Queensland is brimming with beauty in every direction. Why not jump in the car and start exploring? Here’s are the top road trips around Queensland.

The Sunshine State makes up a mighty large portion of Aus. Many of us stick to the sun and sand tucked into that south east corner, but there are adventures in every direction across Queensland. Especially if you have the right kind of vehicle to get you around.

Here are our favourite road trips around Queensland, with plenty of them launching straight out of Brisbane.

 

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Road Trips Leaving from Brisbane

1. Pacific Coast Way

Distance: 1771km
Start point: Brisbane
End point: Cairns
Highlights: Whale watching at Harvey Bay, Capricorn Caves, Great Barrier Reef and islands

 

Photo thanks to Tourism and Events Queensland

 

Possibly the most iconic drive in Queensland, the Pacific Coast Way starts down in south east Queensland (Gold Coast, Brissie – start wherever you like!) and follows the sun-soaked coastline all the way up to Cairns. 

Meander up to the stunning Sunshine Coast, take a mandatory stop at Harvey Bay to spot the migrating whales and stop in at Bundaberg, the home of Aussie’s favourite rum (and ginger beer). Around Rockhampton you’ll find the spectacular Capricorn Caves and Yeppoon will welcome you to the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, with Airlie Beach, Townsville and Cairns helping to get you out to the reef and islands. 

Don’t forget to explore a little inland as well on your drive home. Canefields, canyons and country Queensland await. 

 

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2. Sunshine Coast Hinterland

Distance: 140km
Start point: Brisbane
End point: Montville
Highlights: Sister towns of Maleny and Montville, views of Glass House Mountains

 

 

This road trip is the perfect weekend escape route from Brisbane. 

Forget the highway, take the inland road to Mount Mee and enjoy the peace and quiet of the backroads. From Dahmongah Lookout you can see across to the Glass House Mountains. Check out the village of Woodford for a peak at the area’s history (and the site of the famous Woodford Folk Festival). 

A little further up the forested road you’ll find Maleny, full of all things dairy and wine, with its sister town, Montville, being the perfect place to purchase yourself a special treat. Baroon Pocket Dam is found between the two towns, and is perfect for a kayak or a picnic with all those goodies you just bought.

 

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3. Adventure Way

Distance: 1475km
Start point: Brisbane
End point: Innamincka
Highlights: Country pubs, outback history, Bunya Mountains, dirt roads!

 

Photo thanks to Tourism and Events Queensland

 

This road trip follows the route of Cobb and Co coaches which used to carry people and mail to the Aussie goldfields and outback during the 19th century. In fact, the last 150km of this trip is still along an unsealed road! 

Kicking off in Brissie and heading due west, you’ll pass through Ipswich and Toowoomba, before veering north and landing by the beauty of the Bunya Mountains.

From here on out, it’s all country baby. Take a stroll along the banks of the Balonne River in St George and watch the dirt turn red as you head to the townships of Bollon and Cunnamulla.

Treat yourself to a mud bath in Eulo and detour to Yowah for all things opal. Make sure to share a schooey at Noccundra Hotel before making the final push over the SA border to Innamincka.

 

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4. Warrego Way

Distance: 1606km
Start point: Brisbane
End point: Birdsville
Highlights: Old country pubs, red sand dunes, cattle country

 

Photo thanks to Tourism and Events Queensland

 

Heading off in the same direction as the Adventure Way, it’s at Dalby that these two roadies part ways, with Warrego Way heading north-west and hitting a bunch of new territory on the way. 

Once you’ve passed Dalby, head towards Chinchilla and onto Miles, which bursts with wildflowers. All roads (well this one at least) leads to Roma, the gateway to Queensland’s cattle country. Relax in the Great Artesian Spa at Mitchell and visit the character-filled Morven. 

Hit the ghost towns of Cooladdi and Betoota (yes the very same) before kicking along to your final destination. Birdsville is the hub for travellers about to cross the Simpson Desert. Be sure to pay your respects to ‘Big Red’ the 40 metre high sand dune the town is famous for.

 

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5. 75 Mile Beach

Distance: 291km (plus ferry)
Start point: Maroochydore
End point: Fraser Island
Highlights: 75 Mile Beach, Lake McKenzie, Maheno Shipwreck, rainforest

 

 

This road trip takes you from the suburbs to the largest sand island in the world, Fraser Island. Beginning in Maroochydore (or Brissie if that’s easier for you) drive along the coast, passing gorgeous tropical beaches on your way to Noosa.

Keep on up the coast until you reach Rainbow Beach, gateway to Fraser Island. Make sure to prepare your car (and yourself) here before driving onto the ferry to cross the channel. 

