Brisbane to Brisbane in 10 Days (622 km)- The Sunshine Coast
In ten days, you can see the interior and exterior of the Queensland's magical Sunshine Coast Hinterland.
Beginning and ending in Brisbane, this itinerary takes you through the Glass House and Blackall Mountain ranges, through historic Gympie with its gold rush past, and up to Hervey Bay, the best place to see a humpback whale.
Along this journey you can dive the Great Southern Barrier Reef, tour Fraser Island, and explore the beaches of Maroochydore. A 4WD vehicle will be required to visit Fraser Island, so if you are planning on travelling here you will need to hire a 4WD camper when you book.
The last two days of your trip are meant for exploring the great city of Brisbane, so if you get caught up in your travels and stay longer in other locations, you will not feel you missed anything on the route. You can always add a couple of days for sightseeing and shopping in Brisbane.
Your first leg is a short one, 65-80 km depending on where you decide to stay, and which attractions you see. About an hour north of Brisbane is the Glasshouse Mountains Tourist Drive. This stunning mountain range was named by Captain Hook in 1770, and is an ever-present sight as you travel the Sunshine Coast.
Amidst the 13 volcanic peaks is the Glasshouse Mountains National Park, which encompasses seven of the mountains. Within the National Park are four smaller parks, perfect for camping, hiking, picnicking, and rock climbing.
Where to Stay:
Glasshouse Mountains Holiday Village
Located in the heart of the Glasshouse Mountains about five minutes from Beerwah, this resort features a swimming pool, recreation room, children's playground, a tennis court, a caf' and gallery, and a camp kitchen. Choose from self-contained motel units, powered caravan sites, and non-powered campsites. If you're up to it, the resort will book you on a rock climbing or abseiling excursion. (www.glasshousemountainsholidayvillage.com.au/)
Landsborough Pines Caravan Park and Villas
Located about 3km north of Beerwah, this resort is situated on nine acres, and features a five-acre park, a swimming pool, picnic area, and camp kitchen. Choose from a variety of air-conditioned accommodations, including deluxe villas, cabins, and budget units. (www.landsboroughpines.com.au)
Start your trip off right with a visit to one of Queensland's most popular and revered attractions, the Australia Zoo. Home of the late Steve Irwin ('The Crocodile Hunter'), the Australia Zoo is home to koalas, elephants, Tasmanian devils, wombats, dingoes, tigers, snakes, alligators, and of course, crocodiles. Try to arrive by 11:00 a.m. so you can park and get tickets in time for the 12:00 Crocs Live Show in the Animal Planet Crocoseum. (www.australiazoo.com.au)
Shire of Landsborough Historical Museum
Visit one of the largest social history museums in Queensland, in the historic town of Landsborough. Stop in to see the more than 10,000 items in the collection, and get tourist information in the foyer. (www.landsboroughmuseum.org.au)
Big Kart Track
The largest commercial go-kart track in Australia, Big Kart Track also features the Bungy Bullet, a ride for adventure-seekers, which shoots you 50 meters into the air in one second! (www.bigkart.com.au)
Leisurely Drive through the Blackall Range
Spend the morning and early afternoon exploring the wineries and quaint mountain villages in the Blackall Range. Drive 15 km northwest to Maleny, where you can visit the fourth-generation winemakers at Maleny Mountain Wines. Drive 15 km north (and a bit east) to Montville, where you can shop, enjoy a gourmet meal, and tour the Settlers Rise Winery. If you have time for one more, visit the Flaxton Winery, about 5 km from Montville in the town of Flaxton.
Drive 76 km north to Gympie in the heart of the Cooloola Region. It was here that James Nash discovered gold in 1867, and you can learn about the Gympie Gold Rush at various attractions in town.
Where to Stay:
Gympie Caravan Park
This park is just a short walk from the heart of Gympie, so you can easily check-in and walk to dinner, or visit attractions. Features include a saltwater pool, laundry facilities, Internet access, television room, camp kitchen, and shower facilities. Choose from shaded sites, drive through sites, ensuite powered sites, tent sites, or luxury cabins. (www.gympiecaravanpark.com)
Gympie Gold Mining & Historical Museum
Operated by the Gympie Historical Society, this museum offers you a glimpse into the Gympie Gold Rush, and a look at the gold mine currently in operation. The museum also home to the Fifth Light Horse Regimental History Museum, and the Andrew Fisher House, former home of the second Labour Prime Minister. The museum is situated next to a lake, where you can enjoy a picnic lunch or explore the grounds. (www.goldmuseum.spiderweb.com.au)
Deep Creek Fossicking Area
Visit the Cooloola Region Visitors Information Center on Bruce Highway in Gympie for a fossicking permit, and then make your way to the Deep Creek Fossicking Area on the southern end of town. There are two entrances: one on Court Street and one on Victoria Street. Here you can use traditional tools to fossick for your own bit of gold.
