Eungella Dam is one of the best choices for bush camping around our local Mackay area, and we really are spoilt for choice here. From beach to bush, Mackay has it all!
A pleasant 2 hour drive west of Mackay township passes through the verdant green Pioneer Valley before climbing up the range towards Eungella. Follow the road straight through Eungella town, over Broken River and towards Crediton Forest. Do not turn off to Crediton, just keep following the road as it becomes dirt, with cattle grids. The dirt road then winds around through tall trees and cow paddocks for another 30km until you reach the dam. Along this road you will see the sign for the Eungella Sawmill to the left, and you can grab a big bag of very decent hardwood for $10 here. It’s 2km off the main road.
The sign to the campground is just over a rise and heads to the right. Even after going up there many times I never know exactly which rise it is and end up getting surprised every time, having to do a u-turn.
You arrive at the top of the campground and can orientate yourself at the amenities block. This is where you pay for camping at the honesty box at the top of the hill. Keep going straight ahead to reach the boat ramp. There are fantastic campsites lining both the western shore to the right of the ramp, or the northerly shore on the left of the ramp. All sites are flatter closer to the water and this of course varies depending on the water level. The official word on the SunWater website is that camping is only permitted at least 5metres away from the shoreline.
Eungella Dam and the campsite is managed by SunWater. Check out the rules and current water level on their website here.
Western shore sites are shadier and are usually privy to a wider expanse of sandy beach however can be a little exposed to the SE winds. It it is windy, it is super windy here and it often blows straight into these sites. The north side is more favoured by water sports enthusiasts, and has fewer trees. There is more grass around this end and if the water level is nice and high, this would be the best place to camp. The wind blows cross shore here but you get a degree of shelter thanks to the hill in the middle. There is weed in the water no matter which side you camp.
The amenities are clean demountable blocks with cold showers available. There is only one amenities area at the top of the hill which is a couple of hundred metres away from the nearest camper. It is advisable to bring your own chemical toilet if you don’t want to keep making the trek.
There are industrial bins up near the toilets as well. You will find non-potable water from taps around the park.
You can swim in the dam, paddle, SUP, kayak, fish, or ski. On calm weekends the dam comes alive with speedboats from dawn until dusk, but most people are considerate and the boats circle far enough off shore to not be a nuisance.
Swimming is possible straight off the shore, but the quality of your swim depends on the water level. There are quite a few weeds in close, and it is much nicer if you can paddle out past these before jumping in for a refreshing swim. The water is cool, clear and deep out past the weeds. And the temperature can be quite fresh most of the year but this is perfect on a warm spring or summer’s day.
There is no phone reception up here which is one of Eungella Dam’s endearing qualities. It is so great getting away from everything! If you are desperate however, you can find a couple of bars of service up at the lookout on the northern shore.
The water views over the glassy pool of Eungella Dam are perfectly stunning for sunrise and sunset with a myriad of water birds to share your peace.
There are fire pits all over the camp area marked out with rock circles so you can always find the perfect place for your fire. A campfire makes camping special doesn’t it?
Things to do
Boating and watersports really form the basis of action and activity at Eungella Dam. Join people in kayaks, canoes, giant inflatable unicorns, stand-up paddle boards, ski boats, fishing boats and more while the sun shines. The fish is well-stocked with barra and sooty grunter and there are regular fishing comps on. Chilling out at your campsite is another popular activity, simply whiling away your days and being entertained by all the activity on the dam. There are also fantastic bird
For longer stays, nearby Eungella National Park is a beautiful side trip, and the rainforest and many walking tracks make it worthwhile. If you are quiet, you might even get to see the famous and elusive platypus at Broken River.
You will find a 4WD track which takes you from the Diggings Road on the Eungella township end, all the way past The Diggings campsite, over the creek and ends up joining up with Eungella Dam Road. This route is not recommended if you are towing anything though.
Any Bad Bits?
Eungella Dam can get pretty cold in winter with reports of frost. Great for campfires, not so great for sleeping out depending on your personal preference. The dam does contain blue-green algae which has been found to cause skin irritation and gastrointestinal disturbance (nausea/diarrhoea) in some people with rare severe effects from prolonged exposure. The algae accumulates along the shoreline, and is especially worse when the water level has dropped. To avoid any potential problems from blue-green algae, we recommend that you heed all warning signs, do not drink the water, swim away from the shore and don’t let kids play on the water’s edge.
There is the occasional hoon getting around, and we have heard some reports of solar panel theft so make sure everything is secured.
Eungella Dam is one of the top places to camp in Mackay region and a fantastic place to really kick back and enjoy a sundowner or two. Being 2 hours from Mackay means that as long as you get there before 6pm on a Friday, you usually get your pick of spots. No check out time makes every weekend feel like a long weekend! There is a road just north of the campsite which takes you through to Nebo, so you could even arrive straight from work to save time and hassle.
For a cheap, gorgeous and expansive campground which allows dogs and fires within 2 hours from Mackay, Eungella Dam is the place to be!
Author: Kris Gadsby is a Mackay local and founder of Gadsventure – Family Travel a blog which documents the Gadsby family’s travels worldwide offering advice and tips on budget family travel. Now on a trip around the world with their 4 young children, they have enjoyed many years camping in their Jayco Eagle. After a 12 month trip around Australia in 2015 and exploring the many campsites close to Mackay ever since, they share their expertise with you. You can find them on Facebook and Instagram.
At a Glance:
|Cost: $5 per person unpowered (no powered sites)|
|Bookings: Honesty box – pay onsite, maximum stay 4 weeks|
|Amenities: Demountable toilets and cold showers|
|Pets: Dogs ok|
|Dump Point: No – The nearest one is in Mirani|
|Big Rigs: Welcome|
|Location: 109km west of Mackay, 2 hours drive|