The final part in our epic Australian Road Trip was to drive from Brisbane to Cairns. This is a massive undertaking where you could end up driving for 2 or 3 hours without turning, stopping or slowing down. That’s unthinkable for someone from the UK, where driving for 3 hours will get you most of the way across the country.
There are some pretty well known spots up this bit of coastline, although the most well known ones are slightly off of it; Fraser Island, The Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef.
If you fancy heading a bit further south in Australia, you should absolutely check out our other road trip posts.
We went to a bunch of markets all over the world, and I genuinely think that the market at Eumundi was my favourite one. I was really gutted that I couldn’t buy everything there and ship all of it home. It’s open on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Make sure you get there early or you will find it impossible to park.
Noosa National Park
We take it upon ourselves not to visit animal attractions, even if they are called hospitals or sanctuaries. We’d much rather happen across wildlife truly in the wild. Noosa National Park is a great place to see sleepy koalas hanging out in the eucalyptus trees. You can check with the information centre about recent sightings.
Apart from koalas, there are a variety of rainforest walks. One of the toughest walks takes you to some amazing views over the bays and the rest of Noosa. If you’re not feeling a trek, there are also numerous gorgeous and secluded beaches.
Birthplace of Mary Poppins author, PL Travers, Maryborough is an easy stop on the road to Hervey Bay. The small town centre has a few historic buildings and an audiovisual heritage trail. If you’re a fan of the film ‘Saving Mr Banks’, you’ll want to stop off here even if it’s just to take a bunch of selfies.
Well known as the launch pad to explore Fraser Island, Hervey Bay is often travelled through and not travelled to. But, because Fraser Island protects the bay, the sea is really calm. It’s great for the watersports that need a flat sea, like paddle boarding.
Rockhampton is famous for two things; steak and the Tropic of Capricorn. Steak is something that needs no explanation, but I needed to turn to simple wikipedia to understand the tropic of capricorn after a quick google search turned up this:
One of two corresponding circles on the celestial sphere where the sun appears to turn after reaching its greatest declination, marking the northern and southern limits of the ecliptic.
Put simply, it’s the point on the Earth furthest south that the sun can appear directly overhead at a certain time of the year. It’s absolutely a geek out moment, but there are only a limited number of times you can cross the Tropic of Capricorn, and even less that you can make such an epic photo opportunity out of it.
We stayed for a couple of nights in Airlie Beach either side of our Whitsundays day tour. This turned out to be one of our favourite activities in our whole year of travelling. Unfortunately, you can’t swim in the sea off Airlie Beach due to the possible lethal combination of crocodiles and stingers. But there is a very lovely man-made lagoon and a whole lot of partying going on.
If you need a bit of downtime after all this travelling, Townsville is a great place to do it. The likelihood of this place ending up on everyone’s bucket list is slim. The four botanical gardens, beaches and emerging hipster cafe culture is a lovely way to relax in between some of the more hectic and awfully expensive days on your road trip.
As far as free days out, Babinda is the place to go. We shared the aboriginal origin story of the Babinda Boulders over on our Instagram page. We were lucky enough to see them twice. Once after a period of relative dryness and then again after a night of torrential rain (when the tent flooded and we had to take refuge in the car).
If it’s been dry, it’s awesome to swim in the calmness of the river upstream, cooling off from the hot Australian sun. If it’s been raining, follow the rainforest walk to the viewing point to watch the water crash and swirl around the rocks below.
Once you’re done, Babinda is the sweetest (if weirdest) place you’ll ever visit, and the bakery there is amazing!
Congratulations! You have made it to the end of your epic 1,700km road trip. Whether you have arrived in Cairns to take advantage of the International Airport, or you’re planning on swimming with the fishes on the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is a gateway to adventure.
What’s your favourite road trip? How do you stay entertained? What’s your favourite place in Australia?
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