Mary Valley Heritage Railway
Take the three-hour ride through the Mary Valley to Imbil on the Valley Rattler, a 1923 restored steam engine. The Rattler leaves from the Gympie Railway Station every Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday, and allows for a short time to explore Imbil. (www.mvhr.org.au)
Drive about 200 km north to Bundaberg, the 'Gateway to the Southern Great Barrier Reef.' Situated on the Burnett River, Bundaberg and the surrounding areas are a nature-lover's dream, with beautiful sandy beaches perfect for diving, and eight National Parks right along the coast. In order for you to enjoy the Great Barrier Reef and other sights, you will need two days in Bundaberg.
Where to Stay
Cane Village Holiday Park
This Park is about 5km from the city center, and features a saltwater swimming pool, two camp kitchens, award-winning gardens, and a children's playground. Choose from campsites, deluxe holiday units, or budget cabins. (www.big4.com.au)
Bundaberg East Cabin and Tourist Park
Set amongst 5 acres of tranquil gardens, the Bundaberg East Cabin and Tourist Park is an ideal place to holiday in Bundaberg. Closeby to the turtle rookery at Mon Repos and offering a wide range of powered sites for a campervan, this park simply must be explored. (www.bundabergtouristpark.com.au)
Dive the Great Barrier Reef
There are numerous places to dive around the Great Barrier Reef, including Fitzroy Reef Lagoon, Hoffman's Rocks, Barolin Rocks, and the favorite of many divers, Evan's Patch. If you would rather stay above water, take one of the many day cruises. Some of the cruises allow time for diving or snorkeling as well. You can also tour the areas of Lady Elliott Island and Lady Musgrave Island. Check with the Bundaburg Visitor Information Center for details about the various tours available.
Bundaberg Rum Distillery
Take a tour of the distillery, which has been producing rum since 1888. Learn about the process of distilling rum, visit the Spring Hill House, a restored Queenslander now operating as a Visitor's Center, and tour the museum. Tours are every hour on the hour, from 10:00 to 3:00 most days. (www.bundabergrum.com.au)
Turtles at Mon Repos Beach
About 15 km east of the city is Mon Repos Beach, known as 'Turtle Coast,' and home to a large population of nesting marine turtles. You may be able to catch a glimpse of them after dark, so plan to come after an early dinner (check with one of the four Bundaberg Region Visitor Information Centers for the best viewing times and to purchase tickets).
Drive about 76 km southeast to Hervey Bay. Named by Captain Cook in 1770, Hervey Bay is made up of numerous tiny townships, and is the gateway to Fraser Island. Considered one of the best places in the world to spot humpback whales, the area has numerous outdoor recreational opportunities, and a plethora of caravan parks.
Where to Stay:
Fraser Lodge Holiday Park
Located in Hervey Bay just a short walk to the beach, Fraser Lodge features two swimming pools, a tennis court, two camp kitchens, a game room with televisions, Internet access, spa, tour desk with booking services, and turtle and duck watching at the Sanctuary Dam. Choose from couple's retreats, spa villas, two bedroom villas, holiday units, studio units, ensuite cabins, ensuite sites, powered sites and unpowered sites. (www.fraserlodge.com.au)
BIG4 Point Vernon Holiday Park
Located just outside of Hervey Bay, the Point Vernon features a library with television and Internet, a saltwater swimming pool, children's playground, tour desk with booking services, and camp kitchen. Choose from ensuite and park cabins; the park also has drive-through sites. (www.pvhp.com.au OR www.big4.com.au)
Whale Watching Tour
Every year from July through November, Hervey Bay is home to thousands of migrating humpback whales. More than 20 companies operate whale-watching tours out of Urangan Boat Harbour. You can choose full-day, half-day, and three-quarter-day tours. Check with the Whale Watch Industry Association of Hervey Bay for more information.
