would offer a good spot for throwing in your fishing line.
On both our trips, we had meant to bring fishing gear but only realised when we got there that we’d left it at home.
3. WILDLIFE WATCHING
Beyond watching turtles during turtle season, you can also spot plenty of goannas wandering around the camping areas and the dunes. Sadly, they seem very keen to be hunting for turtle eggs.
It probably goes without saying that goannas should not be fed. You don’t want to habituate them more than they already are, and have goanna-eating-your-food-attack on your hands.
There are also plenty of soldier crabs scuttling across the beach at low tide. Such fascinating little creatures.
In addition to cockatoos and kites, you could also expect to see lots of kangaroos, wallabies and emus roaming around but we didn’t see any. This may be entirely due to us being rather stationary and lazying around all day.
We probably saw a few lizards but no snakes (though there are snakes at Deepwater, like pretty much everywhere in Australia).
4. EXPLORE THE BEACH
The beach is probably where you want to spend most of your time.
As far as Queensland beaches goes, the beach at Wreck Rock is quite pretty with its headland and rocky outcrops.
As mentioned above, the beach is unpatrolled and over the summer, the water is likely to have stingers swirling around so think carefully about your abilities before going in.
The water temperature over the summer is delicious and I found it very tempting to spend lots of time in the water. But just be aware that tragedies have occurred here.
The beach though makes for a lovely stroll, I really enjoyed watching the sunrise here. The campground is small and you’ll probably enjoy calm and serenity in the mornings before everyone gets up.
5. TAKE A DAY TRIP TO AGNES WATER & SEVENTEEN SEVENTY (1770)
When you’ve done enough relaxing, a day trip to Agnes Water or 1770 is a good option.
Agnes Water is only 17km from the Wreck Rock camping area but most of that is sand driving. Once you’re out of the national park, you’re on sealed roads.
Agnes Water has the closest patrolled beach and offers safe frolicking in the waves. Both towns are popular holiday spots with various accommodation options, including caravan parks. Agnes Water also offers a service station and a few shops, including a bakery and supermarket so you can re-stock anything you need.
Both times we went, Agnes Water was teeming with people, especially around the beach. I felt very safe hopping around the waves here so we probably spent a good two hours at the beach.
Since Agnes Water has the only petrol station in the area, expect queues at peak times. I can’t remember exactly how long it took but we waited at least half an hour to have our turn at the petrol bowser.
Seventeen Seventy is really only a hamlet with a pub, in admittedly a pretty gorgeous spot, and a campground right along the shore. It gets packed around there though so if you don’t like sardine-type camping, stay at Deepwater. You’ll have more privacy and solitude.
Check out the Captain Cook Memorial (you can find Captain Cook everywhere, I think…).
Whilst I was content to just relax, read and go for a little paddle (not too deep!) every now and then, the husband was a bit peeved the first time that he didn’t bring his surfboard.
The beach at Wreck Rock turned out to have very surfable waves. Instead, he had to content himself with body-surfing all day… The next time round, he remembered though (but we still forgot the fishing gear, haha).
Beyond swimming and body-boarding (and keeping in mind stinger season), fishing, spotting some wildlife, and above all relaxing and reading a book or two, there isn’t much to do at Deepwater.
But it’s the perfect spot if you just want to take some time out, and you especially don’t want to hang out with 500 other people!
For more details on the camping areas at Deepwater, read my guide to camping at Deepwater.
Check out Queensland National Parks for more details on how to get there, specific plant and animals species that live there, etc.
MORE POSTS ON COASTAL NATIONAL PARKS IN QUEENSLAND
Bribie Island is only about an hour north of Brisbane, and apart from the usual beach activities, also offers some interesting WW2 history. Here’s more on 7 things to do on Bribie Island.
Spending a week on the ever popular Fraser Island allows you have down time in between seeing all the sights. Check out my 1-week itinerary for Fraser Island.