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Driving The Queensland Coast
cairns barron fallsThe journey from Brisbane to Cairns is a truly fantastic one and will take you through remarkable regions and cities that include the Sunshine Coast, Bundaberg, Gladstone, Mackay and Townsville. Enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the coast as you venture north to the "top end". This famous stretch of coastline is ideal for a roadtrip of any kind and will provide you with memories that will last an eternity.

As you journey up Queensland's coast, you will quickly discover that every town has a story to tell. They are also each very proud of their famous landmarks and pride themselves on the status these bring them. Once you leave the hustle and bustle of Brisbane, you will begin to enter the wonder and beauty that is the Sunshine Coast. The beaches here are just a hint of what is to come further north. Caloundra and Noosa are great little havens and need at least a few days for exploration. This Sunshine Coast Hinterland should also definitely not be missed, with gems like Maleny and Montville offering stunning views of the entire region.

Heading further north will bring you into Hervey Bay, which is perhaps most famous as the gateway to the famous Fraser Island National Park. It is also highly regarded as Queenslandís whale watching capital. While you are so close, you simply must take a trip over to Fraser. There are a number of day trips across the barge so it shouldn't be too difficult.

Less than an hour afield, beautiful Bundaberg is an ideal base to visit Lady Elliot and Lady Musgrave Islands, each uniquely distinctive offering popular day trips. It is also the home of Bundaberg Rum and Sugar so you should definitely check out the distilleries.

Make your way back to the Bruce Highway and you will eventually come across the town of Gladstone. This premier tourist destination is a great place to stay as it offers a plethora of attractions. It is also extremely close to beautiful Heron Island and a wealth of national parks, including Cania National Park,. Here you will find some top caravan parks and gorgeous bush walks.

Rockhampton is another intriguing coastal city and is in extremely close proximity with Great Keppel Island and fabulous national parks. It is close to Yeppoon and Emu Park which are definitely worth a visit, and it also marks the final stretch towards Cairns.

Close to three hours later, just before you reach Mackay you will discover a hidden jewel, the Serenity Coast. This beautiful stretch of coast merges from the small town of Sarina and offers some amazing scenery and sights to stop at.

Many people mistake Mackay as simply a city that is surrounded by sugar cane plantations, but they will be pleasanly surprised to find that is is also home to the beautiful Brampton Island, Eungella National Park and Finch Hatton Gorge. Each of these scenic attractions offer amazing lookouts and incredible walks and will simply take your breath away. Further north are the amazing Whitsunday Islands located just off Airlie Beach. Make sure you take your time in exploring this area because you won't want to miss a bit of it. Whitehaven Beach stands out as a Ďmust seeí, with sand so white itís dazzling. There are also plenty of day trips that will take you island hopping; a true must!

The next part of your journey will take you to the regional city of Townsville.. The drive will introduce you to mango trees and coastal views of the Whitsunday Islands. Townville has grown into a thriving tropical metropolis, and offers a wealth of attractions for any traveller. Visit majestic Magnetic Island, or take the family to Reef HQ, the largest living reef aquarium in the world.

Itís all palms and reef from here to Cairns. You are in the heart of tropical paradise, with beaches right on your doorstep, in every which way you look.

When it comes to the "top end" you have a choice of Dunk Island, Mission Beach or the Kuranda Railway. Green Island is always a favourite, and cam easily be reached from the city. This is a city that makes every kilometre you have travelled worthwhile and the fact that it is right on the doorstep of the famous Great Barrier Reef is an added bonus.

Christine Barton

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