Hervey Bay Historical Village & Museum
Step back in time as you explore the 19 buildings that make up the Hervey Bay Historical Village & Museum. Thousands of artifacts date back to the 1800s, and the site includes a church built in 1910, a railway station built in 1920, a slab cottage built in 1900, and a school built in the 1800s. Some of the buildings are fully furnished. On Sundays you can see a demonstration from a blacksmith and wood turner. (herveybaymuseum.museum.com/welcome.html)
Fishing Off of the Scarness Esplanade
Hervey Bay is also well known for fantastic fishing opportunities. You can hire a fishing charter, but if you simply want to put a line in for a few hours, make your way to the Scarness Esplanade. About 18 km long, the Esplanade has numerous jetties perfect for fishing.
Take the ferry from Urangan Boat Harbour to Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world at 162,000 hectares. The best description of the island is in its Aboriginal name, 'K'gari,' which means 'paradise.' Here you can explore sub-tropical rainforests, the Great Sandy National Park, 24 freshwater lakes, and Seventy-Mile Beach. Fraser Island is home to more than 200 species of birds, as well as turtles, possums, and wallabies. Numerous walking trails allow you to get up close and personal with the natural habitat. Adventures sports such as 4WD tours, snorkeling, and canoeing can be arranged at one of the many resorts on the island. You will need two days on the island, or you will feel rushed.
Where to Stay:
Fraser's at Cathedral Beach
Fraser Island's only private campground, this park is situated on 25 acres on the Eastern Beach, and features a convenience store, fuel, laundry facilities, picnic areas, snacks and light meals, and 4WD rental. Choose from two- and three-bedroom cabins, two-bedroom ensuite cabins, powered and unpowered sites. (www.fraserislandco.com.au)
Kingfisher Bay Resort
Located on the west side of the island, the resort is perfect if you are looking for a break from campsites. The resort features three restaurants, four bars, a coffee shop, caf', general store, spa and beauty facilities, and 4WD rental. Choose from hotel rooms, two- and three-bedroom self-contained villas, or a stay at the Wilderness Lodge. The Kingfisher has a number of tours, including ecotours and dolphin watching. (www.kingfisherbay.com)
Fraser Island Great Walk
One of Queensland's six Great Walks, the Fraser Island Great Walk is actually 85 km long and would take about a week to walk. However, there are short walks within the journey; the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service has a complete guide to the Walk at www.epa.qld.gov.au.
Swim in the Champagne Pools
Make your way to the Champagne Pools on the northern end of the island, beyond the Indian Head rock formation. The spa-like seawater pools are surrounded by rocks, with soft sandy bottoms, and swimming in them is an experience you will not soon forget.
The most popular lakes for swimming are the perched lakes of Lake McKenzie, Lake Wabby, and Lake Boemingen (the world's largest perched lake).
Leave early in the morning and begin the 117 km-drive south to Maroochydore, where you will find gorgeous beaches and terrific shopping. The route winds through the towns of Kin Kin, Teewantin and Noosaville. If you are ahead of schedule, stay a night in Noosa Heads, just a few km off of your route. Here you will find a plethora of caravan parks, National Parks, and great shopping and beaches.
Where to Stay:
Maroochy Palms Holiday Village
Located on the Maroochy River about 5 km from the central Maroochydore, the Maroochy Palms is a family resort with loads of free activities (with accommodation), including the tennis courts, a nine-hole golf course, a swimming pool complex complete with its own beach, rock pool spa, and fountains; camp kitchen, a well-equipped recreation room, a landscaped lake with boardwalks, outdoor movie theatre, a fitness center for the grown ups (with massage services), and an activity program for the kids; a mini replica train, the JayJay Express; and a general store and caf'. Choose from luxury spa villas, riverview villas, deluxe villas, ensuite villas, powered ensuite sites, and camping sites. (www.maroochypalms.com.au)
Maroochy Beach Caravan Parks
The Maroochy Beach Caravan Parks are operated by the Maroochy Shire Council, and are located in Maroochydore, Mooloolaba, Cotton Tree, Mudjimba, and Coolum. Most have powered van sites and powered tent sites, laundry and shower facilities, vending machines, and swimming pools.
