The Great Tropical Drive from Townsville to Cooktown takes you to some of Australia's best-known attractions including the two World Heritage areas of the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics rainforest.
The Great Tropical Drive offers ever changing landscapes where you can cool off under a waterfall, visit a turtle hospital, go jungle surfing or learn how to hunt mud crab with a spear. Encounter nature, Indigenous culture, food and wine, wildlife, heritage or adventure and know that natural wonders are around every corner as you pass through the unique regions of North Queensland.
At a glance:
The Townsville region in North Queensland offers real experiences where the natural attractions are complimented by a large range of activities catering to all ages. Take the time to meet the locals and experience the lifestyle, culture and heritage that make the Region so unique. Spot Koalas in the wild on Magnetic Island, discover Cassowaries and Crocodiles, watch Minke Whales and colourful marine life of the reef, have breakfast with the birds and lunch with the wallabies.
Head north along the Great Green Way stopping to hike through the rich rainforest of Paluma Range National Park and swim at Big or Little Crystal Creek. Drive to Ingham a sugar cane town with a distinctly Mediterranean flair thanks to the migrating Italians, Spaniards and Basques who have settled in the area. Drive west to visit Wallaman Falls or take a ferry to Hinchinbrook Island home to cloud-covered mountains, fragile heathland vegetation, lush rainforest, rocky headlands, eucalypt forests and mangrove fringes. Next visit traditional healing ponds with a local Aboriginal guide in Tully Gorge National Park or take a water rafting adventure down the Tully River before heading to the vibrant village of Mission Beach for the night.
Watch for cassowaries, with their blue necks and regal head gear. Drive to Mission Beach, where the golden sand is fringed by a green tangle of rainforest.
Leaving Mission Beach head north to Innisfail while watching for cassowaries and stopping into the historic soldier settlement of El Arish. Take a short detour off the highway to Mena Creek and Paronella Park, a Spanish castle surrounded by waterfalls and butterfly-fringed gardens. Walk the beach in nearby Ella Bay National Park and past waterfalls, wild rivers and 500 types of rainforest trees in Wooroonooran National Park. Drive down the charming main street of Gordonvale and Edmonton on your way into Cairns, gateway to the islands, rainforest and reef of Tropical North Queensland.
It's all action in sunny, sophisticated Cairns gateway to the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef and international hub for tanned travellers. Stroll along Cairns Esplanade the city’s social and recreational hub. Stop for an alfresco breakfast at one of the trendy cafes or cool off in the huge saltwater lagoon. Cruise the mangrove-lined waterways of Trinity Inlet or explore the area on an Aboriginal walking tour, learning about fish, crabs and medicinal plants. Alternatively, send your adrenalin soaring on a bungy-jump or sky-dive. Snorkel or scuba dive with brilliant fish and coral or sail past pristine islands on the Great Barrier Reef.
Meander along the golden chain of beaches stretching north from Cairns. Surf at Machans Beach and swim at Holloways and palm-fringed Yorkey’s Knob. Picnic beneath sea almond trees in Trinity Beach or lunch in the tropical village. Hang out with the locals on secluded Kewarra Beach and check out the wildlife attractions of Clifton Beach. Dine out in Palm Cove’s five-star restaurants, then climb over a rocky outcrop to tranquil Ellis Beach. Continue along the Cook Highway, stopping at Rex Lookout for magical views over the Coral Sea beaches. Drive into the sophisticated tropical oasis Port Douglas, which sits between World Heritage-listed rainforest and reef.
Head to Cooktown immersing yourself in unique Aboriginal experiences along the Bama Way. Travel through the magical Daintree National Park or walk along Cooya Beach with traditional Kuku Yalanji owners. Cruise the Daintree River past tropical birds and primeval crocodiles, then cross it on a vehicle ferry and continue driving to Cape Tribulation. Follow the Bloomfield Track into the remote wilderness of the Cape York Peninsula and arrive in Cooktown to celebrate the landing of Captain James Cook or take a night walk amongst ancestral rock art sites with proud locals and traditional owners of the land.