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driving from Cairns to Melbourne - where would you stop?

driving from Cairns to Melbourne - where would you stop?

Jun 10th, 2008, 05:28 PM
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driving from Cairns to Melbourne - where would you stop?

Some friends from Europe are coming over to Australia and are renting a car and driving from Cairns to Melbourne. They have 27 days and it will be in August.

What towns would you stop in? What towns would you avoid? Any hidden gems? Any things they should definitely do?

Thanks a lot

cookiescompanion is offline  
Jun 10th, 2008, 07:05 PM
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Whew, that's practically the length of the whole country, any idea of which route they are thinking of taking? Coastal, inland, outback or a bit of each?
pat_woolford is offline  
Jun 10th, 2008, 07:14 PM
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i think they are sticking mostly to the coast. they will venture inland a little bit, but mostly along the coast. they want to stop at the great barrier reef, nip over to fraser island, sydney, melbourne, brisbane but that's all they have so far.

cookiescompanion is offline  
Jun 10th, 2008, 07:15 PM
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Good question Pat!

Also cookies' what are their interests? Come on people please post meaningful requests on this board so we can help.
Saltuarius is offline  
Jun 10th, 2008, 07:22 PM
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We were writing at the same time. Sorry.
Still hold though; what are their interests?
Saltuarius is offline  
Jun 10th, 2008, 08:10 PM
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Going from Sydney to Melbourne via the coastal route will miss Canberra. I'd recommend going inland at some point to take in Canberra and the beautiful surrounding countryside. The area that's to the south is very picturesque, round the Sidney Nolan gallery and the Lanyon property--they have a good cafe, by the way. See the Sidney Nolan painting in the Drill Hall at ANU--one of my favourite panel of paintings of the Shoalhaven.

If they take the coastal route, I'd recommend stopping at Minnamurra Falls (near Gerringong)--it's an exquisitie walk. Berry is a good meal break stop, the sour dough bakery is fantastic, it's a well heeled coutnry town. Kangeroo Valley is in the same area.

Going the inland route, I'd stop at Berrima (it is touristy and fairly frou-frou with a rash of Laura Ashley florals and shops with jams with frilly cloth lids, despite that the architecture is interesting). Another recommended stop is Berkelow's second hand bookshop (on the old hwy between Mittagong and Berrima)--the cafe has good cakes.

I'd avoid Albury-Wodonga, and take the route across the border that goes through the Alpine areas maybe take a detour to Tumburrumba (fantastic museum in that town, the Pioneer Women's Hut). then proceed to the Victoria Alps, Mount Beauty etc.
Susan7 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2008, 01:16 AM
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thanks a lot for your help! Especially Susan7, great ideas!
i think they are mostly interested in just seeing Australia. they are young (mid twenties)- arent into drinking and night clubs. they like nature - going walking and so on (they are actually going on a big 9 day hike over in WA before flying to Qld). they are from belgium I think what they will really enjoy in Australia is just the beautiful natural scenery.

i have told them to go inland to canberra. maybe braidwood too.

I rarely holiday in Australia, or if I do I only go to Melbourne or Sydney (from Brisbane), usually we go overseas though, so I am pretty useless. The only part I can actually help them with is from Hervey Bay down to Byron Bay! (utterly embarrassing!) SO PLEASE KEEP SUGGESTIONS COMING!

cookiescompanion is offline  
Jun 11th, 2008, 03:24 AM
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The best advice is to tell them not to drive the whole way. You say yourself you have never done this trip. Most Australians haven't. Why haven't they? Why would you? Very boring. What do Australians do when they want to go here there and everywhere? They fly!

27 days could be a heaven trip if planned correctly but on the road..nightmare.

So Palm Cove, Port Douglas, Cape Tribulation. Atherton tableland with a day in Undara or Chillagoe for a outback feel then down to Mission Beach for a relax on beautiful palm fringed beach. A loop tour getting back to Cairns.

Then fly Hamilton Island and do Whitsunday cruises and adventures. Stay a few days, chill and enjoy paradise. Then jump on plane from Hamilton Island (or Proserpine if they have made their way to Airlie Beach) to Brisbane. No car required for this segment.

From Brisbane go north, south and wherever. Do recommend a trip to far northern town Byron Bay, maybe not into drug culture of Nimbin but nice sceney around the pyschodelic hippie town lol. So a little loop type thing. If they must drive to Hervey bay for Fraser Island..still preferable than driving from Airlie Beach!

Dump car and then fly Sydney, few days doing typical sights and Blue Mountains.

Drive along south coast, Canberra if they must but for me the coast only way to go. Follow coastal road from Sydney through national park to Wollongong for that new fangled cliff road. Stop at any number of lovely seaside towns - have 2 nights or maybe 3 enroute.

