Driving trip along Queensland coast (& photos)

Old Jun 21st, 2019, 06:50 PM
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Lots of butterflies on the lookout walk at Cape Hillsborough.
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Old Jun 21st, 2019, 06:53 PM
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Lovely cocky mural at Emu Park, just south of Yeppoon.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2019, 10:13 PM
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Good yarn and some great pics!
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Old Jun 24th, 2019, 07:44 PM
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Wow I didn't think you would see a cassowary at a caravan park. We saw one in the Tablelands when we were walking to a waterfall. We had been told how rare they were, so didn't really expect to see one. Loved your trip report, sounds like something we might do in the future. We saw the turn off to Cooktown when were at the Daintree would like to travel down that road.
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Old Jun 24th, 2019, 09:28 PM
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Fabulous photos -.great to see
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Old Jun 24th, 2019, 10:26 PM
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Thanks everyone for your nice comments, I appreciate it.

To nelsonian - the road we took to Cooktown was a paved bitumen road in good condition, still only one lane each way. You take this road from just south of Mossman. The other road, from Daintree, is not made and apparently quite rough. You would need a 4WD to go this way.

Kay
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Old Jun 25th, 2019, 03:33 PM
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Thanks for report, Kay, lovely to see your photos. The one of the kangaroo is great - and very unusual (never seen a kangaroo on the beach before).
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Old Jun 25th, 2019, 04:16 PM
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Thanks, there were about 12 wallabies and two bigger kangaroos that morning on the beach. We arrived just before sunrise, it was dark and we needed a torch to make our way from the caravan park down to the beach. Some of the wallabies were there then, you could just make out their shapes in the grey dawn. They were eating something on the beach - seed pods I think. The ranger came about 30 minutes later and gave a five minute talk about the wildlife and scattered some pellets on the ground for them as well. We were told to leave them plenty of room as they are wild and get skittish when people venture too close. I did wonder beforehand if it would be a bit touristy but I loved seeing both the sunrise and the animals.

Kay
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Old Jun 25th, 2019, 09:20 PM
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Thanks for a great report KayF.
We did a similar trip about 20 years ago in only two weeks with a wedding in Cairns in the middle !
Must do it again, next time with less haste and an off road caravan.
Your experience will be a useful resource
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Old Jul 5th, 2019, 12:02 AM
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Good yarn and some great pics!
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Old Jul 5th, 2019, 02:10 AM
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Thanks, glad if this is of some help.

Sartoric - speaking of caravans, we are trying to decide if it's for us. I always had the impression that caravanning was cheap but I don't think so any more. Maybe that was a child's perspective. Vans are expensive, so are vehicles strong enough to tow, and powered sites seem to be about $50 a night. Plus fuel of course. Still considering options...

Kay
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Old Jul 5th, 2019, 03:33 PM
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KayF, I'm now trying to plan my own quick trip to Queensland (just Cairns, Port Douglas, Brisbane and Moreton Island/Tangalooma Resort) to take place about a month from now. Apart from Four Mile Beach, what are your favorite things about Port Douglas? My husband and I are thinking of doing without a car, but we may rent one for a day for local sightseeing. Would you have a top recommendation for a day drive from Port Douglas (I'l love to walk through a rainforest and/or to see some birds). We've been to FNQ before, stayed in Cairns and Cape Tribulation, visited Atherton Tablelands, Mossman Gorge/Daintree, and did a three-day liveaboard scuba trip to the reef. But it was a long long time ago.

As you live in Brisbane, have you caught the bus around North Stradbroke? My husband and I are thinking of doing a day trip by public transport (train from South Brisbane-then ferry-then North Stradbroke bus). It seems easy. I mainly want to do the North Gorge Walk (Point Lookout). I don't think we have time to do much else. Would you agree?

Are there any must-dos for Moreton Island? We're already set on a whale watch cruise. Have you a favorite Moreton Island walk? (Nothing too steep, please, as I have a wonky knee.) I had a look at this list:
Hiking and Walking | Moreton Island Visitor Information and Tourism Website

We stayed in Brisbane and Mooloolaba on a previous trip, also visited Noosa, Glass Mountains, Australia Zoo., but didn't make to the above offshore islands.