Once you’re on Fraser Island, depending on the tide, you can rip straight up the sand or take the inland road. Either way, inland lakes, sand dunes and luscious rainforest await you. You’ve truly reached paradise.

 

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More Queensland Road Trips

6. Savannah Way

Distance: 1284km
Start point: Cairns
End point: Adels Grove
Highlights: The tropics of Cairns, Gulf of Carpentaria, Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park

 

 

The Savannah Way spans across the top of Aus from west coast to east. For the Queensland portion of the drive, start in Cairns and wind your way up and over the Kuranda Range and onto the Atherton Tablelands. Queensland gold comes in cane, mango and macadamias here. 

Take a tour of Undara National Park’s lava tube system (the longest in the world) and witness the 30m high undulating walls of Cobbold Gorge. Hit the historic gold rush town of Croydon and don’t miss the sunset at Karumba, over the Gulf of Carpentaria. Wetlands, wildlife and saltwater crocs abound. 

This trip saves the best till last, with the glorious swimming holes, waterfalls and red cliffs of Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park and Adels Grove awaiting you at the end.

 

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7. Great Barrier Reef Drive

Distance: 152km
Start point: Cairns
End point: Cape Tribulation
Highlights: Daintree Rainforest, Great Barrier Reef – do you need more?

 

Photo thanks to Tourism and Events Queensland

 

This short but oh so impressive road trip winds you along the tropical north Queensland coast with ancient reefs and rainforests by your side. 

Departing from Cairns and jetting north, you’ll pass by stunning beach after stunning beach, with rainforest trimmed mountains on one side and world famous reef on the other. Reaching Port Douglas, the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, you’d be silly not to take an oceanic detour. 

Just a touch further north, Mossman Gorge is the gateway to the Daintree Rainforest and its endearing Indigenous culture. Cape Tribulation, your final destination, is the point where the reef literally meets the sea and two World Heritage areas collide. You’ve got to see it for yourself. 

 

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8. Matilda Way

Distance: 1700km
Start point: Cunnamulla
End point: Karumba
Highlights: Historic outback towns, home of Waltzing Matilda, outback pubs, Gulf of Carpentaria

 

Photo thanks to Tourism and Events Queensland

 

This road trip rips straight up the guts of Queensland, stretching from near the NSW border to the Gulf of Carpentaria. Beginning in Cunnamulla, look out for red dunes and wildflowers before heading onto Charleville, a historic hub and home of the bilby.

Augathella, Tambo and Ilfracomba will pass by on your way to Longreach, a modern outback centre on the Thomson River.

See dinosaur bones at Winton and visit the home of Waltzing Matilda at Combo Waterhole. The last leg follows the trail of Burke and Wills as they made their way to the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Stop in at Normanton for a feed at the Purple Pub before cruising onto the barramundi capital of Aus, Karumba sitting pretty on the edge of the Gulf.

 

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9. Overlander’s Way

Distance: 1183km
Start point: Townsville
End point: Camooweal
Highlights: Great Barrier Reef, Dinosaur Country, Mount Isa

 

Photo thanks to Tourism and Events Queensland

 

This drive captures all the diversity of Queensland, from the Great Barrier Reef to the dusty, red outback. Kick off in tropical Townsville with a mandatory visit to the reef before wandering west past heritage and gold mining towns. 

Next you’ll find yourself in dinosaur country where thousands of fossils have been found, and Hughenden at the beating centre of the beast.  

Catch a sunset at Julia Creek and explore museums in Cloncurry, before arriving at Mount Isa, the ‘oasis of the outback’ with its mix of history, nature, culture and industry. Your final stop is Camooweal, right by the NT border where you can explore the local caves and Drovers Camp Museum.

 

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10. Cairns to Cape York

Distance: 1381km
Start point: Cairns
End point: Cape York
Highlights: Reef and rainforest, Old Telegraph Track, standing at the northernmost point of Aus

 

 

This almighty mission takes you from the reef up the coastline to the tippity top of Australia. You’ll need a 4WD for this one. 

Starting in Cairns where a visit to the reef is a must, meander up the coastline through the Daintree Rainforest to Port Douglas and onto Cooktown for a lesson in colonial history. Over creeks and across sandy beaches to reach Cape Melville before reaching the Peninsula Development Road, which is being sealed periodically. 

Stay a night in Coen before ambling over rivers to reach Bramwell Station, (make sure to fill up here!). If you’re daring enough, tackle the infamously difficult Old Telegraph Track, the final frontier before The Tip. Don’t forget to take your pic with that iconic sign once you reach Cape York!

 

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Feature photo thanks to Tourism and Events Queensland