Best Driving Destinations Australia – Queensland

Best Driving Destinations Australia – Queensland  banner

With some of the world’s best beaches and direct access to the great Outback, Queensland is a top destination for those who love to get out on the open road. The sheer number of road trips available to this region is spectacular!

The Sunshine State is renowned for its stunning scenery and nature, and it’s no surprise many ditch the airlines to get up close and personal with a road trip to remember. So, pack your bags, buckle up, and prepare for an epic adventure behind the wheel. (as always, If you need an excellent vehicle for the trip, head over to Motopool Brisbane.)

Melbourne To Cairns

With Cairns being one of the most popular tourist destinations, driving from Melbourne to Cairns is a road trip worth adding to your dream driving adventures. Taking the famous Leichardt Way allows you to soak in the beauty and serenity of the Outback between Melbourne and Cairns. Winding through some of the most beautiful natural spectacles this region has to offer, the 32-hour drive will have you experiencing long-lost towns and spectacular scenery.

Starting at Goondiwindi, the 700km Leichardt Highway will have you cruising the Capricorn Coast to the pristine waters of the Great Barrier Reef. Abundant with life and history, this trip will have you enjoying historical treasures and natural delights. Get ready to fish, explore, and relax on this journey following in the tracks of the famous explorer Ludwig Leichhardt.

Best Time To Visit

The best time to visit Cairns is undoubtedly during the dry season between April to October. During the wet months, you might miss the crowds but could run into the common tropical storms. June to November is the best time to catch a glimpse of the migrating whales common to Queensland. 

How To Get There

To get to Goondiwindi from Melbourne, it will take you approximately 15 hours to take the Newell Highway on the A39 and the Leichhardt Highway. Most then take the common stops of;

  • Goondiwindi to Miles
  • Miles to Theodore
  • Theodore to Rockhampton
  • Rockhampton to Yeppoon
  • Miles to Theodore

The Newell and Leichhardt Highways combine to give you the fastest route to Cairns and allow many to escape the hectic and often busy coastal routes.

What To Do

There is so much to see and do on this adventure, so planning precisely what you want to experience is essential. From immersing yourself in the agricultural community and historic towns and hotels to taking your luck casting a line from the range of different fishing spots along the way. Goondiwindi is well known for its famous wheat, cotton, wool, and beef industries; this is where the Newell Highway transforms into the celebrated and historic Leichhardt Highway.

Visit the Meandarra ANZAC Memorial Museum, a 30km side trip west of The Gums and Leichhardt Way or visit the world-renowned Myall Park Botanic Gardens that boast Queensland’s oldest collection of semi-arid flora. Or visit the Caliguel Lagoons, seven kilometres south of Condamine, which is a favourite for top camping spots and fishing.

If you are in Miles from August in March to May, head off on the Dogwood Creek Walking track to catch a glimpse of the stunning wildflowers on offer or enjoy the 106km floral loop from Miles that will have you witness the longest continuous fence in the world - the Dingo Barrier Fence that stretches an impressive 10,000km! On this trip, there are endless historic places to visit that will leave you admiring the famous explorer Ludwig Leichhardt – it’s no wonder they named the highway after this celebrated explorer.

Visit the gold and silver mines and clay caves or enjoy a spot of indoor rodeo and delicious delicacies. Crocodiles, daily guided tours, pristine white beaches, fishing, cruises, island hopping, watersports and the world-famous Great Barrier Reef. Other spots worth noting are;

  • Isla Gorge National Park
  • The Banana township
  • The Great Western Hotel
  • Koorana Crocodile Farm
  • Southern Great Barrier Reef
  • The Keppel Bay Islands

Plan Your Trip (three links)

With this road trip being so long and so much to see and do, it is crucial to plan your journey so you don’t miss a beat. Motopool has done all the hard work for you, so grab a pen and paper and get planning!

Outback – Matilda Way Roadtrip

The Outback is vast, but the experts suggest setting aside ten days for this memorable road trip to enjoy this 1,500km road adventure. Unlike many outback adventures, this road trip is fully sealed and will have you witnessing some of the most surreal outback adventures with charming attractions and unspoiled beauty.