Last edited by Diamantina; Jul 5th, 2019 at 03:37 PM.
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Old Jul 5th, 2019, 10:31 PM
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KayF, I know what you mean about the cost of caravan travel. We plan on a fair bit of free camping, with a pop top off-roader and being self sufficient, perhaps a caravan park occasionally. It was a childhood reality for me that caravan holidays were cheaper than an equivalent length of time in a hotel or rented holiday house

Diamantina, North Stradbroke is gorgeous, especially the gorge walk.. My trips there were with a car, so I can’t comment on your public transport strategy. Hope it works well and I’d love to know the outcome.
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Old Jul 6th, 2019, 01:07 AM
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Hi Diamantina, we are far from experts so hopefully others might chime in. We liked the Sunday market at Port Douglas, it was large and didn't have the usual tacky, touristy stuff. Instead it seemed to be stalls run by people who had made the items themselves. Not a cheap range but lovely things. Also food of course to take home or eat there. We went to the Wednesday market as well which is at the marina, it had about 4 stalls.

Port Douglas has grown enormously, I was initially shocked at how much it's changed. I enjoyed browsing the many shops and there are some nice casual places to eat. The Bookshop Cafe was a favourite. Also walking along the beach is lovely, watch out for coconuts falling. We heard one crashing and watched it hit the ground, I was glad I wasn't sitting beneath! You could go to Mossman Gorge, we have been there before so didn't go on this trip. Things have changed and you have to pay and travel by bus to the gorge now. They do guided walks through the rainforest. Years ago we did a day trip, driving from PD to Cape Tribulation and really enjoyed it.

If you want a recommendation, we stayed at a great place in PD called By the Sea. Cost $90 per night for a self contained studio, that was a last minute booking in a slow season, so no doubt dearer at other times.

We've stayed on North Stradbroke and enjoyed it but took our car on the ferry (which is not cheap). I'd check bus timetables or maybe the Trip Advisor forum to see how easy/difficult it would be get around the island by bus. I think you get the train to Cleveland, then a bus from the station to the ferry terminal. The Point Lookout walk was terrific, we saw kangaroos and a pod of dolphins. There are some stairs along the route but it's not a hard walk. If you can get the bus from the island ferry terminal to Point Lookout, do the walk, then maybe visit a cafe or get fish and chips, then get the bus (or taxi?) back, that would be a nice few hours. There is a small group of shops right near the North Gorge Walk.

We haven't been to Moreton Island, I've been put off a bit by some reports and also cruises stop there now so it sounds like it would be over-run at times. Seeing whales would be wonderful but we've done that before, from Hervey Bay.

Hope this helps a little. If you are in Brisbane and feel like meeting my husband and I for coffee and a chat, let me know. It's always nice meeting fellow travellers.

Kay
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Old Jul 6th, 2019, 04:51 PM
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We visited Stradbroke Island a few years ago using public transport, but staying a few nights. There are limited bus services on the island - limited routes and restricted timetable - but workable if that's your preference, as it was ours. We found the bus timetable online but don't still have the link.

I agree with Kay about the Sunday market in Port Douglas - we also enjoyed it. The earrings I bought there have become a real favourite and we managed to snack our way around the market.

A car in Port Douglas itself isn't essential at all but once you move beyond it on a regular basis then it comes desirable. There is a bus and shuttle services between Cairns and Port Douglas if just wanting to get there. There's also no shortage of tour offers. We took the evening cruise on the junk, which was a pleasant few hours (but not unmissable if not your thing). There was also a delightful (mostly) vegetarian cafe on the main street, towards the road which comes from the south (and four mile beach).
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Old Jul 7th, 2019, 04:26 PM
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Thanks, Sartoric. That's nice to hear about North Stradbroke. Sounds like it'll be worth the effort. I hope I'll be able to tell you the outcome (that is, if we can make it happen).

