7 amazing Queensland Road Trips
The open roads of Queensland are calling and the only thing that makes a classic road trip more is a route steeped in a theme. Yes, you could just pack the car and hit the road and leave the rest up to chance where you land, but these Queensland Road trip themes will help point you in the right direction.
From tantalising tasting trails to family-friendly fossil frolicking and chasing iconic ‘big things’, these seven Queensland-themed road trips are sure to get the tyres spinning.
Queensland Music Trails, state-wide
The Queensland Music Trails is a first-of-its-kind event series that blends outstanding musical performances with roving Queensland backdrops. From opera to DJs and everything in between, performers take to the stage across seven distinct trails. The curtain raises in April when the Outback Trail roams through St George, Cunnamulla, Tambo and Charleville across eight days of blues, folk, jazz and retro tunes. The Long Sunset in the Scenic Rim follows on 29 April 2023 and will see crowd favourites, Lime Cordiale, headline alongside a superb lineup of Queensland talent including Hatchie, Sycco and Tia Gostelow.
Switching gear, billowing ballads of the opera will ring through the countryside for the Southern Trail with historic Jimbour House in the Darling Downs hosting the star-studded symphonies of Opera Queensland, Ensemble Q and a 26-piece Orchestra from Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University. The final four trails taking in the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Great Barrier Reef and Tropical North will be announced in the coming months.
Australian Dinosaur Trail, Outback Queensland
Jurassic Park fans and budding paleontologists can head due west to Outback Queensland to unearth Australia’s prehistoric past on the Australian Dinosaur Trail. Start the expedition in Eromanga and say g’day to Australia’s largest dinosaur, a 90-something-million-year-old titanosaur called ‘Cooper’ at the Eromanga Natural History Museum. In Winton get digging at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs which houses the largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils in one enormous museum located on the summit of a stunning jump-up (butte). While here, volunteer to help prep a dino or take part in a paid dinosaur dig held on select dates throughout the year.
Just over an hour’s drive southwest of Winton is the Lark Quarry Conservation Park and Dinosaur Stampede National Monument – the site of the only recorded dinosaur stampede on Earth. Pass back through Winton and onto Hughenden to meet ‘Hughie’, a seven-metre replica of a 110-million-year-old Muttaburrasaurus found in 1963. Finish the trail in Richmond, the Fossil Capital of Australia, and wind back the clock 120 million years at Kronosaurus Corner. The museum holds 1,150 local fossils from the Cretaceous Inland Sea that covered a large section of Queensland millions of years ago.
Outback Queensland Masters, Outback Queensland
Australia’s most remote golfing event, the Outback Queensland Masters sees a brigade of amateur golfers trek more than 2,000km across Outback Queensland. In 2023 the tournament stretches from St George to Mount Isa with players taking to the ‘green’ in Cunnamulla, Quilpie, Richmond and Karumba in between. The final stop in Mount Isa sees players take a swing at the coveted Million Dollar Hole-In-One challenge – making the event one of the richest amateur golf tournaments in the world. Those following the event route have plenty of time between tee-offs to visit other country towns like Windorah, Winton, Longreach, Hughenden and Cloncurry.
Savour Southern Queensland Country Tasting Trails, Southern Queensland Country
The Savor Southern Queensland Country Tasting Trails is a must-do for foodies with each trail calling for empty baskets and empty bellies. Six delectable self-drive itineraries wind through the rolling hills, towering mountain ranges and sprawling countryside west of Brisbane. Choose from cellar doors and vineyards, food-focused events and workshops, local producers, breweries and distilleries, picnics and country pubs. Whether it’s a day trip or a multi-night culinary journey, travellers have the flexibility to follow just one trail or combine different experiences from a few, tailoring the trip to individual tastebuds.
Atherton Tablelands Waterfall Circuit, Cairns & Great Barrier Reef
If there was ever a time to ignore the advice of 90s pop sensation TLC, it’s in the Atherton Tablelands where we say DO go chasing waterfalls! The Atherton Tablelands lies in the hinterland southwest of Cairns, boasting freshwater creeks and lofty mountain plateaus that produce gushingly gorgeous waterfalls. The Waterfall Circuit starts and ends in Cairns with stops at some of the most photogenic cascades in the country such as Josephine Falls, Tchupala Falls, Nandroya Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls and Zillie Falls. Break up the trip with a walk through the canopy at Mamu Tropical Skywalk, cool off at Lake Eacham, or refuel at the many local producers dotted throughout the highlands. Continue the rainforest theme by staying in treehouse accommodation at Canopy Rainforest Tree Houses and Wildlife Sanctuary and Rose Gums Wilderness Retreat.
Great Beach Drive, Sunshine Coast / Fraser Coast
Epic road trips don’t come any greater than the Great Beach Drive. Adventure and nature collide on this five-day, 380km 4WD journey along the golden sands of the Sunshine and Fraser Coasts. Starting in Noosa, take the vehicle ferry across the river to Noosa Northshore – the gateway to The Great Sandy Biosphere Reserve. Driving onwards to Double Island Point, home to the world’s longest right-hand surf break and onto Rainbow Beach. A short jaunt up the beach to Inskip Point, followed by a barge across the Great Sandy Strait, takes travellers to the southern tip of World Heritage Listed K’gari (Fraser Island).
The beach driving doesn’t stop there. Cruise the eastern fringe of the island along 75 Mile Beach and take in K’gari (Fraser Island) beauty spots like Lake Mackenzie, Eli Creek, Indian Head, Champagne Pools and Pile Valley. Want to tackle the Great Beach Drive without getting behind the wheel? Join the experts at Great Beach Drive 4WD Tours or Discovery Fraser Island on a guided 4WD tour.
The ‘Big Things’ Road Trip, state-wide
There’s no denying Queensland is big, so it’s only fitting Australia’s second largest state is home to a monumental assortment of ‘big things’. Road trippers can tick many of these off the big bucket list with a blockbuster voyage spanning the length of Queensland’s coastline. Starting in border town Stanthorpe, see Australia’s answer to the ‘big apple’, before turning to the coast to drool over the Big Pie at Yatala’s famed pie shop on the Gold Coast. Head north on the Bruce Highway to the Sunshine Coast – home to the Big Pineapple and ‘Matilda’ the big kangaroo from the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games (located at Kybong, just south of Gympie). Sticking with the theme of iconic Aussie characters, a towering statue of Ned Kelly can be found in Maryborough on the Fraser Coast.
The namesake of Bundaberg Rum, ‘Bundy’, as the town is affectionately known, doesn’t do beverages by halves with the big Bundaberg Barrel serving up refreshing Bundaberg Brewed Drinks. Still thirsty? Near Childers check out the big Beer Bottle. It will come as no surprise that Australia’s beef capital, Rockhampton, boasts six Big Bulls while in Sarina, south of Mackay, Buffy the Big Cane Toad stands guard on the main street. For something sweeter, the ten-metre-high Big Mango in Bowen welcomes visitors to the town made famous by the tropical fruit. In Tully, stand next to the Golden Gumboot to gain a sense of how much rain fell in the Wet Tropics town in 1950 – the highest annual rainfall ever recorded in Australia. On the Cassowary Coast, seek out the Big Cassowary at Mission Beach, and in the tropical north, climb inside the Big Croc Head in the Daintree or travel to gulf country to meet Krys the Big Crocodile in Normanton. For more big things away from the coastal drive, take the inland route with plenty more ideas here.