Gain a fundamental understanding of the region's history while immersing yourself in some of the most ancient landscapes known to man. With so many side trips, you can enjoy as much or as little as you like on this unique experience.

Best Time To Visit

The Outback is known for its sweltering summer days, so it is advised to visit the Matilda Way Outback adventure during the cooler months of April through to November. During this time, you will enjoy pleasantly warm days and cool evenings. 

How To Get There

You’ll be starting your road trip in the town of Cunnamulla, approximately 780km west of Brisbane, about a nine-hour drive via State Route 49. Or 140km north of New South Wales, around a four-and-a-half-hour drive via the Mitchell Highway B71 and Mitchell Highway. This road trip will extend from Cunnamulla to Karumba, and most experts suggest the following routes:

  • Cunnamulla to Charleville
  • Charleville to Blackall
  • Blackall to Barcaldine
  • Barcaldine to Longreach
  • Longreach to Winton
  • Winton to Kynuna
  • Kynuna to Cloncurry
  • Cloncurry to Normanton
  • Normanton to Karumba

As with all extensive road trips, it’s a good idea to have a detailed itinerary of what you want to explore, plus an updated GPS loaded. Popping into the many local visitor information centres is also a good idea to ensure you get maps for all those side trip stop-offs. 

What To Do

The Outback is a visual masterpiece and an excellent excuse to immerse yourself in the rich history these quaint towns and stops offer. Enjoy the pictorial spectacle of wildflowers of Cunnamulla or visit the red sand dunes while you uncover the historic nature of this beautiful place on heritage trails on offer or walk the Warrego river walk or spot some impressive birds at the Bowra Sanctuary bushlands.

Another hot spot amongst tourists and local experts is the Opal Byway, where you can discover the masses of opal mines in the mining town of Yowah. For the war buffs on the road trip, book into the Charleville Top Secret WW11 Tour, or if star gazing is more up your alley, consider the Charleville Cosmos Centre and Observatory, where you can be completely mesmerized by the celestial show on offer.

Stroll along the banks of the great Barcoo River and visit the Historic Blackall Woolscour to get a real insight into Australia’s pioneering era with an impressive steam engine. This is in full operation between May and September.

In Winton, don’t miss the Australian Age of Dinosaurs and Dinosaur Stampede at Lark Quarry Conservation Park to gain a real insight into the dinosaurs that once roamed the land.

Other attractions on this road trip include:

  • Dramatic and beautiful landscapes
  • Bird watching
  • Guided tours
  • Qantas Founders Museum
  • Longreach Power House Museum and Longreach Arts and Cultural Centre
  • Working sheep and cattle farms
  • Dinosaur experiences
  • The Coolibah Tree – Banjo Paterson Waltzing Matilda walk
  • Visit the Crocodile Dundee pub – the Walkabout Creek Hotel
  • Country town and pubs
  • Mining experiences
  • Fresh seafood and more.

Loads of different detours can take you to undiscovered treasures on this journey, so with this trip, it is highly recommended you have a detailed journey plan and map to ensure you don’t miss anything on the way – this is especially true if you want to enjoy any 4WD opportunities!

Plan Your Trip

With so much to explore and many off-the-beaten-track adventures, having a good plan for your journey is paramount.

Capricorn Way Roadtrip

Are you looking for a shorter trip with the same wow factor? The Capricorn Way road trip could just be what the doctor ordered. With most road trip enthusiasts suggesting putting aside four to six days to enjoy this fantastic 600km drive, it can quickly be done over a weekend, but with so much to see and experience, why rush?

Weave through stunning beach towns towards the breathtaking landscapes of the great Outback. Capricorn Way links the Southern Great Barrier Reef to Queensland’s Outback. Starting in Rockhampton and ending in the rich indigenous culture of Barcaldine. Visit historical towns, heritage trees, rainforests, and gem fields, or follow the trail along the Tropic of Capricorn to discover the vast Jurassic history.