Thanks so much for the helpful hints and recommendations for Port Douglas, Mossman Gorge and North Stradbroke, KayF. And the warning about falling coconuts! That's interesting how Port Douglas has changed. Too bad I never got to see it when it was still a sleepy place, but I expect we'll still enjoy it. We're mainly seeking rest and relaxation, and warmer temperatures.

By the Sea looks really nice and the location couldn't be better. Sadly we already booked a place as affordable accommodation was getting scarce. Out of curiosity, I looked at By the Sea rates for July. I'd say you got a great deal! It's obviously very popular because they had no availability for our dates. We'll be staying at the not-as-nice Oaks Resort, which I chose because they have a lap pool. I wanted to be able to swim laps without worrying about crocodiles, which I've read can be a worry if one goes swimming in the sea here. I love wildlife viewing, but not in this case.

We're sure to enjoy Whileaway Bookshop Cafe! In fact, I have hard time extracting my husband from bookshops.

I can understand your hesitance to visit Moreton Island. I had some reservations about booking Moreton Island as TA reviews weren't great. The accommodation at Tangalooma seems pretty basic and overpriced. The resort's restaurants also seem overpriced and not very good. We'll only be there for a couple of nights, which will probably go by fast. I'm hoping it won't be cold, windy or wet so we can make the most of our visit.

That's funny when I first read your report, I had thought to ask you about Hervey Bay, and wondered why it was not on the list of places you'd visited on this last trip and now know the reason: you'd been there before. We'd thought about going to Hervey Bay before we settled on Cairns/Port Douglas, but it seemed harder to get to and not quite as warm as FNQ (we need a respite from NZ's South Island's bone-chilling cold). Plus, your photos made FNQ look irresistible. Hervey Bay must be the top Australian destination for whale watching. The winter whale migration sounds incredible.

Thanks kindly for your lovely offer to meet up. I will send you a PM. And sorry for briefly "hijacking" your thread; I'm grateful for advice received.

Thanks Dreamon for your very useful and encouraging advice on going car-free in PD and to NS. I'll print out NS ferry and bus schedules well in advance of our trip. With preparation and co-ordination, I'm optimistic I can make our day trip work. There is a company that offers guided day tours to North Stradbroke from Brisbane, but in winter they only go twice a week and not on the few days we'll be there.

We'll be getting up to PD on a Sunday, but try to get to the market before it closes at 2 p.m., and definitely look out for earrings, though I'm incapable of not losing them. I have a growing collection of single earrings, one of my favorite former-pairs being from the HIlo Hawaii Farmers Market. Will also look for that mostly vegetarian cafe. We'll pass on the junk cruise, but try to find a snorkeling trip to Agincourt Reef, preferably a smaller cruise boat. I still have loads of research to do.

Cheers to all!

Last edited by Diamantina; Jul 7th, 2019 at 04:40 PM.
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Old Aug 18th, 2019, 06:46 PM
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Hi Diamantina - just wondering how your trip went? I'd especially be keen to hear if you managed the day trip to Stradbroke Island by public transport. It's something I'd consider if you'd recommend. We've stayed on the island before, taking the car, but it is quite expensive to take a vehicle. Day tripping might be nice.

Thanks
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Old Aug 19th, 2019, 06:47 PM
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Hi KayF,

I've been meaning to post an update/follow-up, so thanks for the little nudge. The trip went great. We didn't do a lot, but it was very relaxing.

We flew from Dunedin to Cairns via Auckland and Sydney. We got picked up by Green Cab in Dunedin at 7:35 a.m. which took us to Dunedin Airport about 20 minutes away. We traveled all day and arrived in Cairns at 12:15 a.m. (after midnight). It took us approximately 19 hours! We spent the next couple of nights at the Pacific Hotel, Cairns. Reviews said it could be noisy on weekends so we asked for a quiet room and were given exactly that. We enjoyed it. They had a nice pool and great location. There's a fantastic Aboriginal art gallery next door. On our second morning there, Sun Palm shuttles picked us to take us to PD.

