Brisbane - Fraser Island - Bundaberg - Rockhampton - Mackay - Townsville - Cairns
Capture some of Queensland's biggest coastal attractions- from the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef to the pristine islands and rainforest national parks. Four wheel drive Fraser Island, the world's largest sand island and see manta rays and turtles at Mon Repos, near Bundaberg. Stay in Rockhampton and visit Great Keppel Island and the Capricorn Caves. Snorkel or dive reefs and shipwrecks near Mackay and go sailing in the postcard-perfect Whitsundays. Walk the white sand of Magnetic Island, near Townsville and further north visit Hinchinbrook, Australia's largest island national park. The vivid colours, smells and sounds of this splendid coastline will stay with you long after your journey ends in Cairns, at the gateway to Queensland's tropical north.
At a glance:
- Brisbane - Fraser Island (3.5 hours, 50 min ferry)
- Fraser Island – Bundaberg (50 min ferry, 1.5 hours)
- Bundaberg - Rockhampton (3 hours)
- Rockhampton - Mackay (3.5 hours)
- Mackay - Townsville (4.5 hours)
- Townsville – Cairns (4 hours)
Brisbane to Fraser Island
Drive through Noosa and stop to explore the elegant boutiques, bistros and beachfront apartments of Hastings Street. Take a short stroll through the beaches and bush of Noosa National Park, pausing at lookouts with panoramic views. Back on the road, you’ll pass through the gold rush town of Gympie and Maryborough, Queensland's oldest provincial city. Watch whales from Hervey Bay or catch a boat to World Heritage-listed Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island, just north of Rainbow Beach. Hire a four wheel drive or join a tour to see the island’s attractions, from beautiful Lake McKenzie to the rainforest near Central Station and the coloured cliffs of the Cathedrals. You could extend your stay with a few nights in a resort, cabin or tent on the beach.
Fraser Island to Bundaberg
Cross back to the mainland and continue your journey to Bundaberg, a historic sugar cane city and gateway to the southern Great Barrier Reef. Wander past gracious colonial buildings and cruise down the Burnett River. Watch sea turtles nest and hatch on the small beach of Mon Repos. Then snorkel and dive the coral reefs and cays of Lady Musgrave Island and Lady Elliot Island, also home to a large population of manta rays. Swim or fish at Elliot Heads, dive from Coral Cove and Innes Park or spot kangaroos in Woodgate Beach - just some of the attractions along Bundaberg’s pristine 140-kilometre (87-mile) long coastline.
Bundaberg to Rockhampton
Journey north through Gin Gin and the scenic beachside Town of 1770, named after the year it was discovered by Captain Cook. On a detour inland, you can bushwalk the lush rainforest of Cania Gorge National Park and marvel at the ancient Mystery Craters in Eurimbula National Park. Next stop is the green city of Gladstone, surrounded by rainforest gorges, lakes and beaches stretching to the Great Barrier Reef. Arrive in Rockhampton and take a coral cruise to Great Keppel Island, snorkel at Shelving Beach, Monkey Point or Clam Bay or wander the Botanic Gardens. When you’ve worked up an appetite, test out Rockhampton’s reputation as Australia’s beef capital and order a mouth-watering steak.
Rockhampton to Mackay
Head to the Capricorn Caves, spectacular above-ground caves in a limestone ridge. Further north is the charming tropical village of Yeppoon, gateway to the Capricorn Coast and Byfield National Park. Here you can birdwatch, bushwalk through rainforest and fish from the beach. Continue north to Mackay, where you can lunch at the marina, do a heritage walk and walk, swim and fish from the city beaches of Lambert, Town, Illawong, Harbour, Bucasia, Blacks and Eimeo. Meet possums, kangaroos, bush turkeys and echidnas on the beaches of Cape Hillsborough National Park. Do a day trip to the Brampton and Carlisle Islands in the southern Whitsundays. Snorkel or dive the Llewellyn shipwreck and pristine coral gardens near uninhabited Scawfell Island.
Mackay to Townsville
Detour west to the subtropical oasis of Eungella National Park. Back on the coast you’ll pass through Proserpine and Airlie Beach, both mainland gateways to the Whitsundays. Explore some of the 74 palm-fringed islands on a day trip or chartered sail boat. Don’t miss Whitsunday Island and the white, silica sands of Whitehaven Beach. Your journey continues north through mango orchards and green sugar cane fields to Townsville. Wander the scenic beach promenade, soak up the balmy nightlife and take a catamaran to the beaches and national parks of Magnetic Island.
Townsville to Cairns
Known as the Great Green Way, this 350 kilometre (217 mile) journey takes you through 12 national parks and over 20 tropical islands. Drive through the living museum of Charters Towers, detour to Paluma National Park or explore Tyoto Wetlands near Ingham. Visit Wallaman Falls, Australia's highest single drop waterfall. Explore Hinchinbrook Island, Australia’s largest island national park or walk along breathtaking Mission Beach. Check out the Chinese temple and art deco buildings in Innisfail and go white water rafting in Tully Gorge National Park. Discover wetlands and rare plants of Eubenangee Swamp National Park and spectacular waterfalls in Wooroonooran National Park. Your trip ends in the relaxed, international city Cairns.