So, pack up the car and prepare to embark on a truly unique experience as you travel from the coast to the Outback.

Best Time To Visit

The best time to visit Rockhampton and the Tropic of Capricorn is from April to September. During this time, you will experience pleasantly warm days and cooler nights. The summer can get very hot, particularly when travelling inland towards the Outback.

How To Get There

The Capricorn Way drive starts in Rockhampton, around a seven-and-a-half hour drive from Brisbane, following the Bruce Highway A1. In Rockhampton, take the Capricorn Highway A4 and start your journey towards your end point of Barcaldine. Most experts suggest the following stops to add to your itinerary.

  • Rockhampton to Duaringa
  • Duaringa to Emerald
  • Emerald to Alpha
  • Alpha to Barcaldine

Like with all road trips, there are endless off-road adventures, so planning your trip extensively and ensuring your GPS is up-to-date is fundamental. 

What To Do

Your trip will start in Australia’s beef capital of Rockhampton, and with so much history to be found, you can spend a good day or two exploring this region. Don’t forget to grab yourself a steak! You’ll be stuck for choice in this beautiful region with many excellent eating options. If you’re looking for a wee detour that packs a punch, head east to enjoy the Capricorn Coast and soak up some of the whitest beaches on the planet.

Half an hour west of Rockhampton, the Mount Hay Gemstone Tourist Park is another must-stop on this amazing road trip. Join a guided tour to get the most out of this geologically significant site.

Duaringa is home to the oldest township dating back to the 1986s, and is overflowing with historically stunning sites, head off on a hike to enjoy ancient Aboriginal art, waterfalls and more. One of the largest sapphire fields in Australia is also on the horizon, and you can even book an underground mine tour.

Or, for the botanists on board, head to the impressive 42-hectare Botanical Gardens set on the banks of the Noga River. From inspirational artwork, rich Aboriginal culture, pristine white beaches, caves, gems, tours and dinosaurs, this trip ticks the boxes for the young and old.

Plan Your Trip

Planning is necessary to ensure you don’t miss out on the many attractions. 

Savannah Way Roadtrip

The Savannah Way Roadtrip spans from Broome in Western Australia to Cairns in Tropical North Queensland. It is an impressive 3,700km route and is known as Australia’s’ greatest adventure drive. For this reason, ensuring you have an excellent 4WD at your disposal is highly recommended.

However, for this road trip, Motopool focuses on the Queensland section of this impressive drive from Cairns to the Northern Territory border. Enjoy the incredibly diverse landscapes and wonders on this unique drive that will have you experiencing a range of activities and sights, from the ample wildlife famous to this region to rock pools and even hot springs.

Weave your way from the reef towards the vast horizons of the Gulf Savannah and the Northern Territory. Pack the camera and clear the Instagram for a genuinely magnificent photographic journey of a lifetime. 

Best Time To Visit

Those in the know agree – the best time to visit this region is undoubtedly during the dry season between May and October. Most attractions will be open during these times, and you will also enjoy warm and milder weather.

Sections of this road can also be closed during the wet season, so it’s always best to check local road conditions before setting off. It is advised to utilise a 4WD for this trip to enjoy the ultimate experience. 

How To Get There

The Savannah Way starts on the East Coast of Cairns, Queensland, follows the Bruce Highway south of Cairns, turns into Route 52 towards the Atherton Tablelands, and then turns onto National Highway One to Darwin. You can take different experiences on this drive, which will decide whether a 4WD or 2WD is required. Those who love this adventure typically suggest a few destinations towards the Northern Territory;

  • Cairns to Undara
  • Undara to Cobbold Gorge
  • Cobbold Gorge to Croydon
  • Croydon to Karumba
  • Karumba to Burketown
  • Burketown to Northern Territory Border (Seven Emu Station – accessible by 4WD only)

Check the roads for closures and always have an updated GPS or road map.

