Thunderbird Park | Family Friendly Camping The Review
If you want a change from beach camping, but still need plenty of activities to keep the kids entertained, Thunderbird Park on Tamborine Mountain may be the camping destination you’ve been looking for.
Camping at Thunderbird Park
Set on a 112-hectare site, Thunderbird Park is located just over an hours drive from Brisbane. It offers a range of outdoor activities, from horse riding through the beautiful hinterland, to an impressive high ropes course, laser skirmish and putt-putt golf. But, of course, the unique lure is Thunder Eggs, created millions of years ago by volcanic eruptions which have left Thunderbird Park with the worlds largest deposit of Thunder Eggs lying in wait under the ground. Thunderbird Park also offer accommodation with camp sites (powered and unpowered) and cabins.
Our family are novice campers, so I rang in advance to get advice on booking a site that would suit our needs. Staff were friendly and helpful and recommended what turned out to be the perfect site for us, located on the banks of Cedar Creek. There are a range of sites available, group bookings are welcome and you can even bring along your dog. You can book your accommodation and activities online and the site is very easy to navigate. There are extras like firewood and bags of ice you can pre-purchase online or pick up on the day.
I would encourage anyone thinking of camping to look at the maps provided online and chose the campsite that you feel would best suit your families needs. All camp sites have fire pits, which was a delightful way to pass the evening – roasting marshmallows and listening to the creek. There are amenities located at both ends of the park. We found them to be clean and, although old, they were more than adequate. You can buy shower tokens for $2 for a five minute hot shower of pure bliss. The showers are a bit tricky if you have young children who are prone to dropping things on the wet ground but we were all warm and clean.
Thunderbird Park is a very family oriented camp site, so there is noise. Children ride their bikes around and there is a volleyball court for games. If you are after secluded silence this is not the camp grounds for you. If you have children who love to round around and be outdoors then this is right up your alley.
There is also a café with blessed coffee for very tired parents, as well as hot meals. The local birds are very comfortable there and children can feed rainbow lorikeets. The baby kookaburras line up at the café for their morning breakfast. After breakfast we took on the new putt-putt course. It is wonderfully designed for parents and children to play together with three levels of skill at each hole. Each hole has information on dinosaurs and other attractions at the park.
There is so much to do at Thunderbird Park that you could easily spend a week there. All prices are listed online, allowing you to plan a getaway to fit your budget. The park is a short drive from other local attractions and is easy enough to make as a day trip from Brisbane for a certainly memorable day. Thunderbird Park is a unique attraction, and one that makes a great addition to family to-do lists.
[Thunderbird Park staff were unaware during our stay that I would be reviewing it, so all interactions with them were what you could expect in your experience there.]
Thunder Egg Mining at Thunderbird Park
Thunder Egg mining was first on our list as soon as we arrived. It is a certified mine site so there are regulations such as shoe requirements and you will be require to verify your health before entering the site. You will also be given a mining permit which will be the talk of Show and Tell at school the next week. I cannot stress enough sensible closed in shoes and practical clothes, the site is very dusty and you will be doing physical work. The walk up to the mine site is up an incline with loose rocks. If you have very young children, or children still in carriers/slings or prams I would not recommend it. Our seven year old made it up without a backwards glance (that said carrying the buckets of thunder eggs back down the hill, my husband made it down with several breaks).
You are given a pick and bucket which you can fill to the rim, if you go over there are additional costs. Friendly staff give you a brief on what to expect and what you are looking for as well as covering safety. You are given gloves however done again I would bring our own, thick padded gloves. Once you’re up at the site you begin to dig! Staff will give you helpful hints and advice on how to find a cluster of eggs. Of course we were wondering would we find any, how many could there be left after all of this time. Plenty! We easily filled our buckets and saw many families do the same. The key is just hard work, everywhere you look you will see parents hard at work and children industriously washing their finds. Once you find one its easy to spot the others. My husband worked for an hour to bring out a complete thunder egg which was larger than a football, whereas our daughter collected baseball sized ones. Its very easy to spend a few hours searching and its very addictive.
Once you have filled your buckets, you head back down to the gem shop where staff will advise you on which rocks to have cut and in which direction the cut should go. Prices are based on size and listed at the shop. You can choose to take all of your finds, or leave them at the shop if you are just too tired to carry any more rocks. We had four eggs cut and each was amazing. The gem shop also sells a range of cut rocks and gems.
Facilities at Thunderbird Park
For accommodation, there are both powered and un-powered sites available for both tents and caravans. Lodges and holiday cabins are also available at Cedar Creek Lodges.
There is a restaurant and kiosk at Thunderbird Park, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. This is great if you’ve forgotten some supplies or just want a break from cooking. If you plan to prepare food yourself, make sure you bring your own cooking facilities as there is no camp kitchen.
There is only one amenities block at Thunderbird Park, with two token-operated showers and two toilets. Generally this is fine, but in peak periods, these facilities become crowded and quickly run out of supplies such as toilet paper. Also bear in mind that each shower token costs $2 for 5 minutes of hot water.
You will also need to bring your own drinking water as the water at Thunderbird Park is highly chlorinated. The kiosk also sells bottled water and ice, if needed.
There is some road noise that can be heard from the campsite, so the peace and tranquility is sometimes interrupted by traffic noise.
Activities to enjoy at Thunderbird Park
- Our pick of the activities to try at Thunderbird Park would have to be the thunder-egg fossicking. It’s suitable for all ages and is both educational and fun. The treasures you will fill your bucket with are millions of years old but are easy to find and will become a precious keepsake of your family holiday. It may even spark an interest in geology! There is a fee to enter the mine (even for spectators) and there is an additional fee to cut open the collected thunder eggs to reveal the beauty inside. The costs could add up but you can book online to obtain a discounted rate. Remember to wear closed-toe shoes for safety in the mine.
- Enjoy the natural beauty and local wildlife by exploring the local bush walking tracks.
- Take the treetop challenge (for older children) — a high ropes course that includes flying foxes, suspended bridges and climbing nets (a fee applies for this activity).
- Have some water fun in the rainforest rock pools or salt water swimming pool.
- Have a game on the tennis court, basketball court or volleyball court.
- Have a cheap and fun game of mini golf (very basic course).
- Enjoy horse and pony rides (starting at $10 for a pony ride).
- Feed the birds at the free daily bird-feeding session.
- Experience a fun round of laser skirmish (fee applies).
How to make the most of your stay at Thunderbird Park
- Pet friendly — dogs are welcome at this campsite.
- Book activities online to obtain a discount.
- Pack firewood and marshmallows for campfires.
- Bring your own drinking water.
- Don’t forget to pack swimmers for the swimming pool and rock pools.
- Bring closed-toe shoes for activities such as thunder-egg fossicking and bush walking.
- Enjoy a meal or a treat at the on-site restaurant or kiosk.
- Have a picnic at the beautiful Tamborine Mountain Botanic Gardens.
- Explore the quaint township of Mount Tambourine (a short drive from the campsite), have a coffee in one of the many funky cafes, or browse the eclectic mix of shops.
Thunderbird Park is located on the corner of Cedar Creek Falls Road, Tamborine Mountain. To make a booking or for more information, visit www.thunderbirdpark.com or phone (07) 5545 1468.
Take a look the Brisbane Kids list of Your Favourite Camping Spots for lots more recommended family camp locations to explore, like Broken Head Holiday Park in NSW. We will have many more campsite reviews coming in the very near future.