Camping / Queensland

Charlie Moreland Campground, Imbil State Forest

Nestled among the tall trees located within Imbil State Forest just 2 hours from Brisbane, Charlie Moreland Campgrounds makes the perfect destination for a weekend escape in nature.

Before I get started, I think it’s important to note that I wasn’t sure I was going to write about this stay. The first night was probably the worst night of camping I’ve ever experienced but that was due to other people in the campground, not the location itself. And despite a rocky start, we stayed on and camped a second night giving us the opportunity to finally rest and relax making this weekend getaway the perfect break without being too far from home.

Charlie Moreland Camping area is located in the Imbil State Forest in Kenilworth which is approximately a 2 hour drive from Brisbane. The campground is surrounded by forest along Little Yabba Creek which provides a beautiful backdrop for your stay and a place to jump in for a swim if it all gets a bit too hot.

There are no defined camping areas, so it’s up to you to pick a spot, but there are designated fire pits scattered around so definitely try and set up around one of those if you’re keen on sitting around a campfire after the sun goes down.

We arrived just after lunch on a Saturday having already gone to the Booloumba Creek camping area in nearby Conondale National Park as that’s where we had initially planned to stay. Once we had arrived however we realised that there was only one camping area that would’ve allowed us to use our rooftop tent as all other sites were walk-in camping only.

The only drive in camping was camp site 4 which was an open, grassy field and by the time we arrived was near full. The only spots available were right in the middle of a bunch of other camps and it really didn’t have the feel of a relaxing weekend in nature that we were looking for so we decided to leave and search for something else.

So we jumped in the car and headed back to the main road to find service and hopefully somewhere else to spend the night. Just down the road we saw the turn to Charlie Moreland and decided to check it out.

Unlike Booloumba Creek which is 4WD access only as there are a few creek crossings to get in, Charlie Moreland is accessible via conventional vehicle.

By the time we arrived at Charlie Morland campground it was packed with tents and caravans everywhere. We noticed a free spot in a bit of an open area along the fence line and decided it was time to just set up. If you’re coming on a Saturday, you definitely want to make sure you’re getting here early to get the pick of the spot.

After enjoying our dinner and a couple of drinks around the fire we went to bed. That evening neither of us got any sleep as there was an incident with one of the other guests at the campground which I alluded to at the beginning of this post, and won’t get into further.

The following morning we noticed the majority of other campers had already begun the process of packing up. After a fairly traumatic night, we felt pretty defeated and wondered if it was even worth staying the second night as planned or if we should just pack it in and head home.

After some coffee and breakfast, we decided that we didn’t want this to be our full experience of this area so we decided to try and wipe the previous day from memory and start the day with a fresh outlook of the area.

We packed up the ute and took off down the road into the state forest. We were eager to see what was around as the previous day we had seen heaps of 4WDs coming in from this way. After a short, windy climb we reached a lookout at the entry to Conondale National Park.

We got out and stood there looking out over the pine plantation and listening to the absolute quiet of the forest. I cannot describe to you just how rejuvenating this moment was. It gave us the energy to keep going and explore what makes this place such a great spot to visit.

We took a few turns and ended up driving down a steep and windy 4WD track that took us through about 4 different types of forest as we drove back towards Booloumba Creek, this time heading in from the opposite direction than the day before.

This drive was so spectacular, and I found myself so surprised that this landscape was hidden away here and we were only able to experience it because of the 4WD. It’s definitely allowing us to experience more interesting places that we would never have even thought about.

We made a stop at Booloumba Falls and did the 1.5km walk through the forest to the swimming holes past the creek and cascades. It was a really nice walk and at the end where the main falls and large swimming area is there were some beautiful views.

We were there in early March and while there had been some rain, it was still looking a bit dry so we skipped a swim and made our way back to the car to keep exploring.

We pulled into Booloumba Creek camp area 1, to have a look around and find the spectacular, crystal clear, blue swimming hole that I’d seen photos of which sparked our trip here. We had been in a fluster the day before trying to find a camp that we had missed the creek, so I was keen to make sure we got to see it before heading back to Charlie Moreland.

We walked down and had the whole area to ourselves. The creek though was looking a little dry and the swimming whole was quite stagnant and not looking too inviting for a swim. I think with a bit more rain it would have been perfect though.

After splashing around a little on the edge, we decided to make our way back to Charlie Moreland campgrounds to look for a new spot to set up and have a late lunch.

When we arrived we were shocked at the contrast from the day before. It was hardly recognisable as about 90% of people were gone leaving just us and a few caravaners. We immediately turned the opposite direction from where we had camped the previous night and drove down towards the creek to find a nice secluded spot, nestled among the trees.

It was quiet except for the bird song. It was calm. It was exactly what we needed. After lunch I fell asleep, relaxed in my chair – the lack of sleep catching up to me. I woke refreshed and relaxed and so very grateful that despite the previous day, we had decided to stay.

After a very relaxing second day, we woke up to the sounds of the birds and enjoyed a coffee while watching a red-legged pademelon and its joey tucked up safely in its pouch nearby.

We slowly packed up and headed into nearby Kenilworth because no trip to this area is complete without a visit to Kenilworth Country Bakery to sample one, or six, of their famous doughnuts!

And with that, it was time to head back home, another adventure done.

Getting There

From Brisbane, Charlie Moreland Campground is around 150km and the drive takes you through Malney, with the turn off from the Kenilworth–Maleny Road being about 7 km south of Kenilworth.

If you don’t need to camp beside your car then I recommend staying at Booloumba Creek camp area 1 or 2 – the spots there looked really lovely surrounded by tall trees. But if you’re like us and your car is your camp, then I don’t think camp area 4 is worth it, so I’d recommend heading over to Charlie Moreland instead.

Because the camp areas are not defined, Charlie Moreland is also perfect for larger groups. Just remember if you’re heading to either of these locations on a Saturday, get there early!

Essential Info

  • There is zero phone service so make sure you have pre-booked your camping permits via the QLD Parks website.
  • The campground has flushing toilets but no showers.
  • Booloumba Creek Camping area is accessible by 4WD only, however Charlie Moreland is accessible via conventional vehicle.
  • Fires are permitted in designated fire rings, except when fire bans are in force.
  • Ensure to take care to leave the campgrounds as you found it and take all rubbish out with you.
  • There is plenty to do in the area with walking tracks that leave from the campgrounds (we didn’t get a chance to explore these), as well as plenty of 4WD tracks and swimming in the creek.

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