If you are planning on visiting Australia, or you are currently here, I would strongly suggest doing a road trip. The public transport here is not practical to say the least, and I couldn’t think of anything worse than being on one of those tourist coaches that provide ‘organised fun’. Rent or buy a car and make the extra push to explore the diverse landscape of Australia. Even if you can’t afford to buy/rent a car, look up relocation services. I had the opportunity to relocate a brand new 3.5l V6 Toyota SUV from Cairns to Brisbane, for FREE.
The only downside for a service like this, I had only 7 days to drive nearly 2,000km along Queensland’s famous Pacific Coast. This route is Australia’s answer to Route 66, except the journey runs along one of the Worlds 7 Wonders…The Great Barrier Reef. (Are you still reading or are you packing your car?)
I had not enough time for this route, but to get a chance to do it for free proved an offer too good for me to refuse, and so the journey started in Cairns.
Day 1: Cairns to Townsville (140km 2hr)
If you have more time than I did, take a detour to the Atherton Tablelands. Experience the high altitude volcanic land, tea plantations and Australia’s highest waterfall…the Wallaman Falls. After some time exploring these grasslands, head for Mission Beach. The 14km beach is surrounded by palm trees and white sand. After making a splash here continue the drive to Townsville and stay overnight. Nicknamed Australia’s sunniest city, I found that a little over the top although it’s ok to use as an overnight resting point. (Townsville is the gateway entry to Magnetic Island but I would save your money for another other island)
Day 2 & 3: Townsville to Airlie Beach (275km 3hrs 30mins)
I wouldn’t recommending stopping for anything other than food or fuel between these two spots, the more time you leave yourself to explore Airlie Beach the better. This is also the spot for getting the boat out to the Whitsunday Islands. Featuring probably the whitest sand you will ever see, made from 98% silica, and surrounded by pristine turquoise water, this is why people travel to Australia. This is possibly the best spot to dive/snorkel the Great Barrier Reef too as the coral and wildlife here is superior than most other locations on the Reef. Make sure to get up and go to Cape Hillsborough for sunrise to capture epic photographs of kangaroos on the beach , which is nearly a 2hr drive south-east of Airlie Beach.
Day 4: Airlie Beach to Agnes Water/1770 (706km 8hrs)
OK, I agree not many people would be comfortable with this drive, and it’s basically the loss of an entire day by the time you include rest stops and coffee breaks, however I did it due to lack of time. Visit the town with a number for a name in 1770, named after the year where James Cook docked on his second voyage to Australia. Also be sure to take in a sunset at Agnes Water, a rare treat in Queensland due to the fact the headland faces West.
Day 5: Agnes Water/1770 to Harvey Bay (230km 2hrs 30mins)
en route to Hervey Bay, make a stop in the town called Bundaberg and take a tour of the Bundaberg Rum distillery. The tour and history of rum will surprise you in how big its role played back in the day of the Caribbean sugar trade, especially with pirates. Then when you get to Hervey Bay, chill out and eat out with a spectacular beach view. If you have time, take a trip out to Frasier island too. Or even better take your 4×4 (if you’ve go one) out and drive around the island.
Day 6: Hervey Bay to Noosa (2hrs 10mins 160km)
If you have extra time stay longer than a day in Noosa. This is more than just a resort town but in fact a culinary capital. Hit up all the restaurants you can whilst here. Make sure to check out Noosa National Park and do not leave without taking dip in the Fairy Pools too!
Day 7: Noosa to Brisbane (2hrs 150km)
Before you become depressed realising that you have reached the end of the road trip, make a stop at Sunshine Coast. Aptly named, aim for a hill with a view and have a picnic. Relax and take in the last view of lush greenery and never-ending coast before continuing on to Brisbane. Or if you’re a bit more adventurous, learn how to fly a plane…
All-in-all this was an epic road trip. Swimming at the most pristine beaches in the world for sunrise baths, eating out at fine culinary coast resorts, and adventures at every corner with one of the Worlds 7 Wonders at arms distance the entire journey. I hereby give it The Ultimate Tourist seal of approval as must-do.
For those on a budget saying they can’t afford such luxury, the car was free and the fuel cost came to $260 AUD over 7 days. Making this trip suitable for everyone.