Mackay to Townsville drive

May 8th, 2005, 09:30 AM
  #1  
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Mackay to Townsville drive

Contemplating doing this after our stay out at Whitsundays before returning to Melbourne since we can fly to Melbourne easily from Townsville. Is this a good drive? And what can we expect weather-wise in late November? Thanks.
inthechips2 is offline  
May 8th, 2005, 10:12 AM
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Drove Mackay to Cairns in 2002. I'd say by stopping in Townsville, you'd be missing one of the most beautiful areas in Australia, beginning around Ingham and extending north to Cairns and beyond.

That's not to say there aren't places between Mackay and Townsville worth seeing, it's just that they not as accessible. One exception is Cape Hillsborough, not too far north of Mackay. Eungella National Park, inland from Mackay is also worth some time.

We drove from Mackay to Cape Hillsborough (1 night), then to Ingham (2 nights) with a full day exploring inland to Wallaman Falls (great!), then to Innisfail (1 night), and finally to Cairns (2 nights) with various diversions along the way, including the Tully River Valley and the Atherton Tablelands.

RalphR is offline  
May 8th, 2005, 02:39 PM
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Its about a 5 hour drive from Airlie Beach to Townsville with not a lot of scenery from Bruce Highway. Townsville is the largest city in North Queensland with permanent population of some 160,000 (Cairns is about 125,000 and is about 4 and a half hours north of Townsville, which is often unkindly referred to as "Brownsville"), and is situated in "dry" tropics - the wet tropic rainforest starts somewhat north of Townsville, and as Ralph says, makes for far more diverse and interesting scenery. Townsville's city council has recently spent about $30million on facelift for the city and it now has an attractive Esplanade frontage. there's easy access to Magnetic Island which has some lovely untouched beaches and bushwalking where you'll see koalas in the wild - rock wallabies are on beaches. November is fine, possibly a little humid, but well before wet season. It is the beginning of box jelly fish season, so no swimming in un-netted coastal waters from at least Mackay north.
pat_woolford is offline  
May 8th, 2005, 05:01 PM
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PS - Mackay is approx 2 hour drive south of Airlie Beach, which is the gateway to Whitsundays.
pat_woolford is offline  
May 8th, 2005, 05:56 PM
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So about a 7-hour drive from Mackay to Townsville - did I read that right?
inthechips2 is offline  
May 9th, 2005, 04:04 AM
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Probably more like 6 hours if you don't tarry, sorry, I took your travel time from Airlie Beach, not Mackay. It just depends on road conditions, road works can hold you up and of course you need a bit of time to stop to eat, etc.
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May 9th, 2005, 05:51 AM
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So if we were to come off our launch at Mackay at 3 p.m., could you tell me a town within an hour or two driving distance north that might be a good place to stay so the next day's drive up to Townsville could be shortened?

And do you have any recommendations for nice places to stay in Mackay on our pre-night stay before Brampton Island? Thanks for all your advice!
inthechips2 is offline  
May 9th, 2005, 07:03 AM
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After getting off the boat from Brampton mid afternoon, we drove to Cape Hillsborough, which was only an hour or so north. Stayed at motel accommodation, nothing special. Can't recall if there was anything more up market at CH, but it would be worth a looking into. My guess is that your options will be quite limited until you get up to Procerpine or Airlie Beach.
RalphR is offline  
May 9th, 2005, 09:07 AM
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RalphR and Pat, you've both been very helpful - here's my latest idea, tell me what you think.

We come off the launch into Mackay at 3 p.m., thinking of renting a car and starting our drive north that afternoon - in late November, is it feasible to simply drive until we don't want to any longer and find accommodations without making reservations?

All we would need is to be in Townsville on the 3rd day to fly out around noontime. Not much time, I know, but better than nothing!
inthechips2 is offline  
May 9th, 2005, 01:30 PM
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Would depend on day of the week and whether or not school holidays have begun. I bet Pat can answer that question better than I can. We didn't book ahead at Cape Hillsborough. However that was in late July.

Another idea...could you fly up to Townsville that evening and spend the next couple of days exploring north of there? Or fly up to Cairns and take a car one way to Townsville?
RalphR is offline  
May 9th, 2005, 04:00 PM
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Actually, was thinking of perhaps flying straight to Cairns from Mackay and then working our way back down to Townsville. I'm pretty sure when I looked at flights out of Mackay that afternoon/evening, there wasn't anything convenient to Townsville.

We won't have a lot of time, unfortunately, so would have to spend the next day only traveling between Cairns and Townsville, either by train or car.
inthechips2 is offline  
May 9th, 2005, 06:23 PM
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inthechips - think your last idea is the best, there's a Qantas flight from Mackay-Cairns via Townsville which gets into Cairns at 7.25pm. There'll probably be others by November. Grab a car at Cairns airport - it will be dark by then so you'd need to overnight in Cairns where there's stacks of accommodation. You'd have time for a side trip to Atherton Tableland, you could do the loop starting from Kuranda end and coming off at bottom of Gillies Highway (a very winding road but great scenery)at Gordonvale, south of Cairns city. Head south and you'll pass near Wooroonooran National Park, Mts Bellenden Ker and Bartle Frere (highest in Queensland), Josephine Falls, Babinda Boulders for true wet tropic scenery. Etty Beach at quaint little town of Innisfail is worth a stop. Mission Beach is definitely worth an overnight, you'll also pass Hinchinbrook Island, just off Cardwell, if you could possibly stay there, do so. There's also some great B&B accommodation in these areas (not Hinchinbrook, which has an eco-resort)- have a look at www.bnbnq.com.au under headings "south" and "tropical tablelands".

Have only overnighted in Mackay for work purposes, there's plenty of decent motels right in town.
pat_woolford is offline  
May 10th, 2005, 06:23 AM
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Thank you Pat for your detailed information - that's great! We are firming up our plans and I've assembled all these notes for our use.

Can you tell me though - is the train from Cairns to Townsville an interesting ride? I ask because we could be limited for time if we travel up to Cairns and it may just be we only have one day to travel between there and Townsville. Or is the drive down a good one with interesting stops? We just don't know at this point yet how much time we'll have.

Thank you.
inthechips2 is offline  
May 10th, 2005, 02:59 PM
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Stop the presses! Traveling companions have suggested that the temps and humidity up in Cairns that time of year might just be too much for them, so we are rethinking the idea. Before anyone else posts anything else on the subject, thought I'd head you off and say thanks, but I think we're going to head south to Victoria after our island adventure! Thanks so much for all your help though.
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