Around 70 kilometres north of Rockhampton in Queensland you’ll find the little-known 4WD playground of Byfield National Park. Now Byfield is not just a national park, there is also the Byfield State Forest and the Byfield Conservation Park all sitting snugly beside each other giving you triple bang for your buck.
4WDing in Byfield is all about the clearance and with steep slippery sections, big sand hills, narrow tracks with poor visibility, water crossings, very soft sand, tides and exposed rock, this is not the place to learn the ropes….less you wish to be well acquainted with the kinetic kind. If you’re not an experienced 4WDer, it’s better to visit Byfield National Park with a convoy.
There’s also more to do here than just 4WDing. Camp in a number of great locations, blow the cobwebs from the exhaust of your trail bike, swim, hike, slide down sand dunes, surf and fish.
Top spots in Byfield
Here are the areas you don’t want to miss in the Byfield State Forest, National Park and Conservation Park. The best 4WDing can be found as you make your way to Stockyard Point, Five Rocks Beach and Nine Mile Beach. This is where previous sand driving experience will get you through but either way, make sure you have recovery gear.
Byfield Conservation Park
Five Rocks visitor area (4WD only)
The Five Rocks visitor area is popular with adventurous families and day trippers and is found around 28 kilometres from Water Park Creek. Surrounded by coastal woodland, the beach here is vehicle free. Camping is available for tents and camper trailers up to three metres.
Stockyard Point (4WD only)
Also around 28 kilometres from Water Park Creek, the headland offers great views over Five Rocks Beach and Nine Mile Beach. If you’re up for a hike, you can walk here from the Five Rocks visitor area.
Byfield National Park
Five Rocks Beach (4WD only)
This is Byfield National Park’s most remote beach and it can be found around 34 kilometres from Water Park Creek. Driving in is 80% of the fun with snaky tracks and blind corners. If a rollover happens at Byfield, it’s usually on the way to Five Rocks Beach. The northern section of the beach is a no-go for vehicles so once you hit the beach, you must turn right only and head south.
Nine Mile Beach (4WD only)
Found around 32 kilometres from Water Park Creek, the tracks to Nine Mile Beach are somewhat less of a challenge than getting to Five Rocks Beach but still no cruise in the park. Here you’ll find sand blows to slide down, freshwater streams and of course, cruisy beach driving. Camping areas are available but there are no facilities and it’s first-in-first-choice of campsites.
Water Park Point headland (4WD only)
A moderately challenging route (in spots) of around 44 kilometres from Water Park Creek will take you to Scouts Camp at Water Park Point headland. It’s a small yet secluded site with nice views across Sandy Point and Corio Bay. There are no facilities here so you will need to be completely self-sufficient.
Sandy Point (4WD recommended – 2WD rough going)
Sandy Point can be reached around 18 kilometres from the roundabout on Farnborough Road. It’s a popular day trip destination for both fishers and surfers. You can get through on a rough unsealed track with a 2WD but a 4WD is highly recommended. Not just for the track, but because you won’t be able to drive along Farnborough Beach without one.
Corio Bay (4WD recommended – 2WD rough going)
Loved by boaties, Corio Bay is fringed by mangroves and due to the shallow water, you need to be really careful with tide heights. You definitely should not swim here because both bull sharks and estuarine crocodiles come here for dinner.
Byfield State Forest (2WD accessible)
You don’t need a 4WD to visit the Byfield State Forest section but it’s definitely worth a visit still.
Upper Stony Creek is found by a rough 2WD access road from Byfield Road. It’s a peaceful spot with a picturesque freshwater creek, picnic tables, BBQs and toilets. Campsites are available for tents and those with caravans up to four metres.
Red Rock is set among pine trees close to the main road but with plenty of space. You’ll find it around one kilometre from Byfield Road and it’s usually a smooth drive in. Shared toilets and facilities are available and camping is for tents and caravans up to four metres. Sadly, swimming is not recommended here due to the possibility of estuarine crocodiles.
Water Park Creek is a smooth four kilometres from Byfield Road and is easily accessible in a 2WD. Nestled in a riparian forest, it’s a bird enthusiast’s paradise. Campers and day visitors share the toilets, picnic tables and BBQs but it’s only suitable for those with tents, campers and motorhomes up to three metres. Swimming is discouraged here also for the same reason.
Camping at Byfield
Camping is available at a number of spots in the state forest, national park and conservation area. More details can be found on the QLD National Parks website which you also must book through.
Although many families love Five Rocks Camping Area, I love the 2WD accessible Upper Stony Creek for the beautiful creek to splash in. It’s a top spot to set up your base camp while you tackle the tracks you don’t really want to pull your camper or caravan through.
Why is Byfield special?
The parks and forest of Byfield are part of the last remaining undeveloped area on the Central Queensland coast. It covers over 15,000ha with oversized parabolic sand dunes (the oldest reaching over five kilometres inland) featuring in the south and pinnacles and peaks dominating the north.
The park ensures the conservation of large areas of coastal heath, eucalypt woodlands and rainforests. As a result, the area supports many birds and wildlife. It’s not just underfoot though, all of the coastal waters in the Byfield area, including Corio Bay, are protected marine parks and part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
A word of caution
Estuarine crocodiles inhabit the area, particularly around Corio Bay and the lower sections of Water Park Creek. Make sure to obey all of the warnings and be croc-wise. You’ll also need to be freshwater stonefish-wise and dingo-wise.