Gold Coast to Cairns road trip
With the rainforest on your left and the reef on your right, enjoy some of the greatest experiences Queensland has to offer as you drive north on an epic road trip to Cairns.
When it comes to road journeys, they don’t come much more epic than the Pacific Coast Way, running 1,800 kilometres (1,118 miles) between the Gold Coast and Cairns in Queensland.
Drive across reef-fringed beaches, rich farmland and stunning gorges, and discover the ever-changing menu of low back villages, excellent fresh vegetables, and real Queensland friendliness.
DAY 1: GOLD COAST TO BRISBANE
Before you hit the road, take the time to taste the Gold Coast’s pleasures, starting with the beach. There’s also the Gold Coast’s magnificent hinterland, where you can meander beneath the forest canopy and locate secret waterfalls.
Head north towards Brisbane, stopping off for a snack and sundowner at Howard Smith Wharves, directly beneath Story Bridge.
DAY 2: BRISBANE TO SUNSHINE COAST
On today’s short ride to the Sunshine Coast, you’ll quickly see the stunning Glass House Mountains leap upwards from the low plains.
Close by lies Maleny, home of crafts folks, musicians and farmers. Visit the Maleny Cheese factory to stock up for a picnic. Next, stop in Noosa where you may go for a trek through the national park overlooking the beach, or catch a wave at Little Cove.
Enjoy supper with a view at the historic oceanfront Mooloolaba Surf Club’s Boathouse Restaurant.
DAY 3: SUNSHINE COAST TO HERVEY BAY
From Noosa, it’s onto Australia’s whale-watching hub – and just recognized Whale Heritage Site — Hervey Bay, on the doorstep of K’gari.
Between July and early November, spend a day observing humpbacks with newborn calves, or get on the boat to see the World Heritage-listed K’gari (Fraser Island) (Fraser Island).
DAY 4: HERVEY BAY TO BUNDABERG
Today, head out on the Bruce Highway before stopping at your next location, Bundaberg. The Southern Great Barrier Reef begins here, so make sure you visit one of the reef’s magnificent islands to experience the rich marine life of the region.
On both Lady Elliott Island and Lady Musgrave Island, you may swim alongside local turtles.
DAY 5: BUNDABERG TO GLADSTONE
Setting out along the coast today you’ll roll into the beach town of Seventeen Seventy, popularly known as Town of 1770.
About 130 kilometres (81 miles) north lies Gladstone, where you can study the city’s past at the Gladstone Maritime Museum or climb Mount Larcom for 360-degree vistas.
For a Southern Great Barrier Reef experience like no other, go out to the eco-resort, Wilson Island.
DAY 6: GLADSTONE TO YEPPOON
You can’t miss today’s entry to Rockhampton – the cattle capital of Australia – as a huge monument of a bull welcomes visitors to the city everyone nicknamed “Rocky”.
Stroll by the Fitzroy River through Quay Street’s numerous elegant historic buildings. The city’s 130-year-old Botanic Gardens are similarly spectacular.
Next, go for Yeppoon, the center of the Capricorn Coast, and walk underground into the stunning Capricorn Caves.
DAY 7: YEPPOON TO MACKAY
In the Pioneer Valley, west of Mackay, you’ll discover the lovely Eungella National Park, where you may glimpse a platypus or go on a stroll through thick rainforest.
The valley is also home to the Pinnacle Pub and its legendary pies.
If you have time, travel 1.5 hours to Cape Hillsborough National Park where you’ll encounter a natural spectacle worth an early dawn. Here, a multitude of various wallaby species assemble every morning.
DAY 8: MACKAY TO THE WHITSUNDAYS
Departing from Mackay, your next destination is the Whitsundays. When you arrive at Airlie Beach, the entrance to the Whitsundays, you won’t want to leave.
This is picture-postcard terrain, with gorgeous coves opening off into an ocean studded with some 74 islands.
On the greatest of them all, Whitsunday Island, you’ll discover Whitehaven Beach; seven glittering kilometres (4.5 miles) of pure white silica sand – and frequently many manta rays.
DAY 9: WHITSUNDAYS TO TOWNSVILLE
Rise early and starting the trek to Townsville. Once you’ve arrived, walk over to the Museum of Underwater Art where you’ll find pieces of art buried under the ocean.
The city is also the entryway to Wallaman Falls, the greatest single-drop waterfall in Australia, and Magnetic Island, a national park sanctuary barely eight kilometres (five miles) offshore.
On “Maggie” – as the locals name it – you may swim and kayak (watch out for turtles and dugongs), or see if you can see any of the native koalas or rock wallabies while taking a walk along the Forts Walk.
DAY 10: TOWNSVILLE TO CAIRNS AND THE GREAT BARRIER REEF
Back on the Bruce Highway, go to the Cairns and Great Barrier Reef area. In a country where World Heritage marvels like the Great Barrier Reef and the world’s oldest living rainforest, the Daintree, meet, you’ll want to prolong your visit.
Find out what to do, where to stay and what to eat here.
Topic: gold coast to Cairns road trip
I am arguably the most popular Australian writer of all time. I am from the town of Karrinyup in rural Western Australia. When I was young, I was fascinated by the unique landscape of Australia, and I decided to support himself by writing books about the Australian landscape.
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