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The Top 8 Stops To Make On A Coastal Queensland Road Trip

The Top 8 Stops To Make On A Coastal Queensland Road Trip

Aussies love a good road trip, the endless stretches of shimmering asphalt a ticket to adventure, freedom, and the chance to flex your playlist. And there isn’t a more iconic stretch of road to hit than along the east coast of Australia.

Between the Whitsundays’ crystal waters and the restaurant scene in Brisbane, this itinerary is packed full of pit stops that make for an unforgettable trip with mates.

#1 Gold Coast

The Gold Coast has something for everyone. Those in the know will start their journey in Coolangatta, the southernmost area of Queensland. Its legendary surf and laid-back vibe are a great way to kick things off. While you’re here, pick up an Apex rental car from the Gold Coast airport so you can kick off your road trip properly.

Elsewhere on the Goldie, you can take your pick between bustling Surfer’s Paradise or pockets of calm like Burleigh Heads and Tallebudgera Creek. The Gold Coast Hinterland is also definitely worth exploring, especially quirky Tamborine Mountain.

Northbound from here, you’ll be driving the Great Sunshine Way and taking in the state’s dreamy subtropical scenery.

#2 Brisbane

Brisbane has grown up the past decade, putting itself firmly back on the map of places we’d rather be. A warm climate and burgeoning hotel, bar and restaurant scene makes this city a ‘best of both worlds’ situation.

#3 Noosa


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The Sunshine Coast is an iconic Queensland holiday destination, with Noosa the firm favourite. Noosa has a sophisticated air, especially along Hastings Street’s boutiques. The region is known for its beaches but there are also lakes and the Noosa National Park to explore.

#4 Rockhampton

Don’t stare down the barrel of an eight-hour drive to Airlie Beach – take a minute in Rockhampton. It has some of the best bars and restaurants in regional Queensland and a beautiful Botanic Gardens to explore. It’s also a great launch pad to explore Emu Park in Yeppoon.

#5 Airlie Beach and The Whitsundays


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A postcard-perfect location, the Whitsundays is made up of 74 idyllic islands. There are a bunch of cruises on offer, which will help you tick off bucket-list Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet, but if you’d rather stick to dry land, Airlie Beach is a fun town to blow off steam.

#6 Atherton Tablelands


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Head inland to this hinterlands food bowl with incredible produce, coffee plantations, dairy farms, sunflower fields, waterfalls (there’s a literal ‘waterfall circuit’ here), crater lakes, and plenty of wildlife.

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You can also relax at Innot Hot Springs with its six geo-thermal pools and visit the Undara Lava Tubes.

#7 Mission Beach and Cairns

Welcome to Far North Queensland, a very special part of the world. You’ll be driving alongside the Cassowary Coast, stretching from Cardwell up to Cairns with Mission Beach at its heart.

The quiet stretch of coastline surrounding Mission Beach is the closest access point to the reef and is rated as Australia’s most famous skydiving spot. You also have the chance to spot endangered Cassowaries in the wild, especially in nearby Etty Bay – just don’t get too close if you do.

For those after some tropical city action, hit up Cairns. Beyond your usual city amenities, there’s lots to do – access to ancient rainforests, fun markets, a vibey alfresco dining scene, and a multitude of Great Barrier Reef diving and snorkelling tours.

#8 Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation is the only place on the planet where two UNESCO World Heritage Sites meet, with the world’s oldest rainforest kissing the world’s largest coral reef. The drive here is beautiful – this is Daintree territory and home to the Kuku Yalanji people.

Start your next road trip with Apex Car Rentals. Find out more and book a car here.

(Lead image: Taras Vyshnya / Shutterstock)

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