A self-drive adventure in Queensland offers World Heritage nature, abundant wildlife, outback and endless sandy beaches to explore.
Queensland features classic coastlines, expanses of outback, the Great Barrier Reef and luscious rainforests. It is jam-packed with on-road and off-road driving holiday adventures perfect for exploring by car, 4WD or campervan. With high quality, well-signed roads, getting around is easy. Queensland is a huge state, so there is no shortage of places to explore or things to see and do.
Great Beach Drive
The Great Beach Drive starts north of Brisbane and connects the Sunshine Coast with World Heritage-listed Fraser Island. This region is home to an abundance of wildlife including kangaroos, whales, turtles, dingoes, dugongs/manatees, platypus and the world’s largest variety of bird species.
With the Pacific Ocean on one side and natural Australian bushland on the other, this drive passes some of the country’s most stunning beaches.
- Nearest Major City: Noosa, Sunshine Coast
- Duration: 5 days
- Distance: 380 km (236 miles)
- The Great Beach Drive is suitable for 4WD vehicles only.
- Head north from Noosa along the beach highway to Rainbow Beach.
- Board the barge to Fraser Island and explore crystal clear lakes and rainforests on the world’s largest sand island.
- Hand feed wild dolphins in the town of Tin Can Bay.
- Share an intimate experience with whales (July – November).
Great Tropical Drive
The Great Tropical Drive is a network of roads in the Cairns and Great Barrier Reef region with palm-fringed beaches, ancient rainforest and golden outback.
This drive combines some of Queensland’s best-known attractions, including the Great Barrier Reef, Wet Tropics Rainforest, Hinchinbrook Island and the Undara lava tubes with gorgeous waterfalls, extensive tea plantations, Australian wildlife experiences and Indigenous culture.
- Nearest Major City: Cairns
- Duration: 5 days
- Distance: up to 2000 km (1200 miles) of road network
- Go jungle surfing through the Daintree Rainforest.
- Visit Wallaman Falls, Australia’s highest single-drop waterfall.
- View the Great Barrier Reef from above and below.
- Experience the rainforest and Aboriginal culture with Skyrail Rainforest Cableway.
- Discover a Spanish castle surrounded by waterfalls at Paronella Park.
Pacific Coast Way
The Pacific Coast Way links Brisbane to Cairns with over 1700 km (1100 miles) of endless beaches and coastal experiences. No two days are the same. This road trip leads through coastal havens, hinterland towns and major cities all along the east coast of Queensland.
It’s a long way, but the roads are good quality, the scenery’s stunning, the experiences unique and the locals are so friendly. Buckle up!
- Nearest Major City: Gold Coast, Brisbane, Cairns
- Duration: 7-10 days
- Distance: 1784 km (1108 miles)
- Start with a thrill at a Gold Coast theme park.
- Meander through the hinterland regions north and south of Brisbane.
- Marvel at the pristine white silica sands of Whitehaven Beach, often voted one of the world’s best beaches.
- Visit the Great Barrier Reef from Bundaberg, Airlie Beach, Townsville or Cairns.
- Hike through the world’s oldest rainforest in Daintree National Park.
Travel west and be filled with adventure. The Warrego Way starts in Brisbane and finishes in the iconic and remote town of Birdsville in Queensland’s Outback. Along the way see ancient trees from the dinosaur age, encounter special Australian animals, unwind in soothing waters from the sub artesian basin, delight in yarns told in country bars, and enjoy the brilliant sunsets and starry nights.
- Nearest Major City: Brisbane
- Duration: 2-3 days
- Distance: 1578 km (980 miles)
- Explore Toowoomba, Queensland’s Garden City, which is particularly colourful in September for the annual Carnival of Flowers.
- Take in the star-studded outback night sky at the Charleville Cosmos Centre.
- Fossick for opals at Quilpie.
- Go fishing for the catch of the day at Windorah.
- Sit atop ‘Big Red’, the biggest sand dune on the eastern edge of the Simpson Desert.
Driving in Queensland
All major car rental operators have offices at Brisbane Airport, in various Brisbane city and suburban locations and many have regional depots in major towns throughout the state. The greater Brisbane area has a 75 km (46 mile) network of tolled roads, bridges and tunnels. Most major car hire companies will provide a toll solution as part of their rental agreement.
It is important to note that special rules apply to people driving hire 4WD vehicles on Fraser Island. These rules do not apply to private vehicles.
- Have a maximum of 8 seats.
- Have seats that are forward or rear-facing, not side-facing.
- Have all items stored securely inside the vehicle – below the top level of the door frame and not on the roof.
- Be fitted with seatbelts which meet Australian Design Rule standards.