Great Australian Road Trips
 
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QUEENSLAND
 

Gold Coast Hinterland: Just one hour from Brisbane, half an hour from the Gold Coast, is an altogether different world of mountains, rainforest and world-heritage wilderness. Known as the Scenic Rim it’s a chain of craggy mountains and high plateaux cut through with rich, fertile river valleys, dotted with historic townships and magnificent rainforests.  Drive a loop from Tamborine Mountain and on to Lamington National Park.

How long? 230 km
More: www.goldcoast.com.au

Great Tropical Way: Go troppo on this Cairns - Mareeba - Port Douglas loop. The Cairns to Mareeba section climbs high into world-heritage listed rainforest, opening out into fields of sugar cane, paddocks of macadamia and mango trees. Continue on to Port Douglas via Mount Molloy through lush farming and grazing country to Mossman and then turn south to Port Douglas; or head north along the coast from Cairns where the road hugs the coastline and the views are magnificent as the rainforest meets the sea.

How long? 220 km
More:
www.greattropicaldrive.com.au

Matilda Highway: The Matilda Highway is the name of a collection of sealed roads that spear through the heart of outback Queensland, from Cunnamulla near the NSW/Queensland border north to Karumba on the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria.  For those who want to explore the outback, but are not keen on going off-road, this trip is hard to beat. Along the route you’ll travel through areas where dinosaurs once roamed, discover the inspiration for Waltzing Matilda and visit the birthplace of Qantas, the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the Australian Labor Party.

How long? 1700 km
More: www.heritagetrails.qld.gov.au

Birdsville Hotel

Birdsville Track: First established during the 1880s as a stock route between Marree in South Australia and Birdsville in Queensland, the Birdsville Track has become one of Australia’s most legendary outback tracks. Back then, it would take about a month to complete; nowadays, the track is passable to conventional vehicles for most of the year. Highlights include white salt lakes, homestead ruins, crossing the dog fence and visiting the gushing hot water bores beside the track, the Natterannie sand hills where the Tirari and Strzelecki deserts meet, and of course, the famous Birdsville Hotel.

How long? around 520 km
More: www.exploroz.com

Simpson desert dunes. Phot courtesy Bill McKinnon

The Simpson Crossing: One of the last frontiers of the outback.  It was the last of the Australian deserts to be explored by Europeans, the first to cross its expanse of red dunes was Ted Colson, on camel, in 1936; the first vehicle in 1962.  Now, it’s top of the list for serious four-wheel drivers, and while thousands of people cross the Simpson each year, it is still not a trip to be taken lightly.  You’ll need to be self sufficient, carry good maps, make sure your vehicle is in tip-top condition, carry enough water for several days and basic spares.  Crossing east to west is the easiest way, from Birdsville to Dalhousie hot springs, and allow three days.

How long? around 645 km
More: www.mynrma.com.au

The Savannah Way: The Savannah Way, stretching across the top of the country from Cairns to Broome, is one of the world’s best trans-continental journeys. Most of the trip is sealed, apart from the stretch between Normanton and Borroloola in the Gulf of Carpentaria, and it’s a dry season road only with some of the sections impassable November to April. You’ll need to be willing to camp most nights, but it is one of the most beautiful outback drives in the country. Highlights are forests of boab trees, remote gorges, outback cattle stations, crocodiles, waterfalls and the spectacular Bungle Bungles.

How long? 3500 km
More: www.savannahway.com.au

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