Big Bend, near Charters Towers, Queensland
Ever been to Big Bend? Its approx 5 kilometers before Fletcher Creek Reserve (near the entrance to Dalrymple National Park) and has better places to camp and fish than Fletchers and isn't packed full with grey nomads in the middle of the year. Nothing wrong with that except there will be limited camping spots between all of the vans and we prefer remote bush camp as much as possible.
Big Bend is a popular four-wheel drive full bush camping located right on the banks of the Burdekin River. There are numerous tracks around the area worth exploring. Some lead to other areas that would be great to camp as well. It's well worth a quick poke around before setting up camp.
There are great fishing opportunities here as well whereas Fletcher doesn't. Big Bend also offers some nice four-wheel driving and great scenery if you go in a bit further along the tracks.
How to get there
Hardly "off the beaten track", making a weekend out of this location is difficult as you want to make it. From Charters Towers, follow the Gregory Development Road along the Burdekin River 30 km North. You will see a small road sign on the right, when heading north. Hopefully you can read it through the bullet holes. Don't worry, that is as menacing as Big Bend gets.
Although you don't need to use four-wheel drive to get there, you do require a high clearance vehicle; though it's not far to walk from the Lynd Highway. A standard height ute will suffice without any issues although you will have to choose your line wisely.
What to do
Camping spots along Fletcher Creek are frequented by large family groups. Camping is permitted with numerous opportunities for camping right on the water's edge, however there are no designated camping spots and no facilities. This bush campground is a magic spot if you are into self sufficient camping, have a high clearance vehicle or a four-wheel driving and like to fish or relax reading a book. There are also a few tracks around to explore on your dirt bikes. It's not recommended to swim there as the Burdekin River is known to be infested with crocodiles, although most locals do go for a dip.
There is a small creek crossing which can turn into a raging torrent after heavy rain. So take care after rain, as the road in can become blocked where you normally cross a small creek. There are some sandy sections and it can be a bit windy at times so four-wheel drive is recommended. You could get a camper trailer in, however there are some tight bends and boggy sandy sections so use your discretion.
Echo Hole, just on southeast side of Big Bend, is also worth checking out. This area is known for its extensive basalt formations as part of the Great Basalt Wall, a geological formation of the Toomba basalt flow from the last major volcanic activity in northern Australia and is part of a 120 km lava flow.
This is where the Burdekin River was diverted as lava edged into it, forming a concave cliff and swimming spot at Echo Hole billabong. The flows covered an ancient coral reef and you can still pick out some shapes in the limestone rocks where the lava has worn away. You get an impression of what the region is like on the fringes of the wall, at Big Bend and Red Falls.
Be sure to stay up late to watch the beautiful night sky with virtually zero light pollution. If you are a keen astronomer or photographer, this is your dream! Catch some shooting stars, do some night sky photography, make a night sky timelapse video or just sit by the fire taking it all in!
Another amazing place is Flat Rock which is also has about two kilometres frontage of the Burdekin River.