The Capricorn Coast is Queensland’s most underrated stretch of coastline. You’ve got hiking, snorkelling, diving, wild swimming, 4WDing, and fishing all within day trip distance from the cruisey beachside town of Yeppoon.
4WDing at Five Rocks Conservation Area
The fun starts before you even get to the beach because first, you have to tackle the 1km long sand dune dubbed ‘Big Sandy’.
Sand dunes only get an official name if they have a reputation for getting people stuck, and this one’s no exception. The trick is to keep your tyre pressure low, keep your revs high and make sure you have a shovel just in case! Besides, getting bogged is all part of the fun.
The trek’s worth it – on the other side of Big Sandy awaits pristine beaches, clear water, and the looming ‘Five Rocks’ to explore. The best part is that your average joe with a 2WD can’t get there, so you’ll feel like you’ve found your own personal paradise.
There’s even a shady little bush camp with fire pits and a nice freshwater shower if you want to extend your stay.
Five Rocks is located 60km north of Yeppoon on the Capricorn Coast. The second half of the road there is dirt and the last couple kilometres are all sand so you’ll need to allow about 2 hours to get there. It can be poorly signposted and there’s no reception so download a Byfield area map before you leave Yeppoon.
Wild Swimming at Upper Stony Creek
This dreamy little oasis in Byfield National Park is the perfect place to soak up a summer’s day. It has a huge grassy area that’s perfect for lazing by with a picnic and book until you get hot enough to jump into the ice-cold swimming hole. Even if you don’t want to dive in, it’s worth the trip just to admire the stunning aqua green water.
The main section of the pool is deep and cold with rocky steps on the edge or a rope swing for the more daring among us. Walking trails follow the side of the creek to tumbling little rapids and shady secluded areas to stop and soak up the sounds of nature.
If you want to stay a little longer you can camp right beside the waterhole amongst the trees. I recommend avoiding the weekend as it can get quite busy and rowdy, but mid-week it’s a calm, secluded, wild swimming paradise! This spot is about 50km north-west of Yeppoon and although a lot of the road is dirt, it’s easily accessible in a 2WD.
Snorkelling at Great Keppel Island
In the 80s, Great Keppel Island was a party island with the catchphrase ‘Get wrecked on Keppel’. Now it’s an ocean adventurer’s paradise with an authentic, sand-between-the-toes island life feel to it.
You can snorkel on all corners of the island and it’s stunning. There are heaps of fish and coral and the water is warm and clear.
If you’d prefer to stay on top of the water you can hire kayaks or SUPs and cruise around the headlands until you find a white sandy beach all to yourself.
The main two ways to get around the island (unless you’re lucky enough to know someone with a boat) are on foot or by hitching a ride on one of the 4WD services that randomly cruise the island. There are easy walks to nearby coves or longer walks across the island to distant reefs and beaches. If you go at low tide you can get around the headlands on foot and find the extremely ‘gram-mable net hammock up in the trees.
It’s so worth spending at least a night or two here if you have the time. There’s some fancy accommodation available if you have the budget, but the Great Keppel Island Holiday Village will let you pitch your tent for $25 per night. It’s got a great kitchen, hammocks, free firewood, and a distinctly ‘backpacker’ feel.
There are two ferry services that take you to and from the island. Both cost about $45 return, leave at all times of the day and take about half an hour to cross. Make sure you book in advance especially on Friday and Sunday evenings.
Beach Driving at Farnborough Beach
You don’t need a permit to drive on the beach in Queensland, and Farnborough Beach, just 8km north of Yeppoon, is the perfect spot to give it a go. The beach is 17km long so you can cruise along the sand until you find your own spot and perch up for a day by the water.
There’s great fishing, swimming, plenty of space to hurl a frisbee, and sometimes even a bit of surf if you’re lucky. The tides here are huge, so make sure you head during an outgoing tide to maximise your time beachside. Stop at one of the many pineapple stands on your way there and enjoy the ultimate Queensland snack while you laze in the sun.
Hiking and Wildlife at Capricorn National Park
This gorgeous stretch of coast even has its own tiny national park. We arrived early to catch a glorious sunrise over the outer islands before setting off on the hike around the headland.
The 3km loop takes you south first for a view over Kinka Beach, then around the headland to spectacular views across the marina and Kemp Beach. Keep an eye out for turtles as you round the northern part of the headland at the aptly named Turtle Lookout.
At the end of the walk, you’re rewarded with a big grassy area and some shady picnic tables to enjoy a cuppa or brekkie by the beach.
Basecamp at Yeppoon
Most nights we were staying out at our adventure spots like Five Rocks and Upper Stony Creek, and the few nights we spent in Yeppoon we camped out in our car at the back of a mates place.
There’s a tonne of accommodation in Yeppoon to suit every kind of traveller. Whether you want to splurge on a hotel, check into a backpackers, or take a van or a tent you’ll find something to suit.
Just remember you’re probably going to want to spend a night or two away from the town – the day trips are just so epic you’ll want to stay and wake up there the next day.
The beauty of this area is that you can hire almost everything you need for your day trips or overnight adventures, especially if you’re trying your hand at something for the first time and you’re not sure if it’s for you. But whether you’re hiring or BYO, there are a few must haves;
- Tent and sleeping gear if you’re camping
- Snorkel and goggles
- Tyre pressure gauge and compressor
- 4WD recovery gear (max tracks and a shovel at the very least).
How To Get There
The town of Yeppoon lies 40km north-east of Rockhampton on the central Queensland coast. It’s smack bang in the middle of Bundaberg and Mackay with an easy 4hr drive along the highway to either town.