The Coolum location, the Coolum Cool Seas, is close to beaches, restaurants, and nightclubs. The Cotton Tree location is located on the Maroochy River, and is within walking distance of beaches famous for great surfing. The Maroochydore location, the Maroochydore Seabreeze, is an oceanfront park close to beaches, and restaurants. The Mooloolaba location is across from Underwater World Aquarium, and is within walking distance of beaches and shopping. The Mudjimba location is more quiet, features a children's playground, and easy beach access.
Visit the largest oceanarium in the southern hemisphere, Underwater World. Located in the Wharf Complex in Mooloolaba, Underwater World is home to more than 25,000 creatures from the deep, including coral fish, sharks, seals, otters, and crocodiles. Here you can swim with the seals, explore the touch pools, and take one of 18 tours available to visitors, including the Dinosaur Discovery Tour. (www.underwaterworld.com.au)
If you happen to be traveling through on a Wednesday or Saturday, visit the Eumundi Market in the historic town of Eumundi. More than 500 stalls showcase fresh produce, delicious food, handmade crafts, and other wonderful treasures. (www.eumundimarkets.com.au)
Opened to the pubic in 1973, this medieval castle features a collection of armor displayed in the dungeon and the Great Hall, a doll exhibit, a model train exhibit, and a tower with a 360' views of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. The Sunshine Castle is located about ten minutes from Maroochydore in Bli Bli. (www.sunshinecastle.com)
Drive 105 km south to Brisbane, the capital of Queensland and Australia's fastest growing city. Located on the Brisbane River, between the Great Dividing Mountain Range and Moreton Bay, Brisbane is a lush city with spectacular gardens and wonderful beaches.
Although this is where your trip started, you are not finished by any means. Brisbane offers visitors a wealth of sightseeing and dining opportunities, and you will need at least two days to see the top sights. Once you get settled at your caravan park or resort, stroll the streets of downtown Brisbane, and have a seafood dinner or a bit of 'Mod Oz' cuisine. You will have one more full day to explore cultural and historical landmarks in Brisbane, and perhaps do some shopping at one of the outlet centers in and around the city.
Where to Stay:
BIG4 Brisbane Northside Caravan Village
Located about 12 km from the heart of Brisbane in Aspley, the BIG4 Brisbane features a well-equipped recreation room with an Internet kiosk, a swimming pool, tennis courts, golf putting green, and laundry facilities. Guests can easily walk to a nearby shopping center, and to public transportation into Brisbane. Choose from self-contained, air-conditioned villas and cabins, all of which include kitchens, telephones, televisions, and toilets. (www.caravanvillage.com.au OR www.big4.com.au)
Gateway Village Resort
Located about 16 km south of Brisbane in Rochedale, the Gateway Village features a recreation room, tennis court with floodlights, swimming pool, children's playground, laundry facilities, landscaped gardens, and Internet kiosks and wireless throughout, camper's kitchen, and free video games. Buses run from the resort into Brisbane and to the major regional shopping centers. Choose from one- to three-bedroom villas, and full-serviced, powered sites. (www.gatewayvillage.com.au)
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Located just outside of Brisbane in Fig Tree Pocket, the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is home to over 130 koalas. Stop by on the way to your accommodations near Brisbane, and you can enjoy some actual koala cuddling, feed kangaroos from your hand, and see parrots, kookaburras, emus, wombats, a Tasmanian devil and an Eastern water dragon! You can have your picture taken with a koala; eat at the on-site restaurant or in the picnic area. (www.koala.net)
St. John's Cathedral
Under construction for the past 100 years, this 19th century Gothic-Revival cathedral was designed in 1888 and features the only stone vaulted ceiling in Australia. Take the Stained Glass Tour, watch as masons cut stone using medieval methods, and see more than 200 needlepoint cushions hand-stitched by art students. (www.stjohnscathedral.com.au)
The Queensland Cultural Centre
Situated on the banks of the Brisbane River, the Queensland Cultural Centre is a series of buildings celebrating the arts. Visit the Queensland Arts Gallery and the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (www.qag.qld.gov.au), both with Aboriginal collections. Also in this arts complex is the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (www.qpac.com.au), where you can take a tour of the four separate theaters, and backstage areas. The Queensland Museum (www.qm.qld.gov.au/) is the place to see fossils, models of a blue whale and dinosaurs, and even a German tank from WW1.
End of Trip
Return your campervan and begin working on that scrapbook!