The beauty of south-east Queensland is that no matter where you are, even if it’s in the middle of the Brisbane CBD or the glittering high rise strip of the Gold Coast, you’re never very far away from the wilder side of life. In part three of our series on the best driving holidays from each of our capital cities, we tackle two of south-east Queensland’s most spectacular road trips.
Great Beach Drive
The Great Ocean Road might get all the glory but there’s another great ocean road just a couple of hours north of Brisbane that trumps all other seaside road trips. That’s because on the Great Beach Drive between Noosa and the township of Rainbow Beach on the Sunshine Coast, the road is actually the beach.
Normal road rules still apply, including speed limits – 80km/hour on the beach, 50km/hour along beach camping areas. You’ll also need to keep an eye out for sunbathers and sand-castle builders, pippi (shellfish) diggers and fisher folk walking backwards into the traffic as they reel in their catch. It helps to have an SUV or 4WD to travel the 70km-long stretch of wave-washed highway, and you’ll need to time your drive to coincide with low tide.
The Great Beach Drive is an easy run, suitable for first timers as long as you follow some common-sense rules such as lowering your tyre pressure before you hit the sand. The only really tricky bits are the sometimes soft and bumpy sand ramps that lead on and off the beach. If you don’t have a 4WD or are nervous about driving on the beach, you can always let a local do the driving and join a Surf & Sand Safari 4WD tour.
A drive like this is not one to do in a hurry. The famous coloured sands of Rainbow Beach, which are actually sandy cliffs coloured by iron oxides, are worth closer examination, as is the walk, if you are feeling energetic, up to the lighthouse crowning the headland at Double Island. Here, in winter, there’s a good chance you’ll see whales. There are countless good spots to stop for a while and go for a swim, paddle, throw in a fishing line, or just sit back and soak in the views. But if you’re in a rush to get to Rainbow Beach or Noosa, the beach drive is about an hour quicker than the Bruce Highway.
Day tripper: Scenic Rim
The World Heritage-listed rainforest that flanks the coastal strip between Brisbane and the Gold Coast is one of the most popular day trip destinations in south-east Queensland. But for a less ‘touristic’ drive, keep following the road west beyond Mount Tamborine towards Boonah and Warwick and you’ll find a collection of quaint country towns interspersed with rainforest that’s just as lush, and without all the crowds.
Do you know of any great road trips from Brisbane? Why not share them with our members?