Queensland’s New Great Beach Drive
With a sprawling coastline, well connected highway and plenty of icons to see, the Australian state of Queensland is made for driving. But where to begin when planning an all out epic road trip? Here we ask and answer the questions for you.
Where do I go?
Taking in over 125 miles of incredible coastline, the Great Beach Drive is Queensland’s answer to the south-east’s Great Ocean Road. It incorporates six drives that stretch across Australia’s Nature Coast – each drive can be done separately, in one hit, or as part of a tailor-made road trip. The entire route journeys through two UNESCO-listed reserves behind the wheel of a 4x4, beginning in the coastal village of Noosa and travelling through Rainbow Beach, Fraser Island, Maryborough, Tin Can Bay and the towns of Gympie, Eumundi and Cooroy before returning to Brisbane or the Sunshine Coast Airport.
What can I see and do?
In a nutshell: a lot.
In Noosa you can stop for a spot of sun-soaking and kayak, canoe or cruise through the Noosa Everglades, a magnificent mirror-laked wilderness area that is simply bursting with wildlife, flora and fauna. Rainbow Beach has plenty to offer too: spot whales, dolphins, kangaroos and monitor lizards from the comfort of your 4x4 or, if you prefer to get out from behind the wheel and get active, try paragliding, hang-gliding, sky diving, surfing, fishing or horse-riding. The list of activities is endless. Be sure to catch a glimpse of the historic 19th-century lighthouse at Double Island Point before you hit the road again.
Next up is the biggest sand landmass in the world: Fraser Island. Get there by car ferry and keep an eye out for dingoes, camp on the beach, take a dip in freshwater swimming sites like Lake McKenzie and Lake Wabby and gaze up at rainbow-coloured cliffs.
For more cetacean encounters, look out for blue, fin, Bryde’s, sei and minke whales at Hervey Bay – often called the ‘Whale Watch Capital of the World’ and a subtropical spot that’s also renowned for its cosmopolitan dining, shopping and hotels. Just as diverse is the historical city of Maryborough, a confection of colonial streets and swaying palms. It’s also the birthplace of P L Travers, the brains behind the Mary Poppins books.
Get in the water at Tin Can Bay, a sleepy village onshore with lots going on offshore. You can sail, swim and fish here, not to mention spot the elusive dugong along the Great Sandy Strait and interact with wild Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins at the Barnacles Dolphin Centre. Stretch this fantastic road trip out even further with a pit-stop at the Gold Rush town of Gympie, famed for its heritage-listed buildings, abundant coffee shops and warm people, as well as breaking in laid-back market towns like Eumundi and Cooroy.
Need to know
The Great Beach Drive isn’t like your average road trip. First off, it’s only suitable for 4x4 vehicles. Second, motorists must be aware of the tides and avoid driving for two hours either side of the high tide. Permits are required to undertake the route and the best time to do it is mid-week. You also need to be aware of track conditions, safety guidelines and camping information.
For further information on the Great Beach Drive, as your Flight Centre export in store or visit www.australiasnaturecoast.com