What To Do

This road trip has fascinating stops and jaw-dropping scenery from relaxing hot springs and ample national parks. You can easily switch between the adventurous and the more relaxing experience. Don’t forget to soak up the world-class beaches in Cairns before setting off towards Undara to catch a wildlife tour at sunset.

Undara is famous for its ancient volcanoes and lava tubes at the Undara Volcanic National Park.

In Cobbold Gorge, you’ll find the unique Talaroo Hot Springs and a host of Aboriginal cultural experiences right in the heart of the Outback – the glass bridge is also a popular spot to stop. Bushwalking, mountain biking, kayaking, canoeing, and bird watching are all on the agenda for this once-in-a-lifetime road trip. 

For the remainder of your journey, you can choose a range of activities, including exploring gold mining settlements, fossil finding, gems, 4WD action and more.

If fishing is your thing, stop at Lake Belmore for a spot of barramundi fishing and outdoor activities. The trip is immersed in rich Australian history, wildlife and on and off-shore fun. If you want to head across the Northern Territory border to Seven Emu Station, it’s important to remember this road is only accessible by 4WD.

Plan Your Trip 

Grab your pen and paper and make a detailed itinerary! There are so many places to stop and enjoy that planning is paramount for a renowned Australian road trip. In many places, you cannot camp, and amenities are limited, so it’s essential to ensure you have a clear plan of action when driving the Savannah Way.

The Great Tropical Drive

Do you want to experience the vast Tropical North Queensland? With up to 26 different routes, you can thoughtfully tailor this road trip to your needs. Enjoy busy coastal cities, wonderous landscapes, holiday towns and bush areas on this 2,000km drive. On the way, you’ll experience some of the best food, wine, beaches, rainforests, and sights known to man.

From the stunning Port Douglas – a playground for the rich and famous – to quaint, quiet towns and one of the world’s oldest tropical rainforests of the Daintree. Crocs, wildlife, waterfalls, rugged terrain, and national parks. It’s all waiting and ready for you to embark on this memorable adventure behind the wheel.

Best Time To Visit

Tropical North Queensland can be noted for its varying weather and downpours of rain; for this reason, the best time to visit is from May through to October. The dry season (even though technically the winter time) will allow you to experience a range of activities, including camping, snorkelling and hiking. 

How To Get There

The Great Tropical Drive has many routes – in fact, 26 - to explore, starting in Cairns and ending in Townsville. It’s a good idea to research what you want to see and do in this region and then build the itinerary, as some routes are easily accessible with a 2WD while others require a 4WD. There are also ample opportunities to enjoy that are a short hop away. For an excellent detailed map of this drive, look here.

What To Do

There is so much to see and do on this road trip it would quickly fill a book. Wildlife is paramount in this region, from birdwatching to the region’s famous saltwater crocodiles or the world’s most enormous cockroaches. And let’s not forget one of nature's biggest wonders – The Great Barrier Reef.Or get up close and personal with prehistoric rocks, crystal clear waterfalls, volcanic formations, orchards, quirky villages, and more.

Ample guided tours are available at all your chosen destinations; however, booking is paramount for most of these stops, so doing your homework is important. Some of the standout points are certainly;

  • Port Douglas Four Mile Beach
  • Daintree Tropical Rainforest
  • Kalkajaka (Black Mountain) National Park
  • Prehistoric Rock Art in Laura
  • Emerald Creek Falls
  • Crystal Caves
  • Mount Hypipamee National Park
  • Misty Mountains Wilderness Tracks
  • Forty Mile Scrub National Park
  • Undara Lava Tubes
  • Bowling Green Bay National Park
  • Magnetic Island – Great Barrier Reef

Plan Your Trip

It is vital to plan this trip in infinite detail. Many places will require bookings, especially for guided tours, and with so much to experience, having a detailed itinerary will ensure you don’t miss a thing on this memorable driving journey.







Choose Your Ride

Motopool acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community.
We pay our respect to their Elders past, present and emerging.
Motopool. Copyright © 2023. All Rights Reserved.
Powered By Dealer Studio