We spent quite a while in the PD bookstore you recommended. Unfortunately, we got to the Sunday market just as the last vendor was packing up. We didn't make to that same overlook where you snapped that great photo of 4-mile beach, though we walked a few kilometers along the beach and I took many photos, which weren't as striking (the overlook was the definitely the place for photos). It's a great walking beach, though. We stayed at Oaks Resort, which was 2.5 km from the center of town. It had a lap pool, large recreational pool, okay gym, and was across the road from the beach. The resort needs some updating, but was quiet, with lovely grounds. We had a spacious one-bedroom apartment with two balconies overlooking the gardens. We had so many TV channels we could have just kicked back and not even left the resort. Nonetheless, we went into town on each of our five days there. The Oaks' restaurant is only open on weekends and special occasions, but it was easy to catch a shuttle into PD. Fare was $5, but multi-day discount cards were available. Resort staff were friendly and helpful. Coffee, teas, lemonade, chilled sparkling and still water were available in the lobby throughout the day.

Failing to reserve restaurants well in advance, we missed out on popular eateries like "Salsa", "On the Inlet", and "Zipangu". My husband owns a copy of the "Salsa" cookbook (he must own a few hundred cookbooks) so he was disappointed when we couldn't get a reservation a few days in advance, but I'd warned him to book before leaving NZ. Restaurants were crazy-busy as it was high season. We ate at the Tin Shed at the Combined Club near the dock, which seemed popular with locals and tourists, nothing fancy but it had a lively, welcoming atmosphere and fair prices. We also ate at a Vietnamese restaurant twice. On the other nights, we dined in.

While in PD, we took a day trip out to the GBR with Wavelength, along with 50 to 60 other passengers. We visited three snorkeling sites, for which I wore a full-length wetsuit, but I still felt cold. When we returned to the boat, we were offered tea, coffee and cakes. But my teeth were chattering and body shivering. You should have seen my shaky hands as I tried to not spill my tea! When one of employees asked if anyone wanted an extra wetsuit, I jumped at the offer. I was much more comfortable at the next two snorkeling sites. After the second snorkeling site, we were served a lovely buffet lunch, but I didn't eat much because I still feared getting seasick, though this never occurred thanks to the recommended "Travelcalm" tablets, plus conditions were mild. It was a fun trip. We even saw a few humpback whales on our way out to and back from the reef.

From PD, we went to Cairns for a night. I cashed in one of my Hotels.com free nights for a night at the Shangri La Hotel at Marlin Marina, where we had a Horizon Club Marina View Room. Loved our room and the hotel. We didn't take advantage of Horizon Club percs, such as free breakfast, a free light dinner and all-day drinks, but it was nice having the option. We had some tasty meals in Cairns, with our favorite being Prawn Star, located on three docked boats. We shared a table with two young women from Singapore and a couple from the UK/Netherlands, who'd been living in Adelaide but were about to move to Canada. It was night of interesting conversation, seafood, and a spectacular fireworks display!


Oysters, salmon, Moreton Bay bugs, tiger prawns at Prawn Star.

My favorite Cairns experience was watching flying foxes (fruit bats) in the trees next to its library, especially at twilight, when they left for the rainforest. I also enjoyed walking through Rusty's Market.

I should have asked you for the name of that Cairns pub where you had that awesome seafood platter!

From Cairns we flew to Brisbane, with the passenger in the seat in front of me coughing non-stop. We arrived mid-afternoon, waiting about 45 minutes for the Con-x-ion shuttle to take us to our accommodation, Meriton Herschel Street. It's 73 stories high, but we were on the 9th floor, and at night we could hear people shouting in the street, music (maybe from a bar?), trains, and sirens. However, our one-bedroom apartment was well-equipped with all one could need for a short stay (washer, dryer, utility sink, dishwasher, full-size fridge, microwave, stove and oven, good pots and pans, etc.).

The next morning JTP shuttles picked us up to bring us to the Moreton Island ferry terminal. Like you, Kay, I was reluctant to visit Moreton Island, having read so-so reviews, but my curiosity won out. The island was gorgeous and so was the weather. We spent our first afternoon walking on the beach. At night, we watched the dolphins swim up to the beach for handouts of fish, while hopeful pelicans and wobbegong sharks lingered nearby.

