Queensland Roadtrip

It took five days, but we eventually arrived in Cairns, Far North Queensland, Australia. Roadtrips are a great way to see large countries like Australia. I feel that you see and understand more exploring by road, than you ever will flying. 

We basically stuck to the M1, of the ‘Bruce Highway’ as it is known here, for most of the 1400km. It is one lane in each direction, which seems incredible to anyone with any familiarity of the UK’s M1, but works out here, since there is so much less traffic.

We drove north up to Rockhampton which still has a huge bull in the centre of the roundabout where the M1 leads you through the town, when approaching from the south. Apparently it’s balls have been stolen several times! Rockhampton is a wide, flat place and driving along the M1 (which cuts straight through town) feels like driving through a random Florida settlement.

A driver rest stop along the Bruce Highway, Queensland, Australia

Rockie to Eungella

After Rockhampton, there is an empty and low lying flat area called the Marlborough region. We passed through there without incident and were relieved to reach Sarina, which is a town just before Mackay. It meant we were nearly there. Just shy of Mackay we headed inland to the Eungella National Park. The road was very narrow and very steep and as we ascended the mountain range, it got cooler. We detoured here to see platypus. Read about the platypus and possums of Eungella here. We needed to overnight somewhere in this area and the platypus were exciting enough to tempt us up the range overnight.

Platypus at Eungella, Queensland, Australia

Monday was a bank holiday in Australia, to celebrate May day. We headed back down to the coast, through Bowen, where we stopped to check out the Big Mango (I love mangos!) and to refuel. The town’s waterfront was used as the set of Baz Luhrmann’s epic ‘Australia’ and appeared in the movie as Darwin being bombed. Thankfully we saw no bombs.

The Big Mango at Bowen, Queensland, Australia

Townsville and Magnetic Island

We continued on to Townsville and after a rather stressful race around town looking for a supermarket to buy a few things (everywhere was closed due to the bank holiday) we managed to jump onto an earlier ferry to Magnetic Island. We stayed on Magnetic Island and made the most of island life and all the friendly local animals for two nights. Read about our Magnetic Island experience here.

Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia

Cyclone towns

Then on Wednesday we headed back to the M1, which took us on the final leg of our journey. We passed through various towns from Cardwell to Tully, which had obvious signs of damage post Cyclone Yassi. In Cardwell especially there were lots of ex-buildings and the ones which had survived, often had tarpaulins where their roofs once were. As we drove towards and past El Arish the foliage looked especially sad, with palm trees hanging onto their one remaining frond and with others uprooted or cracked over and in half.


At Tully we refuelled by the Big Gumboot and shortly after leaving noticed a roadside sign for ‘Murdering Point winery, which we thought must have an interesting story to it.  As we continued towards Innisfail, we noticed lots of banana trees but no bananas. We had seen how expensive bananas were in Bundaberg, but didn’t need further evidence of the cyclone’s wrath.

The big Gumboot at Tully, Queensland

Cairns at last!

Again I was reminded of Florida as we reached the outskirts of Cairns. This time it felt more like the sprawling Florida suburbs though. We drove along a wide road with dive supply shops, motels and other small businesses lining the street.

By the time we arrived at our destination we were exhausted, but satisfied at having seen so many different sides of Queensland, in just the one trip.


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