If you’re looking for a convenient Free Camping spot near Innisfail, Fred Drew Rest Area is the closest you’ll get.
This spot can be noisy as it’s right on the highway, but Fred Drew Camping Rest Area provides a great base to check out Innisfail and the surrounding area.
While it is only a 24-hour rest area, there appear to be some longer-term campers there. We actually stayed for a few days and felt safe to unhitch the van and go exploring.
With a playground, toilets, green grass and a covered picnic shelter with BBQs, Fred Drew Rest Area is a handy stopover whether you’re heading north or south along the Queensland coast.
Fred Drew Rest Area is located 4km North of Innisfail and 26km South of Babinda, Far North Queensland.
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Free Camping Innisfail: Fred Drew Rest Area
⏰ 24 Hours
🐶 Pet friendly
💧 Drinking water
🍞 Picnic tables (sheltered)
🗑 Rubbish bins
📶 Telstra reception
🚗 2WD Access
⛺️ Camper Trailers, Caravans, RVs & Big Rigs
|Address||27 Palmerston Highway, Belvedere QLD 4860|
Things to do from Fred Drew Rest Area
While Free Camping in Innisfail at Fred Drew Rest Area, there are two great things to do, which are endemic to the area.
Firstly, head up the road to see if you can spot some saltwater crocodiles basking on the banks of the river. Secondly, head out to Etty Bay and see the endangered cassowary in its natural rainforest habitat.
Go Croc Spotting
If you head north along the highway from Fred Drew Rest Area, take the next right. Pull over to the left side of the road in the different spots that look down onto the adjacent river.
There are multiple saltwater crocodiles who live in there and are often seen sunning themselves on the banks of the river. We saw a big 4m guy there a few times while we were in the area.
This is a safe viewing spot as you are standing up on a cliff looking over the river without being near the water’s edge.
Take a drive out to the beautiful Etty Bay where you can safely swim in the ocean on a patrolled beach. Keep your eyes peeled for the endangered Cassowaries, who famously frequent the area.
We were lucky enough to meet one who was wandering the picnic areas, stealing people’s lunches! DO NOT feed the cassowaries as they can be extremely aggressive and do not need any encouragement. Luckily the lifeguards are well-versed in trying to safely scare them away.
More to do Near Innisfail
Just 25 minutes North-West of Innisfail you will find the beautiful Josephine Falls. The waterfalls are nestled at the base of Mount Bartle Freer – the tallest mountain in Queensland! The falls are surrounded by rainforest and visitors are able to enjoy crystal-clear swimming holes and a natural water slide.
- 1.2 km return walking trail
- 3 viewing platforms (1 is wheelchair accessible)
- Natural Rock Slide
- Picnic Area down the road at Golden Hole
If you travel North from Fred Drew Rest Area for another 25 km you’ll run into Babinda. This town is home to the gorgeous Babinda Boulders.
The Babinda Boulders are also nestled at the base of Mt Bartle Frere (Queensland’s highest mountain) and the slightly smaller Mt Bellenden Kerr. Surrounding the boulders is a crystal clear running creek with many sections and depths for all swimming abilities.
- 2 km forest boardwalk with viewing platform
- Shallow swimming hole (100m from The Boulders Campground)
- Wheelchair access to the viewing platform & ramp down to the water
- Picnic Area
Babinda has two Free Camps, which will give you a total of 6 nights of Free Camping!
One of Queensland’s #1 tourist attractions is just 22 km up the road, famously known as Paronella Park. Explore the castle ruins nestled in the rainforest, which sit beside the beautiful Mena Creek Falls. This is a full-day activity, with so much jam-packed into the one entry price.
Included in the Entry Fee:
- Day Tour
- Night Tour
- 1 night Free Camping
With your Paronella Park entry ticket, you get 1 night’s Free Camping either at the park or 200 metres up the road at The Paddock.
52 km south of Innisfail is another very green and wet little town called Tully. In fact, it’s arguably the wettest town in Australia! That’s where you’ll find the Big Golden Gumboot, which you can even climb inside of and enjoy 360º views of the town from the top.
But Tully offers more than just an oversized gumboot. From Alligator’s Nest Swimming Hole to Australia’s #1 white water rapids, there are plenty of things to explore in Tully.