Bottlenose dolphin rolling around in the shallows at Moreton Island.

On our second day, we took a whale watching trip. It was fantastic. No seasickness, as we didn't have to go far out. We saw about 15 humpback whales (more if counting those in the distance). They were extremely active with breaching and pectoral fin slapping. The highlight was a female adult humpback with her calf and an escort whale. They entertained us for a long while. When we returned to the island, my husband and I walked to the "desert", an interior area of large sand dunes. Moreton Island, as you know, as you are from Brisbane, is the world's third largest largest sand island. Yet it's surprisingly green and hilly. That night I fed a small fish to a dolphin. By bedtime I had a sore throat.


Female humpback and her calf.

On our third day, I woke up with a cold. We had to check out at 10 a.m. but couldn't leave until 4 p.m. In contrast to our first two quiet days, this day was busy with two visiting P&O cruise ships. My husband thought he'd find a quiet place and spend the day reading, and his day started out that way, but at around noon a band started to loudly entertain. Seeking silence, I walked out to the dock and sat alone in the sun. Later, to pass the time, I took a short cruise on small barge (cost $35). We saw an enormous dugong and heaps of fish, mainly silver breams and sergeant majors. Though the dugong surfaced just a few feet from where I stood, I was too stunned to take a photo!

The ferry back to Holt St Wharf at Pinkenba took about an hour, 20 minutes. The JPT shuttle, which only picks up and drops off at a handful of hotels, brought us to Mantra Hotel South Bank. From here, we caught a taxi to Arise Ivy & Eve, South Brisbane, checking in just before 7 p.m. We were given a very nice one-bedroom apartment on the 30th floor. This apartment was fully self-contained, well-equipped, with impressive city views.

As you know I had grand, ambitious plans for Brisbane: dining out, visiting North Stradbroke Island, maybe trying to meet up with you, Kay. But my cold was worse. After checking in, we walked to nearby Coles, bought a large box of Kleenex, breakfast items, and ingredients for chicken soup with lots of garlic, which we ate two nights in a row. On our only full day In Brisbane, which was rainy, we sat around the apartment, doing next-to-nothing but getting much needed rest. So I'm sorry I can't tell you how it is to go by public transportation to North Stradbroke! I'm also sorry I didn't get a chance to meet you, KayF. Had I felt better, I would have enjoyed it.

On our last day in Brisbane, we had to vacate our apartment at 10 a.m. but were allowed to wait on the 5th floor, where there are numerous lounges, a gym, lap pool, and showers. However, it was a comforting 28C and sunny day and the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art were only a 5-minute walk away so we passed our few last hours in Brisbane touring these fine museums before catching the Con-x-ion shuttle to the airport (they make many stops).

The Brisbane to Dunedin flight took 3 hours, 10 minutes. About a half hour into the flight, the pilot updated us with flight details and Dunedin's weather, "...and the temperature is expected to be 2C." Many passengers burst out laughing; most, who'd probably vacationed on the Gold Coast, were dressed in tee-shirts, shorts and sandals. Due to the time difference, we arrived after midnight.

Cold and all, I do this same trip again in a heartbeat (I'm still getting over my cold).

Thanks so much again for your help in planning my trip. And thanks again for your great trip report.You're so lucky to live so close to paradise, KayF.

Last edited by Diamantina; Aug 19th, 2019 at 07:13 PM.
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Old Aug 19th, 2019, 11:30 PM
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Gee thanks Diamantina, sorry about the cold. I went to Moreton Island many years ago, perhaps it’s time to revisit !
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Old Aug 20th, 2019, 03:22 PM
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Sartoric, I think you were quite lucky to visit Moreton Island many years ago. On the day two cruise ships visited the island, I got an idea what it must be like every day in summer/high season: bustling and crowded.

I really wanted to visit Hervey Bay for whale watching, but it was just too out of our way, given the time we had. If I were to return to Brisbane, I'd love to try and stay on North Stradbroke next time.

Last edited by Diamantina; Aug 20th, 2019 at 03:24 PM.
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