Driving trip along Queensland coast (& photos)

Jun 17th, 2019, 09:37 PM
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Driving trip along Queensland coast (& photos)

Hi there, this is a brief trip report from our driving holiday up the Queensland coast. My husband and I spent six weeks driving from our home in Brisbane to Cooktown and back. (Total of 4950 km.) We were away from late April to early June and had mixed weather with a lot more rain than expected, courtesy of a out-of-season cyclone. It was lovely and warm at first, cool and drizzly on the Atherton Tablelands and cold during the last week. There were wallabies and kangaroos a few feet from our accommodation a couple of times which was wonderful.

Where we stayed

Gin Gin - 1 night
Rockhampton - 2 nights
Mackay - 1 night
Townsville - 1 night
South Mission Beach - 2 nights
Cairns - 5 nights
Port Douglas - 5 nights
Cooktown - 3 nights
Yungaburra - 2 nights
Mission Beach - 2 nights
Townsville - 4 nights
Airlie Beach - 2 nights
Cape Hillsborough - 2 nights
Mackay - 1 night
Yeppoon - 3 nights
Maryborough - 1 night

Our trips are usually overseas and heavily researched with everything pre-booked but this time we wanted to wing it. It was early in the season and generally very quiet. We had no trouble getting accommodation, staying in a mix of different types. Winging it meant we could stay longer in any place we loved or move on if the weather was poor.

Budget and location were key for us and accommodation costs ranged from $90 to $150 per night. The more expensive places we stayed were not necessarily the better ones. Usually we picked somewhere with a kitchenette so we didn't have to eat out for every meal. We camped for 5 nights, powered site was $40 per night. With caravan parks, there are often deals (in the off season anyway). We got things like Stay4, Pay3 etc, they have deals for cabins as well as sites if you have a campervan or tent.

More coming...
KayF is offline  
Jun 18th, 2019, 04:25 AM
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Thanks Kay,
Looks like a good trip & I’ll be interested to see how it went.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Jun 18th, 2019, 04:37 AM
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This sounds really interesting. I'd love to come up and do a QLD drive someday, which I've never done,. Your budget is much like our own too. I'll be looking forward to following along.
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Jun 18th, 2019, 07:21 PM
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Thanks for the encouragement, I'll keep it short but sing out if you want to know more.

Favourite places were Port Douglas, the Mission Beach area and Airlie Beach. I also enjoyed Townsville more than expected. Most of the major towns were a bit sad with a dying city centre, few shops and fewer people. We've seen similar situations in America where the malls have opened away from the original centre and the people have followed. I hope the beautiful historic buildings survive in Rockhampton and Townsville, maybe repurposed and used again. Mackay has a wonderful array of art deco buildings.

Seeing the wallabies and kangaroos on the beach at sunrise at Cape Hillsborough was great but tempered by getting lots of nasty bites while staying there - sandflies or midges I suspect. They're's colloquially known as no-see-ums, which is pretty apt. We wore Bushmans bug spray every day as mosquitoes in some areas carry Dengue fever and Ross River virus but didn't escape being bitten.

Australia is a huge country, something I'm always impressing on overseas visitors but it's not until you're driving these long distances that it really sinks in. I'd say to try and be prepared, always have fuel in the tank and some food and drink with you. Some days there were very few places to stop along the way, for the toilet or to buy food.

Allow more time than you think to get places. We were continually slowed down by roadworks or sitting behind a slow vehicle. There are often overtaking lanes but the main highway is only one lane each way. It often felt like a local country road. If driving at dawn or dusk you run the risk of hitting an animal. The road from Mossman to Cooktown is unfenced so you have to be on the lookout for cattle on the road and, of course, there is often the sad sight of dead wildlife.

People were very friendly in the smaller towns and rural areas and prices for food and drink sometimes suprisingly cheap. We saved money by booking Kuranda Scenic Railway and Cable Car and also Paronella Park through RACQ which offers various discounts to members. As National Trust members we got into the James Cook Museum in Cooktown and the Townsville Heritage Centre at no charge. We love markets so went to a few, the best was the Sunday market at Port Douglas. The lush, vibrant green of the landscape in the far north is beautiful, very different from the dry scrub south of Mackay.

A trip highlight was the wildlife and lots of different birds. Photos next...
KayF is offline  
Jun 18th, 2019, 07:43 PM
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Having a lot of trouble posting photos, not sure if it's me or Fodors (me, I suspect). That's four times now which is frustrating. Maybe the file has too many bits/bytes/thingies? I'll try and figure it out after coffee!!
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Jun 19th, 2019, 09:47 PM
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Cassowary at South Mission Beach caravan park. Likely scounging for food. They are wild and potentially dangerous so don't approach them.
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Jun 19th, 2019, 09:54 PM
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Our second visit to Paronella Park, such an interesting and evocative place. The free guided tour gives you the historic background.
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Jun 19th, 2019, 09:56 PM
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Water lily at Paronella Park.
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Jun 19th, 2019, 09:58 PM
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View from Kuranda scenic rail and cable car trip.
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Jun 19th, 2019, 10:01 PM
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Crystal Cascades near Cairns, free entry.
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Jun 20th, 2019, 02:33 PM
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I love that you saw a cassowary. All of your photos are wonderful.
.
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Jun 20th, 2019, 07:00 PM
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Thanks Diamantina, that's very kind. Posting some more photos....



View of Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas. The sand was flat and hard-packed, we saw an older chap on a mobility scooter riding along the sand which is pretty unusual.
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Jun 20th, 2019, 07:03 PM
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Seafood platter from the pub in Cairns. Plenty for one hungry person but we shared - yum.
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Jun 20th, 2019, 07:07 PM
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Amazing to see this eagle so close to the road, it was huge. We stopped to take the photo and realised the bird was protecting his dinner (a recently dead roo).
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Jun 20th, 2019, 07:12 PM
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Free bird feeding every afternoon at this Airlie Beach caravan park. We had four cockatoos turn up and lots of noisy rainbow lorikeets - sitting on arms, hands and top of the head! (Tip - wear a hat.)
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Jun 20th, 2019, 07:16 PM
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Sunrise from the beach at Cape Hillsborough. Great for wallaby spotting but wear bug repellent!!
KayF is offline  
Jun 21st, 2019, 05:24 PM
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I really appreciate this report as I've long wanted to revisit Queensland (especially FNQ).
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Jun 21st, 2019, 06:38 PM
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Here is the last of the photos. We took loads but this is probably enough....



Just happened to be aiming my camera at exactly the right time.
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Jun 21st, 2019, 06:41 PM
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Wallaby mum with her cute joey - beautiful creatures.
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Jun 21st, 2019, 06:47 PM
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Love kookaburras and their distinctive call. It's unusual to see one on the ground but we spotted a dead frog (breakfast) once he had flown off.
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