I would day 4,000% better than driving that horrid road! They will see a real part of Australia if they did but over and over and over, day after day, after day. Best they see lots of different bits!

Sand_Dollar is offline  
Jun 11th, 2008, 04:46 AM
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I second Susan7's suggestion of going inland to see Canberra. Since you say your friends enjoy hiking and nature, I would HIGHLY recommend that they plan to do some hiking in Namadgi National Park just outside of Canberra. We used to do a lot of hiking and camping there when we lived in Canberra. Our favorite hike (especially with our visitors) was the Yankee Hat Hike. It's an easy 6km RT hike and at the midway point is a large rock with Aboriginal drawings. You will also literally see hundreds of kanagroos in the wild on this hike. Many will graze near the trail and will stop and stare as you go by, so it makes for great photo ops. We would often see lots of birds as well.
There's more good hiking and wildlife at Canberra's Tidbinbilla Nature Preserve too.
longhorn55 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2008, 05:18 AM
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Sand_Dollar, there's loads of Australians who drive Melbourne-Cairns both ways in winter, they're called Grey Nomads, the van parks of Far North Queensland are packed with them in winter. And many venture a lot further north than Cairns or Port Douglas.

Cookie's friends are young, its only a one way trip, and 27 days is a reasonable amount of time can handle for them to see and experience so much more than they'll see flying from one tourist spot to another.

Why would you advise someone to drive from Cairns to Mission Beach and then back to Cairns to fly to Hamilton Island?
That would totally miss Hinchinbrook Island near Cardwell and Magnetic Island out of Townsville for starters. By the time they've hit Townsville, if on Bruce Highway, its not such a long drive to Airlie Beach, but more importantly there are so many opportunities to get off the beaten track.

Just to start them off from Cairns, cookies, have a look at www.greattropicaldrive.com.au - you'll see the coastal and inland routes from Cairns to Townsville.

pat_woolford is offline  
Jun 11th, 2008, 09:11 AM
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The Whitsundays are beautiful. We stayed in Airlie Beach and went on a few day trips out to Whitehaven Beach(heaven) and the GBR.

we drove from Brisbane up to Port Douglas. It is a long drive and I could not imagine going all the way to Melbourne. We took 23 days in total. I think they should re-consider and fly part of the way.(IMO)
traveljunkie28 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2008, 02:48 PM
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Cairns and reef trip
Daintree river cruise and drive to Cape Trib or there abouts
Atherton Tablelands for upland rainforest, wildlife including night tour and scenery
Undarra &/or Chillagoe for the tubes/caves
Kurramine Beach for the beach or Mission Beach for Dunk Island
Paluma for the drive and the wildlife
Townsville for aquariaum and Magnetic Island for Koalas
fly Marybourugh
Tour of Frazer Island
fly Brisbane
Binna Burra for the rainforest and hikes
Gold Coast so they can say they have been there
Gibraltar Range National Park between Grafton and Glen Innes
Hunter Valley
then Susanís route to the eastern Victorian coast and hence to Melbourne
Saltuarius is offline  
Jun 11th, 2008, 10:36 PM
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fabulous fabulous fabulous! ah how i love these boards!

to those who suggested flying instead of driving, or flying some parts, they are really set in stone about driving. that is one part i am certain they will not budge on.
i know it's a very long way (2935km according to google!) but i guess it is a once in a lifetime opportunity for them.

anyone else with suggestions?

this next two weeks is really hectic for me, but after that i will sit down and try and come up with some itinerary to email to them.

thanks once again!
cookiescompanion is offline  
Jun 12th, 2008, 12:15 AM
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Oh for Pete's sake! They've got a month! Of course they can drive from Cairns to Melbourne and enjoy it. It's hardly the Gibson Desert in a camel train.

That some would not choose to do it, doesn't make it insane/impossible or even particularly difficult for those who want to make the journey not the destination the main game.

Cookies - I think the best idea is for your friends to read up a bit about the various regions to give them an idea of what's available.

Then, identify a few areas of interest and make those their stopping points. As others have said, there are at least 3 primary roads they could take, but until we have some idea of what they like, it really is pretty difficult to make any meaningful recommendations.

There are some really good ideas here already, and if you can refine your friends' "dream trip" a little, I'm sure we can come up with some very viable options for them.

Just a thought - knowing how difficult it is being the "3rd party" trying to speak for others- could your friends post with you or register & post themselves so they can have some direct input?

Bokhara2 is offline  
Jun 12th, 2008, 02:01 AM
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Well didn't mean to offend lol. Just 90% of the road is boring beyond belief and the quick way ...all inland which is worse than the simpson desert lol. Mining towns and a few bottle trees. What fun.

Coastal way with detours to towns for even lunch breaks will add on to kilometres. I would allow for 4,000km.

But hey if they know what they want to do, then they should just do it. Do not need my advice.
Sand_Dollar is offline  
Jun 12th, 2008, 02:45 PM
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The ideas here give them a start. I suggest these people go away with what you can tell them, do a heap of research themselves and then come bvack with specific questions like, "If we can only do A or B and A is 500 extra kilometres do you think the travelling is worth the more spectacular experience?"
Saltuarius is offline  
Jun 14th, 2008, 11:04 AM
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"just 90% of the road is boring beyond belief and the quick way ...all inland which is worse than the simpson desert"

Careful here, you are looking at it from an Australian's perspective, I would assume. People coming from overseas could well see it as an adventure and want experience some of the unspoiled Australia far from the touristy spots. I'm from the eastern USA, and even though I've spent a lot of time in Australia over the years, I still would love to do such an overland trip some day.

Already some good suggestions for the drive. I definitely would not do the coast the whole way as there are some fantastic places to see inland. Some of my favorite areas have already been mentioned such as the Blue Mts, Australian Alps and Namadgi Nat'l Park (did a lot of hiking there when I lived in Canberra). Here are some more:

The Granite Belt, off the New England Hwy near Tenterfield, NSW: Bald Rock and Girraween Nat' Park. Great hikes, wildlife and scenery!

The Warrumbungle Ranges near Coonabarabran. Ditto...very good!!!!

The Southern Highlands SW of Sydney

The Gold Coast Hinterland: Mt Warning and Lamington Nat'l Parks

Carnaravon Gorge, Central Queensland. Awesome!

Eungella Nat'l Park near Mackay

And of course the Atherton Tablelands, Undarra and Chillagoe, west of Cairns

There are spectacular waterfalls in various places, especially around the Southern Highlands (e.g. Fitzroy Falls), the New England area (near Armidale), the Gold Coast Hinterland (e.g. Purling Brook Falls) and North Queensland (e.g., Wallaman Falls, inland from Ingham, Australia's highest, spectacular!).

RalphR is offline  
Jun 15th, 2008, 05:21 AM
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Hi Ralph, Sand Dollar's looking at it from Sand Dollar's perspective.
I'm an Australian too and I don't see it as boring at all. I love rummaging around in the little towns & hamlets along the way and the open space gives me goosebumps sometimes because I love it so much. That's just my perspective.

My cousin and I drove from Sydney to Clermont (Central Qld) via Armidale & inland roads and back via the Coast at Christmas & early January. Round trip just over 4000kms. Loved it. Discovered places, like Gayndah, where we stayed overnight & found the last remaining "cash/change system" in Australia. (Cash & bill is put in a cylinder at the sales counter and scooted up to the office via a wire where the change & receipt is transferred to the cylinder & shot back to the sales counter.)
Panned for gold at Saphire. Got about $6 worth of gold & an hour's fun playing with my 10 y.o. cousin's grand daughter. Met an old guy at Stanthorpe who used to have a bullock team. Had a drive of an Austin A40 at Inverell.

We might all drive the same road, but not everyone's journey is the same. And, another time, I mightn't want to do all of those miles. But I did then and I loved it.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Jun 18th, 2008, 03:41 AM
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No I am not looking at it from an Australian perspective.

When I go to the US, say Texas, do I want to spend a trip of a life time trying to find some interest in the long boring roads they have? Of course you can find something of interest where ever you go but does it justify a round the world airfare and such a huge investmnet of time and money?

Yes been to Ruby and Sapphire, a dump. Hills of dirt and proof that gemstones do not pay as it appears poverty stricken area. Not really that interesting.

Emerald about the most civilised of all mining towns, see a big Van Gogh...fun but would you travel half way around the world to see it?

Clermont...big trip around the world to see a piano in a tree?

An Australian would actually find it more intersting as they do not get out of their suburbs too often but overseas visitor should be encouraged to see as much uniqueness and diversity as they can.

If they do want a long roadtrip at least they should do it in the outback proper, not some cattle/mining country.

However from Cairns they can see mining towns, meet odd characters, get a taste of the outback, plus the lush bits and the fun bits without driving so many hours through same old, same old.

If you want to torture guests to this country then go ahead but there are far more efficient ways to get the same experience without doing the miles and the boredom.

Sand_Dollar is offline  
Jun 28th, 2008, 08:28 PM
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thanks for all the input guys. much appreciated. i will direct them here.
cookiescompanion is offline  

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